Peruvian Agrarian Reform sample essay
The government of Juan Velasco Alvarado was considered a regimen of loss and tragedy for the country. At that time the economic crisis was in an alarming state for the population. The previous regime dictated by Fernando Belaúnde, was the cause of this crisis. Agrarian reform was a measure applied by the president to give a better development to Peru. But, in fact, the development was given? Did the agrarian reform really help peasants? To answer these questions will be analyzing and evaluating the ideological position that led the President Velasco to make such reforms. Fernando Belaúnde’s regime was in a serious economic crisis. The army believed that militaries were the best way to govern a country and the best way to re-develop it economically, politically and socially. Velasco plan a coup to Belaúnde Terry an October of 1968.
In the “Ugly stories of the Peruvian agrarian reform”, Enrique Mayer says, “The revolution from above began at dawn on October 3, 1968, when tanks from the armored division of the army rumbled from across the Rimac River in Lima toward the Presidential Palace with an elite corps of rangers. They entered the Presidential Palace, arresting a startled president Fernando Belaúnde and shipping him off to Buenos Aires. General Velasco (the chief of the armed forces) and his small group of co-conspirators were joined by top-ranking officers of the air force and navy to form the Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces, which remained the same in power over twelve years” (Mayer). Agrarian reform was intended to deliver all peasant lands in an equitable manner so that the people would not be oppressed by those with the power (the oligarchy). But Velasco did not consider that dealings, apart from affecting the oligarchy and foreign investors, also was affecting the crops as farmers were not people who were trained to manage these vast amounts of land.
Besides, having no money meant that the most of the peasants could not buy seeds and could not keep so much land. Therefore, what they had to do was sell part of the land. Moreover, Enrique Mayer says, “Very little land was distributed, and what was distributed went to the hands of the wealthiest of the poorest classes. The sectors concerned were not supported sufficiently or adequately by the bureaucracies that were dull and indifferent, a problem that was aggravated by a restricted public spending” (Mayer). What the new president wanted to achieve was that the power went to the people and not that the people went to the power, as normally. The pyramid that constituted Peru’s social classes was as following: first the oligarchy and foreign investors, then the middle class and finally the poor class.
However, Velasco thought it was best to change it and put the poor class first, then the middle class and finally the oligarchy and foreign investors. His goal was to eliminate the oligarchy through structural reforms. Agrarian reform was the first step that Velasco provided to start with the elimination. Furthermore, Enrique Mayer tells a story that happened to Rafael Seminario while the agrarian reform was in process. This story is an example of how Velasco was trying to change the power of the social classes. The story says, “One day a man came and said that he needed money to buy medicines. He grabbed me in a moment of kindness so I gave him an order to come closer to a pharmacy. This man had never worked on my farm and I never saw him again. Years later, during the reform, this man sues me. I told the judge that I had given him medicine for a charitable impulse.
The judge replied that he did not believe that I could be charitable. The judge said that if I had given the medicine to him was because this man was my employee, and ordered that he be given all his indemnity. He claimed five or six years of indemnities. They won all judgments against me because they, the working poor, were absolutely right and, I, the “exploiter” had no right” (Mayer). Not everything was happiness and tranquility for peasants who received free land. Agrarian reform was very aggressive and somewhat unfair. Often agrarian reform officials acted unjustly and against their own reform. Enrique Mayer narrates a story that happened to Efigenia Alarco, a peasant that received a portion of land in Huancavelica. The story says, “Came the harvest season and arrived the agrarian reform officials that insulted me.
They wondered what the hell I was doing working in a land that was no longer mine. I said, “First do no disrespect me. Secondly, your documents are wrong; I’m not the one in your papers of expropriation”. People who were with me became upset because they pushed me and they almost slapped me. I was taken to the police station and spend a night in jail. In Huacayo, the agrarian reform official denounced me for sabotaging counterrevolutionary” (Mayer). In conclusion, Velasco Alvarado’s government failed because it never really got to give the much desired development.
This non-development occurred because there was an excessive of small landholdings and parceling and also because there was an unfair thought of how power and people should be positioned. In general, it was a dictatorship that all it made was to give “solutions” that instead of solving harmed us. Agrarian reform is only one of many things that come from the wrong thoughts of Velasco. He did not think very well the consequences that his actions could bring us. As Enrique Mayer said, “is not enough that a government has good intentions. Social reality models guilty of simplicity run the risk of not getting more than a change in the background of the social conflict, without touching the essential economic weaknesses” (Mayer). With agrarian reform all Velasco did was repressing us more and developing us less.
Mayer, Enrique. Ugly Stories of the Peruvian Agrarian Reform. Durham: Duke UP, 2009. Print.
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