An agrarian reform program redistributes 18,600 square miles of land to indigenous communities. Even private land that is not in "productive use" is subject to government seizure as part of the plan to redistribute one-fifth of Bolivia’s total land area. The current situation has the potential to increase civil strife and pit indigenous farmers squarely against wealthier land interests and may follow the so-called reforrms Hugo Chavez used in Venezuela.
Landowners’ groups have pledged to resist the programme. José
Cespedes, president of the Eastern Agricultural Chamber, said
landowners would form committees to defend their property.
Land in the western areas of the country, virtually untouched by the agrarian reform in 1953, is concentrated in a few families, according the UNDP 100 families own 25 million hectares. The current agrarian reform is a fairly populist attempt to curry favor but alone will do little to address the causes of indigenous poverty.
Sociologist Joaquín Saravia, a professor at the Universidad Mayor de
San Andrés, believes that land distribution on its own will not solve
the problem of poverty. Instead, he proposes a development plan based
on sound economic, environmental, political and administrative
criteria, linked to the creation of large producing regions.