In general, Bolivia experienced several shifts in land tenure arrangements over the past one hundred years. During the first half of the twentieth century, there were very large estates (latifundio hacendal) in the highlands (valleys and altiplano). On these estates existed relations of servitudes with captive communities. This was a kind of reproduction of the previous colonial system existent in past centuries.
After the National Revolution of 1952, and the mobilizations and land occupations driven by peasant communities subjected to haciendas, the 1953 Agrarian Reform - possibly the most radical on the continent after Mexico’s (1910) - sought to change these conditions, by prohibiting the latifundio, which trapped poor rural communities in a state of servitude, establishing different categories of property rights, and defending the property rights of peasants. The were significant results in terms of land redistribution for valley and altiplano peasants.
Agrarian Reform was accompanied by a quest for establishing the foundations of liberal capitalist development in agriculture, based on the promotion of agricultural industry and peasant cooperatives. This implied that, in practice in later years, efforts were aimed at generating development conditions in the country's tropical lowlands (the “March to the East”), with state plans and policies for investment in roads, services, and support for the production of strategic crops such as cotton, sugar, and rice. By directing its attention to the east, the state abandoned the Andean peasantry, and also the Agrarian Reform of 1953 in an integral sense.
Under these conditions, and facing the need to redirect the agrarian process, a new Land Law was enacted in 1996 (Law 1715 of the National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INRA)). This Law created a new agrarian institution, established a land distribution regime, and established a system of land rights regulatory process throughout the country. This process was known as saneamiento de tierras (land title clearing). This process is the basis for resolving conflicts, verifying compliance with the social function of land, reverting property, and distributing and redistributing land to those in need.
The INRA Law was amended in 2007 by the Law of Community Redirection of the Agrarian Reform (Law 3545) and the 2009 Political Constitution of the State. The Constituion prohibits the latifundio, recognizes and prioritizes the rights of women to land, and brings a more collective and indigenous approach to the agrarian process.
As a result of these new regulations, Bolivia has been committed to applying the land title clearing process throughout the country over the last 20 years. As of August 2016, 77.1 million hectares had been cleared and titled (72% of the national territory), while 18% was in the process of titling and 10% still needed to be titled. Overall, 761,806 titles were issued in favor of 1,896,213 beneficiaries. The beneficiaries consisted of:
Peasants with small properties and community properties: 19.7 million hectares; 1’393,653 beneficiaries
Indigenous peoples, with Native Indigenous Peasant Territories (TIOC): 23.9 million hectares; 494,439 beneficiaries
Medium and large landowners: 8 million hectares; 7.876 beneficiaries
Public land (protected areas, forest concessions, land available for distribution): 25.4 million hectares