Thursday, December 21, 2006

BOLIVIA, NYT: Evo Scares The Beejezus Out Of The Mennonites

Relics of by-gone societies square off against each other in the tropics.

MANITOBA, Bolivia, Dec. 19 — With its horse-drawn buggies, farmhouses with manicured lawns and fields planted to the horizon with soybeans and sorghum, this Mennonite settlement in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands feels like a tropical version of rural Ohio or Pennsylvania.

That placid impression lasts until farmers here start talking about their fears of President Evo Morales’s plans for land reform.

One year into an administration that intends to reverse centuries of subjugation of Bolivia’s indigenous majority, Mr. Morales has plans to redistribute as many as 48 million acres of land, considered idle or ill gotten through opaque purchase agreements, to hundreds of thousands of peasants.