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Bolivia's Evo Morales_March 2011

Fares have been frozen for more than a decade even as

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Fares have been frozen for more than a decade even as the cost of maintaining vehicles and paying police bribes has spiralled. “When I started ten years ago lunch cost two bolivianos, now it costs me eight,” says a disgruntled driver. All this has taken a toll on Mr Morales’s popularity. A poll taken in Bolivia’s main cities in February by Ipsos-Apoyo showed his approval rating at just 32% (rural areas tend to be more loyal). The government faces little threat from the formal opposition, partly because some of its leaders have chosen exile in the face of legal harassment. Rather, the main source of the president’s new difficulties lies in his own movement. The MAS is a coalition of far-left parties, indigenous activists and NGOs. Social movements, such as unions and peasant groups, form its political base. Until this year such groups believed Mr Morales was on their side, and forgave his verbal snafus and missteps. Now many of them will no longer give him the benefit of the doubt. The
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government’s new slogan is “Governing [is] obeying the people.” Having led the Bolivian street for the past decade, Mr Morales now finds himself ruling at its mercy.
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