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Lecture 8

Lecture 8

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Political Science
R Rice

POLC99 Lecture 8 March 1 The Politics of the Rural Dispossessed: Brazil and Mexico The Land Question The complex issues regarding accessto land, agricultural productivity, cultural reproduction and rural poverty and unemployment. Reforms either didnt go far enough or they were reversed by other regimes. 1998: 90% of all arable land in Latin America was concentrated in the hands of a few landowners or corporations. Land reform is very state-centric. Three Paths to Reform: 1. State-Led Land Reform: 1960s as a result of revolutionary pressure from peasants. Most governments in Latin America in the 1960s conducted a land reform. The government seized the land from large landowners compensating them with government bonds. Peasants got entitled to small plots of land. For the most part, the state didnt want to mess with large landowners and instead handed over large parcels of land in the Amazon. Only in Cuba and Nicaragua they went after foreign-owned farms. Features: - Expropriation with compensation. It was coercive and the amount the landowners received was below market value prices. - Highly centralized and bureaucratic. Very timely and costly, lots of red tape and the government subsidized this endevour for the peasants. - Low credit and investments. To be successful you needed credit subsidies and accessto markets, which was very expensive. Without support behind it, it doesnt tend to work. You can give a family a small plot of land, over the next generation when the family expands its not going to work. 2. Market-Led Agrarian Reform: 1990s the World Bank came in, free markets, free sellers, voluntary transactions, willing to sell as opposed to being coerced to sell. Features: - Wiling sellers and willing buyers. Its about cooperation, not to be forced into anything. The incentive for the peasants is 100% cash on the spot, market price - Studies have found that for the market mechanism to work you need a 3 times more land supply than demand. Its not the casein Latin America. Hence, the main mechanism for running this operation was land banks. Private banks lent money to peasants to buy land from the landlords. 1
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