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LA PAZ, Bolivia – Some of the grassroots social movements which supported President Evo Morales, have called into question what they see as the marginalisation of indigenous members of the ruling MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) party and have accused Morales of surrounding himself with “opportunists”, declared Cocalero (coca farmer) leader, Román Loayza, in La Razón.
“Those who should be making the decisions are considered incapable of doing so and are given insignificant positions or act as public employees,” added Loayza, an indigenous founder of the Cocalero movement and parliamentary representative.
The criticisms were renewed after a cabinet reshuffle on 1 February where founding members of the governing MAS party were left out. The original party members now hold less than 10 percent of government jobs and low ranking positions, complained Loayza.
Nevertheless Loayza admitted that “the relegation of social movements can partly be blamed on indigenous leaders who failed to propose a cabinet structure in keeping with the new constitution of national unity and community values”.
MAS senator, Lino Villca, believes the original spirit of the indigenous movement led by President Morales has been diluted in the political outlook of the new cabinet. “They believe we are incapable, which is a lie. I don't want the government to have this image of us,” said Villca according to La Razón.
Another government critic, MAS ideologist Filemón Escóbar believed, according to La Razón, that “illegitimate forces have taken over the party without having participated in the social struggle.” The voices of dissent in the ranks of MAS also included Alex Contreras, who questioned why the new cabinet did not include indigenous representatives from the Chaco, Oriente or Amazonia regions.
On 23 February La Prensa informed that, in three years of government, six legislators and 10 leaders had left the MAS party: some dissidents joined the opposition, others left the party after internal disputes and some stepped down after corruption charges. Deputy Guillermo Becar revealed that a sector of MAS representatives in the House of Deputies felt defrauded by the changes implemented by president Morales.