Latin American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



After discussing the issues of large-farming units vs. small farming units, labor-intensive vs. mechanized agriculture, the Green Revolution and its effects on, employment and food consumption, the author sets forth a "theory" of agrarian reform. Agrarian reform programs in Latin America are implemented after a specific set of his­torical circumstances and in response to a particular set of economic and political pressures. The 'historical process consists of the follow­ing steps: the disequilibrating event, the precursor legislation, the reaction, the reform period. Upon entering the last stage (the reform period), the political system typically falls into the hands of an emerging, middle-class, modernizer-reformer political movement. Taking power, this movement finds itself confronted with a domestic food deficit, a weak foreign trade situation and an aroused peasantry. The author contends that under these circumstances an agrarian reform is the only measure that offers adequate political and economic pay-offs to the modernizer-reformer government. The author also develops the idea that agrarian reform programs tend to dichotomize: land tenure reform for the peasantry; land operation reform (modernization) for

the large-farm sector. This tendency, while politically viable, over the long term contributes to the undermining of the social and eco­nomic benefits of the agrarian reform--it tends to marginalize the small-farm, peasant sector by channeling most modernizing efforts toward large farmers.

The author then discusses the agrarian reform experiences of Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela, organizing the dis­cussion according to the schema developed earlier.



Document Type


Degree Name

Latin American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Latin American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Robert Wayne Slenes

Second Committee Member

Peter Gregory

Third Committee Member