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agrarian reform

Latin America and Africa

In South America land reform is a major problem because enormous tracts of land (latifundios) are concentrated in very few hands with laborers no better off than serfs. Although the revolution in Mexico resulted in land reform (1917), the program of redistribution of land is still only partially completed. A land reform law also followed the Bolivian revolution of 1952, but by 1970 only 45% of the peasant families had received titles to land. One of the most complete agrarian reforms in Latin America has taken place in Cuba, where land reform was one of the main platforms of the revolution of 1959. Large holdings were expropriated by the National Institute for Land Reform (INRA), but most is managed by government officials and has not been redistributed. The remaining agricultural land is limited to a ceiling with tenants gaining ownership rights. Nicaragua's agrarian reform under the Sandinistas resulted in expropriation of some large holdings (1979), which after initial collectivization has been progressively redistributed to individual farmers, including returning Contras after 1989. Chile's land reform (1970–73) was reversed when Socialist Salvador Allende was overthrown.

African agrarian reforms have included distribution of excess land (Algeria, 1971); nationalization of all land (Ethiopia, 1974); and abolition of all land titles to be replaced by rights of occupancy (Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria). Tanzania promoted farming collectives (ujamaa) with limited success.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on agrarian reform Latin America and Africa from Infoplease:

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Agriculture: General


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