On January 22, 2006, history was made in Bolivia when Evo Morales was sworn in as Bolivia's president, becoming the first indigenous leader of a rural-based social movement to govern a Latin American country. An exploration of the historical roots and contemporary sources of the decades-long struggle through which Bolivia's marginalized campesino and indigenous population succeeded in gaining the most powerful voice in the national political arena reveals the significance of identity politics combined with the institutional benefits provided by the organized campesino movement. The concept of ethno-ecological identity--a sociopolitical identity shaped by the unique human-environment relationships and struggles of highland and lowland peoples--is key to understanding the dominant political alliances in Bolivia today and visions for the future.
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