Week Eleven

When we look at the history of South America in the 20th century,  we see that the 1930s and the 1940s was an important period of reforms aimed at inclusion, political incorporation, and state building. However, in the case of Peru, this was not particularly the case. Peru has a history of truncated attempts at reform, from the 1920s to the 1930s. As we move on, during the 1960s we witness a wave of struggles for land among the peasantry. For instance, as Dawson explains in the video, an early guerilla movement causes the military to go into the countryside where many young officers became deeply politicized by the conditions of the countryside such as: poverty, misery, neglect and abandonment. Later on and in 1968, these junior military officers with the leadership of Velasco took over the power in a coup. Following the coup, Velasco undertakes a series of radical reforms. Among those reforms is land reform which is largely unsuccessful in terms of creating a prosperous peasantry.

Normally, one of the reasons to have and reform is to pacify the country which typically happens after a war or a change in power. However in Peru, the land reform eliminated a critical component of rural social structure which is the middle class. To be more particular, the land reform heavily impacted lawyer, teachers, etc. As a result, these groups of people recruited by “The Shining Path” and they were sent to rural areas where indigenous people were under cruelty and injustice by landowners, to make them united to over throw the states.

It is evident by the situation in Peru, that a political movement with the aim of changing the government structure is just the first step of a reform. For instance, following the reform in Peru, when the lands got redistributed, many people were not trained to act as producers which led to a collapse in rural production and more hardships. This example indicates that having a proper plan regarding aftermaths of a political change is probably much more important than just succeeding in a reform.


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