When he was 13, his father permitted him to move to San Pedro de Oruro to go to high school. One of his biographers tells how he was better in geography, history and philosophy than in physics and mathematics. The most important thing is that Evo, to pay for his studies, would wake up at 2 a.m. to work as a baker, construction worker, or in other physical labor. He attended classes in the afternoon. His classmates admired him and helped him. From the very start, he learned to play wind instruments and was a trumpet player in a prestigious band in Oruro.
When he was still an adolescent, he organized his community’s soccer team, and was its captain.
Access to the university was not within his reach, being an Aymara Indian and poor.
After his last year of high school, he served his mandatory military term and returned to his community, located high up in the mountains. Poverty and natural disasters forced his family to migrate to the subtropical region of El Chapare, where they were able to obtain a small land parcel. His father died in 1983 when he was 23 years old. He worked hard on the land, but he was a born fighter; he organized all of the workers, created labor unions and with them filled the vacuums to which that the state was not paying attention.
The conditions for a social revolution in Bolivia had been created over the last 50 years. On April 9, 1952, before the start of our armed struggle, the revolution broke out in that country with the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement of Víctor Paz Estenssoro. The revolutionary miners defeated the forces of repression and the MNR took power.
Revolutionary objectives in Bolivia were far from being met. In 1956, according to well-informed people, the process began to fall apart. On January 1, 1959, the Revolution was victorious in Cuba. Three years later, in January 1962, our country was expelled from the OAS. Bolivia abstained. Later, all of the governments except for Mexico broke off relations with Cuba.
Divisions in the international revolutionary movement made themselves felt in Bolivia. Still to come were 40 years more of blockading Cuba, neoliberalism and its disastrous consequences, The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and the ALBA; still to come, above all, were Evo and the MAS in Bolivia.
It would take to long to sum up that rich history on a few pages.
All I will say is that Evo was able to overcome the terrible and slanderous campaigns of imperialism, its coups d’état and interference in internal affairs, and to defend Bolivia’s sovereignty and the right of its millenary people to have respect for their customs. “Coca is not cocaine,” he exclaimed to the largest marijuana producer and largest consumer of drugs in the world, whose market has maintained the organized crime that costs thousands of lives every year in Mexico. Two of the countries where the yanki troops and their military bases are located are the largest producers of drugs on the planet.