[JURIST] Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile] signed a land redistribution bill Tuesday that he hopes will allow his government to give 77,000 square miles of unproductive land to the country's poor. The president signed the bill amidst shouts of approval from more than 3,000 Indian supporters who may gain land from the new measure, which is part of Morales' plan to put more power in the hands of Bolivia's indigenous majority [JURIST report]. Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia [JURIST news archive], has already given 8,500 square miles of land to farmers this year. Though it is unclear how the new law will take effect, the government will probably begin by determining what constitutes unproductive land.
The measure passed unanimously 15-0 in Bolivia's Senate [official website, in Spanish] Tuesday, though 27 conservative lawmakers did not show up after walking out last week in an attempt to block the bill. Morales' Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) [party website, in Spanish; Wikipedia backgrounder] party currently holds 12 seats in the Senate. One senator from the opposition party Podemos [party website] along with assistants of two senators from minor opposition parties voted for the measure as well. Fourteen seats constitute a quorum and it is unclear whether the assistants' votes were legal. Morales is also currently facing challenges [JURIST report] following a move to give Morales' leftist party more power [JURIST report] in the special assembly currently rewriting the country's constitution. AP has more.