When analyzing the effects of the 1952 Bolivian Revolution in the countryside, scholars have highlighted the political role of the colonos (tenants) and the extended program of land redistribution of large estates that started soon after the government decreed the agrarian reform. None of these studies have looked at the distinct political agenda led by comunarios—members of independent Indian communities—who had lost their lands to latifundio expansion. Uneasy with the government agenda that proclaimed land for those who work it, they petitioned restitution of their communal property rights, proclaiming “land to the original owners.” Revisionist scholars in the 1980s and 1990s, critical of the revolution, argued that the nationalist party eroded communal property rights. This article demonstrates that comunario political action after the revolution not only succeeded in reshaping the government agrarian agenda but also used the new legislation to regain lands lost to hacienda landlords since the late nineteenth century.

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