[Marxism] Bolivian Congress Passes Agrarian Reform Legislation in Spite of Heightened Regional Tensions
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Sun Dec 10 20:02:51 MST 2006
Bolivian Congress Passes Agrarian Reform Legislation in Spite of
Heightened Regional Tensions
December 1, 2006
Prepared by the Andean Information Network
On November 29 the Bolivian Senate approved the law modifying
Bolivia's 1996 Agrarian Reform law. The lower house of congress, where
President Evo Morales's MAS party has a clear majority approved the
law quickly, but MAS needed 3 votes from opposition parties who hotly
contested the initiative. The vote took place after a week of
heightened tensions and public protest.
During his campaign Morales promised to redistribute 23 million
hectares within five years. The new law stipulates that land that is
not currently serving an economic or social function may be allocated
to indigenous or campesino communities with insufficient or no land.
The legislation follows the basic land tenure principles specified in
the existing Bolivian constitution, which does not legally recognize
massive landholdings (latifundia) and grants the state the right to
expropriate and redistribute land. The law provides economic
compensation to landowners. Bolivian officials clarify that the
initiative will primarily focus on properties larger than 120 acres.
Although the U.S. mainstream press has characterized it as "radical"
and MAS has made repeated statements attacking the landholding elite,
the law passed this week simply modifies the 1996 law of the Gonzalo
Sánchez de Lozada government, and does not represent a dramatic change
in land policy. What concerns the political opposition and
large-scale landowners, though, is that it appears that this
government will actually implement the policy, which had been
ineffectual and subject to corruption and favoritism in the past. The
initiative's success will depend on the Morales administration's'
capacity to transparently and objectively implement and interpret the
law, and the ability of all parties to put aside their fondness for
inflammatory rhetoric and polarized positions in favor of a
transparent, just policy......
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