Agrarian Reform in Bolivia

April 21, 2010World Agricultureby EconomyWatch


Agrarian Reform in Bolivia was initiated at a gradual pace, in the post-revolutionary periods, during the Presidency of Paz Estenssoro. In fact, the evolution of Agrarian in Reform Bolivia was driven by certain amount of political motivations.

Backdrop of the Agrarian Reform in Bolivia:

In Bolivia, reforms were introduced in the agricultural sector, almost parallel to the Bolivian National Movement between 1952 to 1964. In fact, the Bolivian Agrarian Reforms had a widespread impact, and was considered to be the final significant contribution of the Bolivian revolutionary government. 1953 January saw the foundation of the Agrarian Reform Commission, comprising Mexican advisors.

The Agrarian Reform Commission passed the Agrarian Reform Law in the coming month of August. The Law eliminated coerced labor and introduced a program involving confiscation of the rural real estates of Bolivian landowners and allocation of the same among the Indian peasants. However, the landed properties allocated to the Indian peasants were less-productive in nature. The highly-productive farmsteads of medium and small sizes were kept apart, for making huge capital investments and getting increased outputs.

The Agrarian Reform Law of Bolivia also offered provision for arranging sufficient compensation for the landowners, payable in the form of government bonds, having validity of long twenty-five years. However, the compensation amount received by the landholders were dependent on the value of their individual properties as announced for taxes. Hence, there were variations in the total amount of compensations that each landlords received from the Bolivian government.

The making of Bolivia's Agrarian Reform Law was also influenced immensely by the farmer population. In the beginning, the government was not able to gain control over the occupation of the agricultural lands by the farmers. Consequently, the implementation of the provisions associated with the land reform laws became impossible. This led to an apparent disintegration of the medium-sized productive farms. However, MNR gaining support of the small farmers was followed by the creation of syndicates, which organized the peasant class. They were given enough land areas. In fact, the peasant class acted as a powerful political group in Bolivia, to drive the government for formulating and implementing agrarian reform programs in the successive years.

Bolivian Agrarian Reforms: The present trend

A land reform program was launched in Bolivia in 2006 May, by the government of Morales. The program started with immediate reallocation of land in the country. This initiative was taken up, in order to tackle and stop the unequal allocation of land since time immemorial. To this effect, the administration under Morales passed legislations, for effective implementation of the Agrarian Reform Law of 1996. Though the legislation appeared unfavorable in the beginning, yet it was useful in terminating the discriminations and corruptions existing in the Bolivian agricultural sector. It was due to this intense discrimination that the Bolivian agrarian population were ousted from their land and deprived from cultivation. This, in turn, had pushed the nation towards further impoverishment.

Steps taken:

On 2nd May, 2006, the first Bolivian ingenious President Evo Morales announced allocation of about 3 million hectares of lands among 60 native Bolivian groups and communities, with a promise of awarding another 20 million extra hectares of lands within the coming 5 years. This amounts to 13% of the total land areas in Bolivia being distributed among 28% of the Bolivian peasants. The Bolivian landlords were also assured by the government that the lands they obtained legally and used for cultivation would remain unaffected, Moreover, under Morales' land reform program, there would be no provisions for annexation of the lands or scopes for negotiating any such settlements.


The land reform plans under Morales administration proved to be highly beneficial, having far-reaching effects on the agricultural sector of the poor South American nation of Bolivia. The program sought to implement the existing land reform laws in an effective manner. These methods were given a professional approach and made more accessible to the small peasants, for increasing the overall agricultural output.

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