Name at birth: Juan Evo Morales Ayma
Evo Morales has been the president of Bolivia since January of 2006. Known simply as Evo, he came to national prominence after a career as a coca farmer and union leader in the 1980s and '90s. A leader of the Movement for Socialism party (MAS), Morales ran for president in 2002 and lost, but his candidacy made him a national celebrity. He won a clear majority in the presidential election in December of 2005 and was sworn into office 22 January 2006 for a five-year term (a referendum in 2008 upheld his authority). As president, he has built close relationships with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Raul Castro, while giving the cold shoulder to the United States. Morales encourages the growing of coca -- but not the production of cocaine -- a position that puts him at odds with decades of U.S. drug interdiction policies.
An Aymara Indian, Evo boasts that he is the first indigenous president in Bolivia’s history.