3 Aug 2009

Historic day for indigenous people of Bolivia

9:48 pm on 3 August 2009

Bolivia has become the first South American country to declare the right of indigenous people to govern themselves.

The country's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, launched his so-called "indigenous autonomy" policy in the eastern lowlands.

Peasant and indigenous communities will be entitled to vote for more autonomy in referenda in December.

The new charter was bitterly opposed by Bolivia's traditional elite.

Mr Morales said it was "a historic day for the peasant and indigenous movement".

He has championed Bolivia's indigenous people, who for centuries were banished to the margins of society.