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Indian coca farmer elected president in Bolivia

Evo Morales, an Indian coca farmer and activist, claimed victory in Bolivia's presidential election on Sunday.

The official results have not been tabulated but Morales had at least 51 percent of the vote, according to news reports. His leading challenger, Jorge Quiroga, was behind at least 20 points and conceded the election last night.

With the win, Morales becomes the second indigenous leader of a South American nation. The first was Alejandro Toledo, who was elected president of Peru in 2001.

Morales calls himself an opponent of the Bush administration. He plans to halt a U.S.-financed program that eradicates coca, the traditional crop of Indian farmers.

Indians and mixed-raced Indians make up the majority of Bolivia's population but are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. In recent years, they have begun to exercise political power and have forced two presidents from office, led massive protests and won concessions from the government.

Get the Story:
Bolivia Elects a President Who Supports Coca Farming (The New York Times 12/19)
Socialist Candidate Claims Victory in Bolivian Vote (AP 12/19)

Relevant Links:
Evo Morales - http://www.evomorales.org

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