Agrarian Reform In Guatemala

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The Agrarian Reform Law Decree 900 was enacted in 1952 under President Jacobo Árbenz’s government. President Árbenz wanted Guatemala’s financial system to grow and he wanted to transform the rural population through land redistribution and by giving them agricultural privileges. However, these ideals for land reform were short-lived; coming to an end with his coup in 1954. This essay will explain what the Agrarian Reform law in Guatemala was as well as what were its effects on landowners and rural hacienda workers, while touching on why the reform failed despite its progressive ideals. The Agrarian Reform in the words of Árbenz himself, was passed to “transform Guatemala from a dependent nation with a semi-colonial economy into a country …show more content…

Before the reform, some estates slaughtered animals and distributed the meat among their laborers, some held fairs and brought marimbas and dance groups and provided them with a plantation house. These gifts were no longer provided for the peasants and now laborers had to learn how to be independent and deal with the outside world by themselves. This turned out to be a problem, as peasants were always dependent on their patrón and had no education or training navigating the world outside of the farm. This led to desperation and caused the peasants to turn to violence and illegal measures. Peasants began to struggle for the same land and often fought over this. They began invading lands without the government’s permission because the paperwork for the redistribution of land was too slow and they were in a miserable situation. Landholders saw these conditions as a path to pressure the government and the president to withdraw his bill and leave the agricultural situation how it previously was.
Landowners did not approve of the reform since it gave special privileges to their workers, and now the peasants knew landowners could no longer use the law in their favor. Landowners did not want their lands to be taken away because the more land you have the more money you have. Fearing expropriation, they began cultivating some of their land that had not been tilled or used …show more content…

Now, whenever a conflict arose, the unions backed the workers and the patrón was left to fight on his own. Both the government parties and these landowners feared that this radical change will awaken the rural masses and unleash forces that they might not be able to control. They feared the reward of politics and power in the farming industry would vanish. Their fears soon became true, the government’s influence on the countryside strengthened, and peasants soon began breaking the law by invading lands. This, in turn, caused the affected landholders to build more anger towards Árbenz and try to look for a way to get rid of him and his law. They began bribing workers with good wages and special privileges and pressing the President to withdraw his

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