In Peru, a Second Agrarian Reform has just been launched, finally imposing the common sense that this country of rich and millenary agricultural production, that of the hundreds of varieties of potatoes, the country of aguaymanto and the quinoa that the rich of the first world in its salads mistakenly calling it “quinoa”, it cannot continue to be a country of poor peasants.
For those who do not know that there was a first and why a second is needed, I will explain it here. The first agrarian reform, decreed in 1969 by the government of General Velasco Alvarado, was a necessary revolution pushed by the peasantry itself, and that not only abolished semi-feudal slavery, but gave citizenship to the indigenous for the first time and showed Peru of all the bloods. A social and political revolution that took place within the framework of a dictatorship, it is true, but it was a resoundingly fair measure.
A year ago, a great documentary called “The Revolution and the Land” put the issue of agrarian reform at the center of the debate and for days it was TT on Twitter. Nothing less than the hot potato that had divided Peruvians between capitalists and communists, between liberals and expropriators, between libertarians and statisers. They began to speak publicly of it for the first time in terms very different from the Manichean story installed by those who lost their privileges. “The land belongs to those who work it” is something that seems to be common sense but it is not for those who to this day continue to question not how the reform was made – which is something that many of us can agree on. it had its enormous limitations – if not simply that it be done, and that it be done against its “rightful owners”. His descendants even today look at that latifundista past with nostalgia.
If something managed to neutralize what was the first agrarian reform, it was the enormous political power that the land lords still wielded from the countryside, which prevented the process of social and democratic change that the country needed from starting. It was a natural inheritance of colonialism that spread during the Republic and that also functioned through dispossession and indigenous misery. Velasco said that now mythical phrase: “peasant, the boss will never eat of your poverty again” and gave 10 million hectares of land.
The agrarian reform was not the measure imposed by an envious cholo military man as some want to paint it, but the just solution to centuries of indigenous and peasant uprisings. Thus, the reform can be understood not as the expropriation of some, but as the return and compensation of the others. The fight began against the settlers, continued against the gamonales and now it is being fought against the food multinationals. The agrarian reform was a milestone in the struggle for land in Peru, but by no means its culmination.
For this reason, the project of the Second Agrarian Reform was already among the government plans of the one that was the candidate of the progressive left, Verónica Mendoza, in the first round. And now it is launched thanks to the coalition of Mendoza’s party with the ruling party of President Pedro Castillo.
Its main objective is to create food sovereignty, introducing norms that will focus on family farming, the industrialization of agricultural products, the promotion of cooperatives and the opening of new markets. Food sovereignty, just in case, does not mean isolation or scarcity or an end to imports, but an economy that tends towards local consumption, a trend that is increasingly being served by countries around the world and that in Peru has been for years. liberal demonization. They could have talked about the agricultural crisis and emergency measures, reconstruction, development, but no, the label is forceful: Second Agrarian Reform, with all its deep symbolic weight and the will to reform the State.
In front of the media, some owned by former landowners, who shouted to heaven: Apocalypse! Expropriation! Castillo recalled that when he was a child, he and his father were going to leave their crops at the landlord’s house. The thousands of farm workers who had gathered in the fortress of Sacsayhuamán to hear the good news, applauded intensely, perhaps because they felt that they were sharing, for the first time, their life stories with a President of the Republic.