ANALYSTS AGREED IN RELIEVING DEEP IMPACT OF THE AGRARIAN REFORM

"AGRICULTURE WAS NOT CONTRIBUTING FOOD ANYMORE, BECAUSE THE STRATEGY OF INDUSTRIALIZATION PUNISHED THIS SECTOR AND, IN ADDITION, THE SOCIAL SITUATION WAS VERY SERIOUS"



August 18, 2016

One of the most relevant facts of the XXth century was the agrarian reform, due to its great social, productive and political impact, judging from the reflections of different personalities that participated in the commemoration program of the 50th anniversary of that process, an act carried out at the “Abate Molina" Hall.

Our University hosted the event, as part of a program to highlight the importance of a reform that produced deep structural changes in the rural world.

The Secretary of Agriculture, Carlos Furche; the Intendant, Pablo Meza; former Executive Vice President of the Agrarian Reform Corporation and advisor of international agencies, Rafael Moreno; President Alvaro Rojas, and the Bishop of Linares, Tomislav Koljatic, were among the participants of this event, where many reflections on different approaches on this historic event were discussed.

"Is it time to close or to open new furrows?", is the question posed by the Intendant, while Rafael Moreno talked about the historical origins of the process, highlighting what was made by the Governments of Jorge Alessandri, Eduardo Frei Montalva and Salvador Allende, as also by the Counter-Reform carried out during the dictatorship. He especially mentioned the role of the Catholic Church, that promoted and began the agrarian reform and to a set of laws that also contributed to give dignity to farm workers.

Moreno pointed out, among other aspects, that the peasant unionization law allowed to go from 1 200 to 300 000 farm workers to be grouped in this type of organization.

He also said that between 1964 and 1970 three and a half million hectares were expropriated and thousands of settlements were created. During that period, the annual production of the sector rose from 1.6 to 4.6 percent. He added that in the Allende Government, the expropriations reached six million hectares and, in the of Pinochet regime, a third of the expropriated land was returned to their old owners; another third passed to private through little transparent processes and the remaining third was distributed among 40 thousand landholders, but without support from the State to produce their plots.

End of Tenancy

"The agrarian reform was probably one of the most profound changes in Chile, which ended with tenancy, analog a kind of slavery", he emphasized.

Both Rafael Moreno and President Álvaro Rojas talked about the despicable conditions in which the peasants lived before the reform.

Rojas, who spoke from his perspective of a professional from the agro world, described the factors that triggered the agrarian reform and explained that a country that exported wheat, wine and lemons gave step, after the great depression, to the substitutive industrialization model that punished agriculture with the fixing of prices and even with production quotas, so that this sector stopped be attractive to investors. Along with the promotion of the industry, it began to generate strong migratory flows towards large cities and gradually the country began to import more food, while the growth of agricultural production was quite discreet.
He also reflected on the serious social situation affecting farmers. Among other figures, he said that the illiteracy rate was 16 percent in the cities and 34 per cent in the country; children without basic education reached 10 percent in the city and 50 percent in rural areas; in 1960, 90 per cent of rural households was in bad shape; 66 percent of the floors were dirt; 92 percent had no bath, there was high infant mortality, and he added that the occupants density per room in the rural world was 6.3 people, in 1957.

"Agriculture was not providing food anymore, because the industrialization strategy punished this sector and, in addition, the social situation was very serious", he said, adding that there was a huge concentration of ownership of the land.

Urgency

Such facts triggered, he argued, the urgency with which President Frei showed the need, in 1974, for a land reform as part of a policy that not only considered new owners, but also to diversify production, delivery of technical assistance, efforts in the field of research, control of diseases and pests, and a whole development of infrastructure. Therefore, he stressed that land reform should be not only analysed with productive criteria, but also in its social dimension. "He gave dignity to almost half of the Chilean population. ”The agrarian reform was a social process ", he remarked.

In another speech, Economist Manuel Marfán, Cieplan-UTALCA Program Director, described the reform as "a leap into modernity" and as "a necessary process".
When analyzing the impact of this, he said that while less people work in agriculture, "there has been a giant leap of productivity, with a point of break that is produced in the 90s, where the need of more labor begins and is history is reversed", he said.

"That was what the agrarian reform generated; today, agriculture is the most modern and the most promising sector ", he emphasized.

The Act was led by Prorector Pablo Villalobos, while the University Social Responsibility (RSU) Director, Ivan Coydan, was in charge of moderating a panel.

There were awards to people that were directly related to the reform, and a posthumous tribute to Hernan Mery, a young agronomist from the Cora who lost his life while in the exercise of his functions, in Linares.



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