Land, Power, and Poverty: Agrarian Transformation and Political Conflict in Central America

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Westview Press, 1998 - History - 270 pages
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Land, Power, and Poverty explores the development of the rigid and unequal structures of rural Central American society, the challenge in recent decades to those structures by a restive peasantry, and the role in these conflicts of five governments of the region—Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The author also assesses the role of international actors, especially the United States, in Central America.The second edition of Land, Power, and Poverty provides a comprehensive and current analysis of the relationship between agrarian structures and political turmoil in Central America. Each country chapter is brought up-to-date, and the author covers recent scholarship and events since 1986, including the decreasing militarization in the region. Discussion of the environmental consequences of agrarian change is also expanded.

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The Postwar Transformation
Central America and the Internationalization
Between Reform and Terror
From Obstruction to Civil
A Centrist Model for Change
Toward Peace and Reconciliation
Revolutionary Agrarian Policy
Constraints on Revolutionary Policymaking
Unmaking the Revolution
The Limitations of Reform
Toward Sustainable Development
Land Power and Poverty


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Page 15 - ... fourth day the tortillas begin to get moldy or sour; they grow bitter or rotten and get as dry as boards. This is the food the Indians must eat or die. And even of this food they do not have enough, some because of their poverty and others because they have no one to prepare their tortillas for them. They go to the farms and other places of work, where they are made to toil from dawn to dusk, in the raw cold of morning and afternoon, in wind and storm, without other food than those rotten or...
Page 24 - It is extended like the conquistador, spreading hunger and misery, reducing the former proprietors to the worst conditions— woe to those who sell!
Page 23 - The administration firmly maintains its authority by means of a large standing army and police force, and promptly and mercilessly checks the slightest manifestation of popular dissatisfaction. An elaborate secret service attempts, with a large measure of success, to inform itself fully of everything which occurs in the Republic. Supposed enemies of the party in power are closely watched...
Page 15 - So the Indian returns home worn out from his toil, minus his pay and his mantle, not to speak of the food that he had brought with him. He returns home famished, unhappy, distraught, and shattered in health. For these reasons pestilence always rages among the Indians.
Page 23 - ... on the ground that only a very strong government can prevent revolution and maintain order; and there is no doubt that the life and property of foreigners, at least, has been safer in Guatemala than in some of the other Central American countries. The omnipresent spy system, however, and the cruel treatment meted out to those who incur the displeasure of the authorities, have created an atmosphere of mutual suspicion and fear, especially in the capital, which has noticeably sapped the spirit...
Page 118 - Guatemalan government's counterinsurgency program, begun in early 1982, has been continued and expanded by the Rios Montt government and remains in effect at this time. 2. A principal feature of this campaign is the systematic murder of Indian noncombatants (men, women and children) of any village, farm or cooperative, that the army regards as possibly supportive of the guerrilla insurgents or that otherwise resists army directives. 3. Although civilian men of all ages have been shot in large numbers...
Page 23 - ... conversation. Much of the mail, and especially that coming from abroad, is opened and read in the post office. The formation of social clubs is discouraged because of possible political results, and it is impossible for a man prominent in official circles to have many friends without arousing distrust. Persons who fall under suspicion are imprisoned or restricted in their liberty, or even mysteriously disappear. The ruthless execution of large numbers of persons, many of whom were probably innocent,...
Page 116 - This report contains information, published for the first time, which shows how the selection of targets for detention and murder, and the deployment of official forces for extra-legal operations, can be pinpointed to secret offices in an annex of Guatemala's National Palace, under the direct control of the president of the...
Page 108 - For three decades the Guatemalan government has used terrorism to demobilize the population. Long before the term became common in the Southern Cone, desaparecido was a household word in Guatemala. In the early...
Page 108 - To aid in the drive, the army also hired and armed local bands of 'civilian collaborators' licensed to kill peasants whom they considered guerrillas or 'potential' guerrillas. There were those who doubted the wisdom of encouraging such measures in violence-prone Guatemala, but Webber was not among them. 'That's the way this country is,

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About the author (1998)

Charles D. Brockett is professor of political science at the University of the South. He is the author of numerous articles and papers on Central America, as well as coeditor of Agrarian Reform in Reverse (1987).

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