During his fourth month in power, the Bolivian president agreed, for the very first time, with my proposal to accompany him for an insane non-stop 24 hours.

The lights in the apartment go on at 4:30 in the morning. Evo Morales opens his eyes in a sixty-five-square-feet room. Around him are a television, a wardrobe, a computer on a table, a chair, and various MAS (Movement towards Socialism) posters, the party with whom he has been governing Bolivia for the last 103 days.

The president wakes up in the same flat that he rented with a few fellows when he was a union leader. Morales resists leaving what he calls his 'little home'. He went through his worst political moment here when he was thrown out of parliament; he designed his electoral campaign here, based on the nationalization of Bolivian oil and gas reserves, and it was here, on his inauguration day, that he was visited by Thomas Shannon, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. While trying to hide his surprise, Shannon walked up the battered old wooden stairs of the building, looking at the crumbling walls, and the bulb hanging from the ceiling, lighting up the stairwell. He went through the kitchen, the only way to the dining table, which was covered with a crocheted plastic tablecloth, where the meeting was held. Thomas Shannon, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

We are at that very table as the president receives us now, after showering and making his bed. It is a crucial day. Morales is about to give the final touches to the Supreme Decree 28701 on the nationalization of hydrocarbons, which will anger major foreign energy companies in the country.
At this time, in Brazil, the president of Petrobrás company is still sleeping. In France and Spain, the presidents of Repsol YPF and Total are having breakfast. They can't imagine what's coming. Neither can we. Evo just says that he has "a very important meeting..."

Published in El Mundo