This book includes five articles written in the early 1970s, most of which have appeared elsewhere, adding a new introduction. The author, an agricultural economist, develops several themes which should be of exceptional interest to students of Latin American history and agrarian systems. One article criticizes the prevalent view that wage laborers are fundamentally different and more “modern” than peasants, arguing that the two groups have more in common than is generally realized and that under the conditions prevailing in most of Latin America, sharecropping is economically more rational than wage labor, due to the ability of self-employed peasants to make fuller use of the available labor force. Another article examines the relations of production on haciendas in the central Peruvian sierra, using expropriated hacienda records collected in the Centro de Documentación Agraria in Lima. The author concludes that these haciendas were not “feudal,” since their workers were free to leave, though they seldom did so since their remuneration exceeded what they would have received elsewhere. His view of the Andean hacienda is strikingly different from the traditional one; these estates are under constant pressure, both from their workers and from neighboring Indian communities, and their owners are unable to make changes which would increase their profits because of the opposition of the workers. The final three articles deal with aspects of the Cuban Revolution. Here the author discovers a national bourgeoisie, which others have claimed was missing in Cuba, in the colonos or cane farmers who were politically influential throughout the Batista period and into the early years of the revolution, but whose very success in protecting their own position against the foreign-owned sugar mills led to the rise of an underemployed rural proletariat which would play a major role in radicalizing the revolution after 1959.
Book Review| November 01 1979
Haciendas, Plantations and Collective Farms: Agrarian Class Societies, Cuba and Peru
Haciendas, Plantations and Collective Farms: Agrarian Class Societies, Cuba and Peru. By Martínez-Alier, Juan.
Frank Cass and Company. . Pp.
185. . $19.50.
Hispanic American Historical Review (1979) 59 (4): 768–769.
Robert G. Keith; Haciendas, Plantations and Collective Farms: Agrarian Class Societies, Cuba and Peru. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 November 1979; 59 (4): 768–769. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-59.4.768
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