Evo Morales is certainly not the traditional politician. He gets his hair cut at a simple barbershop and drives himself around in his own car. He refuses to pay people for votes, and even if principle did not forbid it, his own finances would. Although he has a security team, they are dressed in plain clothes, and will strip down to their underwear to swim on Morales’ land. And, most importantly, he is indigenous in a country in which an indigenous person had never been elected to the country’s highest office. By conventional political reckoning, he doesn’t stand a chance.
But he did stand more than a chance, as we now know from his victory in Bolivia’s 2005 elections. And as it turns out, he stood a chance for precisely those reasons that at the time made him seem doomed to fail. His relative lack of wealth and plainspoken style made him seem like the man of the people he claimed to be. His indigenous status, far from handicapping him, created a connection between him and the country’s indigenous majority population.
Morales did not simply appeal to the people; he gave them the tools by which to make their voices heard. The documentary Cocalero shows his supporters teaching the members of the coca labor unions, many of whom are illiterate, how to vote based on the colors of each candidate on the ballots. He not only appeals to the people, but also equips them to make their choice of him as their leader known. By appealing to the indigenous and working class majority and by giving them the tools to vote for him, Evo Morales broke all the rules of conventional politics and by doing so won the Bolivian presidential election.
1) Compare and contrast Evo Morales with Rafael Correa.
2) Why was CONAIE successful where similar indigenous advocacy movements had failed?