MEMORANDUM ON THE AGRARIAN REFORM OF GUATEMALA - ITS ORIGINS AND RESULTS, THE R

Created: 2/26/1953

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CfA HISTORICAL Rmm^

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sociation

Amcuaturists In Guatenal5- T

Translation.

Memorandum on tho Agrarian ,Guateoala

Its Origins and Results,Situation of the Ownership of

the Land and Coroinunistic /

of the Program Being

Guatemalaropical countryauare Its population, according to the census ofnhabitants, ofH1 are considered urban population, and itural populationnhabitants. Guatemala is a country whose economy is fundamentally based onits mining and industrial activities are negligible. The country presents on the other hand natural gifts for the tourist trade, among which is worth mentioning its climate, reputed to be the nicest and healthiest in the world. Farm production is classified in four branches, two of which are of capital importance for the internalmarket, namely, corn and sugar cane. The other two are the fundamental products of exchange tn the export market, namely, coffee and bananas. econd place in its economy, Guatemala has the production of cattle, which has been diminishing ln theears, due to tho fact that this branch of the economy has been the target for the government of4 revolution, in spite of the fact that there are tremendous possibilities for the raising and fattening of cattle in the huge prsiris of Peten as well as ln the natural oasture-lands of the lowlands and in the shores of the big rivers.

onsequence of the previous data, we may conclude that the density of population of Guatemala is cuite low;nhabitants per square kilometer, taking into consideration the whole population, and onlynhabitant? per square kilometer if we only take the rural population. During the first cuarter of the present century thewere full of disease, unhealthy, especially because of yellow fever, intestinal parasites, which resultedig spread of Due to this circumstance population concentrated ln thealthy highlands. In order to develop the large coffee plantations and sugar mills of the Pacific coast, it was necessarr to obtain forced labor, made compulsory by the provincial authorities during Estrada Cabrera's dictatorship, and this was true of the later adrain-taxations. The value of the lands on the coasts used to be extremely low in spite of the fact that most of them were quite fertile, and this was due to the lack of labor to work them and the lack of roads to get there, making it almost Impossible to start any kind of

The Guatemalan economy is based upon the coffee and banana plantations, crested through the railroads,"dirt roads, and tbe joint action of the Germans in their development of the coffee fine/is, and the enterprising Americans In devolopinc the benana plantations. But yellow fever, malaria, and other tropical diseases were only dominated by means of the health program started by Rockefeller Institution end continued later through the joint work of General Chacon'sand finished by the Joint activities of General Ubico'sand the United Fruit Company. It was not until then that those

lands could be populated. In the meantime, the soil in the highlands was suffering from erosion and its productivity was coming downthe planting of corn by .primitive methods was systematically and continuously destroying the usable land. Those primitive methods did not take into consideration the problems related to soil Great landslides during the rainy season resulted in the draining into the rivers of the humus and soil, making the streams appear almost blackonths of the year.

In order to cultivate the coffee it was necessary to get temporary labor coming from the highlands to the coast. These workers used to return every year to the highlands in order to take care of their pastures of corn. In order tooffee finca, lt was necessary to operateorn plantation ln the highlands, in order to obtain for the first the labor so urgently needed. Otherwise, it was necessary to buy corn in the open market, and it was usually given free to the workers or at prices under retail. Nevertheless, thoof sanitary conditions and the impoverishment of the soli in the highlands resulted in the settlement of thousands of workers in the plantations of the coast. lear example, of such shifts of population, we findarge segment of the permanent population of Chicacao is mtde up by Indians froa Santiago Atltlan and other mountain places or villages surrounding the Panajachei Lagoon. The United Fruit Company has been able also toarge segment of the rural population around its banana plantations, by means ofof the places where its work is being done, and by medical care to its workers.

The problem of the distribution of land did not appear In Guatemala until now, due to the fact that the population Is out of proportion to the territorial amount of usable land; and there is no proportion, either, between the land which can be planted and the rural population. At the present time land is very cheap, and although not all the peasants are able to purchase land, anyone may get it by the customary methods of tenancy; partnership, direct tenancy, and Just tne labor relationship under which it is an obligation for the employer to give to the rural worker the land, means for cultivation,when that is possible, and leave of absence so that the peasant can plant, cultivate, and harvest his corn and his beans. It istbatays of the calendar year are given to the workers for these purposes.

Many peasants cultivate for themselves small orchardswith irrigation) which can be obtained by any of the meansstated, tilth such orchards the workers may obtain ertain amount of extra income, and can improve their welfare and that of their families. It has never been said In Guatemala that there Is realof land. Several governments which preceded the socalledadministrations were always able to give land away to their supporters. That land was taken from the huge national reserves,nationalized common lands, and even from farms taken away from political enemies. There are still-enormous tracts of land whichto the government and are not under exploitation, and thecould give land from these tracts to anyone willing to plant them. There are also large pieces of land that could bo profitably planted If only they could be irrigated. However, the revolutionary governments

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from tnes was the fact that in Guate-iala the arable land is well distributed ana belongsSou? SS

were exploited according to other methods,oreand cultivated by their owners. The census also demonstrated that the vast extent of land ownedew, against which theand pro-communist propaganda had been airainr; its guns did not actually exist. The census showed that there were onlyarms of moreaballerias03 farms of moreaballerias0arms of overaballeriascres;. But what is more important, was the discovery that the large tracts of land were located in the more thinly populated provinces, namely, Peten, Izabel and Huehuetenango (one caballeria is the equivalent2 acres). It was learned from the data of the census that the government was the largestthat tho government owns the largest number of farms and that also the government had direct ownership over the largest area of arable and usable lands, not under exploitation.

The census also made evident that the deforestation andof the land were alarming ills of the Guatemalan agriculture; that the topography of the land, in which there were intermingled high regions of mountains with narrow valleyseet, with the vast plains of the coast, demanded moreechnical reform thanocial and economic reform, and that these could be accomplished by modernizing and mechanizing agriculture in the lowlands, and keeping the valleys and the mountains for dairy products, orchards andgardens. The figures of the census also indicated that areform would result in the development of more coffee plantations (which have the advantage of re-forestation, of steep grades and slopes, thus conserving the soil).

Another face also became evidentesult of the analysis of the figures in the census. It was plainly shown that it wasto increase the area dedicated to the cultivation of sugar cane, in order to avoid the necessity of heavy imports from abroad. It was also clear that cattle growing was to be fostered by allmeans, as well as the cultivation of textile-producing plants and oil-producing grasses. It can also be gathered that it Is needed the opening of now agricultural regions by means of new roads with access to the main highways, which at the same time ought to be improved There is also necessary to maintain the rotation for the banana plantations, in order to prevent the Panama disease which ruins any plantation. Rotation of lands cultivated with corn is necessary in accordance with the results shown by the census.

The following figures show the number of farms underin Guatemala, as well as the area in which they are contained. Therearms, divided as follows:

f lessquare block (3 mm 2 (6 "

" "5

" " "

"

Therearms of more thancres, and lesscres. Therearms of morecres and lesscres; and therearms of morend lesscres. In other words, outarms, shown by thearms hare an area of lesscres. It cannot be admitted, therefore, as propounded by thethat the land is in the handsew feudal landlords, as it has been previously stated, the largest proprietor Is the Guatemalan state, which is also the absolute owner of the national reserves, and of the farms taken away from the Germans, and from the political officers of Ubico's regime.

Expropriation of German farms due to the war put in the hands of the government the largest amount of wealth conceivable In Guatemala. During th* years following the end of the war the coffee produced by the former German plantations has been sold at very high prices. On the other hand, the government has been paying very low salaries to the workers. Furthermore, the working men on those farms were completely deceived by the government, which In the beginning offered toonus ofercent on the profits of the farms. The law providing for such bonuses was recently repealed by the National Congress before any of the workers couldenny out of the farms* profits. The income received by the government from those farms has been stolen or wasted, and the farms have been continuously deteriorating. It isto notice that the German farms used to be model plantations in the hands of their former owners. Coffee and sugar mills in thefarms are in such bad shapeommission of experts sent by the Federal Agricultural Organisation stated that in order to have them repaired It is necessary to investmillion dollars, and to workhe mills for a period of two years. Cattle, fattening or growing on the government ranches, has been either substituted by heads of inferior type and weight or plainly stolen.

In so far as the former German property and nationalare concerned, the purpose of the agrarian reform is to conceal the plunderings by the revolutionaries, to conceal the pillaging of cattle and coffee, and to make disappear any tracks of the abuseupon those properties. Recent press releases Indicate that the governments auditing bureaus have discovered in the management of the national farms that there have been losses ofillion dollars.

In accordance with the agrarian reform, distribution of theoth of private properties to be expropriated as well as nationals to be accomplished under the principle of usafructeriod ofears. Nobody has received land in the form of private property. The government is unable to furnish the "favored" peasants with the technical means to cultivate the land given ln usage to them. The peasant does not have attle, tools, seeds, rural credit, either on short or long terms. But above everything else, the peasant lacks experience, capacity to malsage agricultural enterprises, even small ones, because of the peasants1 limited Intellectual capacity and Ignorance, they will become an easy "prey of demagogues which areexploiting them without mercy.

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Th* Guatemalan case Is even more serious than contemplated above. Gutierrez, the principal leader and spokesman for communism In Guatemala, In explaining the agrarianropounded by thefor their very particular politicaltated: "the agrarian reform is Just one phase of the matter; the very situation In which the reform was going to place theeasants would nake easy the collectivisation of the land; and the farms distributedto the reform will be again integrated in economic unions as before, but converted into state kolhoses".

* Side by side with what can be called tho legal agrariana de facto agrarian movement has taken place in the rural This do facto movement has been especially directed against the peasants who own small tracts of land, or who plant under the system of tenancy, or thosw who receive land as part of their salaries. This de facto movement haa resulted In the taking ovor -of land by the agrarian leaders and their communist followere without any legaland with the support of the local authorities. The owners of* tenants have been deprived of any means to complain to the courts, and have been refused any support on the part of local authorities, all subservient to the agrarian committees. Violent riots have taken place due to this condition, because the peasants have taken the law into their own hands, for lack of support on the part of the local The government has held responsible those resisting violent occupation of their lands; they have been vexed and persecuted to an extreme degree.

From the provlous facts it is increasingly ovident that the agrarian refom does not pursue an increase in agricultural production, not even better distribution of the arable land. The purpose of the Guatemalan "agraristas" is not economic but political. Its fundamental purpose is the destruction of the numerous class of peasants who own land; the destruction of farms constituting economic units, by dividing them up, so as to moke every fraction unsuitable for cultivation. By means of the agrarian reform the peasants will be subjectod to thestate and tho local agrarian committees will be able to exploit the peasants when they are organized In collective farming. Later, they will be required to pay production quotas, and the state willthe supreme distributor of agricultural products, und the sole If any private farms remain after the program is completed, they will be dlscriminatoly placed in regard to collective farms. They will be required to pay higher taxes and production auotas. The fewowners will be vexed In order to force them to the socialization of their farms and to submit themselves as agricultural slaves to thesuperstate. It can be gathered that this Is the program which the agrarian socialists of the revolutionary governments Intend to carry out. Actually, the program intends to destroy the peasantas well as the associations of rural owners. Thus, they will no longer functionocial group opposing the Soviet develooment of the country.

The economic consequences of this program cannot be Ninety percent ofconomy rests on the income from agriculture. This condition is being aggravated by inflation, since the government has been weakening the monetary structure by borrowing

fromthe Bank of Guatemalaecent loanillion vas approved

lV? ' ?Snf!idi?cehe monetary astern is weakening, too, thereby preventing the influx of foreign capital for the development or the national economy, and causing the flight of domestic capital.?stlm?.ted that at the present timeillion dollars have aiiSShatithout movement inCanadian banks. Eventual reduction of theln Particular, of consumer goods, will result in a

OStllving's condition wm

!?bor dlsPuteshigher wages, and higher wages -

will shoot up production

hannfl,ftl0nai Precast of what is happening and will ViSEfS-Shen1the agrarian reforraompleted, inasmuch as it has beenPanned and accomplished by the communists. The Arbenzpay no attention to the recommendations made by the missionGua?emalf bX the Bank for Reconstruction and Development. That Jyr^lnS intS ideration the directive? issued byGutierrez. Ve do not know how this provram willrgeotations of the American fruit companies. But

orodSctf^several

t that the American companies will be seriously

hasip-

aany Pasture-lands have been already divided and dis-

a^ftKn' workers. Cattle is being slaughteredigh une 2LcatJieprs may no longer keep the number ofa!heindustry will be deprived of the 6andconsiderably

ieS5efoT"thcomlng years. There is no chance to developresenC Plantations, due to the fact that there If thi ntef Jand civil war, over the heads

S!rS; CivJlnay result from the resistancei$antf who own small tracts of land, to have them

away de facto by the agrarian leaders.

a 1 necessarily result and at the present time

off in the oil-producing and cattle

-arming areas. Many branchesof the Guatemalan economy will be affected by the crisis and agrarian depression provoked by the communists.

Ninety-eight percent of Guatemala's arable land isZV^lbeans, sugar cane, and other basic products in - peasant. All of them, until now, have been able tobasic products, eitherery low cost or with almost no In the rural areas of Guatemala there cannot be found thenisepy and malnutrition that may be seen in countriesnatural resources. An agrarianSnSS? JechnJcaland managedroup of experts.

Is capable o. resolving the problems created by the agriculturalof the country. Following the path In which the communists nave led, the agrarian reform could only result In national disaster.

Guatemala City

Addendum

International character of communism in Guatemala.

a aof communism in Guatemala is entirelyfrom existing social and economic evils. The country's ntstory shows that two independent economies have been developing

Sn^ffiher; .Snehe Indlan" economv entirely dependent upon the ability of the great masses of Indians to produce corn, me other Is the economy based upon production of agricultural products for export. Both economies are becoming Interdependent by the process of incorporating the masses of Indians into one single economy. arge amount of the population remains aloof to the economic trends of the world due to the fact that their oasic needs can be filled by themselves.

Although it Is clear that economic reforms arethe progress of the country, although it is evident thato. Indians have to be promotedetter standing ofnonetheless it is true that the development of communismto do with the economic backwardness of large segmentspopulation. Communism has come from abroad and has beenupon the Guatemalan people from above. Communism hasunaer the direct drive of International Communists likekombardo Toledano of Mexico, Godoy Urrutia and

Pablo Meruda from Chile, Hubner of the Cominform, Dr.ozano and Ramon Duran of Spain. These communists have either beenthe country for long periods of time or have been staying in the country as close advisors to the Government or organizers of the tabor movement. Several government ministries and agencies have maintained conununists on the government payrolls as economic or social advisors. Important Latin American communists like Prio Socaria, Bethancourt Aurellano, Sanches Arango and Callegos have always found in the Guatemalan Government the friendly cooperation needed for the development of their plans and have usually found shelter whenever they have been in disgrace. The group of foreign communists have been always actively engaged in the organization

of the Caribbean Legion.

The Popular Front Government..

of

Due to their failure to grasp power in other Latin American countries, the communists have started their control of Guatemala by participating in Popular Front governments. By lending their support to leftist groups, they have obtained key positions in the government, thus increasing their political power. Their numerical strength is very low but by securing control for themselves keyin the government, they have come to dominate the whole The number of votes received by the communists at any election shows that even the number of avowed communists in Congress is far above their real strength. The fact that they already have real hold on the police and on the army places themosition tremendous power and Influence and they are able to prevent any

serious attempt on the part of the opposition to overthrow them without outside help. Non-communist government employees have been forced to follow the comraUnist line less they be dismissed from their Jobs. Large and small farmers areso afraid of being Jailed or fined that they do no longer dare voice their protests against communist outrages. This condition is similar to the one developed In Czechoslovakia and other countries behind the Iron Curtain.

ery few people had realized how serious the danger was. he public demonstrations ofh tod by huge crowds showed that the majority of uuatemalans had become aware of the danger. It is worth noticing that those demonstrations were organized Justrotest for theailure to try and punishillers and that the people spontaneously reversed the motive of the demonstrations by clamoring for theof communists, Arevalo's resignation anddismissal of extreme leftists from governmental positions. Khen the demonstrations turned out to be spontaneous protests against communism, thewere machine gunned, the anti-communist leaders wereat least two of them were killed, (Lemke andnd up to eighty-five prominent anti-communists, among them at least twelve lawyers, and five doctors and fifteen students were Jailed for over two months. Five distinguished citizens, among them two lawyers, and Elder Statesman Manuel Cobos, were putilitary transport plane and landed in Mexico without passports or any identification papers. roup or students, and Army officers were also expatriated to Cuba and kept under constant watch at the San Luis Hotel by the former government of Prio Socaras. Subseuqent demonstrations most of which were ended by the police firing upon the demonstrators, proved that the Guatemalan people have stubbornly resisted communist domination; that they don't like communism and that they are willing to make any sacrifices to overthrow the communists.

The Comunist-lnsplred Agrarian Reform.

The recently enacted Agrarian Law, as is stated in theis intended for the disposal of former German property. The Guatemalan government has been trying to prove that Guatemala suffered losses during the Second World War. After seven years of work by an especial Agency, the Government has been unable to produce the fir-ures of the alleged losses. However, It is evident to anyone that Guatemala had no losses whatsoever during the Second World War. has no Navy and did not send any soldiers to the front; was not invaded or bombed and its shores were patrolled by. Airforce. On the contrary, Guatemalaarge influx of dollars from the American soldiers stationed there during the war. Its coffee and bananas meant increasing revenue and the war itself helped toa number of new industries and the exportation of newproducts, among them, textile fibers and citconella oil. also received substantial sums of money by exporting tftmber. The expenses of the Guatemalan Government during the war amounted to nothing

took ohArSlwhlch hadbefore the varof all war duties not carried out by thentellieenrr.

titremaining in its barracks, was useder-

iUe"s ^number* It^uSlAeSth.umber of soldiers Involved was less than athe additional expenses were

tated Dv the President himself at one of the meet-

g throughthe Agrarian Law was to prevent recoverv of German property or payment of indemnities or the expropriation^ thereof. As is stated by the Foreign-Minister himself?overnment was at that tilthsuit pending before the International Court of Justice at the HagueT] ?

tly for Political reasons and to avoid legalT lirWTlrblliUes>o Prevent the rule of law cannotood5;rPnfrt% Thfreulsion In that law under Articlehich prescribes imprisonment for judges or public officials iriter-

aria"6Anothe? provision pJesc^bes

The College of Lawyers and the Agrarian Reform.

ourt ras unconstitutionally dis-1" JhG Congress of Guatemala, accordingormal declaration

law hitart of the National Bar. Inasmuch as the rule of iaw has been entirely abandoned, all of the colleges of the Universltv

declare! th^ 7

p! I'L1 UUSnal government has ceased to exist, and thereegal remedJefoint appeal to the highest court of Jreme Court? reJected after ^missal of the Justices of the Su-

resfnt eovernment has now clearly trespassed thegoverning not by the rule of law, but by

e^Cf; a}issued by the mos? respon-

theKiTe ful1 moral rlgnt to the peopleof tne Present regime in order to return to

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