Bolivia voted in a new constitution that, among other things, will limit the size of the largest rural properties, and potentially redistribute land to poorer communities.
The BBC said more than 60 percent of voters approved the constitution, although Bolivia’s landowners rejected it.
Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, originally wanted all “unused” land to be available for redistribution to the poor.
Bolivia is the poorest country in South America, according to Inter Press Service, a left-leaning news agency, with most of the country’s arable lands in the hands of the wealthiest, European-descended citizens.
Strong opposition from this sector forced Morales to focus landholding limits on future land sales only.
Yet the new constitution gives the government “the right to determine whether rural property is serving an economic and social function, or is unproductive and thus subject to expropriation — with fair compensation — and redistribution to poor families,” IPS reports.
The divide between wealthy lowlanders, who live primarily in the eastern lowlands, and the poorer indigenous highlanders in the west, is “unlikely to diminish,” notes the BBC.
“New Bolivia constitution in force”
BBC, February 7, 2009
“Q&A: Bolivia Limits Size of Estates in Land Reform Struggle”
Inter Press Agency, January 27, 2009