Bolivian President Evo Morales, himself an Aymara Indian, has won a referendum on a new constitution granting special privileges to Bolivia’s indigenous people. The electorate split along racial lines, with the country’s elite white and mixed-race minorities largely opposing the measure.

Quechua and Aymara Indians make up about 55 percent of Bolivia’s population. Morales won office promising to empower those people. He is a socialist, a close ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, and the first indigenous person to lead his country.


The new constitution gives autonomy to indigenous peoples and boosts state control of the economy, but is opposed by many of the traditional elite.

Many mixed-race people in the fertile eastern lowlands rejected the charter and four of Bolivia’s nine provinces had a majority no vote, according to the exit polls.

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