Shortly after taking office in 2006, Bolivian President Evo Morales gave nearly 19,000 square miles of land to indigenous peasant communities under a program of agrarian reform. This land was owned by the government. Morales has also pledged to parcel out unused privately owned land to meet his goal of redistributing one-fifth of Bolivia's total land area over the next five years.
More countries with extremely unequal land distribution should be encouraged to take such bold action. History shows that the redistribution of land to landless and land-poor rural families is a highly effective way to improve rural welfare. Dozens of successful land reform programs were carried out after World War II. According to a report by the Oakland-based think tank Food First, "When a significant portion of quality land was distributed to a majority of the rural poor, with policies favorable to successful family farming, and when the power of rural elites was broken, there have been measurable poverty
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