Juan Evo Morales Ayma is a Bolivian politician, trade union organizer, and former cocalero activist who served as the 65th president of Bolivia from 2006 to 2019.
120 Facts About Evo Morales
Evo Morales entered electoral politics in 1995, was elected to Congress in 1997, and became leader of MAS in 1998.
Evo Morales gained increased visibility through the Cochabamba Water War and gas conflict.
Once elected president in 2005, Evo Morales increased taxation on the hydrocarbon industry to bolster social spending and emphasized projects to combat illiteracy, poverty, and racial and gender discrimination.
Vocally criticizing neoliberalism, Evo Morales' government moved Bolivia towards a mixed economy, reduced its dependence on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and oversaw strong economic growth.
Evo Morales's administration opposed the autonomist demands of Bolivia's eastern provinces, won a 2008 recall referendum, and instituted a new constitution that established Bolivia as a plurinational state.
Evo Morales' supporters laud him as a champion of indigenous rights, anti-imperialism, and environmentalism, and he was credited with overseeing significant economic growth and poverty reduction as well as increased investment in schools, hospitals, and infrastructure.
Evo Morales was born in the small rural village of Isallawi in Orinoca Canton, part of western Bolivia's Oruro Department, on 26 October 1959, to an Aymara family.
Evo Morales's childhood home was a traditional adobe house, and he grew up speaking the Aymara language, although later commentators would remark that by the time he had become president he was no longer an entirely fluent speaker.
Evo Morales' family were farmers; from an early age, he helped them to plant and harvest crops and guard their herd of llamas and sheep, taking a homemade soccer ball to amuse himself.
Evo Morales served his mandatory military service in the Bolivian Army from 1977 to 1978.
The arrival of the Evo Morales family was a part of a much wider migration to the region; in 1981 El Chapare's population was 40,000 but by 1988 it had risen to 215,000.
In El Chapare, Evo Morales joined a trade union of cocaleros, being appointed local Secretary of Sports.
From 1984 to 1985, Evo Morales served as Secretary of Records for the movement, and in 1985 he became General Secretary of the August Second Headquarters.
Evo Morales was personally involved in this direct activism and in 1984 was present at a roadblock where 3 campesinos were killed.
In 1988, Evo Morales was elected to the position of Executive Secretary of the Federation of the Tropics.
Evo Morales has stated that "We produce our coca, we bring it to the main markets, we sell it and that's where our responsibility ends".
Evo Morales presented the coca growers as victims of a wealthy, urban social elite who had bowed to United States pressure by implementing neoliberal economic reforms.
Evo Morales argued that these reforms were to the detriment of Bolivia's majority, and thus the country's representative democratic system of governance failed to reflect the true democratic will of the majority.
Evo Morales adopted a policy of "shock therapy", implementing economic liberalization and widescale privatization of state-owned assets.
Sanchez agreed with the US DEA to relaunch its offensive against the Bolivian coca growers, committing Bolivia to eradicating 12,500 acres of coca by March 1994 in exchange for US$20 million worth of United States aid, something Evo Morales stated would be opposed by the cocalero movement.
Evo Morales would be freed on 7 September 1994, and soon joined the march, which arrived at its destination on 19 September 1994, where they covered the city with political graffiti.
Evo Morales was again arrested in April 1995 during a sting operation that rounded up those at a meeting of the Andean Council of Coca Producers that he was chairing on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Evo Morales proceeded to Argentina to attend a seminar on liberation struggles.
Evo Morales began supporting the formation of a political wing in 1989, although a consensus in favor of its formation only emerged in 1993.
In 1996, Evo Morales was appointed chairman of the Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba, a position that he retained until 2006.
The election resulted in the establishment of a coalition government led by the right-wing Nationalist Democratic Action, with Hugo Banzer as president; Evo Morales lambasted him as "the worst politician in Bolivian history".
The movement's bases defected en masse to the IPSP, leaving the ASP to crumble and Veliz to join the center-right New Republican Force, for which Evo Morales denounced him as a traitor to the cocalero cause.
Evo Morales came to an agreement with David Anez Pedraza, the leader of a defunct yet still registered falangist party named the Movement for Socialism ; under this agreement, Evo Morales and the Six Federaciones could take over the party name, with Pendraza stipulating the condition that they must maintain MAS's own acronym, name and colors.
Evo Morales had not taken a leading role in these protests, but did use them to get across his message that the MAS was not a single-issue party, and that rather than simply fighting for the rights of the cocalero it was arguing for structural change to the political system and a redefinition of citizenship in Bolivia.
Under US pressure, Quiroga sought to have Evo Morales expelled from Congress by saying that Evo Morales' inflammatory language had caused the deaths of two police officers in Sacaba near Cochabamba.
Evo Morales was unable to provide any evidence of Morales' culpability.
Evo Morales said that it "was a trial against Aymara and Quechas".
Evo Morales recognized this, and much of his discourse focused on differentiating the MAS from the traditional political class.
Now the leader of the political opposition, Evo Morales focused on criticising government policies rather than outlining alternatives.
Evo Morales had several unconstructive meetings with Sanchez de Lozada, but met with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez for the first time.
Evo Morales led calls for President Sanchez de Lozada to step down over the death toll, gaining widespread support from the MAS, other activist groups, and the middle classes; with pressure building, Sanchez resigned and fled to Miami, Florida.
Evo Morales was replaced by Carlos Mesa, who tried to strike a balance between US and cocalero demands, but whom Morales mistrusted.
MAS' primary opponent was Jorge Quiroga and his center-right Social and Democratic Power, whose campaign was centered in Santa Cruz and which advocated continued neo-liberal reform; Quiroga accused Evo Morales of promoting the legalization of cocaine and being a puppet for Venezuela.
Evo Morales's election caused concern among the country's wealthy and landowning classes, who feared state expropriation and nationalisation of their property, as well as far-right groups, who said it would spark a race war.
Evo Morales traveled to Cuba to spend time with Castro, before going to Venezuela, and then on tour to Europe, China, and South Africa; significantly, he avoided the US In January 2006, Morales attended an indigenous spiritual ceremony at Tiwanaku where he was crowned Apu Mallku of the Aymara, receiving gifts from indigenous peoples across Latin America.
Evo Morales wore an Andeanized suit designed by fashion designer Beatriz Canedo Patino, and gave a speech that included a minute silence in memory of cocaleros and indigenous activists killed in the struggle.
Evo Morales repeated these views in his convocation of the Constituent Assembly.
In taking office, Evo Morales emphasized nationalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-neoliberalism, although did not initially refer to his administration as socialist.
Evo Morales gathered together a largely inexperienced cabinet made up of indigenous activists and leftist intellectuals, although over the first three years of government there was a rapid turnover in the cabinet as Evo Morales replaced many of the indigenous members with trained middle-class leftist politicians.
In June 2006, Evo Morales announced his plan to nationalize mining, electricity, telephones, and railroads.
Under Evo Morales, Bolivia experienced unprecedented economic strength, resulting in an increase in value of its currency, the boliviano.
In May 2007, it became the world's first country to withdraw from the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, with Evo Morales stating that the institution had consistently favored multinational corporations in its judgments.
Many Bolivians opined that Evo Morales' government had failed to bring about sufficient job creation.
Evo Morales' administration sought strong links with the governments of Cuba and Venezuela.
Evo Morales proceeded straight to Havana for a conference celebrating Castro's life, where he gave a speech arguing for stronger links between Latin America and the Middle East to combat US imperialism.
Under his administration, diplomatic relations were established with Iran, with Morales praising Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a revolutionary comrade.
Evo Morales' government sought to encourage a model of development based upon the premise of vivir bien, or "to live well".
Conservative critics of Evo Morales' government said that these measures were designed to buy off the poor and ensure continued support for the government, particularly the Bono Juancito Pinto which is distributed very close to election day.
Evo Morales announced that one of the top priorities of his government was to eliminate racism against the country's indigenous population.
Evo Morales's government encouraged the development of indigenous cultural projects, and sought to encourage more indigenous people to attend university; by 2008, it was estimated that half of the students enrolled in Bolivia's 11 public universities were indigenous, while three indigenous-specific universities had been established, offering subsidized education.
On International Workers' Day 2006, Evo Morales issued a presidential decree undoing aspects of the informalization of labor which had been implemented by previous neoliberal governments; this was seen as a highly symbolic act for labor rights in Bolivia.
Measures were implemented to ensure the industrialization of coca production, with Evo Morales inaugurating the first coca industrialization plant in Chulumani, which produced and packaged coca and trimate tea; the project was primarily funded through a $125,000 donation from Venezuela under the PTA scheme.
Evo Morales' government introduced measures to tackle Bolivia's endemic corruption; in 2007, Evo Morales issued a presidential decree to create the Ministry of Institutional Transparency and Fight Against Corruption.
In January 2007, clashes in Cochabamba between activist groups led to fatalities, with Evo Morales' government sending in troops to maintain the peace.
The left-indigenous activists formed a Revolutionary Departmental Government, but Morales denounced it as illegal and continued to recognize the legitimacy of right-wing departmental head Manfred Reyes Villa.
In May 2008, the eastern departments pushed for greater autonomy, but Evo Morales' government rejected the legitimacy of their position.
Evo Morales went on a five-day hunger strike in April 2009 to push the opposition to rescind their demands.
Evo Morales agreed to allow for the introduction of a new voter registry, but said that it was rushed through so as not to delay the election.
Evo Morales notably increased his support in the east of the country, with MAS gaining a majority in Tarija.
In December 2009, Evo Morales attended the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he blamed climate change on capitalism and called for a financial transactions tax to fund climate change mitigation.
In 2014, Evo Morales became the oldest active professional soccer player in the world after signing a contract for $200 a month with Sport Boys Warnes.
Evo Morales' government relented, canceling many of the proposed reforms and agreeing to the wage rise.
Two government ministers and other high-ranking officials resigned in protest and Evo Morales' government relented, announcing suspension of the road.
In 2008, Evo Morales stated that he would not stand for re-election in the 2014 general election.
The court ruling, which was criticized by opposition politicians, allowed Evo Morales to run for a third term as president.
On 17 October 2015, Evo Morales surpassed Andres de Santa Cruz's nine years, eight months, and twenty-four days in office and became Bolivia's longest serving president.
In early February 2016 there were rumors that Evo Morales had had a child with a young woman, Gabriela Zapata Montano, and had granted favors to the Chinese company that she worked for.
Evo Morales said that they had had a son who died in infancy, but that he had not granted any favors and had not been in contact with Zapata Montano since 2007.
The commission that investigated the issue concluded that Evo Morales was not at fault.
Evo Morales attended the swearing-in ceremony of Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro for his second term on 10 January 2019.
Many analysts and opposition politicians of Evo Morales criticised the spending due to the high levels of poverty in Bolivia.
Evo Morales stated that the project would reduce government spending by $20 million per year as five other ministries would move into the building.
Evo Morales said the Casa Grande del Pueblo was a break with the past and described the previous residence, the Palacio Quemado or "Burnt Palace", as a vestige of colonialism and a symbol of neoliberal governments that stripped the State of its wealth, its heritage and its memory.
Evo Morales' communication minister Gisela Lopez responded to criticism, stating that the tower was "a necessity for the people".
On 21 February 2016 the referendum was held on a constitutional amendment to allow presidents to serve three consecutive terms, which would have allowed Evo Morales to run for a fourth term.
The ruling enabled Evo Morales to submit his application as a presidential candidate to the Bolivian Electoral Tribunal, who then accepted his application and approved his candidacy.
Evo Morales said he would call for a second-round runoff vote with Mesa if the OAS' audit found evidence of fraud.
Evo Morales resigned as president on 10 November 2019; he called his removal "forced" and a "coup" but said that he wanted to stop bloodshed from the election protests.
Evo Morales made the announcement from El Chapare, a coca-growing rural area of Cochabamba where he had sought refuge.
Evo Morales said his fellow socialist leaders were being "harassed, persecuted and threatened".
Evo Morales thanked Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whom he credited with saving his life.
The interim government alleged that Evo Morales promoted violent clashes in the country before and after he left office.
In February 2020, Evo Morales announced that he would run for a seat in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly in the 2020 Bolivian general election.
In September 2020, Human Rights Watch reported that it had found no evidence that Evo Morales committed acts of terrorism and described the charges against him as politically motivated.
In October 2020, the charges were dropped and the arrest warrant dismissed when a court in La Paz found Evo Morales' rights had been violated and judicial procedures breached.
One day after new president Luis Arce was sworn into office, on 9 November 2020 Evo Morales returned to Bolivia after 11 months abroad.
In four departments, candidates for governor endorsed by Evo Morales were not chosen by MAS officials.
Half an hour later, Romero was withdrawn as a candidate and Evo Morales announced television presenter Pedro Garcia as the new nominee.
The broad pardon, which included Evo Morales, was met by shouts of "democracy yes, dictatorship no" by members of the opposition who objected to the fact that at noon, discussion was ended, beginning the vote, leaving several assemblymen without a chance to speak.
Journalist Alejandro Entreambasaguas and Bolivian authorities said that Evo Morales had been in a relationship with the minor since the age of 14.
Several news organisations relate the current accusations with comments that Evo Morales had made twice previously on retiring with a quinceanera when he was no longer president.
Evo Morales refused to comment on the case during a telephone interview with the Spanish newspaper.
Evo Morales wrote that the police had "forced [her] to testify under pressure, without a lawyer".
Evo and the girl exchanged glances and Anderson noted that "At some point, Morales interrupted our conversation to tell my photographer not to take photos of the woman".
Figures in the Morales government have described the President's approach to politics as "Evoism".
Harten noted that whilst Evo Morales uses fierce anti-imperialist and leftist rhetoric, he is neither "a hardcore anti-globalist nor a Marxist", not having argued for the violent and absolute overthrow of capitalism or US involvement in Latin America.
Evo Morales sought to make Bolivia's representative democracy more direct and communitarian, through the introduction of referendums and a citizen-led legislative initiative.
Evo Morales is ethnically Aymara, and has been widely described as Bolivia's first democratically elected president from the indigenous majority.
Evo Morales placed a great emphasis on trust, and relied on his intuition, sometimes acting on what he considered omens in his dreams.
Evo Morales is not married and upon becoming president selected his older sister, Esther Evo Morales Ayma, to adopt the role of First Lady of Bolivia.
Evo Morales's children left Bolivia and traveled to Buenos Aires in late November 2019.
Esther Evo Morales died on 16 August 2020, after contracting COVID-19.
Evo Morales is an association football enthusiast and plays the game frequently, often with local teams.
On 4 July 2018, Evo Morales underwent emergency surgery at a private clinic in La Paz in order to remove a tumor.
Evo Morales has been described as "the most famous Bolivian ever", whose personality has become "fixed in the global imagination".
Evo Morales' government has been seen as part of the pink tide of left-leaning Latin American governments, becoming particularly associated with the hard left current of Venezuela and Cuba.
Evo Morales has received the support of many democratic socialists and social democrats, as well as sectors of Bolivia's liberal movement, who have been critical of Morales but favored him over the right-wing opposition.
Domestic opposition to Evo Morales' governance has centered in the wealthy eastern lowland province of Santa Cruz.
Many of these leftist critics were unhappy that Evo Morales' government did not make a total break with global capitalism.
Evo Morales promised to "help bring power" to marginalised groups in Bolivia, a country which has the highest percentage of indigenous population of any country in the Americas.
Mark Schneider of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Americas Program, said that there was no question that Evo Morales's government was successful in helping to raise the living standards of the poor population which was synonymously the indigenous population.
Evo Morales was opposed to neoliberal policies of austerity and privatization, and after coming into office in 2006, his administration nationalised the oil and gas sector.
Evo Morales has faced criticism concerning his links with the coca farming in Bolivia and alleged links with the illegal cocaine trafficking market.
In 2017, Evo Morales signed a law that increased the legal amount of land in Bolivia designated to coca farming from 12,000 hectares to 22,000 hectares, a figure which has since been exceeded.