The verb reform indicates the action of redoing, modifying, amending or re-forming something. The action and effect of reforming (or reforming), for its part, is called reform.
Agrarian is what belongs to or relative to countryside. The term is also used to refer to the policy that defends the interests of the public sector. farming.
The fusion of these concepts in that of agrarian reform is used to talk about the set of economic, social, political and legislative measures that serve to modify the ownership and production structure of the land. These reforms try to avoid that the distribution of the land is in few hands; because in that case, the owners (landowners) can speculate on its value and do not necessarily encourage its productive use.
The objective of agrarian reform, thus, is replace the social class of the latifundistas by a class of medium and small farmers, each owner of his own piece of land to work it. To achieve this, it is necessary to change land tenure from the few latifundistas to the many small producers.
This can be done through a expropriation (takes off the property to the latifundistas without any type of compensation) or through compensatory mechanisms (The latifundistas are required to part with their lands, but they are given something in return).
Most Latin American countries, in general, have promoted some type of agrarian reform throughout their history.
The Phases of the Agrarian Reform
The agrarian reform was made up of many phases, which took place at different times in history; in turn within each phase there was various significant facts. Broadly speaking, there are three important stages, which are:
First Phase: Consequence of bourgeois revolutions. After the revolutions that took place in Western Europe, there were many changes in societies that led to improvements in everyday life. One of them was linked to the land distribution structure, and several processes of agrarian reform followed. In this first phase, the lower class peasants opposed the hegemony of the landlords and managed to seize land to exploit for themselves.
Second stage: End of the First World War. In Russia a peasant-led revolution arose under the slogan “land, bread and freedom”, which was a consequence of the one that had previously started in other European countries such as England and France. And it spread to other countries.
Third Phase: End of World War II. After the second war and after the defeat of Japan, a series of revolts took place in this country that led to the redistribution of land. This improved the quality of life of those people who were in maximum poverty conditions; In addition, agriculture was driven by the use of new machinery. Later, there were also agrarian revolutions in Italy, the United States and even several Latin American countries.
Despite numerous attempts to improve land distribution around the world, to this day there are still problems derived from the possession of agricultural property. Large tracts of territory are in the hands of landowners (generally powerful multinationals) and this leaves many people out of production who cannot access land to cultivate to make a living from their production.
Nevertheless, the agrarian reform continues and with increasing vigor, activists seeking a more balanced life advocate for the rights of the majority. Could we say that we are in the fourth phase? Will this be the last?