A populist and socialist, Morales finished second in the 2002 presidential elections. In the 2005 presidential race, however, he received more than 50% of the vote, becoming the first person of indigenous descent to be elected president of Bolivia. He was easily reelected in 2009 and 2014. In office, Morales nationalized companies in energy, telecommunications, and other industries, and used gas and oil revenues in part to underwrite antipoverty programs, which helped reduce poverty levels.
In 2016 voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to run for a fourth term, but the consitutional court voided (2017) the vote. In the 2019 presidential election he was narrowly secured reelection, but suspicions of fraud led to demonstrations against him (the Organization of American States later concluded the result was rigged), and he resigned after he lost the support of the police and military. He fled Bolivia and received asylum in Argentina.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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