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Latin American perspectives a program of comment and analysis about current Latin American problems and their historical setting. A commentator for these programs is Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Here now is Dr. Gardner. We can't do it alone. You'll have to help. With these words at least those ideas. A recent spokesman for one of the great international organizations dedicated to expanding agricultural production announced that expanded agricultural production alone will not take care of the needs of man in the future. Indeed those who would indulge birth control must come to aid the agriculturist. I would like to apply this problem of land and man of stomachs and crops to that lopsided economy of one particular Latin American country and view
the problem that we see there. Venezuela is the country Venezuela on the northern coast of South America is a land possessed of acreage that equals one and one half times the size of the state of Texas. A land that has now a population of 9 million people. And one person in six in that population lives in the capital city Caracas. The question then is what about food production. What about the agricultural production of Venezuela in terms of its need as recently as one thousand fifty six one and seven tenths percent of all the Venezuelan land holders owned 75 percent of all the land under cultivation. The average farm for a small farmers was no larger than three and a half hectares
the hectare I hasten to add is about two and one half acres. The farm of a small farmer then included about nine acres but many individuals had 100 even a thousand times that amount of land. Recent legislation in Venezuela within the past decade has centered in part upon an agrarian reform law. The idea being that in the days of the colonial period indeed in the first century of independence there was a tendency for too much land to be in the hands of the few and those who look at the old Cmdr system say that this is an undemocratic system of landholding and it obviously is not productive enough because it is not feeding our population. This latter statement could be made in Venezuela because of the considerable percentage of food imported from abroad. And
so in essence agrarian reform laws in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America have centered upon several problems simultaneously. One they have felt that from a political standpoint it's desirable to have more land holders. I would remind you of the truth of this by citing the fact that oft times the revolution finds persons recruited to it easily by virtue of the fact that the man has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He doesn't bother to think that his house can be burned his props burned because indeed he's in someone else's building calling it house if he may and he is working on someone else's crops and so the revolutionary potential is to a degree reduced by having more people owners of land. They think twice about the destruction of land and what can be produced on it. And therefore they're more given to
subscribe to law and order. Therefore fundamentally the concept of democratic landholding does support the prospect of political democracy. Another thought too about this widening of the base of landholding in Latin America stems from the nature of the Spaniard. From time immemorial. Well Press TV social position political pressures were possible by those who owned land and therefore the status of the landed gentry was very very significant. Indeed it was sought after. It's to be remembered that most of the people who left Spain to come to the new world initially were of the landless category and they hoped to acquire land. And so this very matter of acquiring land be it in the mid 20th century years is yet another form of attaining social status. And
so the agrarian reform laws condemn an old system or try to change the Spanish nature and come up with a distribution of land which among other things is supposed to improve the productivity of the landscape. But more of that in a moment. Meanwhile there's another reason to invent as a way along why they have the agrarian reform law on the book. There has been a tendency particularly in the last 20 years for more and more people to leave the rural areas and rush to the city. This urbanization trend of course is not novel but it's to be remembered that Latin America does not have the degree of industrialization that many other areas of the world have. And so the man who leaves the unpleasant situation that his rural isolation has been and the relative poverty that he has known because of his low per capita income there
is only going to the large urban area with a total lack of skills to live on the edge of the metropolis in what amounts to a packing crate type of slum setting. Indeed the urbanization trend has created to the revolutionary potential in Latin America and not just in Venezuela alone. In recent years it is in consequence then a matter of concern to those who draft agrarian reform laws to try to slow down not necessarily reverse but at least slow down the urbanization trend. You see then in essence they're trying to make rural life productive. They're trying to make rural life attractive and in consequence we have had the government of Venezuela acquire land from private landowners land that was not being tilled. And this has been distributed to landless people. And then too great. Quantities of land previously owned by the national government has also come into
this distribution process. To date there is no marked reduction of the exits from the rural to the urban scene. But there is some increase in productivity. For example in Venezuela between one thousand fifty and one thousand sixty six the value of agricultural livestock fishing and forest production increased two and a half times the population was not increasing two and a half times in that interval. And so there is a relative gain in this the production of goods. It's very important because there was a time when one dollar in four if I may speak of dollars rather than believe Rs one dollar in four in Venezuela went for foodstuffs that had to be imported from abroad. Now in the purchase of foodstuffs only one dollar in six is being spent on foodstuffs from abroad. But it does mean that a land with many fertile valleys
many fertile into your mountain plateaus has not developed the capacity for feeding itself that it needs and it should develop. But there are problems related to this one of which I would like to present in a comparative manner. The agricultural production of Venezuela presently equals 37 percent of the value of the production by industry. But it takes two and a half times as many people to produce the agricultural goods. Therefore the per capita income is much reduced for the farm worker. Needless to say the industrial worker is producing much more per man because of the technology involved. Many machines are helping him whereas the farmer is by and large a bent down with primitive techniques and tools in the field of petroleum. One can scarcely say Venezuela without thinking of
oil. It might be pointed out that agricultural production equals 37 percent of the value of the petroleum fields but it takes twenty nine men to produce as much of the gross national product as one man does in the petroleum field. Again it's technology in the petroleum field that is explaining this but there's also a difference. The man industry and the man in the petroleum field is also receiving a much higher daily wage. And this daily wage in those two areas of life is one reason why the man on the farm is discontented and why he tends to move from the farm toward the city. The increase in agricultural production resulting in a drop of imported goods has centered on certain things in particular. Sugar and rice staples in the Venezuelan diet and once
imported are now produced in such quantity that actually some are far export. We have with this improved production in the fields of Venezuela. A capacity for a higher caloric intake. And so the diet of Venezuelans has been stepped up about 300 calories per person on a daily average. This means of course that Venezuelans are stronger Venezuelans are going to be more resistant disease. Venezuelans are going to live longer. Venezuelans are going to multiply and so more pressure of man on the land. The country has several agricultural regions most of which are in valleys along the coastal range. These valleys in the coastal range I would remind you are also where the cities are situated. And so you not only have the best agriculture close to the cities and hence the agricultural workers
lured to them You also have the distribution of crops from various regions coming up with such as corn and coffee and sugar cane and coal as well as the coffee the rice the sugar and others that fit into the full Venezuelan diet large scale farming is rapidly expanding in the country. And this calls for great outlays of capital. It especially calls for outlays of capital because in most of Venezuela during six months of the year you have too much water and drainage is a problem and you don't make a drainage system for a nine acre farm. The drainage system has to be for the entire region. And this invites large scale operations around single drainage systems and then just as there is too much water and drainage needed six months a year. The other six months of the year frequently find too little water and
irrigation deeded. And just as one doesn't drain one acre farm alone but thinks of regional planning. So you don't irrigate nine acres farms you think of regional planning. All of this is conducive to the expansion of large scale agriculture in Venezuela today as in much of Latin America. One is tantalized by the thought and the question is the small land holder with the acreage that promotes political democracy and social status possessed of too little land to compete in the days of technology as applied to modern agriculture. This was a Latin American perspectives with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program on Dr. Gardner We'll examine another aspect of life in Latin America. Latin American perspectives is produced and recorded by station WFIU
Latin American perspectives
Agriculture in Latin America
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the issues in agriculture, population, and land in Latin America.
Other Description
A series of comment and analysis about current affairs in Latin American countries.
Global Affairs
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Host: Gardiner, C. Harvey (Clinton Harvey)
Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-3-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:33
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives; Agriculture in Latin America,” 1968-01-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 11, 2022,
MLA: “Latin American perspectives; Agriculture in Latin America.” 1968-01-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 11, 2022. <>.
APA: Latin American perspectives; Agriculture in Latin America. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from