The author of this volume is the Marxist rector of the University of Cochabamba and a former professor of sociology, and is highly influential on contemporary agrarian reform legislation in Bolivia. The work itself can be considered two books in one. Part One traces the development of feudalism in Spain and Spanish America by describing Iberian agricultural characteristics and their influence on indigenous agrarian practices and institutions in the New World. Special attention is given to the Aztec and Inca civilizations. Part Two describes the background and subsequent developments in Bolivian agrarian legislation since independence. In this section the Agrarian Reform Law of 1953, a product of the 1952 National Revolution, is evaluated, as well as the role of the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) in executing it. An appendix suggests a plan for development of agricultural resources and amendments to existing agrarian laws.
The interpretation and classification of historical developments and events reflect the author’s philosophical preferences. Of greatest interest perhaps is the second part of the treatise. While the successes and failures of contemporary Bolivian agrarian legislation are listed, the failures are attributed primarily to MNR political expediency while in power. This would tend to absolve the theoretical framework in which it developed, and to which the author contributed, from charges of major deficiencies. The author suggests that the agrarian problem in Bolivia originated with the Spanish Conquest, and that it was modified by the feudalistic practices of the Colonial and National periods.
Of special interest to historians and political scientists may be the author’s evaluation of views on the nation’s rural problems held by nine political parties and social groups. These are illustrated with extensive quotations from political platforms and party leaders’ speeches. The value of the work lies in the fact that as academician and public servant the author has been instrumental in developing contemporary agrarian reform legislation in Bolivia. Given his philosophical bias and the dearth of data on Bolivian agrarian reform, this volume helps to fill an existing gap.