Evo Morales Enacts New Bolivian Constitution, Appoints Women to Half of Cabinet Seats

After easily winning reelection in Dec. 2009, Bolivian president Evo Morales was sworn in to serve his second term over the weekend. With the mandate Morales received from the overwhelming majority of Bolivian voters who gave him a new five-year term, Morales immediately implemented big changes.

The first was to enact a new Bolivian constitution that contains sweeping reforms which will drastically upgrade the social and political rights of the indigenous population of the country. Morales proclaimed Jan. 22 as the date for the “re-foundation” of Bolivia, and said the day marks the end of the colonial state and its replacement by a “pluri-national” state which guarantees equality and justice for all and “respects private property.”

On Saturday, Morales also swore in a new cabinet of 20 ministers and half of his appointees were women—a first for the hyper-macho Andean state. Speaking at a ceremony at the Quemado presidential palace, Morales said, "My great dream has been fulfilled, half of my cabinet are women, the other half men."

The only other Latin American leader to split their cabinet among the sexes is Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, who divided her cabinet of 26 ministers equally after her 2006 election.

Female members of the Bolivian cabinet now include: Labor Minister Carmen Trujillo, Justice Minister Nilda Copa, Transparency and Anti-Corruption Minister Nardy Suxo, and folk singer and activist Zulma Yugar as minister of culture.