Chile's Landowners Association and Agrarian Reform Politics.

by Constantine Christo Menges

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An examination of the political activities of the large landowners of Chile through the National Society of Agriculture (SNA). Founded in 1838, SNA's primary purpose was to promote the improvement of agricultural production in Chile. Today, it performs the multitude of functions associated with large trade associations and pressure groups. In 1961, SNA completely revised its stand on agrarian reform toward limited rhetorical support for redistribution. At the same time, it created and financed a front organization to wage a vitriolic propaganda campaign against reform--the main theme being that the whole matter was a communist menace to society. Because of the popularity of the reform issue, SNA made strenuous efforts to keep its role in determining the extent and limits of the reform to which it would agree from public view. Although SNA was doubtless successful in retarding meaningful reform, it nonetheless provided a private forum where differing viewpoints could be exchanged at higher levels of analysis and rationality. However, the "front groups" founded by SNA to wage a bitter polemical battle against land reform and all its advocates could become the nucleus for landowner vigilantism. 41 pp.

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