After watching Cameron Maxwell’s conversation, I noticed many similarities between Peru in the 1960s and Guatemala a few decades prior. In both cases, coups were organized in order to proceed with land reforms, redistributing land to the peasantry. In Guatemala, land reforms were enacted by President Arbenz to redistribute the unused land that had been owned by the United Fruit Company, which was a foreign company. The redistribution was enacted to dispense the power throughout Guatemala rather than have it held in the hands of elites and in the hands overseas UFCO owners. This could have led to private ownership and competitive markets (capitalism). Agriculture Co-ops could have appeared in attempt to compete with big corporations, like the United Fruit Company. This could have then created a strong middle class, something Guatemala did not have.
In Peru, the land was redistributed by the military, although training and education on how to use it productively was not given. This led to the collapse of the rural production in Peru, leading to even more hardship than before. Going back to my earlier explanation on Guatemala, I have to rethink whether or not Arbenz’s Plan 900 (his land reform plan) would have been successful if the United States hadn’t intervened. The people of Guatemala did not have enough time to even attempt to cultivate the land that had been redistributed, but I now wonder if they would have even known how to without any training. Maybe farmers who worked for the seasonally paid jobs at the United Fruit Company, harvesting bananas, may have left their jobs to work on private property where they could then harvest more crops developing more income?
Maxwell also notes that “the typical peasant was less concerned with events in Lima or the nation,” but rather with [the] injustice and crime in local community[s].” Thankfully, the Shining Path helped these communities with the local injustices, but I have to believe that problems of local communities are planted in the central government. The reason for these injustices originate from the decisions made in Lima. I do believe that it may have been very difficult for the peasantry to reach contact with Peruvian officials and for their voices to be heard, but I still would have to think that many of the local injustices stem from the central government and that fixing the issues at the core would alleviate outward.
Sometimes, as I write these blog posts, I feel like I am contradicting what I say. When I think of different parts Southern California (where I am from and most familiar with), I realize that it has stable government and has laws that tame the social injustices. But I then think of different parts of Los Angeles, where crime rates of theft and whatever else exceed other surrounding areas. I know that this is different, but I feel somewhat related to a more contemporary time (or maybe just to me because I’ve never been surrounded by cattle or any type of agriculture for that matter). Obviously, political issues cannot be completely solved, so I guess thats the main reason to some of these social injustices found around the world.
Sorry for the rant.