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

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

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

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

Synopsis

The second edition of Land, Power, & Poverty provides a comprehensive & current analysis of the relationship between agrarian structures & political turmoil in Central America. Each country chapter is brought up-to-date, & the author covers recent scholarship & events since 1986, including the decreasing militarization in the region. Discussion of the environmental consequences of agrarian change is also expanded. Contents: Introduction: Agrarian Transformation & Political Conflict. AGRARIAN TRANSFORMATION. Agrarian Transformation Before 1950. The Postwar Transformation of Central American Agriculture. Agrarian Transformation & Rural Economic Security. POLITICAL CONFLICT. Guatemala: Between Reform & Terror. El Salvador: From Obstruction to Civil War & Toward Reconciliation. Nicaragua: From Obstruction to Revolution & Back Again. Honduras: The Limitations of Reform. Costa Rica: Toward Sustainable Development. Conclusion: Land, Power, & Poverty.

Excerpt

There have been major changes in Central America since the late 1980s, many of them for the good. When I wrote the first edition of this book, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua were engulfed in civil conflicts, tragic upheavals that claimed the lives of over 200,000 people and disrupted the lives of millions of others. Not only has each of these conflicts ended, but some significant efforts at reconciliation also have been undertaken. The challenges, of course, remain substantial. But there is more cause for hope in the region now than often was the case in the past.

Given the extent of the changes in the years since the first edition appeared, this volume is necessarily a significant revision. Furthermore, during this time scholarship on the region has blossomed. I have attempted to learn as much as I could from this literature and to incorporate it here. The scope of this work is very broad, covering not just five countries but issues (and their separate literatures) that range from rural development to export development models to popular mobilization to public policy. I have attempted to strengthen my arguments in each of these areas, focusing on two in particular. First, I challenge not the agroexport model itself but rather the mistaken confidence in this model as the answer to mass poverty in highly unequal societies. Second, I do not claim a direct link between agrarian transformation and political conflict but instead see their connection as highly conditioned by political factors, especially the role of outside agents and the response of the state.

In taking on the challenge of this new edition, I have benefited from much encouragement, not just from students and other friends but also from colleagues previously unknown to me. To each of you my great gratitude. I am also most grateful to Sherry Cardwell for her outstanding work on the tables and figures. The following individuals took time from their own busy schedules and critiqued at least one chapter for me, gaining my substantial appreciation: Gordon Bowen, Alfred Cuzán, Charles Davis, Roland Ebel, Mark Everingham, Robert Gottfried, Yasmeen Mohiuddin, Tommie Sue Montgomery, Donald Schulz, Kenneth Sharpe, Rose Spalding, and Scott Wilson. In addition, I have learned much from Sidney Tarrow that has strengthened my analysis. Students in my seminar on contemporary Central America gave a big boost to this project; many . . .

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