All We Want Is the Earth: Agrarian Reform in Bolivia

Wes Enzinna


The Morales administration in Bolivia is focussed on three central programmes: (1) 'nationalization' of the hydrocarbon industry, (2) convoking a 'Constituent Assembly' to re-write the nation's constitution, and (3) carrying out a large scale land reform. That Morales has in fact gone forward with these three programs has proven he is far more committed to social change than any of his predecessors, and has served as evidence for his supporters that he is an 'authentic' revolutionary president and that his Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) is an authentic revolutionary party. Yet there remains in Bolivia anything but a consensus that Morales is carrying forward the revolution begun in 2000, or that these programs are in fact fulfilling the demands articulated by the movements during the revolutionary period of 2000 to 2005. Understanding MAS's current land reform is central to understanding the larger political situation in Bolivia today. However, critical analysis of the reform is scarce. This is partly due to the fact that the reform is still under way and key developments still unfolding. Accordingly, any conclusions, including those made here, must be somewhat tentative. Nonetheless, by looking at the history of land reform efforts and focusing on one key movement that has fought for reform (the MST), landowner opposition, and the specifics of the reform itself, we can move towards a better understanding of this important effort.

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