Bolivians have endorsed a new constitution that will "enshrine indigenous rights and end centuries of oppression." Supported in a referendum by 61% of voters, the new constitution grants rights to territory, language and "community justice" to 36 previously marginalised groups. Evo Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous President was elected in 2006. A former coca farmer, Morales won his support from the majority of oppressed indigenous peoples on a socialist platform, pledging to grant them rights and to return Bolivia's natural resources (gas) to the people. Opposition to the changes came mainly from the wealthy regions of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando which are fertile lowlands holding rich gas deposits, and are farmed extensively by predominantly white or mixed race Bolivians, who have held power since colonial times at the expense of the indigenous peoples.
Morales's aim is to "re-found Bolivia," South America's poorest country, and to end a political and social order inherited from Spanish colonial times. "This is the second independence, the true liberation of Bolivia," Morales said upon signing the charter. Having survived numerous attempts on his life since his election, he told his opponents, "You can take me from the presidential palace, you can kill me, (but) the mission has been accomplished for the refounding of Bolivia" Good stuff.