Bolivian President Evo Morales has distributed thousands of hectares of land to Guaraní communities from Alto Parapetí, in the eastern Bolivian province of Santa Cruz.
At a ceremony this past weekend, Evo Morales delivered 38 thousand hectares to the Guarani, opening a process of land allocation that will end in December 2009.
The land was expropriated from huge land owners last month for failing to comply with the new Constitution. Morales himself accused them of letting the land lie fallow and making the Guarani work in slave-like conditions.
“It is not that these lands were not in production,” said Morales, “but that they were the site of human rights violations against the Guarani, who will now be their new owners.”
“Having land is having freedom, and if there is land and freedom, there is justice”.
He also said that Bolivia will continue to respect private property, “but we want people who are not interested in equality to change their thinking and focus more on country than currency.”
They “should voluntarily give up their (excess) land to people who have none.”
The region of Alto Parapetí has “been witness to multiple land evictions suffered by indigenous people” in the past, notes real world radio; and “the Guarani communities [have] experienced first-hand the abuses of the big landowners… and practices similar to slavery.”
Photo: AFP (2008)