Tierra Comunitaria de Orígen (TCO)

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Tierra Comunitaria de Orígen (TCO) is a Bolivian designation given to autonomous and communally owned indigenous lands. The original basis for TCOs was enshrined in the 1994 Bolivian constitution, but the term TCO itself was first encoded into Law 1715 in 1996. Bolivia's 2009 Constitution goes further, guaranteeing the indigenous the rights to natural resources found on their lands.

"The Constitution of 2009 recognizes the comprehensive nature of peasant indigenous territory, which includes the right to land use and exclusive benefit of renewable natural resources to the prior and informed consultation and participation in profits from the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources, and the ability to apply their own rules, its structures of representation and definition of their development in accordance with their cultural criteria and principles of harmonious coexistence with nature."[1]

One example of a TCO is Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), an area spanning the departments of Beni and Cochabamba that is the subject of controversy as the Bolivian government plans to build a highway through it against the will of the indigenous.

Bolivian Laws on TCOs

1994 Constitution

The basis of TCOs begins with Article 171 of the 1994 Bolivian constitution.[2] Part 3 (Special Regimes), Title 3 (Agrarian and Peasant Regimes), Article 171 reads as follows:[3]

"Article 171.- The social economic and cultural rights of indigenous peoples living in the country and especially those relating to identity, values, languages, customs and institutions, are guaranteed, respected and protected under the Law.
"The State recognizes the juridical presence of the Andean communities and peasant associations and peasant syndicates, according to the law.
"The natural authorities of indigenous and peasant communities may exercise administrative and judicial functions in accordance to their own norms, practices and procedures, provided they are not contrary to this Constitution and laws. The law will establish coordination of this special jurisdiction with the Judiciary."
"Articulo 171.- Se garantizan, respetan y protegen en el marco de la Ley los derechos sociales economicos y culturales de los pueblos indigenas que habitan en el territorio nacional y especialmente los relativos a su identidad, valores, lenguas, costumbres e instituciones.
"El Estado reconoce la personalidad juridica de las comunidades andinas y campesinas y de las asociaciones y sindicatos campesinos, de acuerdo a la Ley.
"Las autoridades naturales de las comunidades indigenas y campesinas podran ejercer funciones administrativas y jurisdiccionales, en conformidad a sus propias normas, costumbres y procedimientos, siempre que no sean contrarias a esta Constitucion y las leyes. La Ley establecera coordinacion de esta

jurisdiccion especial con el Poder Judicial."

Law 1715

The formation of TCOs continued with the passage of Law 1715 The Law of the National Agrarian Reform Service, in 1996.[4] Within this law, Article 41 (Classification and Extensions of Agrarian Property) provides that all agrarian property is classified in one of six groups. One of the groups is the Tierra Comunitaria de Orígen (TCO).

"The TCOs are the geographic areas that constitute the habitat of indigenous peoples and communities, where they have traditionally had access and where they maintain and develop their own forms of economic, social and cultural Organization, so to ensure their survival and development. They are inalienable, indivisible, irreversible, collective, composed of communities or associations, indefeasible and inalienable;"
"Las Tierras Comunitarias de Origen son los espacios geográficos que constituyen el hábitat de los pueblos y comunidades indígenas y originarias, a los cuales han tenido tradicionalmente acceso y donde mantienen y desarrollan sus propias formas de Organización económica, social y cultural, de modo que aseguran su sobrevivencia y desarrollo. Son inalienables, indivisibles, irreversibles, colectivas, compuestas por comunidades o mancomunidades, inembargables e imprescriptibles;"

Article 72 gives more information on the structuring of TCOs, providing for the resolution of land disputes of land owned by non-indigenous peoples within the TCOs.

2009 Constitution

Bolivia's 2009 constitution deals with Indigenous Peasant Autonomy in Part 3 (Territorial Structure and Organization of the State),Title I (Territorial Organization of the State), Chapter 7.[5] This allows indigenous peoples to create autonomous areas, but provides that must do so in accordance with the constitution and the laws of Bolivia. Two or more indigenous peoples are allowed to come together to make up one autonomous region if they wish.

Part 4 (Economic Structure and Organization of the State), Title II (Environment, Natural Resources, Land, and Territory), Chapter 9 (Land and Territory) adds more about indigenous territories in Article 394, part III, which is translated below, followed by the original Spanish.[6]

"Article 394. III. The state recognizes, protects, and guarantees the community or collective property, which includes the peasant indigenous territory, the cultural communities and native peasant communities. Collective property is declared indivisible, inalienable, indefeasible, inalienable and irreversible and not subject to taxation to land ownership. Communities may hold titles recognizing the complementarity between individual and collective rights while respecting the territorial unit with identity.
"Artículo 394. III. El Estado reconoce, protege y garantiza la propiedad comunitaria o colectiva, que comprende el territorio indígena originario campesino, las comunidades interculturales originarias y de las comunidades campesinas. La propiedad colectiva se declara indivisible, imprescriptible, inembargable, inalienable e irreversible y no está sujeta al pago de impuestos a la propiedad agraria. Las comunidades podrán ser tituladas reconociendo la complementariedad entre derechos colectivos e individuales respetando la unidad territorial con identidad."

Chapter 9 continues, providing in Article 403 for indigenous control over natural resources found in their territories:

"Article 403. I. The integrity of peasant indigenous territory are recognized, which includes the right to land use and exclusive benefit of renewable natural resources in the conditions defined by law; the prior and informed consultation and participation in profits from the exploitation of nonrenewable natural resources found in their territories; and the power to apply its own rules, administered by the structures of representation and the definition of development according to their cultural standards and principles of harmonious coexistence with nature. Peasant indigenous territories may be composed of communities."
"Artículo 403. I. Se reconoce la integralidad del territorio indígena originario campesino, que incluye el derecho a la tierra, al uso y aprovechamiento exclusivo de los recursos naturales renovables en las condiciones determinadas por la ley; a la consulta previa e informada y a la participación en los beneficios por la explotación de los recursos naturales no renovables que se encuentran en sus territorios; la facultad de aplicar sus normas propias, administrados por sus estructuras de representación y la definición de su desarrollo de acuerdo a sus criterios culturales y principios de convivencia armónica con la naturaleza. Los territorios indígena originario campesinos podrán estar compuestos por comunidades."

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

References

  1. ¿Que son la TCO's ? (Tierras Comunitarias de Origen)., Accessed August 29, 2011.
  2. [http://www.constituyentesoberana.org/3/noticias/tierra/012010/010110_1.html ¿Que son la TCO's ? (Tierras Comunitarias de Origen), Accessed August 27, 2011.
  3. 1994 Augmentation to Bolivian Constitution, accessed August 27, 2011.
  4. LEY DEL SERVICIO NACIONAL DE REFORMA AGRARIA Ley 1715 (18-Octubre-1996), Accessed August 27, 2011.
  5. Text of Bolivia's 2009 Constitution.
  6. Text of Bolivia's 2009 Constitution.

External Resources

External Articles