ABSTRACT

Bolivia’s highly controversial Ley del Servicio Nacional de Reforma Agraria (National Agrarian Reform Service Law), (Ley INRA), entered the statute books in October 1996. Ley INRA actually began life as a draft proposal Ley INTI (National Land Institute Law) early in the presidency of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who had served as Minister of Planning and head of the government’s economic team during Paz Estenssoro’s final presidency. The proposed Ley INRA was an anathema to the empresarios and latifundistas of the eastern lowland regions. All landowners were adamant that INRA should not be given the authority to deprive farmers of cultivable land in order to make way for ‘conservation activities, protection of biodiversity, research and ecotourism’. The announcement on 7 October 1996 that the proposed Ley INRA had been finally approved and sanctioned by the government led to an extraordinary sequence of events in Santa Cruz. Ley INRA draws a clear distinction between ‘relative nullity’ and ‘absolute nullity’.