Juan Evo Morales Ayma (born October 26, 1959), popularly known as Evo, is a Bolivian politician and activist, serving as President of Bolivia, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party (MAS) and the Cocalero trade union. Politically a socialist leader, the cornerstone of his presidency has been a focus on implementing new policies in the country, introducing a new constitution, land reforms, nationalizing various key industries, opposing United States involvement in the country's politics, and reducing poverty.
Born into a working class Aymara family in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton, Evo grew up aiding his parents as a subsistence farmer. He did not obtain a high school degree. Morales underwent mandatory military service for a year until 1978, when he returned to the family profession of farming, moving with them to Chapare Province. He eventually settled into growing coca, becoming actively involved in the coca growers' trade union, the cocalero movement. Becoming a well known activist amongst the campesinos (rural laborers), he was known for leading the resistance against the U.S. government's attempts to eradicate coca crops grown to produce cocaine as a part of their wider "War on Drugs".
His activism led him into the political arena. He eventually became the leader of the MAS, through which he got involved in social protests like the gas conflict and the Cochabamba protests of 2000. The MAS aimed at giving more power to the country's indigenous and poor communities by means of land reforms and redistribution of gas wealth, and gradually increased its electoral support.
Morales was first elected President of Bolivia on December 18, 2005, with 53.7% of the popular vote. Two and a half years later he substantially increased this majority; in a recall referendum on August 14, 2008, more than two-thirds of voters voted to keep him in office. Morales won presidential elections again in December 2009 with 63% and continued to his second term of presidency.
A critic of the United States' foreign policy and the involvement of transnational corporations in Latin America, he has been a firm ally of the socialist governments of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Fidel Castro in Cuba. In October 2009, Morales was named "World Hero of Mother Earth" by the General Assembly of the United Nations.