Peasant Organizations and Politics in Chile : 1958-1964.

by Constantine Christo Menges

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A survey of the origins, evolution, and purposes of the major peasant organizations in Chile, showing that Latin American political life is more complex than the primitivism by which it is often characterized. After a long period of quiescence, interest in organizing the Chilean peasantry was renewed by social-action reformist Catholics and Marxist parties in the 1950s. The evolution of organizations which they spawned reveals much about the functioning of Chile's politics, the alliances possible among apparently disparate groups, the ruptures that come between ideological brethren even in time of crisis, and the great political importance of personality at particular moments. The agrarian reform issue of 1961-1962 illustrates the role of these organizations in national politics. Peasant organizations were so weak that they played only a small part in promoting the government's serious concern over agrarian reform; they certainly were not the source of demands nor did they greatly influence the legislation which resulted. On the contrary, the agrarian reform debate stimulated their political activity. 53 pp.

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