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THE CHALLENGE OF CATTLE RANCHING TO COMMON PROPERTY: A CASE
STUDY INT THE ISOSO, BOLIVIA.
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
To Diego and Laura, whose love made life more meaningful. They have been my
inspiration to believe in conservation and development as an alternative for a better world
for them and the next generation. This dedication is also for my family, Elisa(s), Laura
and Carlos, whose love and support have been always unconditional. To the Isosefio-
Guarani people who introduced me to part of their Nandereko.
Thanks to my thesis committee. Grenville Barnes, Carmen Diana Deere and
Ignacio Porzecanski for their guidance and patience. To Ignacio Porzecanski for the
intellectual support he provided and for his helpful advice. Thanks to Andrew Noss for
his willingness to step in at short notice to read this thesis.
Thanks also to my children Diego and Laura, without their love I would not have
survived this process. Special thanks to Cece Noss who has supported my writing over
the first drafts.
My studies in Gainesville were founded by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS),
and a Tropical Conservation and Development Program (TCD) Fellowship supported me
during part of write-up process.
In Bolivia, there are so many people to thank. Thanks to WCS, Capitania del Alto
y Bajo Isoso (CABI) and the Ivi lyambae Foundation for facilitating my research and to
Andy Noss, Zulema Barahona, Oscar Castillo, Erick Eulert, Jose Avila and Veronica
Calderon for their valuable advice. In Isoso I would like to thank Felicia, Juanita,
Isadora, Crecencio, Ilda. Thanks to WCS and CABI administrative team.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. .................... iv
LI ST OF T ABLE S ............ ...... ._._ .............._ viii.
LI ST OF FIGURE S .............. .................... ix
AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ............_........x
1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............1.......... ......
Capitania del Alto y Bajo Isoso (CABI) and the Isoso............... ...............1..
Research Questions............... ...............2
M ethods ................ ...............3...
Structure of the Thesis............... ...............5.
2 COMMON PROPERTY AND THE EXPANSION OF CATTLE RANCHING:
LITERATURE REVIEW ................. ...............8.......... ......
Security of Tenure and Property Rights Arguments............... ...... ...........
The Common Property Argument and Community-Based Conservation ..................1 1
Common Property and Indigenous People ................. ...............16........... ...
Factors Favoring the Expansion of Cattle Ranching ................. ................. ...._20
Increase in Consumption ................. .... ... ..............2
Market-Driven Changes in Production Practices .............. .....................2
Live stock Production-Geographic Shift ................. .............. ......... .....24
Governm ent Incentives.................... ... ... ... .....................2
Cattle Ranching as a Complement to the Rural Livelihood Strategy of the
Poor ................ ....... ... ..... ........... .............2
National Context and Bolivian Lowlands................ ...............2
3 THE ISOSO AND STAKEHOLDERS .....__.....___ ..........__ ...........3
The Isoso and the Gran Chaco ............ ......__ ...............30.
The Guarani Isosefio Communities .............. .... ...............36..
The Guarani Way of Life : The Nandereko ......___ ..... ... ._ ........._.....3 7
Guarani-Isoseno Communities .............. ...............38....
The Isoso frontier ............. ..............38.....
The Alto Isoso .............. ...............39....
The Central Isoso ................ ...............39...
The CorazC~n Hist6rico del Isoso ................. ...............39...............
The Karai-Isoso ................. ...............41.................
The Bajo Isoso............... ...............42.
Returning to Isoso .............. ...............42....
Land Use in Guarani Isoso .............. .... ..... .............4
CABI, the Guarani Isosefio Political Organization .............. ....................4
Other Stakeholders............... ........... ........4
Cattle Ranches and Agro-Industry .............. ...............48....
M ennonites .............. ...............49....
Peasants or Small Farmers............... ...............51
Institutional Stakeholders ............ .....__ ......__ .......... 5
4 THE ISOSENTO IVI IYAMBAE AS COMMON PROPERTY ................ ...............54
Nandereko: Nature and Characteristics of the Group ............ ..... .._.__............55
Moa: Space and Natural Resources Use and Boundaries..........._.._..... ......_.._.. .....58
Tekoata and Mbaapo: Institutional Arrangements and Normative Regime ...............62
R ules ................ ... .... .. ..... .............6
Monitoring and Sanctions lyamnbae .................. ....___ ......___...........6
Collective Arrangement and Conflict Resolution .............. ....................6
Neemoai: Relationships between the Group and External Forces ................... ...........66
Contrasting the Common Property (CPR) and Community-Base Management
(CBM) Framework to the Mba~yu ......__...._.__._ ......._._. ...........7
5 CATTLE RANCHING IN ISOSO .............. ...............73....
The Expansion of Cattle Ranching in Isoso ..................... .......................... 7
The Conquest of Original Peoples' Territories "La Conquista de la Vaca"........74
Modernization: Cattle Ranching Subsidized by the Bolivian State ....................75
Big Proj ects and the Cattle Raising Incentive Among Isosefios ................... ......76
The Isosefios Cattle Ranching ............... ...............77....
The Individual Cattle Ownership Regime ................. .......___ .........__ ..78
The Semi Private-family System ............... ... .......___.....__ ............8
The Isosefio Cattle Communal Ownership System ................ .........__ .......80
Land Use by Cattle Ranching Ownership Regime and Management System ....83
The Private Landholders in the Isoso .............. ...............84....
Individual Cattle Ranching System ................ ...............85........._....
The Mennonite System ........._.._.. ........ ...............86......
Ecological and Socioeconomic Effects .............. ...............88....
6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMENDATIONS............... .............9
APPENDIX FIELD QUESTIONNAIRE .............. ...............98....
LI ST OF REFERENCE S ....._.._................. ........_.._.........11
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................. ...............111......... ......
LIST OF TABLES
1-1 Total Interviews............... ...............
2-1 Different Types of Property Regimes. ........._.._.. ........._.. ......11_._. ...
2-2 Population, Land and Cattle Herd in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC)
Contrasting to World Indexes. ............. ...............23.....
2-3 Cattle Ranching Systems of Meat Production ................. ................. ..........23
3-1 Population in the Communities of Isoso. ................ ................. ..............40
3-2 Main Land Use in Isoso, per Sub-zones. ...._.._.._ .... .._._. ........_..........4
3-3 Private Stakeholders, Not-Isosefio Owners, in the Isoso. ............. ....................48
3-4 Mennonite System in the Isoso. ............. ...............51.....
5-1 Number of Isosefios Owners and Number of Head of Cattle by Type of Property
Regime by Community in Isoso. ......___ ... .....___ ....___ ...........7
5-2 Distribution of Individual Cattle Ownership .......__ ..........__ ........._.__.....79
5-3 Family System in Isoso. ............. ...............81.....
5-4 Cattle Ranching Proj ects. ................ ...............82..___.. ....
5-5 Number of Head of Cattle and Land Use by Ownership Regime and
Management System in the Guarani-Isoso ................. .............. ......... .....83
5-6 Cattle Ranching Systems Non-Guarani Isosefio in the Isoso ................. ...............84
5-7 Demographic and Productive Characteristics of Mennonite Colonies in the
Isoso. ............ ..................87.
LIST OF FIGURES
1-1 Map of the Isoso and the Kaa lya National Park in the Santa Cruz Gran Chaco.......2
2-1 Evolutionary Theory of Property Rights and Potential Role of the M~bayu. .............9
2-2 The Common Property and Community Based Resource Management
Fram work. ............. ...............13.....
2-3 Distribution of Poor Livestock Keepers Worldwide. .........._.._. ........_.. ........26
3-1 Location of the Communities in the Alto y Baj o Isoso............._ .........._ .....3 1
3-2 Annual Rainfall in Charagua. .............. ...............32....
3-3 Map of the TCO-Isoso and Location of Different Stakeholders ................... ...........35
3-4 Land Use in the Frontier and Alto Isoso (Sub-zone 1 & 2). ............. ...................46
3-5 Land Use in the Central, Historic Heart and Kara and Bajo Isoso (Sub-zone3, 4
and 5) ............... ...............46...
4-1 Guarani-Isosefio Strategically Vision-M~bayu .............. ...............56....
4-2 Guarani Isosefio Strategically Planning Based on Mba~yu Contrasting to
Common Property and Community Base Management Theories............................71
4-3 Contrasting the Garani Isosefio M~bayu and Common Property and Community-
Base Framework. ............. ...............72.....
6-1 A Cattle Ranching Strategy based on the Guarani Isosefio Mbayu. ........................92
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
THE CHALLENGE OF CATTLE RANCHING TO COMMON PROPERTY:
A CASE STUDY INT THE ISOSO, BOLIVIA
Chair: Grenville Barnes
Major Department: Latin American Studies
The Isosefios live along the Parapeti River in the eastern lowlands of Bolivia. Like many
other indigenous groups in Latin America, they share a common property territory and their main
organizational structures are well developed. These structures, particularly the communal
asa~mblea~s and the strong inter-institutional links between Capitania delAlto y BajolIsoso
(CABI) and the external world, have allowed them to adapt and incorporate their
economic strategies but still maintain their Nandereko (the Guarani way of life) and the
M~bayu (vision as People).
Cattle ranching is the principal productive activity in the area and it is also the main
ecological concern because it leads to overgrazing. The goal of this research was to
understand the forces contributing to the expansion of cattle ranching in the Isoso as well
as their effects on the Guarani Isosefio's common property institutions and natural
resources. I examined the Guarani-Isosefio institutions based on their M~bayu vision
within the Common Property and Community Based Management frameworks. I
employed individual and group interviews to gather data and participated in several
community meetings. The participant observation approach and research of secondary
documents helped me to understand their living conditions as well as their demographic
and production systems. Through group interviews with community members I explored
issues such as access to natural resources on common land as well as the role of cattle in
the Isosefio's life.
At the community level, the Isosefio people are concerned with problems that
accompany the expansion of cattle ranching, including the increased pressure on land and
natural ecosystems such as the riverine forests. Certain communities are taking specific
decisions to regulate the presence and impact of cattle. Because cattle ranching as a
productive activity was only relatively recently adopted by the Isosefios, it is essential for
them to adapt local institutions and norms, and establish monitoring systems to balance
economic benefits with the maintenance of the ecological integrity of the Chaco
Cattle-raising will continue to play a part in the Isoso because it complements the
livelihood of the communities, providing protein and income. Cattle ranching can also
contribute to socioeconomic development, and, if the management is sustainable, it could
support a biodiversity conservation strategy in their communal land Tierra Comunitaria
de Origen (TCO) Isoso. In contrast to industrial agriculture with its concomitant
deforestation, cattle-ranching can be a less threatening activity, and for this reason it is
included as a central element in the CABI and Isosefio's development strategy.
Capitania del Alto y Bajo Isoso (CABI) and the Isoso
The study site of this thesis is the Alto y Bajo Isoso (Isoso) the home of 10,000
Guarani-Isosehio people living in more than 20 communities along the banks of the Parapeti
River (Figure 1-1). Like many other indigenous groups in Latin America, the Isosefios share a
common property territory. I have been connected with the Isoso since the end of 1997
when I began my work as the coordinator of the Kaa lya National Park (KNP)
management plan. The Guarani Isosefio political organization, Capitania delAlto y Bajo
Isoso (CABI), was the leader of that planning process. Since then, my interest in
indigenous peoples has emerged through my analysis of conservation issues. During that
process, planning was viewed as social mobilization because it was focused on the
perspective of those most affected by the protected area administration the local
population. For this reason, I developed a deep concern for the process of conservation
and development in the Bolivian Chaco.
The Isoso and KNP is part of the region of the Gran Chaco in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The
Bolivian Gran Chaco is ecologically significant worldwide because it is one of the few
remaining well conserved dry tropical forests and it protects important endemic species
of flora and fauna (Navarro et al 1998). A regional evaluation made by Nature Serve
(2006) consider the dry Gran Chaco as a priority site for conservation. Cattle ranching is
the principal productive activity in the area (PLUS 1996; CIPCA 1997; CABI 2001) It is
also the main ecological concern because it leads to overgrazing (Saravia Toledo et al.
1996; Navarro 1998, 2002; Taber, Navarro and Arribas 1997).
The obj ective of this research is to understand the forces contributing to the
expansion of cattle ranching in the Isoso as well as their effect on the Guarani Isosefio's
common property institutions and natural resource management.
Figure 1-1. Map of the Isoso and the Kaa lya National Park in the Santa Cruz Gran
Chaco. (Source: Jose Avila, Kaa-lya Project/CABI)
The broad question addressed in my research is whether it is possible to develop a
cattle ranching strategy that is economically, socially and ecologically beneficial to the
Isosefio community. To attempt to answer this, I address several more specific questions:
*What are the factors contributing to expansion of cattle in the Isoso?
* What are the effects of this expansion on common property institutions and natural
* How does cattle ownership affect access to land and natural resources among the
* What are the social and ecological costs of expanding cattle ranching in the
* Who is introducing cattle in the communal areas in the Isoso and how is it
influencing other livelihood strategies?
I have used an ethnographic qualitative method for this research including open-
ended interviews, participant observation and of secondary documents research (Bernard
1994). I adopted an inductive research approach: departing for the field with the research
questions in hand, but once on site maintaining an open mind (Bernard 1994). This
allowed me to deal with dynamic challenges such as the cattle ranching in Isoso. In many
senses I maintained my original questions, although some theoretical and practical
arguments were formulated resulting from encounters with people at the field site and
from the interviews conducted during the summer of 2005 when I visited the Isoso.
More specifically, my research involved the following steps. In Isoso, I participated
in community meetings and in the Isosefio's daily life, so I could understand their living
conditions as well as their demographic and production systems. I employed two
different kinds of interviews, one individual and the other in a group (Table 1-1). I
interviewed people from the following four Isosefio communities: Pikirenda, Rancho
Nuevo, Ivasiriri and Isiporenda. These communities are representatives of the region
(Chapter 4). Through these group interviews with community members I explored issues
such as access to natural resources on the common land as well as the role of cattle in the
Table 1-1. Total Interviews
Community Group Communal Key informant
interview (total Meeting
Ivasiriri 25 1 2
Rancho Nuevo 15 3
Pikirenda Coropo 20 1 2
Key informant 6
Group interviews were conducted in three communities as unstructured surveys.
Each interview was conducted with 15 to 25 members of each community. Due to the
fact that few Isosefios spoke Spanish fluently, the communal captain from Ivasiriri and
Rancho Nuevo translated questions into Guarani and responses were then translated back
into Spanish. These interviews were a quick and effective means of gathering data.
Women were well represented in all the group interviews. For the individual interviews I
interviewed other representatives from CABI, KNP personnel and others involved in
CABI proj ects.
This thesis is not only the result of three months of field research, but also an
accumulation of my experiences and contact with Isosefios' culture. As a CABI-WSC
technical staff member I maintained contact with Guarani leaders and Guarani people, I
participated in several assemblies and I supported CABI in meetings with different
authorities and private stakeholders such as cattle ranchers, No Governmental
organizations (NGO) and petroleum companies. I visited some cattle ranches neighboring
the Isoso. As a member of CABI-WCS, I was part of a research team and had formal
contact with scientists and other technicians working in the area. The formal as well as
the informal conversations with community members during tea hour (porear) also
provided me with valuable insights.
Structure of the Thesis
The thesis is comprised of seven chapters. The present chapter (Chapter 1)
introduces the problem and the methods used on this research. Chapter 2 presents a
review of the literature on common property and community base natural resource
management as well as the main factors linked to the expansion and global integration of
cattle ranching are identified. Common property theory arose partially as a response to
the ideas exposed by Garrett Hardin in his well-known "Tragedy of the Commons"
article (1968). Hardin largely overlooked social institutions and rules among common
users and predicted that open access would lead to the destruction of natural resources.
According to the main proponents of common property regimes (CPR), Berkes (1989)
and Ostrom (1990), CPR are structured arrangements in which group membership is
known, outsiders are excluded, and rules are developed and enforced. Consequently, CPR
offer potential for community-based conservation (CBC) which could benefit from
interdisciplinary science conservation which incorporates a more elaborate understanding
of social-ecological interactions (Berkes 2004).
On the other hand different factors motivate the expansion of cattle ranching in
Latin America: population growth, changes in consumption patterns, the relation to the
market economy, national and international policies favoring cattle ranching. Today,
cattle ranching plays two main roles: it is part of a subsistence and food security strategy
to millions of poor people. Cattle ranching is also a maj or international agribusiness
supported by national and international development policies. No matter which causes,
cattle expansion is one of the greatest pressures leading to land use change and
deforestation in the tropical forests of Latin America.
Chapter 3 describes the physical and social landscape of the study area, the Tierra
Comunitaria de Origen (TCO) Isoso in the Bolivian Chaco. Different stakeholders are
described. Special emphasis is given to description and analysis of the Guarani-Isosefios,
whose community tenure system is a main characteristic. The Isosefios differ from their
neighbors and other stakeholders in terms of ethnicity, historical presence in the area,
livelihood systems, and culture. However, they have had a long term contact within the
market economy as temporary wage workers for harvesting sugar cane, assisting cattle
ranchers and other wage jobs. As a result they have not been as isolated as other
indigenous groups in Latin America. Despite this history of market activity, the Isosefios
maintain a subsistence economy and a strong cultural identity based on common property
rights to the land and natural resources the Ivi lyambae or "land without owners".
Chapter 4 presents a comparative analysis of the theoretical basis of CPR and CBM
frameworks and the development vision of the Guarani-Isosefios their Mba~yu. I
analyze similarities, coincidences, and contrasts between the Guarani-Isosefio vision and
the CPR/CBM theoretical framework. The purpose of this comparative analysis is to
establish the degree to which the Guarani-Isosefio, through their particular M~bayu,
conform, practice, and will be able to maintain CPR institutions in the face of cattle
Chapter 5 describes cattle ranching in the TCO-Isoso. Originally cattle were
introduced by the karai (in the Isosefio language the word is used to defmne white people
and criollos). Today 8% of the Isosefio population owns cattle. Within the TCO-Isoso
boundaries cattle raising is the main productive activity. Cattle is raised by several private
cattle ranchers including Mennonites who arrived in the mid-1990s, and the recently
established agro-industry in the area, based on private ownership of land.
Chapter 6 presents my conclusions and recommendations. The main challenge, in
Isoso, is to improve and develop cattle ranching management systems that will maintain
the natural potential of the resources and traditional social values in a changing context.
To make that possible, internal institutions and political organizations need to be adapted
to use community governance effectively to develop the economic potential of cattle
ranching. Guarni Isosefio political organizations must position themselves so as to
influence local, departmental, and national policies that favor those changes.
COMMON PROPERTY AND THE EXPANSION OF CATTLE RANCHING:
The fruits belong to all and the earth to no one
Security of Tenure and Property Rights Arguments
A variety of theories and approaches regarding property rights and tenure security
have been proposedwa which have influenced tenure policy, land reform and
development programs in developing countries. According to Ellsworth (2002), scholars
differ in their perception of what tenure security is, who should get it, its virtues for
society, and how it is obtained. In addition, empirical evidence shows that there is not a
single property regime that is inherently more efficient, optimal or ideal.
In developing countries, varying community property rights systems can be found,
some of which have survived the colonial era, despite the attempts to destroy them as
well as their natural resource base. In the words of Ellsworth, "during all this time the
voices of their members have been demanding a place in the world emphasizing the non-
market value of tenure security." Based on the western understanding of efficiency,
scholars and policy makers have generally supported property rights as individual, private
and tradeable titles. Private property is viewed as the indispensable precondition for
economic growth and development, and therefore assumed to be the cause of the
prosperity of Western countries. Two main theories supporting this view can be traced
back to Demsetz and Hardin (Figure 2-1). The evolutionary theory of property rights
proposed by Demsetz (1967) and Alchian and Demsetz (1973) argues that increasing
population pressure and commercialization of agriculture tend to cause the emergence of
private property rights as if it were a natural change in land tenure systems with time
(Otsuka and Place 2001). Hardin's (1968) tragedy of the commons model predicted the
eventual overexploitation or degradation of all resources and proposed that privatization
of public holding of resources was the solution.
Evolutionary Theory of Property Rights
and Potential Role of the M bayu
Private investment to
Individual Irnprove land
Increase use of
Common or Population State Public labor us ng and
Customary increases Ownership land saving
Ownership Land become (Protected Areas)
"Tragedy of the
Development of the land tenure institutions
Figure 2-1. Evolutionary Theory of Property Rights and Potential Role of the Mba~yu.
The evolutionary theory has influenced the resource management paradigm,
including protected areas policies (Maphosa 2002; Richards 1997; Berkes 1989, Brogden,
2003; Piurek 2003) and land reform programs. In the late 1980s and 1990s most countries
under the influence of the World Bank promoted individualized property regimes as the
means to achieve higher investment and increased productivity. It was argued that more
individualized land tenure regimes would not only allow a greater return on investment
but also create a demand for land improvements and increase credit worthiness and
farmer' s access to formal credit (Wilson and Nolan 2001; Deininger 2003). At the same
time to protect wildlife-rich areas and evade the "tragedy of the commons" the World
Bank supported the creation of new protected areas and the strengthening of national
protected area administration in different countries. According to this policy, protected
areas would evade the tragedy of the commons by taking them away from community
property and conferring them to state administration under a state property regime (West
and Brockington 2006). From these points of view, community property and indigenous
systems provided inadequate tenure security to obtain the rewards of investments made to
improve productivity or conserve biodiversity. In the context of land markets and land
redistribution, it was generally assumed that land would be transferred to the most
Nevertheless, in more recent times those assumption has been questioned (Jodha
2001; Wilson and Nolan 2001 ). Land titled to private landlords resulted in the
smallholder, peasant communities as well as from indigenous peoples loosing access to
land and a greater concentration of land among a few landholders (Jodha 1992, 2001;
Romero 2003; Scoones 2002; Wilson and Nolan 2001). Furthermore, accumulated
evidence and an expanding body of literature have revealed that arbitrary local population
exclusion from natural resource management can have negative effects upon natural
resources and their conservation (Jodha 1992, 2001; ILRI 1995; Kolhler-Rollefson 1993).
SWilson and Nolan (2001) cite different studies supporting as the main outcome of land registration
programs a decreased incidence of land disputes as a sign of tenure security. However, little relationship
could be found between land rights or land title and the use of formal credit; with regards to productivity or
farm investments, no relation could be found.
The nature of resource management within each maj or property regime is summarizes in
Table 2-1 below.
Table 2-1. Different Types of Property Regimes.
Open Access Resource rights are neither exclusive nor transferable and are owned
in common, but openly accessible to everyone, and therefore
effectively the property of no-one.
Ownership and management control is held by the nation state.
Access can be severely limited e.g., military areas, government
office and buildings, or more open as with state property that is held
on behalf of the public e.g., highways, navigable rivers, beaches,
Use rights for the resources are controlled by an identifiable group
and are not privately owned or managed by governments; there exist
rules concerning who may use the resources, as well as who is
excluded from using the resources, and how it may be used. Often
defined as indivisible, inalienable, not open to prescription, and land
cannot be attached for mortgage or lien purposes (inembargable).
Use rights to resources is attached to land ownership and freely
transferable as a market commodity; in some instances the state
imposes minimal management requirements e.g., management plan
or plan2 de ordenamniento predial (POP) in Bolivia.
Several studies reveal different factors that either enable or inhibit collective action,
and demonstrate how, in many cases, local populations are able to find ways to
appropriately manage the commons even under relatively complicated and adverse
conditions (Berkes 1989; Ostrom 1990, 1999; Otsuka and Place 2001). While the list of
those factors continues to grow, what is clear is that Hardin' s and Demsetz's predictions
are far from the only possible outcomes. Alongside individual private property, different
types of property regimes persist worldwide (Table 2-1)
The Common Property Argument and Community-Based Conservation
Common property activists and academics argue that common natural resources
make a significant contribution to the livelihood and economy of rural people. Common
property resources fill crucial gaps in the resource and income flows from other
resources, provide complementary inputs into agricultural systems, and often supply a
maj or source of livelihoods for indigenous peoples. According to Ellsworth (2000),
common property scholars identify the following virtues of common property:
* It supports a physical and cultural space that strengthens social links among people
* It can be the most efficient way to manage natural resources
* It often provides access to survival resources and sustenance (gives a "place in the
world") to millions of peoples worldwide.
Broadly speaking, under common property systems the natural resources are
accessible to the whole community and no individual has exclusive property rights (Jodha
1994). Research has shown that under common property, the rights of individuals are
defined and limited (Jodha 1994; Richards 1997; Otsuka and Place 2001, Berkes 1989,
2004; Ostrom 1990, 1992, 1999). Common property regimes are structured arrangements
in which group membership is known, outsiders are excluded, and rules are developed
and enforced. Hence, common property differs from open access. The examination of
existing common property regimes shows a number of factors favoring viable and
sustainable common property resources (CPR) management. Agrawal (2001: 1653)
argues that these factors can be split into four sets of variables: characteristics of the
resources, the nature of groups that depend on resources, the particulars of regimes or
institutions through which resources are managed and the nature of relationships between
a group and external forces and authorities such as markets, states, and technology
Com mon Property Framework
(Agaw- 201 B1Eril.- 19; Os-o 19 b 192
Common Prope rtyeue Bounarie *Natural Resources Characteristics.
*Well defined boundaries and Size
*Clearly defined membership
Management (CBRM) I Group *Past successful experiences
characteristics ,, ,,g ,, t identities and interest
*Concemed with environmental Local knowledge
management ue n om
Institutional ansn r
*Enabling local participation arrangement & *Monitoring
*Recognizing the local communities' normative *Enforcement and sanction
role for the development and *Accountability
implementation of environmental regime *ef. .
*External rules, policies and
*Context-sensitive planning Relationship institutions.
with the external *External support Nested
institutionS *Level of support, enforcement
Governance :Social and Ecological Systems
Self organization, Trust, Mutual monitoring, Combining different kind of knowledge, Learning from
crisis; Collaborative learning; Social networks; Reciprocity...
(Berkes 2004, 2005; Lane and McDonald 2005; Ostrom 199 .
Figure 2-2. The Common Property and Community Based Resource Management
On the other hand, community-based conservation (CBC) was defined by Lane and
Mc Donald (2005) in general terms, like "the deliberate, programmatic decentralization
of authority and resources to communities for the purposes of environmental
management." CBC as an inclusive and people oriented approach to conservation is in
part a reaction to the failures of exclusionary conservation (Berkes 2004). It consists of a
diverse set of practices, but common conceptual and operational foundations to this
bottom-up vision include (Agrawal and Gibson 1999; Lane and McDonald, 2005; Berkes
*Decentralizing government agencies and institutions concerned with environmental
* Recognizing the local communities' role for the development and implementation
of environmental policies
* Enabling local participation in more context-sensitive planning.
Despite the general acceptance of CBC, as a theoretical and practical approach
among resources management programs, some conservationists have concerns about the
emphasis on community-participation because this emphasis may attenuate the
conservation efforts (Campbell et al. 2000). According to Campbell et al. (2000) the
institutional control over common resources, which is essential for effective common
property resource management, is challenged by the pressure for removing it from the
traditional institutional systems based on a complex of norm. The factors, identified as
challenges to the CBC and CPR include
* national policies and legislation supporting privatization;
* proj ects that do not take in account local organization;
* changing and differentiated household strategies;
* new connections to markets;
* the loss of legitimacy of local organizations; and
* changing resource characteristics.
The discussion about the use of CBC and CPR approaches, Berkes (2004), Agrawal
and Gibson (1999), Ostrom (1999 and 2006) and Lane and Mac Donald (2005) express
concern about the conceptualization of a community which is generally defined as
"community as a distinct, relatively homogenous, spatially fixed social group that shares
a consciousness of being a community and which is characterized by consensus and
solidarity" (Lane and MacDonald 2005. pp713). Those authors argue that communities
are not static and harmonious social groups. On the contrary, communities are, and are
composed by, actors with interests, imperatives and agendas of their own. Consequently,
recognize and understand the manner in which they deal with differences within
community is fundamental to avoiding the further entrenchment of elites and the
increased marginalization of certain social groups leading to unjust outcomes. For that
reason, these authors propose that a focus on local institutions, rather than communities,
might provide for a more robust and effective approach. Berkes (2004) affirms that
communities are embedded in larger systems, and proposes that it may be more useful to
(re)think CBC in terms of "environmental governance and conservation action that stars
from the ground up but deals with cross-scale relations [promoting] a systems view of the
environment, a perspective that sees humans as part of ecosystems, and an emerging
practices of participatory management" (Berkes 2004 pp 28). Land and MacDonald
(2005) suggest that the CBC framework has the potential to take into account terms of
responding to environmental issues, in the context of the realities and complexities of
environmental governance. On other hand, CBC requires us to consider the overlap of
formal and informal institutions engaged in resource management and their interactions
at multiple political scales. Regarding CPR action, Berkes (2004, 2005) Olsson, Folke &
Berkes (2003), Bowles and Gintis (2000) and Brogden (2003) argue that the identity and
permanence of a group are not static, and therefore, successful natural resources
management depend on certain essential conditions
* cooperation, reciprocity, individual reputation and trust among the different group's
members and between the group and the external institutions;
* the resilience of local groups and communities;
* the capacity to learn from crisis and to nurture their organization;
* the capacity for self organization and conflict management;
* the capacity to combine knowledge and cooperative learning, learning by doing;
* correctly information flow.
From thus literature review a trend in the CPR and CBC approaches is noticed:
Agrawal (2001), Ostrom (1999, 2006), Berkes (1989, 2004, 2005), Olsson, Folke &
Berkes (2003) shifted from the community as the center of attention in a local context to
one that focuses more broadly on the nature of groups and their internal institutions as
well as their relationship with external institutions in a cross scale context. CPR,
including CBC, approaches has provided a general framework for analysis which
integrates ecological and socioeconomic systems under common property regimes.
Common Property and Indigenous People
We are on the edge of our last spatial frontiers, there are no additional territories
and resources, at a global scale, to mitigate the consequences and misbalances of
the actual predominant development patterns. [Castillo 2006]
While scholars discuss the issue, grassroots movements are looking for a "place in
the world" (Ellsworth 2000). Indigenous and traditional peoples inhabit a significant part
of the most bio-diverse regions of Latin America and the world. For indigenous peoples
the environment is intrinsically linked to their livelihood and cultural values, and
consequently with their territorial rights and struggle for autonomy (Arambiza 1998).
Even though indigenous peoples are not homogenous groups, as was previously assumed,
common access to land and to natural resources characterize them all around the world.
Far from being a simple open access system, individual rights are culturally restricted.
Rights of individual community members are usually established through customs, and
transfers of these rights are vested in the extended family, clan, or community (Otsuka
and Place 2001).
In recent years, different countries in Latin America have been increasingly
confronted with the need to address the territorial demands of indigenous peoples,
especially where they comprise a high percentage of their rural population. Since the end
of the 1980s the indigenous movement has gained a voice in the international forum and
has been increasingly integrated into international agendas,2 including that of
conservationists TOCOgnizing their rights to common access to natural resources and the
right of ownership and possession of the lands which they traditionally occupy has come
to be internationally recognized. In contrast to a discourse that favors the privatization
and individualization of rights to valued resources, the indigenous movement struggles to
defend their traditional tenure systems which typically are characterized by collective
rights. Indigenous common property systems continue to thrive and grow in Latin
America (Riverstone 2005). Indigenous people focus on land tenure issues because
property rights affect the way in which other policies will work.
Escobar (2005) and Hayck (2002) refer to indigenous peoples as perhaps the most
striking challenge to the dominant culture and socio-economic models of Latin American
societies. Indigenous people must confront opposing value systems. The capitalist
system, which is growth-oriented and embedded in globalizing imperativeS4 Sees human
beings as economic entities driven by self-interest. This is oriented around the wide
exclusion of direct access to the means of production and livelihood, and the requisite
outside-controls such as government or law to solve conflicts between self-interested
individuals (Heilbroner 1985). Opposing these values are the indigenous people's
2 COnvention No 169 of the General Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted, at
its seventy-sixth session (1989), concerns about indigenous and tribal peoples. It recognized officially the
aspirations of indigenous peoples to exercise control over their own institutions, ways of life and economic
development and maintain and develop their identities, languages and religions within the framework of the
States in which they live.
3 Rio 1992 for example.
4 Globalization as predominant economic driving force during the last decades (1989 to 2005), determine
the global agenda of crucial themes and the correspondent integration and modification of the institutional
politic of multilateral organisms like the IMF, WB, UN and at national levels the "structural adjustments"
of the states.
attitudes toward the land as common property, and particular relationships to it as part of
their culture and identity. In capitalism, nature is an inert obj ect, and people are the
master to transform it to their own benefit (Heilbroner 1985; Richards 1997). Therefore,
the path to development and growth is to make the land productive by cutting forests,
setting up cattle ranches, drilling oil, and promoting export agriculture. In contrast,
indigenous peoples maintain their own approach to the land that sees human activity as
part of, and dependent on, the natural world based on the idea of self-sufficiency (Hayck
In Latin America before the 1990s indigenous peoples were widely viewed as
backward, primitive, even deficient, and deep racism was rampant because of a failure to
see anything positive in their cultures, languages, and way of life. Kirby (2003) identifies
some structural and non-structural causes that opened a space for the emergence of the
indigenous question in the 1990s which took governments and analysts by surprise. At
that time, a well-educated young indigenous leadership developed a new political agenda
and dedicated themselves to fostering and protecting their people's distinct cultural
traditions, languages and world view. Kirby (2003) distinguishes the undermining of the
socialist paradigm with the end of the Cold War and with it "the left" who tended to view
indigenous peoples as a part of the oppressed class rather than having their own identity.
At the same time, indigenous groups throughout Latin America mobilized to oppose the
official celebration of the 500 years of the Americas' "discovery", calling their response
"500 years of indigenous resistance". Moreover, in "Rio 92" indigenous peoples were
recognized as important stakeholders in conservation, as forest guardians and holders of
There is no convincing empirical evidence that one type of property rights is
inherently more efficient, optimal, or ideal. The notion of what constitutes "efficiency",
"ideal", and "optimal" are themselves context-specific and constantly changing in a given
society. Today, various types of property rights can be found coexisting worldwide: state
ownership, individual or private and common property. The actual world economic
system supports the privatization and individualization of land property (Richards 1997).
Despite this, in many parts of the world the common property regime survives; in others,
the common property regime does not survive at all or it changes over time to adapt to
new circumstances; and, in other places, entirely new common property rules have been
built (Ellsworth 2004).
According to Richards in 1997 a total of two million square kilometers in the
Amazon Region were indigenous territories under common property management
regimes (CPMR), including the Amazon Region of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador,
Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela. This means that 25% of the Amazon
Region is occupied by an indigenous population of 925,000 peoples (Richards 1997).
Evidence suggests that over a half of Mexico' s forest are on community land (Antinori
and David 2004). According to Castillo (2006), protected areas and indigenous territories
are becoming the last remaining reserves of natural resources in Latin America. The
configuration of indigenous territories overlapping protected areas, despite the
contradictions, are part of the best possible alternatives for increasing the quality of life,
and at the same time, preserve the environment. Moreover, the social, ethnic and cultural
institutions and rights of local people may be strengthened in the process.
Thus, this could simultaneously and preserve the environment, in other words to
achieve conservation and development.
Factors Favoring the Expansion of Cattle Ranching
Over thousands of years, human cultures and the physical environment across vast
rangeland areas have been shaped by herding animals (FAO/GIEWS 2001). Cattle have
been a central element in the African pastoralists' livelihood and culture (Scooner 2002;
Cousins 1992; Bodley 1988). Cattle ranching was supported by European governments as
a strategy to conquer territories in the Americas and support the European accumulation
of wealth in the silver mines. The introduction of cattle was the main way that changed
the ancestral livelihood of Indigenous peoples in the "New World."
Today, livestock production accounts for more than the half of total value of
agricultural output (Steinfeld 2002; Kaimowitz 1996). The strong increase of production
of meat, particularly in the developing world over the past twenty-five years, is called
"the food revolution" or "the livestock revolution" (Owen 2002). This revolution has
changed not only farming and distribution practices but also the economic, social and
physical landscapes (Steinfeld 2002; Hall, Ehui and Delgado 2004; Black and Nicholson
2004; FAO 2005; Naylor et al. 2005). The costs of social equity, environmental
sustainability and public health have often been increased (Steinfeld 2002; Naylor et al.,
2005). According to Steinfeld (2002) the "livestock revolution" is connected to the
following factors: (1) a rapid and dynamic increase in consumption of livestock products
principally in developing countries, (2) a change in livestock production practices from
local multi-purpose activity to an increasingly market-oriented business, (3) a geographic
shift of livestock production from temperate to warmer ant tropical environments, (4) the
national government and international-development incentives and subsides, and (5) an
increasing requirement and competitiveness on grazing and water resources, managed
today under common property regimes.
Increase in Consumption
In developing countries between 1980 and 2004, per capital consumption of meat
doubled and production tripled (FAO 2005). Globally, population growth and changing
food consumption habits are predicted to double the demand for livestock and its
production in the developing countries over the next twenty years (Pica-Ciamarra 2005;
Leonard 2005; Owen 2002). Urbanization, rising incomes, and the globalization of trade
are the main reasons mentioned for the growth in meat consumption in developing
countries favoring meat consumption (Vera 2001, Blake and Nicholson 2004). According
to Blake and Nicholson (2004), about 70% more meat will be consumed in 2020 than in
2000, and most of it (60% global production) will be consumed in developing countries
(Delgado et al. 1999 cited by Blake and Nicholson 2004).
In contrast with worldwide indices, in Latin America the 77% of the total
population lives in cities (Vera 2001) while the world average is 49% (Table 2-2). The
consumption of meat in Latin America was calculated as 35 to 45 kg per capital, with the
bovine meat making up approximately 50% of that total (21 kg). This indicates that in
contrast to per capital consumption African and developed countries, Latin Americans eat
considerable more bovine (and buffalo) meat per capital (Table 2-2).
Market-Driven Changes in Production Practices
The "livestock revolution" has focused on industrial-scale operations that have
increasingly gained control over raising, processing and marketing of meat.
Industrializing livestock systems have based on declining real prices for feed grains,
advances that have improved feed-to-meat conversion efficiencies, animal health, and
reproduction rates, as well as cheaper transportation costs and trade liberalization (Naylor
et al. 2005; Uptom 2004; Vera 2001). Today we see different production systems (Table
2-3), although there is a tend to shift from the traditional system based on natural
grassland to a more intensive cattle ranching systems based on management and market
specialization: a) highly intensive grass-feed finishing operations, b) breeding-growing
systems, and c) extensive breeding systems (Vera 2001; Porzecanski personal comment
FAO has estimated that industrial livestock operations are growing twice as fast as
traditional mixed farming systems and six times as fast as grazing systems (Steinfeld
2002; FAO 2005). This fast growth has defined economies and ways of life across many
prairies and rangelands across the world. In Central and South America land has become
concentrated in the hands of a few and large areas have been transformed into soybean
monoculture and cattle ranches (Hillstron & Hillstron 2004; Naylor et al. 2005). This
situation has become a threat, not only to the tropical forest but also to the survival of
local communities and indigenous people who inhabit it.
Despite the industrial livestock system prevalence, an alternative market for
extensive grass-feed system production is developing globally. Product from pastoral
systems have become more valuable because there is evidences that the meat of these
systems has a lower saturated fat and is richer in iron and omega 3 fatty acids (Vera
2001). Together with those nutritional characteristics of meat produced on pastoral
systems, those systems are, in general, more compatible with ecosystems and the
maintenance of biodiversity, than highly intensive and industrial ones.
Social and Economic
Table 2-2. Population, Land and Cattle Herd in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC)
Contrasting to World Indexes.
Human Polulation, millions (2005)
Total area (million ha)
Ha per capital (2005)
Consumption of animal protein (% of total protein)
Meat per capital consumption (1992), kg/year
Cattle million head (1995)
Head per capital
Grassland (million ha)
Meat production, millions of tons (1995)
Source Vera (2001) and FAOstast 2006
Table 2-3. Cattle Ranching Systems of Meat Production.
System of Production & Ecological Characteristics
Highly intensive (industrial)
Grass-feed finishing operation.
Mixed farming systems
Extensive razing system.
Grass-feed systems based
mainly on native grassland
with little or no crops
Not connected to the local
Intensive production. Include
the urban or peri-urban
production in developing
Based on grass with strategic
feed supplementation which
integrates livestock and crop
production on the same farm.
strongly define the nature and
scope of livestock-
environment interactions in
grazing systems. In this
system livestock interact with
land, water, and plant and
It is strongly market driven,
making them less resilient to
market upheavals than other
systems. Connected to
These represent the main
systems for smallholder
farmers; resource use is often
highly self-reliant as nutrients
and energy flow from crops to
livestock and back
Grazing livestock is a
fundamental source of
livelihood for million people
around the world, mostly
living on common property.
Many of them have become
the base to extensive breeding
Livestock Production-Geographic Shift
For several reasons, including higher energy prices and more rigorous pollution
controls, livestock production in the industrial world is moving to warmer areas of
developing countries (Steinfeld 2002; Naylor 2005; Kaimowitz 1996). In the developing
world, there has been a strong shift in production to the more tropical zones aided by
the recent availability of better disease control, advances in ruminant nutrition, and
breeding systems technologies. Modern, intensive meat production is threatening
important ecosystems since it requires the use of large quantities of natural resources,
particularly land and water (Hill and York 2003).
In Latin America the index of land per capital is higher than the world one (Table 2-
2). This supposed availability of land made "South America, in particular, together with
Africa, the biggest world arable reserve of land" (Vera 2001:6 based on Gallopin et al.,
and WRI 1996). Over the last decades, millions of cattle have been "moved" into the
more humid savannas in Asia, Africa and Latin America, challenging community
property rights to natural resources and in turn the subsistence systems of rural people
(Steinfeld, 2002). For example, China and Brazil alone increased production by 59
million ton between 1967 and 1998 (FAO 2005). Brazil has become the world' s largest
producer of beef and is the second-largest consumer, only behind the United States.
Government incentives related to development of infrastructure used in livestock
production feed, water, energy, roads, fencing as well as policies regarding market
prices and subsidies are increasingly being recognized as the direct driving forces related
to cattle ranching expansion (Hill and York 2003). At the same time, credit and trends
toward privatization act as important indirect incentives promoting the expansion of
cattle ranching. During the 1960s and 1970s, international agencies such as the World
Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the US Agency for International
Development (USAID) supported efforts to promote beef production and exports as a
central focus of economic growth (Williams 1986 cited by Kaimowitz 1996). In the
1970s the cattle industry came under criticism on both environmental and social grounds.
A series of critical studies prompted by Parsons focused the attention on the negative
effects of livestock expansion on forests (Kaomowitz 1996).
Over the last few decades Latin American countries have been pushed to adopt
economic reforms designed to encourage investment and entrepreneurship, promoting the
privatization of large tracts of land. According to Naylor et al. (2005), land conversion in
the Brazilian grassland and rainforest exemplifies the large impact of the continued
expansion of cattle ranching, a product of a national development policy. The large and
medium-sized ranches account for about 70% of the total clearing activity (Naylor et al.
2005). According to Fearnside (2005) by 2003 the forest cleared in Brazilian Amazonia
had reached 648,500 km2 the 16.2% of the 4 millions km2 Originally forested portion of
Brazil's Legal Amazon Region, including approximately 100,000 km2 Of "old" (pre-1970)
deforestation in Para and Maranhio.
Cattle Ranching as a Complement to the Rural Livelihood Strategy of the Poor
There are around 500 million rural poor people around the world that depend on
raising livestock for some or all of their food and income (Figure 2-3) (FAO 2005; Pica-
Ciamarra 2005). Small farmers rely on livestock to pull their ploughs, fertilize their
fields, and serve as a source of food and as saving that can be cashed in when needed.
Many rural households base their livelihoods on a few animals fed on grass and forage
from common property pastures and forest. Peasant and indigenous communities are also
increasing their livestock numbers as a complement to their subsistence economy and as
a "savings account" to use in times of scarcity and emergency (Mock 2005).
Sub Saharac~ Z
Africa A i
A me rica
Figure 2-3. Distribution of Poor Livestock Keepers Worldwide. Source FAO (2005: 6)
National Context and Bolivian Lowlands
Located at the core of the South America, Bolivia is characterized by its natural and
cultural diversity. The total area is 1,098,581 km2 with altitudes varying from 6,000
meters above sea level in the Andean cordillera to fewer than 200 meters above sea level
in the lowland of the Eastern plain. Bolivia is characterized by a great diversity of
ecological and cultural conditions. According to the 2002 National Census the total
population was 8,274,325. The Indigenous population represents 62% of the total
population; the great maj ority are Quechuas and Aymaras living in the highland and
valleys. In contrast, the eastern lowlands indigenous are 150,000 to 200,000 peoples
representing 2.5% of the total population, but belonging to more than 38 ethno-linguistic
groups (1995 indigenous census). Among those 60,000 Guaranies live in 246
communities (FAO 2004).
Even though Bolivia is identified as an Andean highland country, three-fourths of
the territory is tropical lowlands. Due to the ecological conditions of the Bolivian
lowlands and the mineral interest of the colonial and early republican governments, the
lowland Bolivian indigenous peoples were not militarily controlled during the colonial
and early Republican times. However, the Jesuit and Franciscan missions and the rubber
boom in the second half of the nineteenth century made life difficult for lowland Bolivian
indigenous peoples. But the subsistence base of hunter-gatherers and cultivators in the
remaining tropical forests never was as threatened as it was by the later advance of
loggers, settlers, agribusiness, drug dealers, cattle raisers, and miners who have
intensified their activities since the 1950s. The Bolivian national development strategy
since the 1950s has been oriented towards the international market and economic
diversification proposed by the Plan2 Bohan. 6 COnsequently, the 1953 Agrarian Reform
supported the distribution of land in the valley and the Andes, while in the eastern
lowlands the "neo-latifimdio was legalized to embrace agro-industrial development
(Urioste 1992; Kay & Urioste 2005). Therefore, the rights of lowlands' indigenous
peoples were denied or viewed as a barrier to be eliminated. The market' s advance in the
form of the businessmen, ranchers, and entrepreneurs motivated by the riches of the
forests has been supported by policies of governments, international agencies, and
The development policies were reflected in the 1955 Govemnment Plan which urged
the colonization of tropical lowlands by Europeans and highland peasants. Considering
western technology as the solution to "the lack of productive use" of regional lands,
5 Development as a concept was created after the World War II. Harry Truman offered "development" as
fair deal for the undeveloped world; by this concept prosperous western societies constitute the model that
the rest of the world should strive to attain. The concept was created to justify the assistance of the more
prosperous, or "first world" countries to the less prosperous "third world" in becoming more "advanced"-
high levels of industrialization and urbanization, technicalization of the agriculture, rapid growth of
material production, and the adoption of modern education and cultural values (Escobar 1994).
6 US Bohan mission that visited Bolivia in 1948. As a result of this in 1953 the Bolivia received $5 million
in economic aid. By 1958 total US assistance accounted for one third of the national budget, making
Bolivia became the largest recipient of US aid in Latin America (Klein 1982: 238 in Beneria-Surkin 2003)
between 1954 and 1962, colonies of foreign Mennonites were established, and colonies
of Russians, Eastern Europeans, and Japanese were also set up. These foreign colonizers
were seen as a means to ensure the modernization of lowland agriculture. Since 1985,
with the Supreme Decree No. 21060,7 the Bolivian economy has changed even more
radically, with the liberalization of the markets. Agro-industry mechanized agriculture,
cattle ranching and logging continued receiving important support from the Bolivian
state in the name of "development". They had access to cheap and abundant credit,
subsidized prices, and failed to pay rural property taxes (Boj anic 1988 cited by Beneria-
Surkin 2003; Kay & Urioste 2005). This agricultural bonanza also resulted from a shift
to large-scale production of export crops, which were more profitable. Land
concentration and high rates of deforestation were registered. For example, in Santa Cruz
in 1950 the cultivated area was only 60 thousand hectares and that increased to over a
million after the mid 1980s. In the 1990s, just 4 % of land holders in Beni and Santa Cruz
owned 82% of the land (Fundacion Tierra, 2005). According to Camacho et al. (2001) in
Santa Cruz Department 1,424,033 ha were deforested between 1993 and 2000. Private
cattle ranching is an important productive activity in the lowland departments of Beni and
Santa Cruz (Fairfield, 2004; Plan del Uso del Suelo 1996). The cattle herd in Bolivia
consists of 5,730,025 head, and the 72. 6% of this herd is found in those departments.
Cattle ranching is an important productive activity in Bolivian lowland contributing
to Bolivia' s GPD (Bojanic 2001, cited by Fairfield, 2004) and it significantly supports
SBy 1983, the foreign debt represented 80% of Bolivia's gross domestic product, and the country fall into
hyperinflation. President Paz Estenssoro (1985-89) in 1985 adopted the New Economic Plan known as
Decree # 21060, termed a free-market "shock treatment". The decree deregulated prices, eliminated
subsidies and supports, devalued the currency, and suspended foreign payments. The impact was
immediate: unemployment and migration of relocated workers was massive.
rural incomes and diversified household activities (Faifield 2004). Despite this increased
role of cattle ranching, its influences on communal institutions are poorly researched in
the Bolivian context.
THE ISOSO AND STAKEHOLDERS
todos esos lugares no tenian duefios karai, por eso al primer Capitan lo llamabamos
lyambae (sin duefio). Este territorio era libre. Asi era nuestra tierra [all those places
did not have an owner, thus the first Captain was named lyamnbae (without owner).
This territory was free. That our land was] Agustin Chiraye, araakua iya (duefio del
consej o), La Brecha. (cited by Dixhoorn 1996)
The Isoso and the Gran Chaco
The Isoso is part of the southern portion of the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz
in the Chacoan province of Cordillera, and the Municipality of Charagual is located
between 630and 610 30' West longitudes and 1703 8' and 20015' South latitudes (map 3-
1). Situated in the tropical dry forest of the Bolivian Chaco, it is part of the "Gran Chaco
Americano" ecoregion which is the continent's second most extensive forested region
after Amazonia. The Gran Chaco extends over parts of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia,
with a small portion in Brazil, occupying in all more than 1,000,000 km2. The broad
climatic gradients, together with geological and topographic characteristics, generate a
wide diversity of environments such as wide plains, swamps, and seasonally flooded
savannas, and a great variety of forest and scrublands. The Gran Chaco is characterized
by a high diversity of animal and plant species adapted to its extreme conditions (Taber et
al. 1994, 1997; Navarro et al. 1998).
SCharagua is the municipality (Bolivian administrative unit) which includes the Isoso. There is also a
town of Charagua, west of the Isoso, which is the municipal headquarters.
V -brAguaratlThe Bajo Isoso
San Silvestre I~ Koropo
Mlni 4 YovI
Yuqu lP Aguer gua Corazozn Histrodico
Rancho Nuevo )b Rancho Viejo
Le Brecha 'C The Central Isoso
K< Brecha )
K< Montenegro aThe Alto Isoso
K~araparl The Isoso Frontier
Figure 3-1. Location of the Communities in the Alto y Baj o Isoso.
The Bolivian Chaco is a physiographic unit, a continuation of the "Beni" plain
(llanura Beniana), extending across 13,766,3 km2 and three Bolivian departments:
Chuquisaca, Tarija and Santa Cruz. The Chaco has a semi-tropical, semi-arid climate
with extreme temperatures with the median temperature from 260C to 250C; and
extremes reaching 430 C under shadow in summer (January) and in winter the
temperature could drop below zero degrees because of cold winds from Antarctica, called
surazos from June to August (Dixhoorn 1996; Navarro 1998; Taber 1994). The dry
season lasts from 4 to 8 months per year from May to September, some years extending
until December. Rainfall is less than 1000 mm in the northern part and in the Andean
foothills and averages 300 mm in the plain. The annual and monthly variability in rainfall
0 Rainfall (January) in Rainfall (Feb to Dec)
(Figure 3-2) as well as the soil mosaic is an important characteristic of the Chaco
Figure 3-2. Annual Rainfall in Charagua, Source Dixhoorn (1996).
The Chaco has been known since the Inca times as the territory of "good hunting",
because of its richness of fauna, principally large mammals such as the Chacoan peccary
(Catagonus wagneri), white lipped peccary (Talyassu pecari), collared peccary (Pecari
tajacu), tapir (Taxpirus terrestris), guanaco (La~na guanicoe vogli), giant armadillo
(Priodontes nzaxintus), gray brocket deer (Mazanza gouazoupira), and jaguar (Panthera
onca). The Bolivian Gran Chaco located in the department of Santa Cruz represents the
best conserved area of this threatened ecorregion.
The Bolivian Gran Chaco is a center not only of natural but also of cultural
diversity. The region was home to groups of nomadic hunters, gatherers and fishermen,
and some sedentary agriculturalists. Different linguistic groups such as the Zamuco -
Ayoreode; Tupi Guarani Isosefio, Ava, and Simba; and Matako/Maka Mataco and
Weenhayek are present in the Bolivian Gran Chaco (TNC et al. 2005). The Bolivian Tupi
Guarani or "Chiriguanos2" Were characterized by their strong warrior society and the
ability to defend their land; they maintained their independence much longer than any
other indigenous group in Latin America. This, along with their historical interaction with
the external world (colonial, post-colonial, other indigenous groups, etc.) makes them
somewhat unique. Unfortunately, what they share with the rest of the indigenous peoples
of America is having witnessed the severe erosion of both their land base and access to
natural resources (Albo 1992, Beneria-Sukin 2003). During the first half of the twentieth
century, the Guarani were on the brink of extinction. After the Republican military
intervention in 1892 with the battle of Kuryuki,3 their resistance was shattered leaving
little hope for their future. Some Guarani communities lost almost all of their population
Guarani people moved to haciendas in the Bolivian Chaco or emigrated to Argentina to
work in the sugar cane harvests as zafr~eros temporary rural workers in the sugar cane
harvest (Albo 1992; Heyck 2002). Francisco Pifarre (cited by Albo 1990) estimated that
26,000 Guarani emigrated to Argentina in the early decades of the twentieth century, and
nearly 80,000 Guarani and mestizos were obligatorily sent to the northern rain forest to
work on rubber plantations. Throughout this period, multiple forms of resistance
including both armed struggle and strategies of negotiation had developed. The Chaco
War in the Guarani territory, which lasted from 1932 to 1935, dispersed them even more
and the few remaining people were absorbed by the haciendas. The 1953 Agrarian
2 The term "Chiriguano" is not accepted by the Guarani themselves due it use in a discriminatory way by
the others. Guarani is a more generic name referring to the wide family present in five nations: Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Chiriguano is a more specific name for Guarani in the west near to
the Andes Cordillera in Bolivia including the Mbya, Ava, Isosenos and Simba (Albo 1990).
3 IH One day more than 800 Guarani were killed by the Bolivian army. In total Guarani deaths exceeded
more than 3000, and 2000 Guarani were taken prisoner and dispersed in different regions as peones (Albo
Reform did not benefit the Guarani people. The Agrarian Reform formalized the new-
latifimdio to support the governmental programs based on agro-industrial development
(Urioste 2003, n/d; Kay and Urioste 2005). The Guarani never accepted the redistribution
of land that they still regarded as theirs.
Despite the dispersion, the Guarani people were not assimilated as peasant or
simple labor workers but continued the struggle through a strategy of political
negotiation, maintaining their basic values, language and dignity. Through the years
many Guarani have returned to their communities, even though today some of them are
still "captives" on the haciendas while others are living in isolated communities with very
little land (Villegas 2006). However, in some cases the Guarani exert political control
over relatively large land areas through communities united in the form of Capitanias.
One of these areas is the Isoso where the Capitania del Alto y Baj o Isoso (CABI) is
At present, the Isosefio villages are the only ones in the study area, however,
several other stakeholders neighbor and interact with the Isosefio people:
1. Cattle ranchers and Agro-industry entrepreneurs.
2. Mennonite colonies.
4. The local, regional and national authorities. The Municipality of Charagua, the
province of Cordillera and departmental authorities of Santa Cruz.
5. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs): Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS),
Apoyo para el Campesino Indigena del Oriente Boliviano (APCOB), Centro de
Investigaci6n y Promoci6n del Campesinado (CIPCA).
6. Catholic and Evangelical churches that support development and production proj ects.
7. Private petroleum companies.
Map. Location of different Property Regimes
andi stakeholders in the TCO-Is~oo
Polygons 1- 5
SPrivate Properties (titled)
Private Properties (title in
- CABI titled land
~I Rivers: Grrande and Parapeti
I TCO Isoso limits
SArea of Mennonite colonies in
Figure 3-3. Map of the TCO-Isoso and Location of Different Stakeholders.
The Guarani Isosefio Communities
More than twenty communities, dispersed along the banks of the Parapeti River,
are politically organized in the Capitania delAlto y Bajo Isoso (CABI). The National
Census (2002) registered 6,363 people in Isoso. However, according to CABI's own
estimation there are around 10,000 inhabitants. That difference may be explained by the
high seasonal migration outside of the Isoso to the sugar cane harvest. Despite those
differences Table 3-1 based on the Bolivian National Census of 2002, gives an idea of the
population distribution among the Isosefio communities. Isiporenda, the southern-most
community, is about 60 kilometers from the municipal center Charagua. The most
northern-most community along the Parapeti river banks, Kuarirenda, is over 150
kilometers from Charagua (Map 3-1). Even though during the dry season several routes
lead to Isoso, the most stable access from Santa Cruz city is through Charagua, requiring
about 7 to 9 hours to reach La Brecha, the central Isosefio community.
The Guarani -Isosefio people are originally derived from a fusion between a
migratory Tupi- Guarani group and the Arawak-Chane peoples established on the
Parapeti banks. The Guarani -Isosefio communities have experienced the aggression of
the colonizers and the Republican military repression, and later the Chaco War, which
practically left the Isoso empty. The present communities in Isoso share a set of specific
cultural characteristics: the Nande reko "our Guarani way of life"; a common origin
and history; the Mba~yu (vision or dream); CABI as their political organization; and the
TCO Isoso as their common territorial demand. Therefore, they constitute a demographic
4 Between the 1940's and 1960's the area was intensively explored by hydrocarbon companies. The seismic
testing lines opened at that time are used as roads.
The Guarani Way of Life : The Randereko
Despite having suffered military devastation, the Guarani-Isosefio maintain many
aspects of their 'traditional' livelihood strategies. The Nandereko is based on cooperative
work and reciprocity as one of the main internal values which keeps the society and the
extended family units together, it is the basis of social and economic relations (Albo,
1992; Beneria-Surkin 2003; Heyck 2002).The household is the unit of production and
reproduction. Each household is composed of an extended family and is part of a social
network known as Teta (community or village). The communal life characterized by
strong kinship ties and reciprocal relationships is the most important element of the
The Isosefio livelihood is based on a subsistence economy. They farm for their own
consumption' and only the excess is sold. The main crops are corn, rice, yucca- manioc,
kumanda or beans and joco (squash). Some households cultivate fruit trees such as
banana, citrus and papaya. Hunting, fishing and gathering are important elements of their
livelihood strategy. There are more than 135 species of plants used by the Isosefio and
botanically described (Bourdy 2002). Bourdy describes the medicinal and non medicinal
uses such as human food, animal feed, handicraft, construction materials, firewood, toys,
decoration, agricultural practices and veterinary medicine. According to Cuellar et al.
(2004), 21 different species of mammals, 9 of birds and one reptile are the most
frequently hunted animals by the Isosefios. Breeding domestic animals and their
integration into the labor market are important complements to livelihood strategies.
They raise goats, pigs, chickens and cattle. Many Isosefio are wage-workers such as
SAccording to Beneria-Surkin (1988) to replace the subsistence production the Isosehio must earn 17.46 Bs per
peons in cattle ranches or jornaleros in the sugar cane harvest, school teachers,
technicians in NGOs and governmental institutions.
The present-day Guarani Isosefio communities are not completely uniform.
According to common kinship, history, ethnicity, etc., the communities can be grouped in
six different "sub-zones" (Combes 1999), going from south to north, summarized as
follows (Figure 3-1).
The Isoso frontier
Coming from town of Charagua, which is located west of Isoso the first two
communities are Isiporenda and Karapari (Figure 3-4). This is a fragile but fertile
frontier. Fragile because the closeness to town of Charagua and the more constant contact
with non- Guarani people makes them susceptible to many different cultural influences,
and fertile because the river' s water is available almost all the year allowing them a rich
harvest. This is a transition between the karai and Guarani worlds. The community is
occupied, in addition to Isosefios, by Ava- Guarani and Tapiete, and also many karai'~~~~kkkkk~~~~kkkk
have had their ranches and homes in Isiporenda. They have developed a relation of
mutual cooperation with the Mennonites neighbors (my observation). The Mennonites
and Isiporenda inhabitants have exchanged of experiences and knowledge. In the summer
of 2005, I observed that the Mennonites' presence was crating incentive for agricultural
market-oriented production in Isiporenda. The Guarani producers rent machinery and use
technology from the Mennonites, who, in turn, rent land from Isiporenda. Interviewees
talked about school children and teachers helping Mennonites harvest cotton as a part of
6 Karai is the Guarani term referring to miollos, mestigos and whites, all those groups that are not Guarani or other
indigenous people that they identify.
an unofficial agreement of cooperation between the Isiporenda community and the
The Alto Isoso
Continuing to the north by the main road, one reaches Kopere Guasu, Kopere
Montenegro, Kopere Brecha, Kopere Loma, Kapeatindi and Yapiroa. All these
communities originated from the ancestral communities Grundeiti and Samnouti. The four
Koperes are almost like neighborhoods of one large community (Figure 3-4). In Kopere
Guasu there are many Ava- Guarani, whose predecessors came to work as peons in the
ranches. Those communities conserve Guarani traditions such as Arete Gua~su (the main
celebration of good harvest) and together they began negotiating for a legal communal
title beginning in 1922. They received the official title in 1948.
The Central Isoso
Ivasiri, La Brecha and Tamachindi are included in the same communal title
received in 1947 and reconfirmed in 1978. This zone oflIsoso once was known as
Guirayoasa. At the beginning of the 1900s only one community was located on the
eastern bank of the Parapeti River (Figure 3-5). Experiencing severe problems with
ranchers, people decided to move to the western bank where they founded three
communities before the Chaco War. Today one of those communities, La Brecha, is the
political center of Isoso.
The Coraz6n Hist6rico del Isoso
The historical heart of the Isoso is located on the eastern bank (Figure 3-5) and it is
the place where the first Guarani Isosefio arrived; guided by female leader, Kaa Poti, they
established the first community known as Kovei. The present communities of Koropo,
Table 3-1. Population in the Communities of Isoso.
The Isoso Frontier
The Alto Isoso
The Central Isoso
274 300 162
as 149 80
La Brecha SD
The Corazon historico del Isoso
12 Rancho Nuevo
15 Rancho Viejo
The Karai Isose
20 San Silvestre
The Bajo Isoso
The Returning i
TOTAL 7,077 6,363 3,166 3,197
Source INE Bolivia, National Census 2002 and Combes (1999).
The Bolivian National Census of 2002 did not register the population of Yuqul, Plklrenda and Guandare, probably because
those communities are too small, dispersed and closely related to other communities. Their population may have been
included in the counts for other communities, ( Yuqul could be Included in Mini, Plklrenda In K~oropo and Guandare In
K~uartrenda). Combes (1999) does not report population of Mini, Yuqul, Plklrenda, Guandare, Joseravl and Tetarembel
because those communities were established after 1999, originally being cattle ranches (suestos ganaderos). Because the
communities frequently change location, as well as experiencng dlsintegratlon and the establishment of new communities, It
Is not surprising that figures of the number of villages and population differ according to different sources. Today, It seems
that infrastructure such as schools and health services are factors that Influence a more fixed location.
No of inhabitants Male Female
Aguaraigua,Yovi, Guairapembi (Rancho Viejo) and Yarumbairu (Rancho Nuevo) all
originated from the first Guarani-Isoseno community of Kovei. According to Albo (1990)
the first title for Yovi and Aguaraigua was received in 1927. And in 1947 Koropo was
included. Koropo, Yovi and Aguaraigua always have worked together, and have shared
Arete Gua~su. Despite the same origin Guairapembi was left behind. Unfortunately it has
been surrounded by ranches with which there were perpetual confrontations, issues that
deeply affected them. Land tenure problems were growing, as well as problems of access
to natural resources, and they could not title their land. The community was divided;
some of them moved to the western river bank for a more peaceful life, and established
Yarumbairu (Rancho Nuevo), later Mini and Yuki. In 1962 the titling process was
initiated by the three communities together and when they received the title in 1969 it
was for land located on the western bank. Guairapembi never got a title until it was
included in the common TCO-Isoso title.
Many karai have lived in the Isoso since they first arrived in the mid-1800s. Some
of them live far away on their ranches, but others live in the communities together with
the Guarani-Isosefios. Those that live in the communities and take part in the communal
life are considered members. Mixed communities as Koropo and Aguarati are examples
of such communities. But three communities are inhabited almost only by karai:
Paraboca, Tamane and San Silvestre (Figure 3-5). They were incorporated into the CABI
organization in 1997. Then during the TCO titling process, Tamane negotiated to become
private property, and they received one family title. Paraboca and San Silvestre officially
decided to be part of CABI as communities.
The Bajo Isoso
Kuarirenda and Aguarati (Figure 3-6) are part of a history of moves. Because of the
changes in the river (floods and drought) and the ranchers' pressures, these communities
have continually changed location. Kuarirenda received a title to its land in 1972, but the
conflicts with cattle ranchers continued.
Returning to Isoso
A new Guarani -Isosefio sub-zone is recently taking shape in the TCO-Isoso. The
Isosefios that had lived outside the Isoso, including some that worked as peons on
neighboring ranches, decided to establish two new communities Joseravi and
Tetarembei, both supported by CABI. These new communities are located north from
Kuarirenda and their organization of production differs from the rest of Guarani -Isoso.
Land is divided into nuclear family plots which in many cases are clearly delimited by
fences. Inside those areas are located the house, the farming plot and domestic animals .
Each community has a communal "capitan" who maintains relationships with CABI
leaders. The community members still have strong ties with the urban areas, for example
most of the children are studying in urban schools (in Santa Cruz city) and only visit their
parents during the holidays. Sometimes the mother lives with the children in the city
during the school year.
Land Use in Guarani Isoso
Land is considered to be common property that the ancestors have left for all
members of the community (Beneria-Surkin 2003). Land tenure will be deal in Chapter 4,
but the history is summarized briefly below. Customary common property rights
SObservation made during my Tetarembei field trip 2004, when I was gathering information for a waste
management program and visited several houses
characterized the Guarani Isosefio Nandereko. The cattle ranchers' arrival forced the
Guarani Isosefio people to seek a new way to defend the common access to land and
natural resources. After shifting from warriors to negotiators, they obtained seven
communal titles that included almost all communities 65,000 ha, (Figure 3-1).
The Territory is the central element in the struggle to subsist, around which the
indigenous peoples have tended to proj ect an essential construction of identity. For this
reason and their immersion in land tenure dynamics, since the 1980s indigenous people in
the lowlands have mobilized to demand the titling of their lands and territories (Albo
1996). As a result, Bolivia, and other Latin American countries, has recognized some
indigenous land and territorial rights over the last few decades. The agrarian reform or
Ley INTRA (Law no. 1725 of 1996) recognizes the indigenous people's territorial demand
as Tierra~s Comunitaria~s de Origen (TCO) in accordance with the International Labor
Organization (ILO) Convention 169 (Romero 2003). During the elaboration of the Santa
Cruz Land Use Plan (Plan del Uso de Suelo de Santa Cruz, PLUS, froml992 to 1995)
and the INTRA Law (from 1994 to 1996) CABI actively participated, designing their own
proposal for indigenous territories. Together with other indigenous peoples, forming the
Central Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Bolivian (CIDOB), they argued for the legal
recognition of indigenous peoples' territories or communal land of origin (TCO). The
Guarani Isosefios officially presented their demand for TCO-Isoso, at the time the INTRA
Law was approved in 1996, and CABI guaranteed the financial support to complete the
administrative title process (saneamniento SAN-TCO). Following the approval of INRA
Law (1996)8 CABI has been a key actor in the SAN-TCO process.
SThe results of the process of TCO titling "saneamiento in Bolivian lowland shows the next data: 55 TCO formally
demanded 25,794,177 hectares of thenl only 3,214,565 hectares were titled as TCO only five TCO completely titled
The Guarani Isosefio people can hunt and collect everywhere in their territory and
each family or household can clear and farm the quantity of land that is needed to support
their livelihood. Farming, hunting and gathering are part of the Guarani Isosefios
Nandereko. The main use areas, to agriculture, cattle ranching, and village facilities
including housing, were surveyed by FII-CABI technicians, at the end of 2004 and
beginning of 2005' (Table 3-2).
Table 3-2. Main Land Use in Isoso, per Sub-zones.
CattleArea AgriculArea UrbanArea Total Area
Sub-zone (ha) (ha) (ha) (ha)
The Isoso Frontier 7,028 180 46 7,254
The Alto Isoso 28,817 896 108 29,821
Central Isoso 16,228 971 106 17,305
The Coraz6n hist6rico del
Isoso 19,570 821 183 20,573
The Karai Isoso 30,549 5 47 30,601
The Bajo Isoso 28, 160 454 137 28,751
Returning to Isoso 4,020 0 164 4,184
TOTALS (ha) 134,372 3,326 790 138,489
Source CABI Data Base 2005
Urban Area in Table 3-2 is the area where houses and village infrastructure are
located. School buildings, health services and churches, as well as a soccer field are
found in almost every community or village. The households are dispersed on both sides
of the road. Beneria-Surkin (2003) provides a description of a typical Isoso household:
Beyond on both sides of the road one can see typical one room Izocefio houses.
The area immediately surrounding the house is cleared of any vegetation but nearby
a few trees and vegetation is always left. Usually roofs are thatched with palm
leaves but some houses have corrugated metal roofs and others are made of tiled
roofs. Occasionally, one finds an isolated house, but it is more common to find
and 3() partially. Ironically, 4.2 million hectares were titled as private to third party inside the TCO's demands. The
government weakness, the agrarian elites' pressure, and corruption among the governmental officers are the main
elements that characterize the land saneamiento during these ten years. As a result of this negative balance the peasant
and indigenous movements still support the common property as a keystone to their strategy to subsist and take a place
in the world.
9 In summer of 2()(5 I interviewed Zulema Barahona and Crecencio Arambiza (FII-CABI technicians responsible for
the survey) and other peoples in the communities. I had access to CABI data base.
several houses near each other, each one belonging to one of the nuclear families
that make up a household. [Beneria-Surkin 2003]
With respect to agricultural areas, all household farming plots are located together
in the same area on the banks of the Parapeti River (Figure 3-4 and Figure 3-5 where the
agricultural plots are represented by green polygons). Agricultural plots belong to the
families, or households and, who have the right to use, but not to sell or rent the land to
others. According to Beneria-Surkin (2003), the Isosefios believe "that one should not
exaggerate" and should use only what is needed. Therefore, the farming plots vary from
approximately 2.3 to 7 hectares (this size of familiar plot substantially differs from the
peasant or small farmers and colonists who legally demand 50 ha plots). Some areas are
planted and the rest of the plot is left fallow. The "Karai" and "Returning to Isoso"
subzones present a notable difference in household structure and land use distribution in
relation to the other Isosefio communities. In Tetarembei and Joseravi ("Returning to
Isoso") there is not a common agricultural area because each family has a rectangular plot
where they have the house, animals and cultivated area, following the more typical
Bolivian peasant land settler pattern. The Karai Isoso has the smallest farming area and
the larger dedicated to cattle ranching.
The total areas used as cattle ranching are shown in Table 3-2. While cattle
ranching characteristics in Isoso will be developed in Chapter 5. However, it is important
to highlight that the area occupied by cattle ranching is considerably greater than that
under other uses. According to the data, immense areas of the commonly held lands are
used for herds of cattle.
*. .a operr Loma
.- .I h. Montenegro
SFenced area by Big Projects
f~aml caare ranch ng
- Parapetl river
-TCO -Isoso Ilrnits
Village ".Urban. area
Figure 3-4. Land Use in the Frontier and Alto Isoso (Sub-zone 1 & 2).
Figure 3-5. Land Use in the Central, Historic Heart and Kara and Bajo Isoso (Sub-zone3,
4 and 5).
F enced area byt ig Pojects Villge Urban" aea pParapet rer Not scale
Fened reaI IFarrningarea TCO -Isose Ilmits
Other important land uses areas, such as hunting and gathering areas, are more
difficult to identify. Some gathering and hunting areas have been identified by WCS
technical staff which has researched hunting and collecting practices for several years.
Those areas partially overlap with farming and cattle ranching areas, and are not included
in this table.
CABI, the Guarani Isosefio Political Organization
The communal M~burubicha or captain is the customary authority in each Guarani
Isosefio community. The main decisions affecting the Isoso are taking in the Gran
Asamnblea which is the meeting of all communal Mbhurubicha headed by the Capitan
Grande, that is the Capitania del Alto y Bajo Isoso (CABI). CABI is a strong grassroots
organization that is key at local and regional levels. It has become a political actor
adopting a practical strategy of negotiation (Beneria-Surkin 2003). CABI has achieved
several successes with respect to participate in and control of natural resource
management and development proj ects (Chapter 4).
Other stakeholders in the TCO Isoso include several private properties are located
within the TCO-Isoso. According to the INRA law, a process of land tenure
regularization must be completed (saneamniento o SAN-TCO) to obtain a communal title.
The saneamniento of the TCO Isoso is still in process; for technical and administrative
purposes the area was divided into five polygons. The national and departmental
governments are responsible for the legal process of SAN-TCO, beside the application of
development and conservation policy. After the passing of the Popular Participation Law
in 1994 the municipal government became the most important institution at the local
level. The Municipality is charged with planning, implementing and supervising
environmental and development programs and proj ects. Various non governmental
organizations (NGO) also are present in the TCO Isoso such as CIPCA, APCOB, WCS,
as well the Catholic and Evangelical churches. Two gas pipelines run near the TCO
borders (Figure 3-1). One runs from Santa Cruz to Argentina on the western limits of the
TCO Isoso. The other runs from Santa Cruz to the Brazilian border to the north, inside of
TCO Isoso. Therefore, the petroleum companies are important stakeholders in this area.
According to the SAN-TCO preliminary data the following kinds of private properties are
located in the TCO-Isoso (Table 3-3).
Table 3-3. Private Stakeholders, Not-Isosefio Owners, in the Isoso.
Stakeholders Pol 1 Pol 3 Pol 4 Pol 5
No. Owners 84 55 30 44 213
Hectares 166,223 164,558 116,103 269,378 716,262
No. Owners 24 24
Hectares 116,339 116,339
No. Owners 2 4 6
Hectares 23,866 44,217 68,083
Peasant "unions" ("sindicato
No. Owners* 2 4 6
Hectares 8,951 433 9,384
Total owners 112 63 30 44 249
Total hectares 315,379 209,208 116,103 269,378 910,068
Source preliminary data SAN-TCO 2006 O. Castillo
Six Mennonite colonies include almost 1,460 families (Table 3-4). Six peasants unions
involve several families.
Cattle Ranches and Agro-Industry
Cattle ranches in the Southern areas (polygons 3 and 5) are extensive. It is an
activity with a low yield, complementing other livelihood strategies (Linzer 1998). In the
north (Polygons 1 and 4) the cattle ranches are generally larger, varying in size between
2,000 hectares and 15,000 hectares and characterized by a high investment in machinery
and infrastructure. Their administration and management are handled by full-time
technicians as well as temporary personnel during the harvest season. The main crops are
rice, sorghum, soybean, cotton, sunflower, and improved grass. Those ranches are
influenced by agro-industrial activity and market oriented production, from the
surrounding plain to Santa Cruz city and Pailon, and are linked with the credit system and
main Bolivian markets. The agro industry, in the plains surrounding Santa Cruz city and
Pailon, began in the 1970s with credit support from the World Bank and Inter-American
Development Bank (Kay and Urioste 2005). The Tierra~s BJajas proj ect, during the 1980s
and 1990s, supported the fast-expanding agricultural frontier based on extension, through
Cattle ranchers, of both zones, are organized in local and regional associations
which offer them important political and technical support. At the local level the
Asociaciones de Ganaderos de Charagua, y de Cordillera (AGACHARAGUA and
AGACOR) and at the regional level the Federacion de Ganaderos de Santa Cruz
(FEGASACRUZ) are strong civil institutions that have tended to exert decisive influence
at regional and national levels in policy-making and implementation of official
In the southern part of the Isosefio territory between Isiporenda and Charagua
(Polygon 3), four Mennonite colonies are located in the TCO-Isoso: Pinondy, Pinondy
Itaguazurenda, Casa Grande and Durango. In addition two colonies are located in the
northern (Polygon 1): La Milagrosa and Santa Clara. The members of these colonies
came from Canada, Mexico, Paraguay and some from different parts of Bolivia. 10 The
Mennonites who recently came from Canada have economic and technical support from
their Canadian Mennonite-institutions, and they tend to be more flexible in their religious
practices. The Mennonites who moved from Paraguay and other parts of Bolivia tend to
be more orthodox and do not have technical support. The total Mennonite population is
more than 10,000 peoples or 1,465 families (Table 3-4). They have one or several general
titles for the entire colony (Table 3-3), but internally they divide the area into family
plots. The nuclear family is the economic and reproductive unit, they have big families
with an average of seven members. There is a strict gender and generational division of
labor within the family and colony.
The Mennonites practice intensive agrarian entrepreneurship, presenting particular
characteristics. Their production system is based on a stable social organization; they
have common religion, customs, culture, education, values, etc. Colonies are established
and organized under a chief administrator of each colony. Diversification of the
productive system is an important Mennonite strategy. They grow different crops and
livestock for domestic consumption and the market. Their industry of milk products
(cheese and butter) is an important income to individual households. They practice
mechanized agriculture and the livestock is a complementary activity. However, it is
intensively-managed. Altogether Mennonites, in the TCO Isoso, have 17,092 head of
cattle (CABI 2005; SAN TCO 2006 FII-CABI, Castillo pers comments 2006).
Mennonites use family labor and sometimes hire workers. Their population growth
is high; consequently their creasing need for land is a main concern for them and for their
"' The first Mennonites came to Bolivia in the 1950's. Their actual population depends from the internal
high population growth and their slowly but permanently immigration to Bolivia.
Table 3-4. Mennonite System in the-Isoso.
Colony Homes Population AreaTotal (ha)
Pinondi 300 2,700 15,734
Pinondi Itaguazurenda 164 1,472 8,180
Durango 374 3,366 13,834
Casa Grande 109 981 6,469
Sub total 947 8,519 44,217
La Milagrosa 353 3,178 16,245
Santa Clara 166 1,491 7,621
Sub total 519 4,669 23,866
TOTAL 1,465 13,189 68,083
Source O. Castillo and Noss personal comments (CABI-WCS)
Preliminary data SAN-TCO-Isoso 2006
neighbors. After ten years of their presence in the areas they occupy shows the highest
rate of deforestation and the most intensive agricultural use in the entire TCO Isoso.
Peasants or Small Farmers
The peasants, located in Polygon 1 and Polygon 3, are migrants or colonist from the
western highlands and valleys. They arrived before the TCO-Isoso was "immobilized" (in
1996). They are organized in agrarian union (sindicatos agrarios), a typical strategy
among the Bolivian peasants. Even though they have communal title in the name of the
agrarian union the land is divided in family plots of 50 hectares; the nuclear family is the
unit of production and reproduction. They produce crops for the market and domestic
consumption, normally they raise small domestic animals (chickens, swine and ducks).
According to saneamniento data, six sindicatos agrarios occupy 9,384 ha. There is no
information about how many families there are.
Administratively the Isoso is a municipal district within the municipality of
Charagua, in the province of Cordillera within the Santa Cruz department. Altogether the
representatives of those governmental institutions are important regional stakeholders and
CABI maintains a permanent relationship and coordination with them (Chapter 4).
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Wildlife Conservation Society
(WCS) or APCOB ("Apoyo y Promoci6n del Campesinado del Oriente Boliviano")
technically support CABI in the implementation of different activities. WCS has provided
an important support in environmental and conservation programs as well as in the
institutional strengthening process of CABI in arenas like negotiation with hydrocarbon
companies, or with the national government on the arena of the NPK administration
agreement. Other Bolivian NGO, like APCOB and CIPCA focus their support on
productive proj ects.
The Franciscans and Jesuit Missionaries could not influence the Isoso during the
colonial period as they did on a vast area of the Bolivian lowlands. However, during the
1970s and 1980s, the Catholic and later the Evangelical Church established presence in
the area. The Catholic and Evangelical churches have promoted productive proj ects such
as cattle ranching. According to Benaria-Surkin (2003) the Evangelical presence in Isoso
is promoting cultural and socioeconomic changes among Guarani Isosefios.
Two gas pipelines are located alongside the northern and the western borders of the
TCO Isoso: Gasbol and Gasyrg. (Figure 1-1 and Figure 3-1). Since 1997,
GasTransBoliviano (GTB), a consortium of oil companies has been present in the area.
GTB is the owner of the massive Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline (Gasbol). Due to the
international and national requirements the owners of the pipeline had to implement a
11 GTB consortium includes the multinationals ENRON and Shell, the Bolivian partially state-owned
Yacimientos Petroliferos y Fiscales de Bolivia (YPFB), the Brazilian state-owned Petrobras and a other
Plan de Manej o Ambiental (Environmental Management Plan, PMA) and a Plan de
Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indigenas (Indigenous Peoples Development Plan, PDPI) in
order to limit the socio-economic and ecological impacts of this pipeline.
Transierral2 HOw operates the Gasyrg pipeline which began its construction in 2002
and its operation in 2003. The Gasyrg extends from Yacuiba to Rio Grande (Figure 1-1
and Figure 3-1) and connects the southern Bolivian gas fields of San Alberto and San
Antonio with the Gasbol pipeline. Transierra supports the Indigenous Peoples
Development Planning Program (PA-PDI) and the PRAC (Programa de Relacionamiento
y Apoyo Comunitario).
The Isoso area is a complex fabric of different stakeholders. Among them the
Guarani Isosefios are key actors in planning and implementing development programs in
12 Transierra is a consortium integrated by Andina S.A., Repsol YPF S.A. Petrobras
Bolivia S.A. and Total E&P Bolivie S.A.
THE ISOSENTO IVI IYAMBAE AS COMMON PROPERTY
Current theory describes common property as an institution of self-governance that
evolves when participants agree to impose limits on their individual claims. The survival
of common property resources in Isoso implies a long-term history. Despite the current
process of transformation and the uncertain future, the Guarani-Isosefios have
consciously decided to preserve the Ivi-lyanabae land without owner or communal
ownership right and community tenure system as the keystone of their Mbayu dream
or vision as indigenous people. The Guarani-Isosefio Mba~yu embraces five central
elements: Moailete identity; Arakud knowledge; Mborerekua union; lyambae
"without owner" or autonomy; and Yandeyarigui the common origin related to
grandmothers. All these components are closely tied together, and cannot be separated
from the territory land and natural resources. In other words: the Guarani-Isosefio
M~bayu is the vision to remain united as Guarani-Isosefio people, having a common
origin, strong identity and culture, respecting the traditional knowledge the Nandereko or
Guarani-Isosefio way to be. The Guarani-Isosefio territory is the M~bayu' s space
dimension including the land and natural resources. The political and administrative
autonomy of their territory is a crucial obj ective.
The M~bayu was formally incorporated into CABI's strategy planning by the
asa~mblea ofMburuvicha the main Guarani-Isosefio communal institution. The
asa~mblea is a meeting where decisions are done by Guarani-Isosefio captains of all
communities. In July 2005 I interviewed Oscar Castillo, who is a technician supporting
CABI, at his office in Santa Cruz. He explained how CABI developed their strategic plan
with the purpose to maintain, support and develop self-governance in the Isoso. I
understand that this planning is not a static formula, nor a theoretical one. The plan was
elaborated by M~buruvicha asamblea on the basis on their vision or Mbayu to survive as
Guarani-Isosefio People. The M~buruvucha identified those customary institutions which
have supported their subsistence as People. Consequently the strategic plan is supported
by four pillars (Figure 4-1).
* NTeemoai that refers to CABI as the Guarani Isosefio political organization and its
relationship with the external institutions.
* Moa, referring to organization and use of the space and natural resources, the
management of their territory.
* Tekoata that is the institutional and organizational strength.
* Mbaapo the self organization, productive alternatives, education and sustainable
More extensive explanation is developed in this chapter, which focuses on the
cultural elements and institutions that shape and support the Guarani Isosefio M~bayu as
well as on the similarities and differences among the M~bayu and the Community Base
(CBM) and Common Property (CPM) management frameworks.
Randereko: Nature and Characteristics of the Group
According to common property theory the membership of a communal group must
be well defined. Size of the group, common knowledge, past successful experiences, trust
and identity are other mentioned group characteristics needed to be successful in common
resource management (Berkes 1989; Ostrom 1990; Agrawal 2001; Olsom, Folkes and
*Use (occupation) of the
space & natural
basing on the natural
*Institution-build ra and
participation of Guarani
*Rules and internal
*CABI and itsexternal
*Other indigenous and
grassroots .: ?1~:~r ,
sector, NGOs, a
Figure 4-1. Guarani-Isosefio Strategically Vision-Mbayu.
The Isosefios have a strong identity that allows them to resist and survive as
indigenous peoples. The Nandereko or Guarani Isosefio way of life is based on their
communal life. According to Albo (1990) there are three aspects that reveal the Guarani-
Isosefio communal life:
* The celebration which involves the convite (to share). On different occasion
members of the community share hunted prey, harvested corn, food, etc. with other
members. The Arete Gua~su or celebration of good harvest is a special occasions to
share among communities.
* The group work is based on cooperation and reciprocity. The Isosefio as a group
share generalized norms of reciprocity and trust that are part of their social capital.
Therefore, the adult men are required do communal work such as maintaining
water channels and fence repair, cleaning farming areas, construction and
maintenance of roads, serving in communal offices, etc. Women support bringing
food and chicha.
* The a~samnblea are the decision-making space at communal and entire Isoso levels.
Yandeya rigu i-Origi n
In day to day life each Isosefio belongs to a teta or community or village.
Communities are small enough for people to know each other. Therefore, membership is
explicitly defined. Each Isosefio household is provided with exclusive rights to use a
farming plot and forest resources inside the common property.
In the Isosefio communities, I observed that use rights to the communal forest were
clearly defined by interviewees. The authority interviewed in Isiporenda indicated, for
example, that a third party does not have the right to cut a tree inside the communal
boundaries. The interviewees in Pikirenda mentioned one case, an issue concerning a
neighboring karaik~~~~kkkkk~~~~kkkk or criolla-family who had gained a private title to a plot of property
and who then was also trying to use communal lands to raise their herd. The members of
this family are well known, and like other local karai, they took part in some communal
activities, but once they obtained a private title the community no longer considered that
those karaik~~~~kkkkk~~~~kkkk are no part of Isosefio community. Problems came when the family still
wanted to claim communal advantages. In the same way Tamane, a Karai community,
decided to title their land as private property. Once the Asamnblea approved it, they lost
the right to participate in communal programs and benefits.
Isosefios participate in different activities, organizing "work-groups" or/and
associations that use the communal resource pool, for example a group of hunters, or
the Cupesi-flour producers associations in Pikirenda and Ivasiriri. Those groups are
generally voluntarily made up of neighbors or close kinship members who are well
known to each other. Therefore, I observed that, the membership within those groups is
well defined based on limited size, trust, common knowledge and past successful
Some cattle ranching associations have been formed by the Isosefio. In Isiporenda
the association takes care of a communal herd of cattle (Edda Parada informant).
The Isosefio membership is well defined by their Guarani Isosefio way of life or
Nandereko and their common vision of themselves reflected on the M~bayu. The Guarani
Isosefio people have a common origin YanYYYYYYYY~~~~~~~~~deyrgi a strong union -M2borerekua and
they shared the traditional knowledge Arakua all these are characteristics distinguishing
them from the others.
Moa: Space and Natural Resources Use and Boundaries
According to the common property theory, defined boundaries are one of the
most basic characteristics essential to effective common property institutions (Ostrom,
1990, 1999; Agrawal 2001). To Isosefios, the M~oa one of the strategic pillar of the
Mba~yu refers to the use of space and natural resources, as well as the definition of the
The Isosefios identify different types (levels) of boundaries within their territory
(1) the broader territorial boundaries, ancestral dominium and actual TCO in process of
titling; (2) the customary village's boundaries; (3) the household use areas like family
farming plots; and (4) the boundaries introduced by proj ects and institutions for
productive activities or natural resource management.
According to Albo (1990) when the Guarani people arrived at the Parapeti bank
they were searching for the Ivi lyamnbae, which means the land without owners. Once
they settled in Isoso and conquered the Chane people, they continued to struggle to
consolidate their territory. The concept of territory holistically includes the farming area,
the forest, rivers, flora and fauna that support the Isosefio's livelihood and with "whom"
they coexist (Albo 1990).
For the Isosefio these resources are accessible to all, they can collect fish and hunt
in this common territory. According to Castillo (2006) between the 1700s and the
beginnings of the 1900s the Isosefio "original dominion" was at least 3 million hectares.
The boundaries have been defined to exclude others and to guarantee their right of access
to their means of subsistence, and formally be recognized as People. The Isosefio fought
physically to defend their territorial access to natural resources. First, they fought against
other indigenous peoples like the Avas and Ayoreode, and later against the cattle
ranchers, and the crown's and Republican government's military forces. After the
Kuruyuki battle in 1894, the Isosefios shifted their strategy from defending their territory
militarily to seeking legal recognition and requesting legal titling. The first communal
title dates from 1932 and included two communities: Yovi and Aguaraigua. By the 1980s
65,000 ha. were titled and almost all communities were included in seven communal
titles (Combes 1999; Winer 2003; Albo 1990; Castillo 2006). Despite the legal titles,
problems with cattle ranchers continued. Moreover, the 1980s brought more complexes
issues.' The expansion of the Bolivian agricultural frontier supported by the Lowland
Proj ect (Proyecto Tierra~sBJajas del Este), an initiative of the World Bank and Bolivian
government, threatened the Isosefio people's survival.
1 Throughout the 1970s and 80s, numerous other national development plans also focused on areas occupied by indigenous
peoples, pushing them onto marginal lands. This situation and the democratic transition in the country inspired among
indigenous peoples the resistance to new market forces that led to alliances, not only at the national but also at the
international level. In 1982 the Confeleracion Incliena clel Oriente cle Bolitid (CIDOB) was created congregating all indigenous
groups of the Bolivian lowlands; and was an important fonun permitting the definition of their own vision of development
and resistance strategies. The struggle for their rights has led to a process of enipowerment taking nmnerous fonns such as
mass mobilization and niarchesl, and day by day activities; winning seats in parliament and municipalities; and taking part in
consultations at national and international level with multilateral bodies. From 1993 to 1997 was a period of constant
reiteration of indigenous rights and Bolivia has redefined its relations with indigenous peoples by sanctioning new laws
Lo que ahi se necesita es un titulo comun para todo el Isoso, desde Tarenda (junto a
San Antonio de Parapeti) hasta el ultimo bafiado. (What is necessary there is one
title for all the Isoso, from Tatarenda [near to San Antonio de Parapeti] to the last
swamp). [Testimony from Juan Feliciano Arandico, the communal captain of
Rancho Viej o recovered by Albo 1990 pp 37]
Dn. Arandico referred to one title for all communities as a way to defend the
Isosefio territory all together -M2borerekua against the cattle ranchers and agro industry
encroachment. Because the Isosefio maintained the structure as indigenous people,
combining concepts of territory, autonomy, and identity (Castillo 2006), they visualize
their territory as a geographic space in the Chaco in which they can not only survive, but
thrive, as an independent people in the "Ivi lyamnbae" and sustain the Isosefio 2bayu and
the Nande reko.
As a result of Bolivian normative reform between 1993 -1996, some approved Laws
became key legal instrument to seek the consolidation oflIsosefio territory and natural
resources management. In their role of negotiators, the Isosefios supported the creation of
the protected area in the Gran Chaco, the National Park Kaa lya (NPK) in 1995. The
environmental Law No. 1333 enacted in 1993 allowed CABI participation on the
elaboration of the technical proposal to create the NPK. CABI worked together with
WCS and the National Direction of Biodiversity Conservation to define the protected
area boundaries as well as their participation in the NPK administration. The NPK
encloses important areas of Isosefio' s traditional use and mystical. The creation of the
NPK was viewed by the Isosefio as a way to define boundaries and to stop the aggressive
advance of the agricultural frontier. Therefore, the Isosefio people protect their territory.
Once the new agrarian reform law was approved, the INRA Law no 1725 in 1996, CABI
requested the official recognition of Isoso' s boundaries as Tierra Comunitaria de Origen-
Isoso (TCO Isoso) to formalize their ownership right. The titling of the TCO- Isoso has
been in process since 1998. At present more than 560,000 hectares are communally
titled in CABI's name (A. Noss and O. Castillo pers. comm.).
At the same time, internal boundaries separating different use areas are established
inside the Isoso. Clear internal boundaries reduce conflict over limited resources. For
example, the farming plots limited to irrigated land in the Parapeti river banks are
distributed to each Isosefio family. The firewood collection areas are well distinguished
among communities. Some hunting areas are exclusive to those who have "good relation
with the lyas" (Combes 1998; Noss and Painter 2004).
Members of each community are familiar with their village boundaries, excluding
outsiders from using their communal resources. But not all Isosefios have a clear
understanding of the TCO-Isoso boundaries. Before the titling process had begun, during
the elaboration of NPK' s management plan in 1999, almost all old men could identify the
boundaries of the TCO-Isoso and the historical attachment with their ancestors' territory.
But for young people and women who almost never leave the community the TCO
boundaries were difficult to identify (Linzer and Villasenor 1999).
In the summer of 2005, during the communal meetings, the TCO-Isoso boundaries
seem to be more appreciated among Isosefios. They are expanding their space-
During an interview in summer of 2005, the Mbhuruvicha of Rancho Nuevo
narrated to me how they are fencing a new area far away from the village but inside the
2 According to CABI's register 564,000 hectares are titled to CABI as conununal and 165,000 to private
owners. According to press information in Bolpress.com published on October 2005 and the note of press
there were titled 560,636 hectares in favor to CABI and 10 thousand Guaranie peoples families. In all the
process of TCO Isoso it was titled 174,159 hectares to 71 properties. According to the last preliminary data
(data facilitated by Castillo CABI-WCS).
TCO titled area. In Isiporenda, the communal Mbhuruvicha and his adviser complained
about one individual who permanently tries to invade into the TCO titled land the
Isiporenda' s people recognize that area as theirs, being the traditional hunting area and
source of wildlife to the community members.
The boundaries among Guarani Isosefio communities are not physically established
and are relatively flexible among the Guarani Isosefio people (comments from interview
and personal observation). Inside the boundaries characteristic social and ecological
systems are present. The M~oa together with the Nandereko integrates the ecological and
social systems existent in the TCO-Isoso and the Kaa lya NP. These elements are central
to develop the rules and institutions for natural resource management in Isoso.
Tekoata and Mbaspo: Institutional Arrangements and Normative Regime
The biggest challenge to CABI is to seek a better way of life for the Guarani-
Isosefio people, respecting the M~bayu and the Nande reko. Consequently, to guarantee
appropriate management, it is necessary to develop institutional arrangements and rules.
Cooperative decision making and implementation of activities are essential elements. The
Tekoata and Mbaapo, CABI consciously has incorporated elements to improve self
organization, education and training, to strength technical skill, negotiation capacity and
decision making, and to develop natural resource management experiences.
Rules of use are essential for the management and access to common natural
resources. The rules regarding appropriation of natural resources must be well defined
and adapted to the particular natural and social common property context (Ostrom 1990).
Johnson and Nelson (2004) suggest that collective arrangements must be perceived as fair
by the communal members of the common property institution, and must be collectively
made to be responsive to all of the resource users and to changing ecological or social
conditions, and be acceptable (Johnson and Nelson 2004). In addition there must be
mechanisms of conflict resolution, correction and sanctions for departures from the rules
(Berkers 1989; Agrawal 2001; Olsson et al. 2003).
Within the Isosefio well-known rules are established ascribing certain activities and
use in the different areas. For example, all fishing and hunting areas are not the same: the
access to remote sacred areas, such as the ponds of YandyariY~~~~YYYY~~~~YYY $ or other areas in the forest
near to the hills, are restricted to those with a respectful behavior (Combes 1988). Only
those who know and have the approval of the Kaa lya, or spirit guardian responsible for
ensuring the forest, can gain access (Combes 1998; Noss and Painter 2004).
According to Combes (1998), Beneria-Surkin (2003) and Noss and Painter (2004)
some cultural rules have weakened. Noss and Painter suggest that some traditional rules
that contribute to sustainable use and conservation are being undermined by
socioeconomic changes over the past decades, including new hunting technologies and
changes in employment patterns; reduction of the areas accessible to Isosefio hunters by
the installation of private properties and Mennonite colonies; and the growing population
in the Isoso, among other changes.
Monitoring and Sanctions lyambae
Monitoring common resource use ensures that a communal management system,
defined by rules and boundaries, allows only the group members to carry out the intended
activities. According to Ostrom (1990), monitoring and sanctions imposition should be
applied by members of a communal entity or by persons accountable to the members of
3 Yandeyari here is referring to the place.
the group. Monitoring and sanction of violations are necessary to rule enforcement within
a common property institution.
Monitoring and sanctions of inappropriate activities are established among
Isosefios. The Mbhuruvicha or captains are responsible for dealing with infractions of
internal rules and for maintaining order within the community. At the same time the
community is small enough that everyone generally knows what everyone else is doing,
and therefore an unofficial monitoring is going on.
Despite monitoring every day activities is customary experience, the Isosefio have
to adapt new rules to the present harsh socioeconomic and ecological changes. Attitudes
towards wildlife are not severe they are continuously adapted to peoples experiences in a
changing socioeconomic and ecological environment. There is some experience of self
monitoring by hunters, combining and supporting scientific and local knowledge that
supply elements to raise awareness of natural resources (wildlife) management at the
communal and indigenous territory level (Noss, Cuellar and Cuellar 2001, 2004; Noss
and Cuellar 2003; Noss and Painter 2004).
The Cupesi- associations in Pikirenda and Ivasiriri. In those communities a group
of women have organized themselves in an association. Those associations are supported
by CABI and their communal assemble to experimentally produce Cupesi flour for the
market. In both communities, the interviewed identified administrative training as a key
necessity. They are looking for support to develop skills such as bookkeeping to
monitoring the administration of the cupesi production. In those cases the introduction of
new productive activity involves new skills to monitoring it.
Collective Arrangement and Conflict Resolution
The communal asamblea is the place where communal decisions affecting the
community are made j ointly. It is the forum where all members of one community
together to the communal M~burubicha make decisions and coordinate community
activities such as reparation of water channels or communal infrastructure, and decide
whether to participate or not in a proj ect or program.
The Isoso "Gran Asamnblea is the place where all communal M~buruvicha~s or
captains, the women-M~buruvicha, and the communal assistants make the maj or decisions
affecting all Isoso. In general, Isoso has a well-established and functional means of
ensuring collective decision-making and conflict resolution with the participation of
community members according to the central principles of2~borerekua -unity and
The decision-making process takes time. One asamblea is not enough. The
analysis, discussion and joint decisions must be internalized. The asamblea has rules too:
respect for elders gives them more authority than any one younger; shouting and verbal
confrontations are not allowed (personal comment Angel Yandura). Albo (1990)
describes the main role that the flee ija, literally elders "owners of the word" play in
the community life and asamblea.
There are some trend of communal cattle ranching organization and institutional
development that can be identified. In a few communities, such as in Isiporenda and
Yapiroa, a core of cooperative organization is found. Members of the cooperative take
weekly turns taking care of the herd and the infrastructure. Decisions are made in the
communal asamblea. In Aguarati and Ipapio (Tamachindi) cattle owners have formed
associations to improve and implement cattle ranching practices, having invested in
infrastructure acquisition and maintenance. Mixed-management (private/communal):
private cattle herds are allocated inside the communal fences, with the owners agreeing to
contribute to the communal infrastructure's maintenance. Some communities administer
a monetary fund and owners pay monthly (Based on interviews: Zulema Barahona,
Crecencio Arambiza, Eda Parada, Alejandro Arambiza, Andrew Noss).
Individually-owned free-grazing cattle -which sometimes invades agricultural
plots, and always feeds on the riverine forest- still represents the main challenge to
Guarani Isosefio institutions. The free-grazing herds comprise a maj ority of the cattle in
the region (68% of total cattle of Guarani Isosenos owners) and it involves a large
number of smallholders without investment capacity who consider their cattle a
complementary form of sustenance. Different communities are taking specific decisions
attempting to regulate the cattle's presence. For example, in 2001 the cattle owners from
Koropo were made to move further North and establish Pikirenda, a new cattle ranching
community (From interview with the captain of Pikirenda). In this way, they solved the
invasion to farming plots by free grazing cattle, but did not alleviate the pressure on the
riverine forest. On the other hand, in Yapiroa the community reacted against the planned
clearance of the riverine forest. The clearance was suggested by the technical people from
the cattle-ranching proj ects, and the community decided to move the proj ect away from
the riverine forest to protect that valued ecosystem which brings them shadow,
temperature regulation, wood, firewood, fruits, and flood protection.
Reemoai: Relationships between the Group and External Forces
Common property institutions are not isolated. Therefore the relationship between
the community or group and the external forces and authorities are important elements to
take into account. CABI refers to its relationship with the external institutions as the
Neemoai which includes their relationship with other grassroots indigenous
organizations, the municipal government, the regional and national governments, the civil
society and the private sector.
The relationship between the Isoso and external forces has been changing through
time. The Guarani-Isosefios were essentially warriors and they defended their territory
militarily against the cattle ranching expansion "la conquista de la vaca" during the
colonial and early republican period (Albo 1992). The Spanish crown officially declared
war against the Guarani people who resisted until the beginning of the 1890s. After a
military defeat, the Isosefio leaders shifted their struggle's strategy from warriors to
negotiators (Albo 1990; Beneria-Surkin 2003). Therefore, the M~buruvisha Casiano
Barrientos in 1927 and later Bonifacio Barrientos in the 1940s were the first local
authorities officially recognized as Capitan Grande delAlto y Bajo Isoso by the regional
and national government. They traveled to Santa Cruz and La Paz to demand the
legalization of their communal land as a strategy to be recognized as indigenous peoples
with their own identity.
They [the Guarani] demonstrate a renewed cultural energy, this time focused on
inclusion rather than resistance, but with the crucial caveats that their culture and
language be respected, via bilingual education, and their history rescued from
official distortion. [Albo, 1990 cited by Beneria-Surkin 2003]
During the 1980s a Natural Resources Protection Plan for the department of Santa
Cruz was designed and implemented. Then, a discussion process was stimulated among
Isosefio about the scale and impact of Santa Cruz's expanding agro-industries and about
how they were to improve their own economic status without losing traditional social
structures and values. Therefore, CABI established strategic alliances with other
indigenous groups. CABI supported the formation of the Central de Pueblos Indigenas de
Santa Cruz in 1981 and ten years later the Confederacion Indigena del Oriente Bolivano
CABI has achieved a strong capacity to negotiate at local, regional and national
levels. They exercise their rights based on official and legal mechanisms. The following
facts are the most important achievements on the natural resource management terrain:
* The co-management of the Gran Chaco-Kaa lya National Park (KNP) (1995). In
1995, after the creation of the KNP an agreement of its co-administration was
signed between CABI and the national government. With a surface of 3.4 million
hectares this park is the largest in Latin America and the first co-administrate by an
indigenous organization in Latin America.
* The governance of an indigenous municipal district, making CABI the legal
political authority in Isoso. Under the Popular Participatory Law (1994), CABI is
recognized as the first indigenous municipal district government in Bolivia.
* The coordination of development activities of NGOs working in Isoso. Agreement
with APCOB, CIPCA,
* CABI also formed alliances with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) since the
beginning of 1990s. WCS had begun a program in 1995, to both develop the Park
and promote a sustainable rural development process. The alliance gave them
access to USAID funding and other revenue generated from hydrocarbon activity
within the Park and the TCO-Isoso.
* The co-administration of the Plan de Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indigenas4 (PDPI)
through an important agreement with the petroleum private companies (Chapter 3
Stakeholders) and the state (1997 to 2004). The PDPI sought to reduce or mitigate
any negative social and economic impacts of the pipeline' s on the indigenous
peoples living in the area affected by its construction. The PDPI is supported by a
found of $3.7 million that included $1.5 million to support land titling for
indigenous territorial claims by the Guarani-Isosefios, the Chiquitanos and
SThe Bolivia-Brazil Gas pipeline (Gasbol) carries gas from south of Santa Cruz to Porto Alegre- Brazil,
crosses 250 kilometres of TCO-Isoso and KNP land. As a condition the World Bank and the Inter-
American Development Bank required the pipeline owners to design and implement the PMA and the PDPI
(Chapter 3). The PMA defined the actions to be taken during and after the construction of the pipeline to
reduce any negative environmental impacts associated with the construction of the pipeline.
* The agreement between CABI and Transierra the petroleum consortium (2002-
2006) to implement and monitoring the PRAC and PDI.
* Their territorial demand as TCO-Isoso is recognized by the Bolivian government
and other international institutions such as the World Bank and USAID which are
supporting their demarcation and natural resource management planning.
CABI entered those arrangement having as its main obj ective the defense of
Guarani-Isosefio land rights as well as strength self governance. These successful
achievements are unprecedented among lowland indigenous organization in Bolivia.
National recognition as authority in the region enables CABI to prevent further incursions
into their territory by ranchers and large-scale agriculturalists (Arambiza 1996 cited by
There is not doubt that CABI is an important stakeholder that is officially
recognized at local and national levels. Despite CABI's political achievements it has not
been strong enough to confront the influences exercised by the large cattle ranchers.
Large cattle ranchers in the eastern lowland are well organized both locally and
nationally. During three different presidential governments they have impeded the titling
of TCO-Isoso through different mechanisms. The "carrying capacity" for cattle ranching
is one of the most contradictory technical arguments used by the landlords and cattle
ranchers to impede TCO land titling. On the other hand, cattle ranchers have taken
advantage of the TCO titling process as many private owners received titles before TCO
titles were signed and they did not pay the cost of the titling.
The current president, Evo Morales, during his inaugural speech used the words of
a Guarani leader "tratenme como a una vaca" meaning "treat me as you would treat a
cow" referring to 25 hectares for each cow used by cattle ranchers to justify the land
concentration in the Chaco region (Ortiz 2006). The relationship between CABI and the
current government representation is difficult to predict. After the nationalization of the
Bolivian hydrocarbons, the issue of land began to gain attention at the national level (La
Raz6n 2006). The Bolivia's turbulent political climate (Hylton 2006) is covering the
hope of great advances. The current government does not clearly differentiate between
highland and lowland Indigenous people and it seeks land to distribute among the
highland peasants (La Razon 2006-2, 3). Consequently, the lowland indigenous territories
are threatened and lowland Indigenous peoples are on the alert (La Raz6n 2006-2).
On the other hand, the cattle ranchers and private owners of the eastern lowlands do
not have the national support that they had before, but they are part of the Santa Cruz
departmental social movement at regional level. That gives them the power to have
political and economic influence in the decision making process. Therefore, CABI's
political strategies to relate to external institutions has to be adapted to different contexts.
A the present time CABI is playing in different local and national scenarios. For example
the main Guarani Isosefio leader Bonifacio Barrientos capitan grande actually occupies a
Congressman at national level and Marcelino Apurani is the provincial authority
strengthening CABI's regional relationships. The Guarani Isosefio are making progress in
developing practical negotiation capacities develop negotiation capacities.
Contrasting the Common Property (CPR) and Community-Base Management
(CBM) Framework to the Mbayu
It is possible to find a close similarity between the theoretical CPR and CBM
framework and the Guarani Isoseno strategically planning process based on the M~bayu
(Figure 4-2). Nevertheless the Mba~yu is not a fixed theoretical framework it is the result
of practical experience with a long history. Its creators are their own protagonist. The
Guarani Isosefio' s resolution to survive as indigenous peoples is the 2bayu' s main
obj ective. The Ivi lyamnbae or land without owner or the "land without evil" has guided
the Guarani through centuries. They fight to reach self governance in a territory shaped
by different social and ecological systems. The elements of the M~bayu are tied to each
other and they are part of the all spheres of Guarani Isosefio life. The Mba~yu is also a
Contrasting the CPR & CBM framework to the CABI planning (?)
Common Property Community Base Mbayu
Management Framework Moafiete-Identity; Arakus -Knowledge;
Mborerekua-Unity; lyambae- Autoramy;
I it a 121; J B1Erk 1989; Ostrom 1990, 1992) Yandeyarigui- Origin
Governance : Social and Ecological Systems Territory: Common Land and
(Ewrkes 2114, -llll Lane and McDonald 2005, Ostrom 1999)NaulReors
Clearly deistil-1 meler up (1anderekO Communal~lfe cooperation. assemble. convite
Past li sflil epleriene Identty, without owner, knowledge
Lea1-r ilip Group
andInerst CharacteriStiCS *Historical defense of territory: ttling of
Loa kn1 I 11 communal lands, Kasr lya NP and TCO
MOS *Management planning based on natral and
Na~ra Resorcessocial characteristics .
rt BoundarieS *Kaa lya NP and TCO ecological zoning:
I 1-l itlarlarlevaluaton of ecolog cal and social systems.
MbaapO *Sustainable productive experiences,
te or g-t ll-st rI Educaton, Knowledge and learning
Fu sarin 111: Institutional
Coif~litres Itin1 alran ement & *Insttton-bulldlng and organlzatonal
iol 1 tori strength.
Ent uemnt it ur st, a r normative regime Tekoata .Capacitatng and participation of Guaran,
A liritablip~ Iscseeto rrembers.
*Rules and Internal agreements
In titlons r Reainhpwt CABI and its external relationships:
Et risI up, the external Neemoai *Other indigenous and grassroots
organizatons Government, private sector,
Leve -I Iupp rt & institutions osa
Figure 4-2. Guarani Isosefio Strategically Planning Based on Mba~yu Contrasting to
Common Property and Community Base Management Theories.
CABI is a strong grassroots organization that decided to keep communal land as a
central element in their subsistence as indigenous people. They do not deny improving
the well being of their communities and therefore they have a vision of themselves as the
M~bayu. The M~bayu incorporates the main principles to maintain social unity and allow
live in comoono t the Guarani Isosefio as social unity and live in a common territory.
On the other hand I argue that the M~bayu is a vision that encompasses a political
dimension and decision making mechanisms. The Mba~yu is a conscientious political
decision related to their subsistence as Guarani Isosefio people, it is a life project. The
M~bayu is a practical and historical experience and the communities are the responsible
stakeholders (Figure 4-3).
Common Property Community
Base Management Framework
IArrawal 21:1:1; Berb es 1989; Ostrorn 199:1, 1992)
Governance : Social and
Ecological Systems ieerkes 2004.
200:5, Lane and Mclonald 21:05, O:strorn 1999)
Mbayu and Territory:
Guarani-Isoseno vision and planning based
on the Nande-reko (life in community).
Common property of land and natural
Practical experience. Responsible of
Rande-reko social &ecological system
Unity, cooperation group work,
Self Governance local institutions
Communal assemble and M~buruviche
communities are the main stakeholders -
CABI and Great Assemble are the political
Partnerships and co-responsibility
Concerned with environmental
Recognizing the local communities' role L/
for the development and
implementation of environmental policies '
Enabling local participation
more context-sensitive planning
External directive and objectives
Figure 4-3. Contrasting the Garani Isosefio Mlbayu and the Common Property and Community-
Base Management Framework.
The NTandereko is a social and ecological fabric embracing the main social
principles in a specific landscape or territory which includes the land and ecosystems.
The autonomy or self governance is a central element to the Guarani Isosefios and they
are strengthening their traditional institutions in the changing context they seek for
external co-responsible partnerships that support their Mbayu.
CATTLE RANCHING INT ISOSO
Cattle raising is the largest land use in the TCO-Isoso. The regional land use plan
of Santa Cruz Department (PLUS) recommends extensive cattle ranching as the main
productive activity on the Santa Cruz Chaco and farming and protection on the river
banks of Parapeti river (PLUS 1995). According to Combes (1999) and Alb6 (1992),
once livestock were introduced by the karaik~~~~kkkkk~~~~kkkk in the middle of the nineteenth century, this
radically changed the life in Isoso. Since that point, the history of Isoso has been a history
of conflicts between the Isosefios and the cattle ranchers. In spite of this, this one sees a
growing number of cows belonging to Isosefio in the communities.
At present, cattle ranching activities are in the hands of two different social groups:
1) Guarani Isosefio cattle ranching characterized by the customary and legal communal
land ownership; and 2) the private landholders characterized by individual private land
The Expansion of Cattle Ranching in Isoso
Three phases of cattle ranching expansion can be identified in Isoso:
* The conquest of original peoples' territories ("la conquista de la vaca"). Since the
colonial period with the implementation in the 1950's of Bohan plan
* The "Bolivian agrarian modernization" private livestock production nourished by
the State and international cooperation. From the 1950's to the beginning of the
* The "big cattle ranching proj ects" characterized by the introduction of communal
livestock projects founded by NGOs and churches in the Isoso.
A brief description of each of them helps to understand the present cattle ranching
situation in Isoso.
The Conquest of Original Peoples' Territories "La Conquista de la Vaca"
In Bolivia, cattle expansion has been associated with the extension of the
conquerors' power and then the Republican (Govemnment) occupation of the original
people's territories. First the missionary, then the military and private interests introduced
cattle as a way to "civilize" and conquer the aboriginal cultures. According to Saravia
Toledo (n/d), cattle livestock were introduced in the Chaco forest after the mid-1700s by
the Franciscan missions. After Bolivian independence (1825) the Chaco region of the
country was designated for livestock production. As an incentive, the government offered
one square legua (5.6 square kilometers or approximately 3.5 square miles) to whomever
occupied the area. The deepest penetration was through the Parapeti and Pilcomayo rivers
to the East. The Isoso is not an exception to this pattern, despite a long resistance which
denied the religious missions access and repelled the colonial and Republican military.
Finally during the 1840s or 1850s cattle were introduced by a Mr. Mercado, a criollo or
"karaik~~~~kkkk~~~~kkkk (Combes 1999). According to testimony collected by Combes (1999), Mr.
Mercado come to Isoso as a young person and lived among the Isosefio. As an adult, he
introduced the first head of cattle and opened the Isoso to other cattle ranchers who came
to Isoso with their cows and laborers. The cattle invaded Indigenous' farming, gathering
and hunting areas. The growth in number and extension of ranches limited the Isosefios'
access to land and natural resources that they previously had access to. And worst of all,
ranchers came with the intention to reproduce the "criollo" hierarchical system within the
Isoso, which the Isosefio had to continually resist. Combs (1999) relates how cattle
ranchers intended to impose themselves as captains in the communities, or tried to
incorporate the Isosefio people as laborers in the hacienda system.
Modernization: Cattle Ranching Subsidized by the Bolivian State
Since 1960s under the banner of "modernization," a gradual expansion toward the
Chacoan plain was officially stimulated by the Bolivian government which granted the
land and infrastructure for livestock production. For example, during this time the
government built water reservoirs and wells to stimulate cattle ranching, particularly
northwest of the actual TCO-Isoso (in the area knowing as M\~edanosd~~~~~ddddd~~~~ Fociles or "Arenales
de los Guanacos) (Saravia -Toledo 1996). During the military governments in the 1970s
and 1980s land and monetary resources were distributed through a web of corruption.
Close friends and family members of the military elite received vast expanses of land and
credit (credit which never had to be repaid, and which led the "Banco Agricola" to
bankruptcy). According to Romero (2005), almost seven million hectares were
distributed during the Banzer military government (1971 to 1978). In the Chacoan
province of Cordillera one individual could receive more than one "mega-parcel" of land,
for example, the well known Gutierrez family received five parcels with a total of 96,874
hectares in the Santa Cruz Chacoan region (Romero 2005).
During my visits to Isoso, I had participated in the relaxed chatter that accompanied
drinking tea at my host families. In Pikirenda several neighbors shared with me their
stories about: "thousands of cows grazing on the neighboring plain" and great "feasts at
Otto Le6n ranch". The men were peons at Mr. Le6n' s ranch a close friend of that time
President Banzer. Surrounding the community of Rancho Viejo, one can see the evidence
of the ranchers' "good times": Otto Le6n' s abandoned infrastructure, machinery, cleared
land, and water channels. The community itself was completely surrounded by ranches
which limited access to natural resources and livelihood sources (Combes 1999; Albo
1990). Therefore, it is possible to understand why Rancho Viejo is the poorest
community today (Beneria-Surkin 2003).
Over time many of the great private ranchers like Otto Le6n have collapsed.
Without subsidies from the BancoB~~~~BBBBB~~~~BBBB Agricola, and after overgrazing the pastures, they
could not survive economically (personal comment of veterinarian Mr Eurlet).The
"golden era" passed, but the peons and "cowboys" settled in the Isoso establishing the
Karai Isoso, sharing their attachment to cattle ranching activities and poverty with the
More recently, since 1995, some Mennonite colonies have been established. The
first Mennonite arrived in Bolivian territory between 1954 and 1962, together with other
colonizers (colonies of Russians, Eastern Europeans, and Japanese were also set up).
These foreign colonizers were seen as means to ensure the modernization of lowland
agriculture. Therefore, they received several incentives to colonize new areas and clear
the forest. Even though cattle raising is not a main productive activity for the Mennonite,
they have significant herds. The Mennonite land management system is actually
questioned by some because their agricultural practices are highly destructive of soil
properties (Linzer 1998, CABI, FII and WCS 2001).
Big Projects and the Cattle Raising Incentive Among Isosefios
The "Big proj ects" ("Los Grandes Proyectos") phase began in 1995 with the
Kovei proj ect which fenced 6,781 has for communal livestock production. Since 1995
nine big proj ects have been supported by different resources and implemented through
NGOs working with community members. NGOs such as CIPCA and APCOB together
with the Catholic and Evangelical churches are the most influential promoters of cattle
ranching within Isosefio. At present the government of the Autonomous Community of
Valencia is a main sponsor of cattle ranching proj ects in Isoso, supporting proj ects in
Kopere(s), San Silvestre and Yapiroa. The general outputs of those projects have been
more fenced area, water wells, rustic water reservoirs and cowboys' shelters, leading to
the introduction of more herds of cattle. Proj ects have not yet achieved their objectives:
communal production of commercial meat.
The "big projects" introduced cattle by different ways, but often by buying one or
more bulls with proj ect funds, while the community's members contributed heifers.
Barahona (2005) relates how dairy cows were introduced through 25 pregnant Holland
cows. Each person who received one of those cows had in turn to give one pregnant cow
to another community member and so on. As a result there are 45 Holland -cows in Isoso
today (Barahona 2005).
The Isosefios Cattle Ranching
Many Isosefio have begun independently raising livestock as a complementary
subsistence activity. Cattle is introduced by individual initiative among the Guarani-
Isosefio people via different means: buying or receiving them as wages from neighboring
ranchers; or as a pay for taking care of the cattle herd of family or communal neighbors,
who live or work in the city (Barahona 2005). The 2004 cattle census registered the
number of cattle per owner, as well as some management characteristics, which are
summarized in Table 5-1. According to the data among the Isosefio three main cattle
ownership regimes can be differentiated:
* Individual cattle ownership (under free grazing or fenced management systems)
* Communal cattle ownership (under free grazing or fenced management); and
* Family or group cattle ownership under fenced management.
Table 5-1. Number of Isosefios Owners and Number of Head of Cattle by Type of
Property Regime by Community in Isoso.
Cattle Cattle Family
No. individual individually conununally owned
Conununity Population owners owned owned cows
Free Big Free Free
grazing projects Grazing Fenced grazing
cows fences cows cows cows Fenced
1 Isiporenda 300 31 171 67
8 6 31 50
8 74 64 300
18 14 382 60
15 7 296 180
393 104 5,695 610
Total owners 497 Total head of cattle
Source CABI data base June 2005; Barahona 2005
a. Data of Yapiroa, La Brecha, Rancho Viejo and Tetarembei lvere uncompleted, having the name of owners but not the
number of cattle. I understand that data were introduced latter, and Barahona 2005 includes the general number of cattle
heads for those communities. I used her general data, in bold italics in this table.
The Individual Cattle Ownership Regime
The maj ority (76% of the total) of the Isosefio herd is individually owned.
According to my interviews, cattle are assigned to different members within the
household as a means to secure an effective source of cash for each person. I take into
account a total of 300 owners registered in the CABI databases (Table 5-2) to calculate
the median and the mode of herd of cattle per person. The median is seven head of cattle
per owner, and the mode two head of cattle per owner. The maximum number of cows
belonging to one individual is 263 head (in Guandare).
Table 5-2. Distribution of Individual Cattle Ownership.
Number of head of Number of Percent of total cattle
Cattle per owner owners owners Total cattle herd
1-5 127 42% 373 9%
6-10 73 24% 591 14%
11-15 43 14% 573 14%
16-20 17 6% 325 8%
21-50 24 8% 725 17%
51-75 8 3% 561 13%
76-100 3 1% 237 6%
101< 5 2% 798 19%
Total 300 100% 4,183 100%
Source CABI data base June 2005
It is important to notice that 66% of owners have between one and ten head of
cattle. 6% of the owners have more than 50 head of cattle. There is an indicator of
possible wealth accumulation. The social impacts resulting from this situation must be
studied. There are differences among individuals and communities but, in general, herd
management is almost absent. The largest part of those herds (89%) is freely grazing on
the communal land, invading the farming plots, river banks and household areas (field
observation). This situation should be regulated because so many free grazing cows are
overgrazing the communal forest and grasslands. This is a challenge to the Guarani
institutions that should regulate it. On the other hand individually owned herd (11% of
I do not take in account data of Yapiroa, La Brecha and Rancho Viejo because I did not have access to the
detailed data of those communities. I use the data of Barahona 2005 to complete table 5.1
individual ownership cows) is located inside the communal fences (Table 5-1). Free
grazing herds can be grouped only during the dry season when the cows seek water and
then the communal water-reservoirs are the only source for the cattle (Saravia Toledo
personal comment, Barahona 2005 and field observation).
Therefore, cattle are individually or privately owned but their management depends
on communal resources such as communal water-reservoirs, communal fences and
communal grassland and forest.
The Semi Private-family System
Some Isosefio families or groups of families are able to invest in cattle and fences.
With the approval of the community, the herds are located on communal land, and cattle-
owners do not have ownership rights to the land but have usufruct rights to natural
resources: wild fruit, forage, pasture and water. According to the CABI data base (June
2005) and cattle census (2004) there are 18,824 hectares fenced under this management
system. Around 10 % (798 cows) of the total Isosefios' herd belong to seven family
groups (Table 5-1 and Table 5-3). I did not collect information about the technical
management (sanitary, feed, and reproductive). However, according to the calculated
mean of 23 hectares per cattle head as animal this is an exceedingly extensive managed
The Isosefio Cattle Communal Ownership System
The communal property system is directly related to the big proj ects "Los Grandes
Proyectos". Barahona (2005) includes a description and background of each one of the
nine proj ects established in Isoso. Two main trends can be differentiated. On the one
hand, the herd belongs to the whole community and it is placed in the fenced area of the
communal land (Table 5-1 and Table 5-4). A total of 43,851 hectares were fenced by the
Table 5-3. Family System in Isoso.
No head of Fenced area
Name Community Owners cattle (hectares)
Kapeatindi Group of families -494.2
San Silvestre Sacarias Montengro 99 3,528.4
D. Garcia, Nolberta
Propiedad Ipapiao Tamachmndi .346 1,708.4
and Maqulades Castro
Campo Grande Family Sanchez -8,162.7
Kuarirenda Francisco Sanchez 172 4,930.5
Aguarati Group of familhes--
Total 798 18,824.1
Source: CABI data base June 2005
big proj ects; within this area a total of 928 head of cattle are owned and managed
communally. As was mentioned before, these fences, infrastructure and head of cattle
were sponsored by NGOs: CIPCA 16%, APCOB 35% and the government of Valencia
sponsoring the 49% of total fenced areas. The second trend refers to those cows in
communal ownership that are freely grazing (Table 5-1). Those herds belong to 17
different communities and 70% of them were acquired though the PRAC program (CABI
The "Big Proj ects" have generally had the same strategy: to build the infrastructure
- including fences, water wells, and other facilities and to introduce "reproductive bulls."
The life time of proj ect implementation and technical support is two years on average.
After the NGO's support finished few communities find their own way to organize the
cattle ranching production. Frequently the proj ects are almost abandoned.
In Isisporenda the Yaitarenda proj ect left 20 heifers and one bull (stallion) today
they have 67 head of cattle. Yaitarenda proj ect in Isiporenda has an animal charge of
Table 5-4. Cattle Ranching Proj ects.
Proj ect-name Community Sponsor Situation Cattle Cattle Total Fenced area
Head Head cattle (hectars)
Source CABI data base 2005
1 11.7 hectares per head of cattle and Guaripaku proj ect in Kopere has an animal charge
of 26.6 hectares per head of cattle. These high numbers are related to poor management.
Land Use by Cattle Ranching Ownership Regime and Management System
Table 5-5 shows that free grazing individual cattle are the most numerous, as well
as using the most extensive area, without control over where the animals forage, when
they give birth, etc. Owners expend the minimum effort, time and resources on their herd.
Among the main problems of big proj ects are (1) the implementation of cattle
ranching technology without observation of the Chaco ecological conditions, (2) the short
term support that do not allow develop local institutions, and (3) absence of
commercialization strategy. Despite that, the Isosefios accept big proj ects because they
bring more heads of cattle and infrastructure such as fences and water well which are
high valued by the communities.
Table 5-5. Number of Head of Cattle and Land Use by Ownership Regime and
Management System in the Guarani-Isoso.
Cattle Individual Cattle Communal Cattle Family Total
Ownership Ownership Ownership Cattle
Regime / Ownership
Management Free Fenced (1) Free Fenced (1) Fenced (2)
system grazing grazing
No. Head of
Cattle 5,695 610 283 928 798 8,314
(hectares) 68,340 3,396 43,851 18,824 134,411
of cattle 12 12 47.3 23.6 16.17
Note (1) the individual cattle fenced is located inside of the communal ownership fenced area. (Source: CABI
data base June 2005).
The individual herds inside communal fences, 610 head of cattle which belong to
104 owners (Barahona 2005 and CABI data base, June 2005) seems to be an interesting
trend. According to Barahona (2005) and Arambiza (interviewed in summer 2005), some
communities are establishing norms to use communal fences. For example, in Kovei the
Isosefio's private cattle use the fenced area and their owners pay monthly per head to the
The Private Landholders in the Isoso
Cattle ranching by private landholders is the most extensive activity overall in
TCO-Isoso. A complete private landholder's register should result from the SAN-TCO
process. The partial information was available through FII technical office and is
summarized in Table 5-6.
Table 5-6. Cattle Ranching Systems Non-Guarani Isosefio in the Isoso.
Polygon/ category Number of Total Area Head of Agriculture
owner (ha) cattle (ha)
Agroindustry Cattle ranching 11 64,677 6,333 12, 117
Mennonite Colony 2 23,866 3,700 8,000
Privates 40 106,706 12,542 1,183
Cattle ranching 34 87,625 10,152
Mixed 6 19,081 2,390 1,183
Subtotal 53 195,249 22,575 21,300
Mennonite Colonies 4 44,217 13,392 8,000
Privates Cattle ranching 26 115,561 11,804 336
Peasant-Agriculture 4 433
Subtotal 34 160,211 25,196 8,336
Military 1 11,918 200 100
Privates Cattle ranching 29 104,185 16,294
Subtotal 30 116,103 16,494 100
Private Cattle ranching 44 269,378 36,555
Subtotal 44 269,378 36,555
TOTAL 161 740,941 100,820 29,736
Source preliminary data Saneamiento TCO Isoso
Data reveal that there are two main types of private cattle ownership systems. On
one hand, there is the individual cattle ranching system that includes the extensive
traditional cattle ranches, the mixed-ranches with agricultural forage as food supplement
and the agro-industry. On the other hand, there is the Mennonite cattle ranching System
differentiated by the collective organization of production and strong social fabric inside
Individual Cattle Ranching System
According to Linzer (1998) as well as the preliminary data of TCO-Isoso titling
process (SAN-TCO-Isoso) the cattle ranches with extensive management are located on
the Southern area of the TCO-Isoso (polygons 3 and 5) while the "mixed ranches" and
agro-industry are generally located on the Northern part (polygons 1 and 4). Different
ecological and socioeconomic factors influence this pattern. Firstly, ecological factors
such as the annual rainfall regime that varies from SE to NW from 475 mm to 1000mm
annual rainfall. Rainfall patterns are associated with different natural forage availability.
Secondly, the distance and access to the main cities influence the commercialization
opportunities. The northern area is closer to Pailon and Santa Cruz which are most
important agro-industrial developed areas in Bolivia. The southern areas are more
isolated and the access is too difficult on the rain season.
Cattle ranches in the Southern areas practice more extensive cattle ranching, an
activity with low yield complementing other livelihood strategies (Linzer 1998). The herd
is frequently free-ranging with poor management, without control over livestock
movements or genetic selection. The criollo race predominates because it resists the
extended dry season (CABI 2001). The cattle is sold year round but principally in the dry
season. The cattle is transported on the hoof by truck to the commercial areas of Santa
Cruz and Chuquisaca (cattle ranchers comments).
Concordant with south-north ecological transition, cattle ranching systems tend to
shift from extensive to mixed cattle ranching. Mixed cattle ranching in this area is
characterized by cultivated grass, fenced areas, application of breeding, health and feed
technologies. This activity is influenced by the agro-industry located in the northern areas
of the TCO-Isoso (Polygons 1 and 4), which is characterized by the high investment in
machinery and infrastructure. The private properties in those areas are generally large,
between 2,000 hectares and 15,000 hectares. The administration and management are
handled by full-time technicians as well as temporary personnel during the harvest
season. The market oriented production is linked with the credit system and main
markets in Santa Cruz and Pailon.
The Mennonite System
Mennonites have been established in two areas of the TCO Isoso (Table 3-4 and
Table 5-6). In the South between the Isosefio communities oflIsiporenda and the town of
Charagua (Polygon 3), four Mennonite colonies were established in 1995: Pinondy,
Pinondy Itaguazurenda, Casa Grande and Durango. Two other colonies, La Milagrosa,
and Santa Clara, were established later in the Northern part of the TCO Isoso (polygonl).
The population of all together is approximately 10,000 peoples. Commercial agriculture
is their main activity and livestock is a complement, however, it is intensively-managed.
Altogether, the Mennonites have 17,092 head of cattle (database CABI May 2006 and
personal comment Castillo).
Table 5-7. Demographic and Productive Characteristics of Mennonite Colonies in the
Colonia Homes Population AreaCattle AreaAgric Cattle (a) AreaTotal
(c) (c) (ha) (b) (ha) (a) (ha) (a)
Pinondi 300 2,700 9,800 2,800 4,500 15,800
Itaguazurenda 164 1,472 6,500 1,800 2,600 8,000
Durango 374 3,366 11,480 2,400 4, 195 13,980
Casa Grande 109 981 5,437 1,000 2,097 6,437
Sub total 947 8,519 33,217 8,000 13,392 44,217
La Milagrosa 353 3,278 6,400 8,000 1,200 16,245
Santa Clara 166 1,491 6,035 ;,..? 2,500 7,621
Sub total 519 4,769 12,435 8,000 3,700 23,866
TOTAL 1,466 13,288 45,652 16,000 17,092 68,083
Sources:(a) preliminary data SAN-TCO. (b) CABI-FII Oscar Castillo comments. (c) INE
national census 2002
Mennonites raise dairy cattle for auto consume, butter and cheese industry. Among
Mennonites women are responsible for the herd of cattle. Strong cultural believes limit
men's participation in cattle raising activities. Despite that fact, there is evidence that
some Mennonites are shifting to more cattle ranching activities in the northern part of the
TCO Isoso (field visit 2003). One Mennonite was interviewed and he identified the
subsequent poor harvest and dry season as major motivation to shift from agricultural
production to more cattle ranching production. Many Mennonites have preferred selling
their land before adopting more cattle ranching activities because this shift implies
significant cultural changes. Those Mennonites who are raising more cattle are buying
more land to expand the cattle ranching activity. Consequently, those Mennonite-ranchers
are increasing their plot size and becoming more individual owners.
Ecological and Socioeconomic Effects
There is evidence of overgrazing and soil erosion caused by the herd of cattle in the
Isoso (Leon 2003; Winer 2003; Navarro 1998, 2002; Guerrero 2002). The Isosefio's free
grazing cattle contribute to the overgrazing in more extensive area using 71,736 hectares.
Two main elements contribute to the overgrazing in Isoso, the first is directly related to
the management system and the second is related to the natural condition of the dry
On one hand, the livestock in Isoso has been characterized as "unmanaged"
(Linzer, 1998; Saravia Toledol996, personal comments2002). "Unmanaged" means that
livestock have been generally under-rotated, temporally or locally overstocked, without
sanitary and reproductive control. On the other hand, the rainy season in the Chaco is
concentrated at the end of spring and summer (September to February), and is
characterized by a high variability inter-annually, seasonally, and monthly. That means a
high fluctuation of grass production from year to year. Therefore, variability and
unpredictability are part of the Chaco climate.
The forage-resources in the Chaco are numerous and belong to different strata:
arboreal, shrub and herbaceous (Saravia Toledo 1994; Avila 2002). Saravia-Toledo
(1994) indicates that in "El Salvador" an experimental cattle ranch in the Bolivian
Chaco it was observed that cattle consume foliage, fruits, twigs or entire plants of 11
arboreal species, 20 shrubs, 66 herbaceous non-grasses and 50 grasses. Despite of that
variability and that the Isosefio herds occupy extensive woodlands and grassland areas,
the herds in Isoso tend to congregate in some areas because, as other herbivore-ungulates,
they forage selectively (Saravia Toledo 1994; Gordon 2004) and because they seek water
sources which are scarce in the Chaco dry forest (Adamoli 1972; Saravia Toledo 1994
personal comment 2002; Linzer 1998). In others words, the cattle concentrate in some
areas where the grass is more palatable and where water is available. Consequently those
areas become overgrazed.
According to Saravia Toledo (1996), Navarro and Avila (in Guerrero 2002), Leon
(2002) the maj or effects related to overgrazing are: Soil-compaction, degradation and loss
of forage resources, transformation of the landscape due to the invasion of woody
elements in the grassland, changes in the vegetation composition and habitat degradation
for the wild animals and change in vegetation composition due the alteration of
vegetation regeneration, the limited natural re-growth of palatable species, favoring the
The riverine forest is one of the ecosystems more pressured by the free Isosefio
cattle. For example, an evaluation of that forest resource shows that the natural re-growth
of mesquite (Prosopis chilensis) is threatened by the cattle grazing, and to find specimens
under 30 years of age in some areas of Isoso is almost impossible today (Leon, 2003).
The new community of Tetarembai was established in the area of the Bu Ii( a dm dellsoso
(wetland). Their cattle ranching development is a threat for this important ecosystem.
In the social terrain, data reveals that few individuals only 3% of the owners are
accumulating individual wealth in form of cattle and they are using considerable area in
the communal land. There is not information about social consequences from this fact
even though it is possible expect differences in power relations. In the other hand cattle is
an important livelihood in general the Isosefio are expecting to raise more cattle they are
seeking for more cattle ranching proj ects.