Partying until dawn on Thursday with the coca growers who helped him win Bolivia's presidential elections, &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/368/16649_Morales.html' target=_blank>Evo Morales had the audience cheering with some anti-U.S. rhetoric.
"We are winning the green battle: the coca leaf is beating the North American dollar," said Morales, who leaves Friday for Cuba, the first stop in a world tour before his inauguration on Jan. 22.
Morales also won applause the night before with a strikingly different message to Bolivia's business leaders, promising that his government will create a climate favorable for investment and jobs and will not "expropriate or confiscate any assets."
Speaking in the relatively rich city of Santa Cruz, a stronghold of his opponents, Morales adopted a conciliatory tone, saying he wants "to learn from businessmen" and promising them a referendum on their demands for greater regional autonomy.
"He promised more than we asked for," said a surprised Gabriel Dabdoud, president of the powerful chamber of commerce.
The audience, the atmosphere and the speech were deeply different here in the heart of the coca-growing region of Chapare, where Morales repeated his promise to allow coca cultivation, an activity that helps sustain nearly 30,000 families in the area.
The 46-year-old Aymara Indian came here for a victory celebration party with the coca farmers. Morales joined the same band he played a trumpet with as a youth. With barbecue and beer, the festivities lasted well into dawn.
In a weary world of endless US military interventions, sanctions, trade tariffs and chaos, let’s pause and take stock of the shining house on the hill