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Morales, Bolivia's first Indian president, sworn in


Evo Morales, the first Indian president of Bolivia, was sworn in on Sunday, calling his new position the result of a "500-year campaign of resistance" by indigenous people.

Morales vowed to make changes for the indigenous people who make up 60 percent of the country's population. He addressed a crowd of thousands, many of them Native, in a mix of Spanish and Aymara, his traditional language.

The swearing-in was preceded on Saturday by a ceremony at Tiwanaku, Bolivia's pre-Incan Indian capital. Morales received a blessing from Aymara elders and wore a traditional-style outfit. He prayed for help and guidance and accepted a baton that symbolizes Indian leadership.

"The indigenous people demand that we re-found Bolivia," Morales said, The Washington Post reported. "The same consciousness that won the election for us is the consciousness that will change our history."

During his campaign, Morales promised to become a "nightmare" for the U.S. by ending a $100 million U.S.-financed drug eradication program. According to news reports, he has since softened his tone but still pledges support for the Indian farmers who grow coca, a traditional crop whose leaves are also used to make cocaine.

Morales is the second Indian president in South America. The first was Alejandro Toledo, who was elected president of Peru in 2001.

Get the Story:
For Bolivian Majority, a New Promise (The Washington Post 1/23)
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Photo Gallery: Morales Inaugurated in Bolivia (The Washington Post 1/23)
Indians in Bolivia Celebrate Swearing in of One of Their Own (The New York Times 1/23)
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Bolivian Nods To Indian Roots (The Washington Post 1/22)
Bolivia's Leader Solidifies Region's Leftward Tilt (The New York Times 1/22)
In Bolivia, a $100 Million Question (The Washington Post 1/21)