Tiwanaku (Bolivia) (AFP) - Bolivian President Evo Morales, South America's longest serving leader, celebrated his record longevity in power Wednesday in a dawn ceremony at a pre-Inca religious complex.
Morales, a socialist and member of the indigenous Aymara community, said that Bolivia's longest ruling leader had been Andres de Santa Cruz, in power for nine years, eight months and 26 days between 1829 and 1839.
"Today, we have surpassed the record. We are here to pay homage to the process of change, to our people, and to this shift over nine years, eight months and 27 days," Morales said.
Morales, 55, an outspoken critic of neoliberal economics and US policies, also listed his accomplishments since assuming office on January 22, 2006.
His current term ends in 2020, but a referendum to be held February 21, 2016, will determine whether he should be allowed to run for another five-year term that could take his presidency into 2025.
He underscored Wednesday the support he has received from Cuba's Fidel Castro, Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio da Silva and the late presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Nestor Kirchner of Argentina.
The speech was preceded by a religious ceremony at Tiwanaku, a pre-Inca site that is considered a spiritual center and sacred ground for Andean Indians near Lake Titicaca.