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Bolivian Senate Ends Boycott, Approves Sweeping Land Reform


Members of the Bolivian Senate have ended a week-long boycott and approved President Evo Morales' controversial plan to redistribute land to the nation's landless poor.

The plan was approved Tuesday night when three opposition senators voted with 12 senators from the president's ruling Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party.

The vote came after thousands of Bolivia's indigenous Indians marched on the capital city of La Paz to support the measure. Many of them had marched for several weeks across several hundred kilometers.

Conservative lawmakers walked out of the Senate chamber last week to block the reform, which is opposed by large landowners from Bolivia's eastern agricultural region of Santa Cruz. The landowners fear the government will confiscate their property. But Mr. Morales says only unproductive land held by wealthy families will be redistributed to the poor.

The president, Bolivia's first indigenous head of state, campaigned on promises to redistribute the wealth from the nation's vast natural resources. He issued a decree in May of this year to nationalize Bolivia's oil and gas fields. He told the Indians who marched on La Paz that he would issue a similar decree if the boycott continued in the Senate.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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