Allende's Chile: An inside View

By Edward Boorstein | Go to book overview

10
Land Reform

The UP government's lack of state power, lack of even a majority in the Congress, determined the kind of land reform it could carry out. It could not simply decree the land reform law it thought necessary, but was limited either to working with the law passed under the Christian Democrats or to submitting new legislation to the opposition Congress. It decided to use the old law. Jacques Chonchol, the first UP minister of agriculture, explained why: "Any changes in such a complex and controversial law as the Agrarian Reform Law would certainly have required many months of discussion, which would paralyze the agrarian reform process resulting in great frustration among the peasantry who are pressing for the acceleration of the process. Also it was felt that, given the political willingness to use the existing law much more thoroughly, it would be possible to accelerate the agrarian reform process."1

Besides the 1967 land reform law, the UP also inherited the government apparatus for dealing with agriculture that had grown up under previous administrations. This apparatus was exceptionally unmanageable. Twenty-one different agencies, dependent on five ministries, dealt with agriculture. Credit to asentamientos was granted by the Agrarian Reform Corporation (CORA),

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