Social protests grip Bolivian government

Morales comes under fire from former Indigenous supporters

For the first time since he has been in office, President Evo Morales has come under fire from many of his former Indigenous supporters, who are even threatening to take him before a human rights panel in Washington.

This is just one of a series of dilemmas that Morales' leftist Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) government will have to deal with in the coming months.

A string of political and economic crises has seen Morales' approval ratings plummet for the first time in the six years he has been in office.

"It is going to be a complicated year for the government," says researcher Carlos Hugo Molina.

Former Vice President Víctor Hugo Cárdenas concurred, saying that "it is going to be a difficult year."

Morales' first setback of 2012 came when he invited a group of representatives from four opposition political parties to a mini summit to analyze conclusions and recommendations on the economy and development drafted by union leaders, who side with him, at a prior meeting in Cochabamba.

The delegates from the four parties walked out en masse after they realized that they were called "to legitimize a spent government."

The latest polls show that the drops in Morales' approval ratings are related to the country's ongoing economic crisis and the government's failure to seek compromises with political adversaries, especially at the local level.

"Only a third of all Bolivians support Morales," says Cárdenas.

On Tuesday, Celso Padilla, a leader of the Guarani People's Assembly, said that he will take Morales before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Washington for the manner in which the police took violent action last September against peaceful Indians who were protesting a plan to build a highway to Brazil across the pristine Isiboro Sécure national park. Morales was forced to cancel the project after he was criticized for the police raid.

Morales speaks to leaders of opposition parties earlier this month.
Morales speaks to leaders of opposition parties earlier this month.EFE
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