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Morales vows to fight Bolivia poverty

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Bolivian President Evo Morales has called for the complete eradication of extreme poverty in his country by 2025, in an address marking his country's Independence Day.

Morales delivered his annual message, which also serves as a kind of "State of the Union" address, in the western city of Oruro on Monday.

The speech focused on his goals for fighting poverty and improving access to basic services by the time Bolivia celebrates its bicentennial in 2025, 200 years after the country gained independence from Spain.

He also called for improved food security and access to electricity and portable water for every citizen. 

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America, with about a quarter of the population making less than $2 a day.

In addition to poverty, Bolivia wrestles with social unrest and crime.

The president participated in traditional indigenous ceremonies and led a military parade as part of the Independence Day festivities.

'Errors' acknowledged

Morales came to power in 2006 promising to improve the lot of the country's indigenous populations, of which he is a member.

However, his popularity ratings have suffered as his administration has been beset by corruption scandals and what some organisations say has been increased drug trafficking in the last few years, although the government disputes that.

His approval rating dropped to 33 per cent in June.

In his speech, Morales acknowledged making "errors" but argued that he had worked in favour of the country's disadvantaged.

"Who doesn't make mistakes?" he asked. "But I want to tell you all on our Independence Day that there can be mistakes, but there will never be treasons against the struggle of the Bolivian people."

He also touted revenue increases under his tenure that he attributed to the nationalisation of the country's hydrocarbon industry.

Morales' Movement Towards Socialism party has already said he will run for president again in 2014.


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