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Savina Cuellar

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September 7, 2008 | Patrick J. McDonnell, Times Staff Writer
Renowned as the cradle of Bolivian independence, this colonial town in the south-central highlands has become a front line in a new battle that is threatening to rip this South American nation asunder. The pugnacious prefect, or governor, Savina Cuellar, a former livestock herder who proudly dons the broad-brimmed hat and billowing skirt that mark her indigenous origins, has become a symbol of the country's deep divisions. Her peasant background inevitably evokes comparisons to the humble history of leftist President Evo Morales, the coca-leaf cultivator who in 2005 was elected Bolivia's first indigenous president.
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