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Agrarian Question & Peasant Movemnt: Struggles of the National Peasant Association, 1967-1981 Cambridge Latin American Studies


Agrarian Question & Peasant Movemnt: Struggles of the National Peasant Association, 1967-1981 Cambridge Latin American Studies

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    Available in PDF Format | Agrarian Question & Peasant Movemnt: Struggles of the National Peasant Association, 1967-1981 Cambridge Latin American Studies.pdf | English
    Leon Zamosc(Author)
In this book, Leon Zamosc provides an account of the history of ANUC and its struggle on three main fronts: for land, for the defence of the colonists, and for the protection of smallholders. The main focus of the book is on the land struggles. Professor Zamosc adopts a structural perspective, examining the agrarian contradictions that propelled the peasant struggles, the changing relationship between the peasant movement and the state, and the political and ideological content of the peasant challenge. He explores these issues in the light of the shifting patterns of class alignments and antagonisms that marked the rise and decline of peasant radicalism during the 1970s, and offers some suggestions about the significance of ANUC's struggles for the understanding of peasant movements in general.

"...a very fine study of the peasant movement of the 1970s in Colombia.It is an outstanding work, both for its empirical detail and theoretical sophistication."Professor Eric R. Wolf, City University of New York

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Book details

  • PDF | 312 pages
  • Leon Zamosc(Author)
  • Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (21 Aug. 2008)
  • English
  • 5
  • History
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Review Text

  • By Bert Ruiz on 1 March 2004

    Professor Leon Zamosc's critical study, "The Agrarian Question and the Peasant Movement in Colombia: Struggles of the National Peasant Association 1967 - 1981," provides a massive testimony of how poor and often illiterate peasants in Colombia organized across the nation to demand land from the State. The author also patiently explains how the peasant struggle for land threatened to destroy the large landowner class and its corrupt clientelist system in Colombia.On that note, this Cambridge University Press carefully documents how the Spanish Conquest established the tradition of large landowner monopolization of state owned territory in Colombia. Moreover, the text exposes how large landowners fanatically guarded the original Spanish Conquest system of Indian exploitation for over a century. Over the years the landowner "process involved the racial redefinition, dispossession and subjection of the exploited population," according to the author. However, one of the troubling discoveries of Professor Zamosc's research is how Colombia's large landowner class regularly obtained large tracts of property with fraudulent practices.Of particular interest is a International Bank for Reconstruction and Development report authored by renowned American economist Lauchin Currie in 1948 that proposed a controversial program for accelerated development under the name "Operation Colombia." In Currie's opinion, the irrational use of labor power and land in agriculture was the main obstacle to economic growth in Colombia. It seems the plains and more fertile areas were used for extensive cattle raising, while most of the labor was being wasted in the inefficient agriculture of the worst soils of the mountain slopes.Also of interest is President John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress policy in the early 1960's that argued that the large landowner development of agriculture was only aggravating the problems of unemployment and low peasant incomes and that these factors were creating "a dangerous social and political situation." Tragically, the landowners and political leaders of Colombia continued to maintain a rigid policy of squeezing profits from the land with little or no regard for improving the standard of living of the peasant.However, this all changed with the 1966 election of National Front Liberal Party President Carlos Lleras Restrepo who nurtured the organization of peasants to help implement dynamic land reforms. President Lleras Restrepo was the first National Front leader to abandon rhetoric and actually authorize a generous amount of State funds to pave the way for a fair distribution of land. Unfortunately, his successor Conservative Party President Misael Pastrana (1970-1974) was easily manipulated by large landowners and the government sponsored peasant movement was crushed.Professor Zamosc explains how the landowners embraced the Cold War and conveniently labled the peasants (who did lean to the left) communists in order to justify the repression of the Pastrana government. The author who's research was funded by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva laments how Colombia lost an enormous opportunity to introduce significant land reforms. All in all, this 1986 publication helps explain the roots of the violence in Colombia today. Professor Zamosc does the world an enormous service by documenting how wealthy landowners manipulated political power in Colombia.

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