Bolivian President Evo Morales celebrated a victorious re-election to his second consecutive term of office as head of the multi-cultural nation. Mr Morales is making history as the first indigenous president of Bolivia, a champion of the native people who live primarily in the eastern highlands, and who contributed greatly to the sweeping 64 percent vote that won Morales the presidency.
The colorful and festive inauguration ceremony, attended by President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Prince Felipe of Spain, and other dignitaries, was representative of the focus of the Morales administration on the inclusion of all the people of Bolivia under the protective umbrella of a concerned and responsive government. Also considered the ‘spiritual leader’ of his people, a departure from the military leaders of Bolivia’s past, President Morales wore the traditional colors of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia on the presidential sash, and took the oath of office "in the name of the motherland and of the Bolivian people." Morales is of the Aymara indigenous people; a former union leader, farmer and social activist.
President Morales resumes the work he began in his first term, making major strides to transform his largely impoverished nation into one of substantially increased productivity and prosperity. In provisioning his new cabinet, most of the previous ministers were dismissed. Of the new cabinet membership – half are women – the realization of a goal Mr Morales had hoped to bring about. "One of my dreams has come true: half the cabinet seats are held by women. The new cabinet is made up of singers, lawyers, economists, caucus leaders, doctors and workers…for the first time in the history of Bolivia a woman is head of the Labor Affairs Ministry," President Morales remarked, obviously pleased that the industrious women of Bolivia are now truly represented.
Firmly committed to progressive changes, Mr Morales promised greater productivity through the establishment of state-operated dairy, paper, cement, and drug companies, as well as manufacturing industries utilizing iron and lithium to make products for export. Mr Morales invited foreign investors, mentioning however, that Bolivia needed " partners, not patrons or bosses.” Nationalization of the mining, energy and telecommunications industries gave control to the government of nearly one third of Bolivia’s economy. Boliva’s natural gas industry, also nationalized, has created revenue to fund much needed social programs for a fourth of its population of 10 million. Critics have most recently registered disaproval of changes in the Bolivia Constitution which officially deselects Roman Catholicism as the state religion, and endorses agrarian reforms limiting land ownership, among other changes.