Daily Archives: October 25, 2012

Resettlement? invasion? opportunism? what is going on with land tenure in eastern Bolivia?

This is an interesting editorial from El Deber:

Land in the east

President Evo Morales has returned to offer fiscal lands of the East to inhabitants of the West, to massive transfers similar to those which were made in the past.

The constant of all these initiatives is that they were never planned in a serious and responsible way: were made out of incidental interest, by different Governments.

The last time that there was a transfer of persons from the West to the East was when the current Government decided to bring thousands of peasants from the Highlands to the Pando territory.

Then it was revealed that it was a measure that would benefit the Government because those people should vote as new Pando residents.

Some of them returned to their places of origin before the elections and others did so after voting, but did not want to stay in the richer lands of Pando.

Perhaps they felt humiliated, used, handled as numbers and not as individuals, but the truth is that they returned to their villages, some of them miserable towns of the highlands.

They had not been prepared for the change that they would have to live. The environment, the climate, everything, was too alien to the culture to which they belonged.

But what most discouraged them is that they had been installed in areas away from everything, without any connection with the urban centres, without any services, no schools, no health centers. Nothing.

They had no idea what they could grow in the area. They had neither imagined that they could find food in rivers. The huge Amazonian rivers were one threat rather than a source of food for them. And they embarked on the path of going back.

That experiment would have to serve as lessons learned for this and future Governments. The inhabitants of the Highlands are human beings, are compatriots and they are not chips that could be moved from places without any preparation.

The initiative of the President is good. But the basic idea of a project that should be developed in all its details before being executed. They must choose the zone where they will take those citizens and to prepare it, with the idea of a gigantic urbanization with all its services.

When all the infrastructure has been completed, with well defined grids, then will have to proceed to decide how families will be accommodated at each location.

Because, as was seen in Pando, take people on airplanes and tell them to enter into the forest to settle, without knowing if they will be able to survive the more radical change in habitat of their lives, it is guarantee of failure.

Respect to Bolivian citizens would have to be the first duty of a Government. There would never have to repeat experiences where mothers, children and the elderly, are taken to a place only because they have to change jurisdiction to vote.

There will have to investigate about many of the citizens who were brought to Pando, who were sickened or killed in this experiment. They were victims of hasty political decisions but above all have been taken as numbers, such as objects that can be taken from one place to another.

A little respect for our citizens, please.


One of the hard lessons in the XX century was that ALL settlements taken worldwide had more negative results than positive. Aside that those ‘resettled’ blaming from a cold to a major failure to their governments, such endeavor implies huge resources and a monumental tracking, implementation system, for many years to come.