to sell the land and distribute the money so received amongst
the partners. It is alleged that only those who were present
in Bolivia got paid, some fully but others in part depending
upon their clout. The sale price itself was being questioned.
Most of the people left in disgust and hardly five to six
people were left behind. The sponsors figured that no body
would come from India to collect their paltry share of sale
money and they decided to buy a Petrol Pump. It is alleged
that there were malpractices in managing this new enterprise
also. One of the sponsors died and there after the Petrol
pump was sold. When the news spread, several partners exerted
pressure on the Sponsors to refund their share of the sale
proceeds. The story becomes murkier as every one including
the two sponsors or their inheritors claim bankruptcy. Consequently
one of the sponsors has returned to India and the dead sponsors’
children have migrated to Argentina. A sad ending!
AMARJIT SINGH VIRDI, an Earlier Land Buyer
An excerpt of the interview with him in Santa Cruz is given
below: “I am living in Santa Cruz for last 26 years
and came to Bolivia for Agriculture from Germany where I was
working. I purchased land to farm but there was no water and
the language is also different. Water is 120 to 140 meters
deep. The living conditions were not good particularly in
1979 when I came here. There were no tarred roads even. We
had to face several difficulties but now by the grace of “Waheguru”
we are finally on our feet. While in Germany we heard through
newspapers that Bolivia was selling land. Bolivia wanted agricultural
manpower and technology and all one needed was a tractor.
We Indians are good at agriculture. Bolivia sent us the necessary
forms etc based on which the land was registered in our name.
With these documents we were issued the necessary visa in
Germany. I was the first one to arrive in Bolivia for agriculture.
One Darshan Singh was the other Sikh, who had come earlier
but he was into restaurant business. He later set up a cinema.
In our group 5 or 6 people were interested but only three
of them finally bought land in Bolivia - Baljinder Singh,
Nirmal Singh and I. We paid $ 6000 each for the land. I had
$10,000 with me on arrival in La Paz.
When I arrived there was a strike in the country so I had
to wait for four days in La Paz airport after which I could
travel to Santa Cruz. I stayed in a hotel for the first week
and then moved to cheaper accommodation by renting a house.
Initially I was on a tourist visa with the proviso that it
could be extended if I decided to settle down on the land.
I came alone to Bolivia because the other two came after 2-3
months as they had gone to India to meet with their families.
On arrival I advised them while they were in India, about
the initial difficulties including the language issue. but
I did also mention that such difficulties are faced by all
new settlers such as the Sikh settlers in Kenya and UP had
faced. The land was purchased from Bolivian Land and Forest
Company Ltd and is located about 107 kms away from Santa Cruz
on the Brazil Road......
Article Published in The
Sikh Review - January 2005 - No. 625