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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Ten years ago, this immigrant from Bolivia was on the verge of making a life in the U.S. Now he’s back in Bolivia.

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Luis Mamula, a lifelong supporter of Bolivia’s indigenous leader Evo Morales, spent the beginning of the 1990s in the U.S. being trained as a paralegal by a mentor of the kind that is virtually unheard of in Bolivia today.

But as he returned home, his work came to a halt. What he had learned about civil disobedience was suddenly banned by the government of Morales’ now-exiled predecessor, President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. The changes also removed some privileges for the indigenous leaders, like those with more than a high school diploma. Mamula struggled, but continued learning, eventually obtaining a master’s degree and two doctorates.

“It’s kind of strange to work for someone who changed his mind about his ideas — and to work for someone who has changed his mind,” said Mamula, who now serves as the president of a Bolivian nonprofit that works on creating educational opportunities for indigenous youth.

The U.S. was not always as hostile to Evo Morales as it has become. During his two terms as Bolivia’s president from 2006 to 2014, Morales pursued a profoundly leftist program — one based on his principles of indigenous power and self-determination — that brought the country more than a half-century of democratization after two centuries of colonization.

Click the slide show above to read the rest of the story in The New York Times.

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