Cartulo Seas Soari smelt of beer and swayed as he spoke to me. "It was the first time I was in the Presidential Palace and it was amazing. We filled the whole building, it belonged to us." He had spent the night dancing and drinking in the university sports hall in La Paz. He had good reasons to celebrate.
For on Tuesday night, the Bolivian Government completely unexpectedly passed an amended land reform bill that aims to redistribute up to a fifth of the country, land that it designates as "unproductive" land in the hands of a small minority of rich landholders. It passed the law, the same day as 10,000 indigenous and campesino farmers descended on La Paz in four different marches that have crossed the country.
The last time I met Cartulo was in his hometown of Trinidad in Beni, where his organisation CIDOB (the confederation of indigenous peoples of Bolivia) was involved in an innovative project of using internet to help equip indigenous peoples in their struggle for land rights. He had marched five times, including most famously the 1990s land march, which put land redistribution on the political map. And now he was back in La Paz after marching for 28 days. "I feel good." "My feet don't even hurt," he smiled.