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NYT: Bolivian Town Drifts From President Evo Morales, Despite Promises Kept to Left


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Bolivian Town Drifts From President Evo Morales, Despite Promises Kept to Left


When Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, took office a decade ago, he vowed to put this impoverished town in the Amazon Basin on the kind of pedestal often reserved for a capital city.


He filled its coffers with profits from the country’s natural gas industry. He even seized large estates and handed them to new arrivals like Tania Chao, 19, whose family received a house when it came to Cobija with nowhere to live.


Yet when Mr. Morales asked Ms. Chao to vote for him last week, in a referendum to let him run for a fourth term, she did not feel that she could return the favor. The president had improved the town, she said, but he had been in office for longer than most people had lived in Cobija.


“It’s time to find someone else to continue what he did,” she said after the referendum, which Bolivians rejected.


Latin American leftists like Mr. Morales have suddenly felt their longevity ebb as a tide rises against them.


But is the wave of discontent a rejection of the left? Or is it something more personal, aimed at the outsize leaders themselves, not necessarily at the ideas they have promoted?


In Venezuela, former President Hugo Chávez’s movement lost by a landslide in recent elections. In Argentina, the left-wing allies of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner could not hold onto her office.


Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, a populist educated in the United States, abandoned an effort to seek another term. Corruption accusations and economic woes have left President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil battling impeachment proceedings. But while longstanding leftist leaders and their movements may be faltering, their policies have taken a lasting hold in Latin America.

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