Juan Evo Morales AymaPresident of Bolivia
Evo Morales Ayma was born 26 October 1959 in Isallavi, a poor rural aymara community near the Poopó lake, in the Orinoca conton of Oruro, Bolivia. From early childhood he worked in agriculture, charged with care of the family's llama herd. Life and the shaping of character are guided there by the saying ama sua, ama quella, ama hulla (don't be a thief, lazy or a liar). To be able to study, he later worked as bricklayer, baker and trumpet player, and was noted for his soccer skills in local leagues. He finished middle school, though later learning was in-as he calls it-the "university of life."
In 1982 the high plateaus of Bolivia suffered a severe drought, obligating many families, like the Morales', to move to the lowlands of the Chapare region of Cochabamba. There Morales' ascent in the union movement was swift. In 1983 he was named Secretary of Sports of the union in his new residence; in 1985 General Secretary, and in 1988 Executive Secretary of one Federation of unions, and since 1996 he is President of the Coordination Committee of the Six Federations of the Cochabamba Tropics.
In 1997 Evo Morales was elected, by an overwhelming majority, to the lower house of Congress. In January 2002 he was expelled by traditional elite parties in Congress, only to return six months later after having won a second place in national elections, and breaking open the traditional monopoly exercised by elite parties. Morales and his MAS party, the Movement Towards Socialism, returned to Congress leading 35 other elected Deputies and Senators. For the first time in history, the Congress reflected Bolivia's ethnic diversity. The 2004 municipal elections consolidated the MAS as the principle political force in the country.
In December of 2005, Evo Morales exceeded all predictions and won 53.7 percent of the popular vote, to become the first indigenous president of Bolivia.
A talk by His Excellency Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, and David Choquehuanca, Minister of Foreign Relations of Bolivia. President Morales is the first indigenous head of state elected in Bolivia in over 500 years. His address is followed by a question-and-answer session moderated by Paul J. Anderer, Columbia's Vice Provost for International Relations.