Agrarian antecedents of La Violencia in Colombia

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1976

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Abstract

The Colombian Violencia, a type of 20th century agrarian civil war, is an important historical anomaly. This work suggests that the Violencia, rather than a Liberal-Conservative conflict, was the result of many pressures clustered around the unresolved land question and the rapid expansion of commercial agriculture. The historical relationship of power and privilege between landlord and peasant is traced from pre-Columbian times. With the integration of certain indigenous practices, the colonial systems of land tenure, settlement patterns, and labor relations, aided by 19th century Liberal reforms, persisted into the 20th century. Traditional peasant problems during the 1930's and 1940's were exacerbated by severe inflation and the increasing mechanization of agriculture. Landowners responded to modernization pressures and Lopez reformism (1934-1938) by creating agrarian elite interest groups. Succeeding governments were more closely allied to the agrarian interest groups, resulting in the formulation of pro-development and anti-peasant policies.

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Keywords

History, Colombia, Twentieth century, Violence, Agriculture

Citation