Facing Social Revolution: The Personal Journey of a Quaker Economist

By John P. Powelson; Jack Powelson et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 5 From the Farms and Slums of Latin America to the Radical Students of Mexico

After the land invasion of Cali, I consciously sought out the poor.

Over the next ten years, I wandered through the slums of every Latin American capital that had slums, chatting with the occupants, in Spanish in most countries, in French in Haiti, and in sign language intermixed with some Spanish words in Brazil. I asked where they came from, what they did, how much they earned, and what were their hopes. Most had migrated in from the country; many were employed at pittance wages and some were unemployed.

I trudged through farms in the backlands of Panama, Mexico, Bolivia, and Argentina. I visited land-reform cooperatives in Chile, both before and during the Allende presidency, in which I spoke with farmers about their vision of the future. Later I did the same in the slums of African countries.

I visited farms in the bush in Liberia, Nigeria, and Kenya; I went to a hunger camp by Lake Turkana in Kenya, and still later I wandered through farms in the Philippines, talking to tenant farmers and landless workers, and attending village meetings. Although the farmers and workers sympathized with populist governments such as Perón in Argentina, in all these years not one mentioned "revolution".

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