Reforma agraria, colonization, rural re-settlement, and proyectismo, are representative of the terms increasingly noted in the mounting volume of studies relating to the economics of the Latin American republics. Though their meaning is generally understood, their practical application has been given limited attention due to a scarcity of field research reports of specific land reclamation projects. Dr. Poleman’s capable and well-written study of such a project in Mexico is therefore of immediate significance and use to the Latin Americanist, be he a specialist in history, agriculture, sociology, or geography.
The Papaloapan Project, an outgrowth of the author’s doctoral dissertation, is a thoroughly documented and convincing analysis of the first major attempt by a Latin American government to solve the pressing land/man relationship problem through a large-scale combined reclamation, agriculture, and colonization effort. It relates to the Mexican government’s development plan in the Papaloapan basin in the Mexican tropics dating from 1947. Basing himself on both official published sources and field investigation, Dr. Poleman traces the characteristics, failures, and successes of the program, and in a particularly notable concluding section, sums up a number of “guideposts for the future” relating to the prospects for converting heretofore unexploited hot tropical zones into new areas of agricultural development.
Unencumbered by exhausting verbiage or lengthy technical discussions, this work serves as a succinct and excellent supplement to George McCutcheon McBride’s basic survey of Mexico’s land systems. In complimenting Stanford University’s Food Research Institute for its timely publication, the hope must also be expressed that this study will be included among the required source materials available to Alliance for Progress technicians.