• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Map of Colombia and the Cauca...
 Title Page
 Dedication
 Preface
 Table of Contents
 Physical background: Geology and...
 Historical background: The past....
 Land tenure: Old-world background....
 Course of settlement: Cali, the...
 Human resources: Diet. Infant mortality....
 Agriculture: Farming. Sugar. Rice....
 Industry: Powdered milk. Chocolate....
 Prospects and conclusions
 Illustrations
 Relief map of the Cauca Valley






Group Title: Cauca Valley, Colombia : land tenure and land use
Title: The Cauca Valley, Colombia
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071933/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Cauca Valley, Colombia land tenure and land use
Physical Description: ix, 118 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Crist, Raymond E
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Gainesville? Fla
Publication Date: 1952
 Subjects
Subject: Land use -- Colombia -- Cauca River Valley   ( lcsh )
Cauca River Valley (Colombia)   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Columbia -- Valle del Cauca
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: Raymond E. Crist.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00071933
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 38567756
lccn - 52026897

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Map of Colombia and the Cauca Valley
        Unnumbered ( 2 )
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Dedication
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Preface
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
    Physical background: Geology and relief. Climate
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Historical background: The past. Social, agricultural, economic development. Present cultural landscape
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    Land tenure: Old-world background. Attitudes and agricultural patterns. Extensive cultivation and great estates. Limitations and needs. Pressures toward revision of land-occupance systems
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
    Course of settlement: Cali, the capital city. Buga and Palmira. Factors in the occupance pattern: slavery, local land tenure system, transportation. Cartago. Deforestation and the community. Darien and Restrepo. La Habana. Population growth. Rural exodus: nomadic farmers, pack train drivers. Buenaventura. The Calima Valley. Trends and prospects
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
    Human resources: Diet. Infant mortality. Disease. Low output and low wages. Recommendations
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Agriculture: Farming. Sugar. Rice. Tobacco. Corn. Coffee. Beans. Cacao. Grape growing and wine making. Suggestions: agricultural crops. Rationalization of water supply. Animal crops
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
    Industry: Powdered milk. Chocolate. Tobacco. Tannin. Fiber. Citrus fruits. Metal products. Minor industries. River regimes, dams and hydroelectric power. Future outlook
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
    Prospects and conclusions
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
    Illustrations
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
    Relief map of the Cauca Valley
        Page 118
        Page 119
Full Text






THE


Cauca Valley

COLOMBIA

LAND TENURE AND LAND USE



RAYMOND E. CRIST
Professor of Geography
The University of Florida


I 'a












COLOMBIA AND THE
CAUCA VALLEY


Colombia and the Cauca Valley










THE


Cauca Valley

COLOMBIA

LAND TENURE AND LAND USE



RAYMOND E. CRIST
Professor of Geography
The University of Florida


I 'a



































Copyright 1952 by
RAYMOND E. CRIST


Printed in U.S.A. by
WAVERLY PRESS, BALTIMORE, MD.















To

CIRO MOLINA GARCES

Whose genius and devotion have altered
the face of the Valley
In friendship and admiration










PREFACE
The field work upon which this study is based has been both pleasant
and satisfying, for there are few places in the world so beautiful as the
Cauca Valley, the level floor of which, beneath a blue, cloud-flecked sky
familiar to our childhood daydreams, seems wedged in for over a hundred
miles between two rugged saw-toothed cordilleras. Cattle ranchers cleared
off the dark green virgin forest of the level land in the early days of the
Colony, and the patch agriculturalist, as we shall see, is continuing the
process on the mountain slopes, into which creeks and rivers are cutting
their deep valleys. Native bamboo, the guadua, like giant green feathers
form lacy borders along many of the streams or grow in rounded clumps
in the midst of the pasture fields. From even the slightest eminence, ex-
quisite vistas can be had of the picturesque valley, prodigally bathed in
the rays of the sun, which are reflected from a million waxy leaves. What
of the people who live in the small adobe huts with tile or thatch roofs?
Are they drawing full satisfaction out of this wonderful environment? It
will be our purpose to investigate this problem.
The regionalism per se of the Valle del Cauca-which is a distinct politi-
cal as well as geographical entity-has not become a mere fetish of its
leaders; rather it has been cultivated by them in order that the Valley
may be brought to flower. By this careful cultivation of the natural and
cultural heritage in the hands of succeeding generations of Vallecaucanos,
the natural region has become a cultural and social entity, an organic
reality with its own personality and flavor, yet vitally dependent, in the
furthering of its economic interests and in the solution of its social and
cultural problems, upon the other regions of Colombia, singly and collec-
tively. The marked individualism of the Valle del Cauca has meant growth
and fruition. The diversity of natural and cultural regions of Colombia,
by virtue of economic coordination on a national scale, has been abun-
dantly conducive to cultural creativeness.
The present study proposes to analyze this regionalism of the Cauca
Valley. Attention is first devoted to the geology and climate of the various
subregions and the influence they have had on historical development and
the course of settlement. Following this, the effect of the system of land
tenure in hardening the arteries of the social environment is considered.
It is further pointed out that there may be a possible correlation between
the neglect of the human resources and the low per capital productive
capacity. Finally, an effort is made to analyze present-day agriculture and
industry in the light of the social and physical background, and to indi-
cate what seem to be the prospects and requirements for future prosperous
and harmonious development of the human and natural resources in the







PREFACE


Cauca Valley. Every effort has been made throughout to avoid burying
the reader under an avalanche of figures. The figures available have been
duly pondered, but they have been recorded only when they seemed neces-
sary and significant.
Living and working in the Mediterranean Basin and in Latin America
for the space of well over a decade in the course of the past twenty-five
years, I have become especially interested in investigating the influence of
systems of land tenure on the welfare of society as a whole. Preoccupation
with problems along these lines was intensified during the year 1940-41
when, as Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation,
I was privileged to make trips of short duration to and through the Cauca
Valley, and interest in the region first developed. Some observations drawn
from these excursions were published in divers issues of the Bulletin of the
Pan American Union. In 1944, and again in 1946, the opportunity was
presented of carrying out more detailed investigations in the Cauca Valley
under the auspices of the Institute of Tropical Agriculture of the Univer-
sity of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. Once more, in 1949, while on assignment
for the Smithsonian Institution at the University of the Cauca in Popayin,
it was my privilege to revisit the Valley and observe the rapid progress
that is taking place.
Thanks are due to Dr. Carlos E. Chard6n, first Director of the Institute
of Tropical Agriculture, and to his successor, Dr. Jaime Guiscafr6 Arrillaga,
not only for moral and material support of the project, but also for their
breadth of outlook, and for their recognition of the importance of geog-
raphy in studies of human occupance; also to the late Professor O. E.
Baker, founder of the Department of Geography at the University of
Maryland, for his thoughtful reading of large portions of the text and many
careful and stimulating suggestions; no less to the many who cannot be
individually named, in Cali, in Bogota, and in the Valley, whose friendly
and cooperative spirit facilitated the gathering of information vital to this
study.
To Mr. James Eder, but for whose efforts and enthusiasm the study
would not have seen the light of day, profound appreciation is gratefully
acknowledged.
A deep and special debt of gratitude is owed to the Department of
Agriculture of the Cauca Valley, both for the forward vision and for the
practical generosity which they have manifested in their sponsorship of
this study and its publication. The enlightened devotion with which they
are carrying on their program of development augurs well for the future
of the Cauca Valley.
The manner and measure in which my work in the Valley was facilitated
by Dr. Ciro Molina Garc6s, of the Department of Agriculture, and his







PREFACE Vii

Secretary, Dr. Victor Patiflo, would be impossible adequately to record.
Although Dr. Ciro may, as many claim, have his eyes and mind in the
stratosphere, his feet are on the ground, and he possesses the gift of choos-
ing able men and eliciting their best. He is aware of the beauties of the
magnificent Valley, so poignantly described in the romantic, nostalgic pages
of "Marfa", by Jorge Isaacs, but he is even more keenly aware of the
necessity of making the potential riches actual, for the benefit of his fellow
Vallecaucanos, and of the nation as a whole.
RAYMOND E. CRIST
October, 1951












CONTENTS

P REFACE .... ..................................... ......... i

I. PHYSICAL BACKGROUND .............. .................... 1
Geology and relief. Climate.

II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND ................. ...... ........ 10
The past. Social, agricultural, economic development. Present cul-
tural landscape.

III. LAND TENURE .......................................... 30
Old-World background. Attitudes and agricultural patterns. Ex-
tensive cultivation and great estates. Limitations and needs. Pres-
sures toward revision of land-occupance systems.

IV. COURSE OF SETTLEMENT .................................. 43
Cali, the capital city. Buga and Palmira. Factors in the occupance
pattern: slavery, local land tenure system, transportation. Cartago.
Deforestation and the community. Darien and Restrepo. La Habana.
Population growth. Rural exodus: nomadic farmers, pack train
drivers. Buenaventura. The Calima Valley. Trends and prospects.

V. HUMAN RESOURCES ..................... ................. 59
Diet. Infant mortality. Disease. Low output and low wages. Recom-
mendations.

VI. AGRICULTURE........................................... 65
Farming. Sugar. Rice. Tobacco. Corn. Coffee. Beans. Cacao. Grape
growing and wine making. Suggestions: Agricultural crops. Ration-
alization of water supply. Animal crops.

VII. INDUSTRY. ............... ............................... 88
Powdered milk. Chocolate. Tobacco. Tannin. Fiber. Citrus fruits.
Metal products. Minor industries. River regimes, dams and hydro-
electric power. Future outlook.

VIII. PROSPECTS AND CONCLUSIONS ............................. 98

ILLUSTRATIONS ............ ........ ...... .......... ............ 104










CHAPTER I


PHYSICAL BACKGROUND
Geology and relief. Climate.
Colombia, the political unit which occupies the northwestern sector of
the South American continent from about 4S. to 120N. of the equator,
is a country of complex topographic extremes. Three great mountain chains
take their rise in the undifferentiated Andean system at the southern
boundary with Ecuador, fanning out to the north in the Western, Central,
and Eastern Cordilleras. These Andean highlands with their intermontane
valleys make up almost half the area of Colombia. The Pacific Ocean
bathes the western edge of the Western Cordillera; the Eastern Cordillera
gives way at its feet to the Llanos, vast plains made up of alluvial fresh-
water deposits that extend eastward for a thousand miles or more to the
Atlantic Ocean. Between the north-south trending mountain chains flow
the mighty Magdalena and Cauca rivers.
Among the large regional units into which South America can be divided
for purposes of geographic study, the Valle del Cauca, or Cauca Valley,
characterized by many unique features, is one of the best defined. As its
name indicates, it is a valley, relatively broad, and bounded by high moun-
tain chains undergoing vigorous erosion-the central and western Cordil-
leras-the volcanic ash plateau of Popayin to the south and the maturely
dissected massif of Caldas and Antioquia to the north.
The Cauca Valley between Suarez and Cartago is in many respects
similar to the Middle Rhine Valley between Basel, Switzerland, and Mainz,
Germany. It has a flat floor and steep straight sides, the west side steeper
than the eastern side. The Valley resembles an open grave, of gigantic
proportions, and is what the geographer calls a graben, which is a German
word allied in meaning to "grave." An elongated block of the earth's crust
has subsided to form the graben, and the Cauca River has naturally made
use of this vast depression in the crust. The Cauca rises in the volcanic ash
plateau near Popayn into which it and its tributaries have carved V-shaped
valleys. The river began depositing debris in the graben that had become a
fresh-water lake, which was drained from the north before it could be
filled in with alluvium, by an overflow stream that entrenched itself and
rapidly cut a steep-sided valley in the relic-stump mountain to the same
level as the bottom of the lake.
The Cordillera Central is characterized by a belt of rolling pdramos
from ten to fifteen kilometers wide, covered with pasture or low bush, and
with an elevation above sea level of from 3,600 to 3,800 meters. This strip
of pdramo maintains about the same level throughout the stretch between







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


the Nevado del Huila and the Quindio. However, the great mass alter-
nately narrows and widens: the promontory of Popayan gives way in the
north to the broad basin of Call, and the promontory of Buga is succeeded
by the physiographic embayment of the Quindio; north of the Quindio the
Cordillera again widens in the promontory of Manizales.
The Cauca Valley has probably been a zone of structural weakness
throughout the greater part of its history. This tectonic depression was
formed during the rise of the igneous core, or batholith, of what is now the
Western and Central Cordilleras. Between the Cordilleras the Cauca River
flows in this graben, which has the greatest downthrow along the east side
of the Valley. No Cretaceous strata have been found in the Valley or on
the flanks of the mountains, and some geologists assume that the entire
western part of Colombia was land, at least during Mesozoic time. The
flanks of the Cordilleras on either side of the Cauca Valley consist of
schists, mainly mica schists, phyllites, quartzites, and graphitic schists,
with small local outcrops of limestone, amphibolite, and clay slate. Younger
eruptives cut the schists and have formed injection gneiss.'
The oldest deposits known in the Cauca graben are diabases, diabase
tuffs, and diabase sandstones, and these are overlain by folded and faulted
Cenozoic sandstones, with coal beds at Cali, which are mined for the rail-
way. The lower part of the coal formation is of Oligocene age, as shown
by the marine fossils in limestones at Vijes, which were deposited when
an arm of the sea entered the Cauca Valley via the Dagua Valley. The
younger part is probably Pleistocene. Discordantly over the coal formation
lie horizontal tuffs, clays, and conglomerates, which have not been sub-
jected to compressive or tensional stresses and strains. Diorite porphyry
cuts all the rocks older than the horizontal Pleistocene formation, which
itself includes rolled pebbles of the diorite. Thus the age of these intrusives
is post-Oligocene and pre-Pleistocene. The volcanic outbursts of the Pleisto-
cene were followed by block faulting, causing a differential movement of
about 2000 feet. Incompetent beds (Tertiary?) between Zarzal and Buga,
on the western flank of the Cordillera Central, were down faulted, and a
lake came into being between SuArez and Cartago.2
Farther south the Cauca River flowed originally in a structural depres-
sion, but was forced aside by the eruptive sill (dioritic porphyry) be-
tween Suarez and Santander-behind which the volcanic ash plateau of
Popayan could be formed-and began to cut its bed in the less resistant
argillaceous schists and coal measures of the Cordillera Occidental. In the
extremely hard quartzite underlying the schists and carboniferous beds the
1 Compilaci6n de los Estudios Geol6gicos Oficiales en Colombia, Vol. II, Otto Stutzer
and Ernst A. Scheibe, Bogota, 1934, pp. 69-140.
2 Apuntes Geol6gicos y Pedol6gicos de la Zona Cafetera de Colombia, Vol. I, P.
Schaufelberger,.Manizales, 1944, pp. 181-187.







PHYSICAL BACKGROUND


Cauca has cut a deep gorge. The most resistant layer has been used to
anchor the railroad bridge on the line from Cali to Popayin. At the same
time the lower valley was partly filled with alluvium and volcanic ash and
was probably completely drained by down cutting of its outlet before a
new subsidence (late Tertiary?) took place. Near Cartago and also around
Suarez, at levels some 200 meters above the present Valley floor, are found
remnants of the deposits laid down by the vigorously eroding tributaries
of the Cauca.
It had occurred to Dr. Frank M. Chapman, of the American Museum
of Natural History, "that possibly the floor of the Cauca Valley is an
ancient lake bed but with no geological evidence to support this theory,
I had hesitated to advance it, but on re-reading Robert Blake White's
'Notes on the Central Provinces of Colombia' (Proc. R. G. S. V, 1883,
p. 250), I find this exceedingly interesting statement: 'Directly to the
eastward of this group (Supia and Tad6 Moros) of igneous rocks lies the
great volcanic centre of Herveo, Tolima and Santa Isabel, and there can
be no doubt that the valley of the Upper Cauca was for some time in the
post-Tertiary period converted into a lake, owing to the upheaval of the
flanks of the volcanoes mentioned. However, their action also produced a
fracture parallel to the opposing Western Cordillera, and the waters of the
Cauca at last worked their way northwards and now run through one of
the grandest ravines imaginable'."3
In spite of its isolation from other regions possessing similar character-
istics, the Cauca Valley has given rise to but few geographical forms of
bird life, and this fact, in connection with its apparently limited life, sug-
gests that the existing fauna have been acquired at a comparatively recent
date. Dr. Chapman proposes that a satisfactory explanation of the char-
acter of the Cauca Valley fauna, which appear to be of post-Andean origin,
would be that the floor of the Valley was covered by a lake in recent geo-
logical time. Observations by geologists, as well as by an ornithologist,
indicate that a part of the Cauca Valley was filled by a body of fresh water
at least once in geological time.
Fossil delta deposits are to be seen at many points along the foot of the
Central Cordillera between the towns of La Florida and Cartago. They
are extremely well developed south of Palmira along the road to Pradera.
The road that goes to Buitrera, off the main Palmira-Pradera road just
south of Quebrada Agua Clara, crosses a vast expanse of delta deposits
which are being eroded by the Bolo and its tributaries. Along the valley-
ward edges of these sediments enormous slumps have occurred, the angle
of repose of the forest beds of the delta being steeper at the time of deposi-
3 Frank M. Chapman, "The Distribution of Bird-Life in Colombia," Bul. Am.
Mus. of Nat. Hist., Vol. XXXVI, 1917, p. 127.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


tion in the body of water in the Valley than it would be once the water
has receded. The road to Buitrera passes over one of these slumps, the
strata of which, exposed in a gully, dip sharply mountainwards instead of
gently toward the valley, as do the undisturbed beds of the delta proper.
There is even a small marshy area on the mountainward side of the slump,
resulting from poor drainage. The valley of the stream that is working
headward toward this marsh, and which will ultimately drain it, comes to
an abrupt halt in a perpendicular wall about twenty feet high, over which
water from the marsh tumbles when it rains.
Farther up the slopes are many other examples of recent soil slippage,
on a small scale. The delta deposits were dissected immediately after the
former lake was drained and while the deposits were soft, and since that
time alluvial fans have been deposited at the very foot of the mountains.
Occasionally in the afternoon it is possible to see these deposits from the
other side of the valley; when the sun shines directly on them they stand
out clearly, and their summits appear to be on the very same level. It does
seem, however, from across the valley, that the valley of the Cauca to the
south of Pradera, or upstream, is slightly lower than that north of Pal-
mira, or down stream. It is quite possible that the upper surface of the
fault block that subsided to produce the Cauca depression was inclined
gently to the south instead of being horizontal; if this is true it could
account for the general flatness and exceedingly poor drainage in the area
enclosed by lines drawn from Candelaria to La Florida, to Corinto, to
Puerto Tejada and back to Candelaria. The water table has remained
high in this sector of the valley, and has undoubtedly been a factor in the
continued emphasis on the growing of cacao there.
The rounded knolls in the vicinity of Cartago, which were deforested
generations ago, are obviously remnants of a thick lacustrine deposit, re-
cently dissected; most of the layers are of very fine silts, resembling some-
what the varved clays of Sweden. At the edge of town, on the road to
Ansermanuevo, a cross section of a knoll has been exposed; the layers of
fine silt six or eight inches thick, totalling some twenty feet in thickness,
are resting on a layer of coarse sand some three or four feet thick which
shows much cross bedding. These layers of fine silt were obviously laid
down offshore, in contrast to the coarse sands and gravels of most of the
vast delta deposits at the foot of the west flank of the Cordillera Central,
all the way from Cartago to Santander.
The road from Cartago to La Virginia runs now through maturely
dissected foothills, now in alluvial deposits submaturely dissected by the
streams that, since the lake was drained, have been cutting downward
vigorously to reach the new base level. This area has been deforested
within the last generation, only the tall slender palm trees having been







PHYSICAL BACKGROUND


spared, and the landscape is now dotted with prosperous ranch houses
surrounded by thriving herds of dairy cows or beef steers. La Virginia4
is a small village on the left bank of the Cauca, just below the point where
it is joined by the Risaralda River. North of the physiographic embayment
of the Quindio, about a mile east of La Virginia, the Cauca leaves the wide
valley flats, over which it has been meandering since descending from the
plateau of Popayan, and entrenches its valley in the promontory of Maniz-
ales. This would have been an ideal site for a bridge, but the bridge was
built at La Virginia where a settlement already existed, before suspension
bridges were known. The broad valley, tectonically a continuation of the
'Valley of the Cauca', extends on to the north, but is occupied by a small
stream, the Risaralda, out of all proportion to the broad valley it occupies.
This river parallels the Cauca River, but flows in the opposite direction.
Both sides of the valley of the Risaralda are lined with the delta deposits
laid down in the former lake, the forest beds of which have an extremely
steep angle of repose; that they have not slumped or been eroded is prob-
ably due to their high permeability and the relatively small amount of
rainfall, well distributed throughout the year. The northern end of this
structural depression is a kind of physical cul de sac; the Risaralda River
has entrenched its bed in the alluvial deposits; the highway winds up the
mountain side to the town of Risaralda, on the knife-edge divide between
the Cauca and Risaralda rivers.
Not only did the lake level sink during possibly the late Tertiary, but
the valley floor has also subsided recently as is shown by the faults near
Cali and Cartago, which cut through beds of conglomerates intercalated
with volcanic tuff. Subsidence was so rapid that the Valley was for a time
again turned into a shallow fresh-water lake, on the bottom of which fine
silts were deposited. When the Cauca deepened its channel in the meta-
morphic rocks just north of La Virginia the water was drained out of the
lake through a remarkably picturesque gorge, upstream from which the
aggrading river meanders on the almost perfectly flat fluvio-lacustrine
deposits of the Valley floor. Oxbow lakes, meander scars, natural levees,
the swampy remnants of abandoned stream channels and broad marshes
abound on the flood-plain of the river which is inundated over consider-
able areas during periods of high water. The streams tributary to the
former lake have, since the lowering of the base-level consequent upon its
being drained, entrenched their courses from 10 to 15 meters deep in the
alluvial fans they had deposited. This phenomenon is especially noticeable
on the right bank of the Cauca.
Exploration has lagged in the Western Cordillera, the rocks of which
consist in the main of basic eruptives dioritee, diabase, gabbro, and ser-
4 Bernardo Arias Trujillo, Risaralda, Bogota, 1942.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


pentine), and older unfossiliferous slates and phyllites.6 The Farallones de
Cali, according to recent investigations are between 3,500 and 4,000 meters
in elevation. Some of the peaks in the massif west of Tului are well over
4,000 meters high. Between these two massifs are relatively low passes,
less than 2,000 meters high, cut by the headward erosion of the tributaries
of the Dagua and Calima rivers; this was probably a fractured zone of
weakness where erosive agents were able to make more headway than in
either of the massifs; here the Cali-Buenaventura highway and railroad
cross the Western Cordillera, and the same sector is being crossed by the
road under construction from Buga to Buenaventura. Because of these
low passes the winds from the Pacific still carry a large quantity of mois-
ture when they enter the valley of the Cauca, which they later lose in
convectional showers in the Valley itself or as orographic rain when they
come in contact with the high wall of the Cordillera Central.
The Pacific Coast littoral, bathed by a warm current, drips with rain
as the moisture-laden winds begin to rise on the western flank of the
Cordillera Occidental. "The doldrums belt nowhere closely approaches the
continental shore, and the littoral is ruled by relatively steady coastwise
and more or less onshore winds, which are northerly during a part of the
northern hemisphere winter and southerly during the remainder of the
year. In Darien these alternating wind systems are of nearly equal length,
but southward along the Colombian and Ecuadorean coasts the southerly
winds gain at the expense of the northerly, and reign for three fourths of
the year .... both carry air from warm oceanic districts toward land that
at night is cooler than the ocean water and that, moreover, is capable
from its topography of causing adiabatic condensation at other hours."6
These prevailing onshore winds are coastal winds associated with the
mountains on one hand and the anticyclone of the Pacific on the other.
They are a continuation of the southerly winds of the Peruvian coast.
Because of their persistence they make the western littoral of Colombia
one of the wettest spots on earth. Hardly a day passes in Buenaventura
without at least some rain, and this is true many miles inland and to the
very crests of the mountains, except in the Dagua Valley between the
village of Dagua and Boquer6n. In this pocket there is a rain-shadow
desert, so dry that there is almost no vegetation. (The entrance to the
great gorge at Boquer6n would be an ideal site for a dam.) But in the
higher parts of the western Andes, there is abundant orographic rainfall,
some of which falls on the eastern flank and joins the Cauca River. The
tremendous rainfall on the western slopes of the Cordillera Occidental has
a Charles Schuchert, Historical Geology of the Antillean-Caribbean Region, N. Y.,
1935, p. 629.
6 R. C. Murphy, "The Littoral of Pacific Colombia and Ecuador," Geog. Re-
view, Vol. 29, 1939, p. 24.







PHYSICAL BACKGROUND


caused the rivers to erode headward vigorously, pushing the watershed
ever eastward.
In Buenaventura rain falls on at least three hundred days out of the
year: the annual precipitation for a seven year period was 280.65 inches.
Andagoya, at a slightly higher elevation, received 279.11 inches.7 Engineers
on the Cali-Buenaventura railroad recorded a deposit of rain in San Jos6,
37 kilometers from Buenaventura, of 400.88 inches in 1912, while during
the same year Caldas, distant 45 kilometers from San Jos6, received only
54.46 inches, a difference of 346.42 inches. A short distance east of Cisneros,
and some fifteen hundred feet above it, the railroad, still following the
banks of the Dagua, passes through a narrow canyon worn by the river,
and emerges in a surprisingly arid basin or pocket in which lies the settle-
ment of Caldas (alt. 2,560 feet). The floor of the Valley and the lower
slopes of the hills by which it is surrounded, are covered with short grasses
with occasional stands of low cactus, acacia-like trees and agaves. This
abrupt change in climate is due to the presence of the high limestone ridge
which protects the area lying east of it from the prevailing winds from the
west. In other words the upper Dagua Valley is a rain-shadow desert. But
near the San Antonio pass adiabatic cooling induced by the altitude causes
cloud formation, and the tree-line coincides with the cloudline. Cloudless
hills are bare of trees. Only a few hundred feet beyond the divide one
passes from the forest into a low, scrubby growth which quickly gives way
to the brown, treeless slopes leading down into the Cauca Valley. However,
when ravines slope down toward the Cauca Valley, the water they carry
leads the luxuriant forest of the sub-tropical zone to the much lower level
than it can reach without the encouragement of this natural irrigation.
The line separating the forest from the treeless area is as sharply defined
as in a fresh clearing. The steep slopes covered with grass and low scrub
end abruptly in the narrow alluvial fans at the foot of the eastern flank
of the Western Cordillera.
The eastern flank of the Cordillera Occidental, however, is in the rain-
shadow, and the whole low-lying part of the valley is in the sub-humid
zone, in terms of precipitation effectiveness. The rain that does fall on the
steep eastern flank of the Western Andes, in the lee of the rain-bearing
winds, is torrential in character, and the run-off is extremely rapid. Defor-
estation has proceeded apace during the past four hundred years, and the
sparse vegetation has pronounced xerophytic characteristics. The sun is
well to the south for six months of the year, nearly overhead for three
months, and to the north, for three months. The rainfall regime shows
well developed periods of maxima and minima which coincide with the
periods of greatest and of least receipt of solar insolation. At Palmira the
7 Monthly Weather Review (Supplement No. 31) June, 1928, p. 12.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


rainy season of April and May coincides with the period when the sun is
almost directly overhead. During these months convectional showers from
intense local heating are at their maximum development. Usually the two
driest months are July and August, although the North Pacific Coast to
the west, and the Llanos of Colombia and Venezuela, to the east of the
great sierras, are drenched with rain at that time. The great mountain
chains seem effectively to keep out the moisture-bearing winds. October
and November are also months of heavy precipitation. The relatively
high rainfall during December, January and February, when the Llanos
of the north coast are practically rainless because of the effectiveness of
the trades, is probably due to the enclosed character of the Cauca Valley,
in which convectional currents inducted by local heating can be developed.
The Cordillera Central, much higher than the Cordillera Occidental,
acts as a second barrier to the winds moving inland from the Pacific, with
the result that their western flank is bathed in copious rain. Numerous
streams take their rise near the crest of the Cordillera Central and deposit
their waters and sediments in the Cauca. The growth of the alluvial fans
deposited by these rivers has been so great that the Cauca itself has been
pushed westward almost to the base of the Western Andes. These fertile,
gently sloping deposits have played a conspicuous role as sites for human
occupance, as will be seen when the historical development of the Valle
is considered. The Tropical Zone does not extend to as great an altitude
on the forested western slopes of the Cordillera Central as on the treeless
lower slopes of the eastern side of the Cordillera Occidental.
The average annual rainfall in millimeters for representative stations in
the Valley is as follows:8
A ndalucia...................................................... 538
Buenaventura. ........................ ............................. 3,943
Buga. ............................................................................................ 1,032
Cali.. .................................................972
Cartago. ...................................... .................... ,344
P alm ira ............................................................ 966
El Zarzal ... ....................... ........... ........ 946
There is an island of much less rainfall at the foot of the eastern flank
of the Western Cordillera, but unfortunately there are no weather stations
there. Bolivar, for example, probably receives much less rainfall even than
Andalucia.
The variability in the amount of rainfall received annually is very great.
Palmira in 1930 received only 722.0 mm., July, August, and September
being almost rainless, whereas more than twice that amount (1.536.0 mm.)
was recorded for 1933. But the average annual rainfall for the 14 years
8 Pablo Vila, Nueva Geografia de Colombia, Bogota, 1945, p. 77. Data supplied by
the Servicio Meteorol6gico Nacional.








PHYSICAL BACKGROUND


from 1930 to 1943 was 957.0 mm., the average relative humidity seldom
reaching 78%, and a minimum average of 49% was recorded for the month
of July, 1932.
The mean monthly temperature fluctuates generally between 730 and
770F. The sensible temperature, however, is much lower because of the
relatively high rate of evaporation. Further, there is at night a down-
valley breeze in all of the towns at the foot of the Cordilleras. This is
especially marked in Cali; it develops in the late afternoon as a result of
air drainage caused by rapid radiation of heat on the eastern flank of the
Western Cordillera; it blows mosquitoes away from town into the lower
valley, and is thus a significant factor in making the town a healthful place
in which to live. Even before the broad sidewalks were made, the popular
evening promenade was along the banks of the river.
The Cauca Valley, a hundred and fifty miles long by fifteen to twenty-
five miles broad, lies at a little more than three thousand feet above sea
level, a veritable Eden of fertile alluvial land laid down between the West-
ern and Central Cordilleras. It is not cursed with the intemperate fecundity
of the rain forest, nor with the cold forbidding bleakness of the high pla-
teaus.
The Cauca River, bordered by marshes, bamboo thickets, open savannas
and an occasional dense stand of forest, meanders over this exceptionally
flat plain. Formerly the forests were very extensive, but they have been
in great measure cut away to make room for pasture or crop lands. The
bush-grown or bare rounded foot hills of the western flank of the Central
Cordillera rise to about six thousand feet in elevation, where there is the
same abrupt appearance of subtropical-zone cloud forest. The forest growth
increases in luxuriance as one mounts toward the crest of the Central
Cordillera, which averages two or three thousand feet higher than the
Western Cordillera.











CHAPTER II


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The past. Social, agricultural, economic development. Present
cultural landscape.
The original inhabitants of the Cauca Valley probably belonged to the
same tribe as those who were responsible for the immense statues found
near San Augustin, in the Valley of the upper Magdalena. Monoliths of
the same general style, carved from volcanic rocks, are found scattered
from the present border of Ecuador as far as the State of Huila in the Cen-
tral Cordillera, and represent divinities with fantastic but stylized shapes
and horrible, inhuman expressions. It seems likely that these artistic
Augustinian people were overrun and absorbed by fierce tribes, the Carib
or Chibcha, from the north, descendants of whom were living in the area
at the time of the conquest. The Augustinians probably never developed
beyond a hunting and gathering economy. They had no tools, except the
dibble stick for use in planting corn. The Carib or Chibcha invaders intro-
duced agriculture of a very primitive form to those whom they conquered,
while those of the original inhabitants that were not conquered fled to
the mountains. Both Augustinians and Chibchas resisted the onslaught of
the Spaniards. The Indians that were not killed, conquered or enslaved by
the Spaniards, hid in the forests, leaving the more level and fertile land
to the invaders. But they took with them their primitive agricultural
methods which, as will be seen, have changed little in the course of cen-
turies.
Se obedece pero no se cumple (obedience in act but not in fact), is a con-
cept so foreign to Anglo-Saxon thinking that it is difficult even to give
an approximate translation, yet as a motive it is deeply embedded in the
subconscious as well as the conscious mind of those imbued with Latin
culture. It crops up constantly in the literature. The Royal Decrees that
were inimical to the interests of the Conquistadores were duly proclaimed
and promptly ignored; the King's commands were respected, but they were
observed only in terms of the realities of the New World, three thousand
miles away; letters of instructions from the Conquistadores to their lieu-
tenants were dutifully answered, but that was all; the hacendado (land
owner), was apprized of the everchanging regulations of the alcalde (mayor),
but felt no obligation to meet them if they were contrary to his better
judgment; the letter of the law was respected, but the intent was unful-
filled; and the plebeian at the base of the pyramid reacted to the rankest
form of exploitation in the very best tradition of "obedience in act but not







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


fact." This concept should not be lost sight of by those who wish to under-
stand political, social and economic evolution in Latin America.
Francisco Pizarro, Conqueror of Peru, sent north his lieutenant, Sebas-
tian de Belalc6zar, to subdue the doughty Indian general Rumifiahui, in
the vicinity of Quito. Belalcizar pacified the region of Quito, founded
Guayaquil, and sent Juan de Ampudia and Pedro de Afiasco farther north
to continue their conquests in what is now southwestern Colombia. They
defeated the Quilasinga and Patia Indians, crossed to the present site of
Popay6n, and found many objects of gold in the thatched huts from which
the Timbas had fled. Their appetite whetted by the imagined proximity of
el Dorado, they continued northward along the Cordillera Occidental, de-
scended along the divide between the Claro and Jamundi rivers to the
Cauca Valley, where "large towns" flourished. Here they were met in battle
by Indian warriors, said to have numbered 10,000, who were unable to
halt their advance. The Spaniards ransacked the chief houses in the urban
agglomerations and found some objects of gold, then continued down
stream to where the Jamundi empties into the Cauca. Here they built a
stockade of bamboo posts.
An exploring party was sent on a reconnaissance trip along the western
flank of the Cordillera Central as far as the site of the modern town of
Cartago. Ampudia made friends with the Indians from whom he received
gifts of corn, fruits, game, fish, and large earthen jars of fish oil. When the
explorers returned he moved his camp several kilometers upstream from
the present site of Jamundi. During Holy Week of 1536 Belalcazar arrived
from the south with 80 horsemen, 220 foot soldiers and a large train of
Indian carriers. After a feast on corn and fresh fish and a good night's sleep
he decided to continue his search for El Dorado. After several months of
search he founded on July 25, 1536, on Santiago's day, the city of Cali
(originally Lili) which shortly after its founding was moved to its present
site. Belalcazar, with the restless energy characteristic of the Spaniard,
hungry for gold and glory, continued for a year his explorations on both
banks of the Cauca. In September of 1537 he left for Quito, where he en-
listed 300 men and commandeered 1,000 carriers, with whom he returned
in May of the following year, with donkeys, cows, dogs, chickens, and seeds
for planting. In a C6dula dated March 10, 1540, Carlos V, in recognition of
Belalchzar's services for having "conquered, discovered and settled the
cities of PopayAn and Cali, and the villages of Anserma and others," made
him governor of the entire territory, which was to be called the Province
of Popayan. One of his first tasks was to explore the route from Cali to
the bay where the modern port of Buenaventura is now located. Belalcazar
was interested in access to the sea not because he wanted trade and com-
merce to flourish; but rather because he wished to be able to get away to







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


Spain unnoticed, where he could plead his case at court without arousing
the suspicions and hostility of his chief, Pizarro.
When the Spaniards arrived, they found many Indian tribes in the Val-
ley, of whom the principle ones were the Gorrones and Calimas on the left
bank and the Buga tribe on the right. The Quimbayas lived in the area
between the Quindio pass and the Cauca River. The Indians living on the
tracts of land granted by the Governor to the Conquistadores were "en-
comienda" (given in trust) to their white masters, who were supposed to
indoctrinate them with Christianity and teach them the methods of agri-
culture; however, they were already skilled agriculturalists, raising, as we
have seen, a great number of fruits as well as corn, the basis of their diet.
From the Cauca River they also took large quantities of fish, which they
dried, or from which they extracted oil for cooking. The cultural landscape
found in the Valley by the Spaniards was one characterized by small, more
or less shifting holdings, worked largely by the womenfolk of well organ-
ized communities of Indians, living in villages in the mountains or foothills.
Hunting and fishing were a means of relieving the monotony of the diet.
According to Cieza de Le6n, "The Valley is very flat and is continually
planted in corn and yucca and [the Indians] have large fruit trees and many
palm groves."1 They even opened channels to the extensive shallow de-
pressions which filled with water when the river was in flood; here they
caught fish during the dry season. These they dried, consuming the larger
part locally, and used the remainder in trade with other tribes. These
Indians knew more about farming in tropical and sub-tropical areas than
did the Spaniards. What they were to learn from the invaders was that
they now had to give all produce above a bare subsistence to their new
masters. This has been the lesson which conquered peoples since time im-
memorial have been forced to learn by heart.
The cultural landscape found by the Spaniards was not entirely de-
stroyed. Indians continued to grow their New-World crops, and added Old-
World crops and domestic animals to the list. They paid rent in kind or
in cash for the privilege of tilling land which they had always looked upon
as theirs. Unfortunately the manorial system of landholding was not con-
ducive to intensification of agriculture on the most fertile land for the
economic well-being of the greatest number; rather it was conducive to
the encroachment of pastoralism on cropland. A change in the cultural
landscape is a response to social and economic drives.
About 1547, in his Cronica del Perd, Cieza de Le6n, gives a good picture
of early Cali and its environs: "The city is situated a league from the Cauca
River, on a flat mesa along a small river which rises in the mountains
Cr6nica del Perdi, p. 90.







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


overlooking it, where live the Indians which the Calenos have 'encomienda'
[in trust]. On the banks of the streams (tributary to the Cauca) are many
native fruits, among which is one, the granadilla, which has an excellent
taste and flavor. The croplands of the estancias are watered by acequias,
along which grow oranges, lemons, pomegranates, bananas, corn and sugar
cane; also pineapples, guayaba, guanabana, avocados and plums. The
Indians encomienda from the mountains come down to plant and harvest
these crops. In the wide Valley of the Cauca, very fertile, are the vegas
and flat lands with their grasses which are used only by deer and other
wild animals, because there are not enough Christians to occupy such
large spaces (campafias)."2
Not only were the estates which were granted to the henchmen and
friends of the Conquistador of large size; their boundary lines were ex-
tremely vague. The vagueness and enormous extent of the territories
granted in the early days of the Conquest are shown by the Cedula Real
of 1540 which confirmed Belalcazar as Governor of Popayan and its terri-
tory: "It is our will and mercy that now and henceforth for the rest of
your life you will be governor and captain general of the cities of Popayin
and Cali and the towns of Anserma and Neiva with all the boundary marks
and common lands which in those provinces have been assigned you and
your lieutenants and captains, as long as the town of San Francisco de
Quito and its environs are not included [in your territory]."3 This vaguely
delimited territory embraced about a third of the entire country of present
day Colombia. The vagueness of estate boundary lines made it relatively
easy for the strong to encroach upon the smaller land holders, with the
result that many estates grew to enormous size in the course of a few
hundred years.
In the early days prices were fantastic. In Buga a sow and pig were sold
for 1,600 pesos. Suckling pigs, before they were born, were quoted at 100
pesos. Horses were selling for from 3,000 to 4,000 pesos. Sandals sold for
8 pesos gold, the pair, and a block of writing paper cost 30 pesos. But labor
was cheap. The hand of the labor recruiter fell heavily on the Indians, who
were used as pack carriers on the exploratory expeditions in the Valley.
On one trip between Cali and Buenaventura, along the trail over which
salt had been brought from the coast since time immemorial, nineteen
Spaniards and twenty horses died of hunger or of drowning. No mention
is made of what happened to the Indian carriers. Abuses were great and
complaints loud, because as early as 1542 laws were decreed by the Spanish
sovereign that limited the size of loads Indians could carry. But Madrid
2 Quoted by Gustavo Arboleda in Historia de Cali, Cali, 1928, p. 15.
3 Quoted in Pablo Vila, Una Geografia de Colombia, Bogota, 1945, p. 19.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


was far away. Domestic servants were abundant and cheap: 12 to 15 pesos
a year, to be paid in clothes or cash, "the employer to teach the doctrine
and to help in case of sickness.".
The economy gradually took form and crystallized. Great estates became
larger. The fertile, easily cleared valley floor of the Cauca was divided up
into tremendous tracts and devoted to cattle grazing. The detribalized and
dispersed Indians were unable to plant sufficient food crops, particularly
corn, the dietary base. Dietary deficiencies coupled with the ravages of
exotic diseases were responsible for a terribly high death rate among the
Indians, who were gradually in large part replaced by Negro slaves. Money
was extremely scarce. The Indians and Negroes who still had small plots
under cultivation saw almost no money. They bartered chickens, pigs, fish,
corn, beans and fruits for the precious and indispensable salt from Buena-
ventura. Land and buildings continued to have very little money value,
but clothes, jewels and merchandise were extremely expensive, obtainable
only by the very wealthy.
Transportation was slow, difficult and costly. The trail between Cali and
Buenaventura was almost impassible. A large part of the goods from Spain
was imported into Cali by way of Quito. In 1603, a shipment from Quito
to PopayAn and Cali consisted of paper, combs, nails, wax, hats of various
kinds, pepper, saffron, cuminseed, as well as white lead, corrosive sublimate,
Paris green, and even lipstick. There were nine mule loads of these articles,
and the cost of transportation from Quito to Popayan was ten pesos a load,
plus three additional for those that continued on to Cali. The mule driver
had to give bond for the animals before leaving Quito; three of the mules
died on the trail.4 Various preserved fruits (quince and peach), tobacco,
and locally made shoes were imported from Bogota.
In spite of poor transportation and the consequent high cost of imported
merchandise, local industry did not flourish. A small factory for the clean-
ing of cabuya (sisal fibre), located near Dagua, changed hands in 1604.6
In 1609, a soap factory was established in Cali by Miguel de Fonseca, but
no further mention is made of it. Even at this early date the trend was
unmistakable. The amount of land and the number of serfs on it were
becoming the measure of wealth in the economic vacuum of the colony.
The growth of estates and the diminution in the size of subsistence plots
resulted in the expansion of pastoralism over food crops and increased the
pressure of the landowners on the serfs. No wealthy class of merchants
came into being, because interregional trade was practically prohibited by
the local customs barrier, or alcabala, and in any case there was almost no
purchasing power among the mass of the people. Hence it was impossible
Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 64.
S Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 63.







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


to accumulate liquid capital that in modern society is invested by the
individual or by the State in production and distribution. The only trade
fostered was that with the mother country; manufactures were imported
from Spain to be paid for by bullion or by the extremely valuable agricul-
tural products such as indigo, tobacco and spices. But, as will be seen,
long distance trade progressively excluded necessities in favor of the very
expensive luxuries.
The system of great landed estates with Indians encomienda (in the trust
of the landowner), weighed heavily upon the economy of the Valley.
Although landed estates were originally granted to individuals by the crown
for "two or three lives" (dos o tres vidas) they usually with the years became
hereditary fiefs in the same family. Occasionally the royal prerogative was
invoked. About 1640, Sefior Excobar, in his capacity of Corregidor, or
Magistrate, in Cali, notified the owner of the Hacienda de la Candelaria,
who with his family resided in Popay6n, that he must maintain a furnished
home in Cali and that he was obliged, like all feudal lords, to have a horse
and armed retainers at his disposal. The encomendero (owner) replied that
he had no house in Cali, that the tribute from the Indians on his hacienda
(estate), was not large enough to allow him to live on a scale befitting his
rank, and that he had no one he could appoint in his place (como escudero).
The Governor thereupon declared the encomienda (trusteeship), vacant and
it was subsequently awarded to Don Jacinto de Silva, whose possession
was confirmed by the king.6
But such occurrences did not arouse the landowners from their manorial
lethargy. The trend toward the expansion of pastoralism continued and
the production of food crops for local consumption declined, in a dangerous
downward spiral. The production of beef was lucrative, but the money
came to fewer and fewer hands. The emphasis on pastoralism meant that
fewer people could be profitably employed on the great estates. By 1667,
the mayordomos, or managers, of the large haciendas (estates), were round-
ing up the serfs each year and putting one-third of them out as indentured
laborers (concertados), either on the smaller estates where more hands were
needed because food crops were still grown, or as pack carriers on the
miserable trails. The profits made on these deals went into the pockets of
the mayordomos. Further, Indians were expressly forbidden to work in
sugar mills.
Unlike the English lords who, after the Statute of Merton in 1235,
erected their mansions far from the villages, the Spanish and criollo (creole,
i.e., native born), landed gentry built their houses in town. Here the
Indians from the country estates took turns in serving them, and these
services occupied many who otherwise, because of the lack of local indus-
6 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 118.






CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


tries, would have had a hard time finding a living. Gradually a class of
artisans, retainers and hangers-on grew up in the towns and created an
embryonic market. In 1674, a public market place was established in the
central plaza of Cali, and Indians were encouraged to come every Friday
with fish, vegetables and fruits with which to supply the small though
growing trade.7
The emphasis on pastoralism in the Cauca Valley also, paradoxically
enough, brought with it shortages in the meat supply in Cali. The cattle-
men became powerful, and they naturally did not want to brook govern-
ment interference with their activities. But in order to prevent actual
meat famines, local municipal governments were not only forced to estab-
lish ceiling prices but they had to oblige the owners of haciendas (great
estates), to supply certain quantities of meat at fixed prices. But the
cattlemen found it more profitable to market their stock outside the Valley.
Cattle were being driven south to Quito and north to Antioquia in such
numbers that in 1677, the Governor was forced to decree that only steers
and old cows could be marketed; heifers and young cows were not to be
slaughtered either in the Valley or anywhere else. The showdown came in
1682, when the municipal price fixed in Cali was raised from a real and
a half to two reales the arroba (25 pounds).8 The cattlemen, still finding
it more profitable to drive their steers to the Quito market, banded to-
gether and presented their complaints to the Cabildo (Municipal Council):
they charged that they had already sold their stock in the Quito market,
that it was unjust to force them to supply the city of Cali, and that they
were being imposed on by the Cabildo merely because they were cattlemen.
But the Cabildo stood firm and the ranchers had to abide by their decision.
Thus cleavages were already developing in colonial society. The cattle-
men, many of whom resided in Popayan, made their living from ranches
near Cali, yet they felt no responsibility toward that city's population;
they showed a feeling that is usual in land owners vis-d-vis a city proletariat.
Further there was the country-versus-town feeling, in that the ranchers
were sure the city government was taking advantage of them.
As the century drew to a close, the ill effects of the feudal economy be-
came evident. Corn grown in the valley was being shipped out to those
working the gold mines in the Choc6, to the neglect of the population of
Cali. This traffic in a basic food crop was restricted by decree in 1685.
Further, the Indians were no longer bringing the produce of their subsis-
tence plots to market on Friday, because buyers sought them out in their
homes. In 1694, the Indian chiefs were ordered to send their people to
market with produce, under penalty of the lash. The Indian women were
7 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 145.
8 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 184.







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


rounded up each market day and made to sweep out the jail and other
public buildings.9 This was another reason why they were ordered to come
into town on Fridays. Prices on imported goods were fantastic. Only the
very rich could drink wine. Salt, of poor quality and full of dirt, was hard
to get. "And blankets--not the best that we have seen-(y no del mejor
que hemos visto)-from Castille, had risen fifty per cent in price over the
good ones of former years," wrote Mr. Villalobos.10
Conditions did not improve. The creeping paralysis of the hacienda
system, the system of great landed estates, turned fertile cropland into
extensive pastures. Land decreased in per unit value at the same time
that bananas and corn, which had become the dietary base of all but the
very wealthy, became more and more scarce and expensive. The lack of
security in the possession of their plots or the produce thereof, made the
few people living on small plots loath to plant crops. But the great ma-
jority of Indians and free Negroes were landless. The first act of the Magis-
trate in Cali, upon entering office in 1711, was to decree that all mestizos,
mulatos and zambos, (i.e., persons of mixed blood), seven years of age or
more, consent to indenture themselves for at least a year, to hacendados
(land owners), or to become apprentices to master workmen in order to
learn a trade; "it was notorious the idleness in which the people lived, as
well as the scarcity of workers in the town houses and in the small work-
shops."" Yet the system of adding to this surplus of people, idle because
there was nothing personally gainful to do, was inexorable. The hacendados
insidiously increased the extent of their domains. In 1714, Don Jacinto
Pile, mayor of the Indian village of Arroyohondo, sent a petition to the
Governor at Cali, maintaining that since time immemorial "we have been
in possession of a property called Dapa ., where we pasture our cattle,
and where we plow, sow and harvest the crops with which we feed our-
selves, our wives and our children .... .12 However, Captain Matheo
Vivas had, on his own authority, taken to pasturing his cattle on the Indi-
ans' lands and had forbidden the Indians to chase them out or to introduce
their own stock as they had been in the custom of doing. This case was
referred to the Audiencia, which usually meant that the Indians ulti-
mately lost their land and were forced to join the uprooted proletariat.
Diversification of crops was still the custom on the smaller haciendas,
even at the end of the eighteenth century. In 1794, the widow of Manuel
Luis Quintero sold the Hacienda Arroyohondo which contained a field of
32 almudes of cane (1 almud = about half an acre), a large garden tract
in onions, a clearing planted in corn, one banana patch, and a field of rice.
9 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 195.
10 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 184.
Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 229.
12 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 355.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


There were 36,000 cacao trees; chocolate was the principle drink of all
classes. There were listed 39 slaves, 274 milk cows, 586 heifers, 75 draft
oxen, 276 mares, 44 horses, 22 chickens, and 3 turkeys.13 This list shows a
not inconsiderable dairy business for the epoch. Irrigation was of course
practiced in the growing of rice; the rights to the irrigation channel were
sold for 200 pesos. Thus even toward the end of the colonial period the
relatively small haciendas were still diversified. The saddest feature was
that they were almost invariably sold to large landowners-many of them
resident in Popayin-who were intent on increasing the extent of grazing
lands for their cattle. The degree of diversification indicated by the figures
quoted above, had it been general, and had it continued, would have kept
the economy of the Valley healthy.
What brought about the end of the small diversified hacienda? High
prices on sugar have driven sugar cane up steep slopes, as in Puerto Rico;
high wheat prices during World War II pushed wheat out into the Dust
Bowl of the United States; high prices on meat in Maracaibo have extended
cattle ranching into the dense tropical rainforest southwest of Lake Mara-
caibo.14 The cost of production of meat was low in the Valley, and it was
very easy to transport. Hence the high prices of meat in Quito and in the
gold mines of the Choc6 brought about on the part of the hacendados a
struggle for more land on which to increase the size of their herds. The
social and economic forces, so dynamic in effecting changes in a landscape
that will redound to the benefit of a powerful class, rapidly become static
once the goal of that class is achieved.
Exotic diseases took a heavy toll among the Indians from the moment
of their first encounter with the Spaniards. They were overworked, in the
mines, as pack carriers, and as serfs on the haciendas; to these ills can be
added unstable living conditions, malnutrition and underfeeding; the result
was speedy destruction of large parts of the population. In 1728, the
Visitador (the Royal Inspector), Inclin Valdes, tried to prohibit the mak-
ing of beasts of burden out of the Indians. He pointed out that conditions
were such that whole villages were destroyed, with the result that there
were no Indians "either to indoctrinate with Christianity or to pay tribute
to the Monarch."" But another racial element was entering the scene.
From a very early date Negro slaves were brought in to work the mines in
the Choc6. Escaped Negroes were numerous, and many of them took to
the brush where they became self-sufficient, hunting, fishing, and prac-
tising patch agriculture. Some of the Negroes in the Cauca Valley had
filtered in from the Choc6. They became patch agriculturalists and ulti-
13 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 556.
14 R. E Crist, "Cattle Ranching in the Tropical Rainforest," Scientific Monthly,
June, 1943.
16 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 281.







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


mately gave up self-sufficiency to the extent of raising some produce for
the local market. Other Negroes were bought in the slave factories of
Cartagena or Panama by rich landowners of Cali, and brought up the
Magdalena and the Cauca. Escaped Negroes (cimarrones) from the Choc6,
having tasted freedom, were always a dangerous leaven in the Valle del
Cauca. Many of the local uprisings or rebellions, on haciendas or in villages,
were due to the presence in the vicinity of runaway Negroes.
One of the first products of the Valley to attain the rank of a cash crop
was sugar. The erection of the sugar mill of San Ger6nimo near Buga
marked the beginning of the sugar industry in the Cauca Valley. About
1640, Lorenzo de los Cobos inherited this property from his grandfather
and we learn that in the same year "the production of molasses and sugar
continues active, especially the former, which sells at the mill for 3 pesos
the rawhide container (about 3 gallons)."'6 Very few improvements in
techniques were introduced with the passing of the years, but one of the
by-products of this industry was rum, which had a ready sale in the mines
of the Choc6. The slaves frequently stole nuggets which they spent on
liquor from the bootleggers of that time. Uprisings and escapes en masse
sometimes resulted from drunken orgies, which entailed losses for the
miners, the hacendados and the royal treasury. But the treasury was in-
satiable. From the beginning there had been a tax on liquor, and as time
went on taxes continued to mount. But the making and marketing of
aguardiente (rum), was not only a source of revenue to the Crown and of
income to sugar mill operators; its manufacture absorbed and gave liveli-
hood to a part of the landless proletariat. By 1760, sugar cane was the
principle crop under cultivation in the Valley, and the production of mo-
lasses and the extraction of aguardiente was the basis of the economic life
of the area. Any tax so high as seriously to curtail the production of
aguardiente, which was based on the use of the by-product, molasses, could
not but bring about what today would be called an economic depression.
It was precisely this molasses waste that in Cuba, Haiti and the Lesser
Antilles was transformed into rum, which, thanks to ease of transportation
and energetic contraband, early helped to make the fame and fortune of
those islands.
New taxes continued to be assessed on liquor, as well as on almost every-
thing else. One of the tax collectors in 1765 reported that the extreme
poverty of the region was due to the tax and customs structure. Many
people left the villages and entered the forest where they became self-
sufficient agriculturalists rather than be taxed at every turn. And it was
pointed out that taxes and customs were defeating one of their primary
purposes; namely, to make people buy Spanish goods; because of the
16 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 121.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


general poverty, brought on by overtaxation, the Vallecaucanos were using
cloth from Quito instead of from Castille.
On December 14, 1765, the Mayor of Cali wrote the Viceroy in Bogota
to the effect that "From the ninth of this month until today there have
been in this city many vehement indications that the people want to revolt
or rather they want to rise against me and the royal monopoly [on aguardi-
ente]; the extreme has been reached of having masked groups march through
the street at night shouting:
Viva el rey, muera el mal gobierno,
el estanquero, sus amigos y fiadores.
Guerra contra el estanquero,
guerra, amigos, muera ese perro."'1
(Long live the King, down with poor government,
Tax collectors, their friends and accomplices.
War on the tax collector
War my friends-may the dog meet his doom.)
This was the popular reply to the publication of new taxes on aguardiente.
In view of the seriousness of the situation and the necessity for prompt
action, the Alcalde assumed the responsibility of nullifying the new decree
pro ter, allowing that aguardientee be generally distilled in the city and
its jurisdiction by anyone at all," and that "it be sold without fear of
arrest.18 He did not say that the Viceroy could veto the action of the Cabildo
(the Municipal Council). The Viceroy, Don Pedro Messia de la Zerda,
wrote a scathing reply: "The [Cabildo's] total lack of zeal in the Royal
Service is only too apparent and the fervid loyalty of vassals is burning
very low in your spirits."'1 But in the end he stood by the Cabildo and
granted that liquor be generally distilled, but that a prudent regular amount
be contributed to the Royal Treasury by the distillers-at the discretion
of the Cabildo. Thus was amicably settled a situation which might, with
poor handling, have resulted in bloodshed. For only a few years later, under
similar provocation occurred the revolt of the Comuneros in the Cordillera
of eastern Colombia.
In spite of all oppressive restrictions, a small number of artisans and
small traders did develop, more in some areas than in others. This was the
case especially in parts of what is now the state of Santander in eastern
Colombia, which was colonized without feeling the full impact of the
mercedes, encomiendas and latifundios (traditional privileges over lands and
Indians). Tobacco, cotton, rice and sugar cane were intensively cultivated
by free labor. Local industry was not slow to develop; by 1780, cotton
cloth was produced to the value of an estimated million pesos a year. So
difficult and expensive was it to get goods from Spain that even the sixty
17 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 440.
18 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 441.
Boletin Hist6rico del Valle, Cali, Sept. 1936, pp. 246-251.







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


leagues of almost hopeless trails that separated these farmers and artisans
from Bogota did not prevent their products from reaching the capital.
In 1781, the products of these industrious farmers and artisans were sub-
jected to fresh taxes, so heavy that the standard of living was pushed to
a new low; six thousand of the miserable workers and farmers that were,
in consequence, thrown out of work organized themselves into a ragged
and motley mob and started for Bogota to seek redress. The Junta de
Santa Fd (the Governing Board of Bogota), hastily repealed the hated tax
laws and the hungry mob began to dissolve and the members started back
to work again. But no sooner had they laid down their arms than the central
authorities repudiated their promises and sent upon them troops who com-
mitted all kinds of atrocities, conspicuous even in an epoch when savage
acts were common. Only slight echo of this uprising would ever have
reached other parts of the Audiencia (territory under the Viceroy's juris-
diction), had it not been that the Viceroy felt the treatment given the
Comuneros would serve as an object lesson to all: the sentence against them
was to be publicly read on three successive days in the large centers of the
area under his control. The smouldering embers of revolutionary feeling
were thereby only fanned, especially in Cali.
Spanish practice made those born in the New World, the Creoles, ineligi-
ble to high public office, even the descendants of pure Spanish blood. But
the Spaniards were bound to lose in this policy in the long run, because
they formed a steadily diminishing percentage of the population. It was
to be expected that cleavages would develop early, that those born in the
New World would not always see themselves ruled by those born in the
Old World. This criollismo met the stubborn resistance of the Spaniards
who could never accept the idea of Creoles exerting any influence in
colonial affairs. Those Creoles in Cali who in 1743, cried out against abuses
and extortion by the superimposed Peninsular regime, with "Mueran los
perros Chapetones," were the ancestors of that insurgent phalanx of 1810,
and the outstanding soldiers of the Revolution: Cayzedo, Cuero, Cobo,
Llera, Vallecilla, Cabal, Baronas, Escobar, Dominguez Riascos y Salazar,
to mention but a few. The insurgents were in both cases desirous of pro-
tecting their own interest, to be sure, but they were animated by the spirit
of latent nationalism as well; they felt that they were called upon to rescue
their own native land from anarchy and anonymity and to make it great.
The Spanish Crown had operated on the principle of divide and rule:
political units were large, but social, economic and cultural mobility be-
tween their component parts had been discouraged. In the Cauca Valley
there had developed for various reasons a degree of regional unity unusual
in the Spanish Colonies. A potent cause for this feeling was absentee land-
lordism, which was already making itself felt. A very large number of land-







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


owners and families of wealth in the Valley lived in PopayAn. They quite
naturally backed the status quo as represented by the Spanish regime, es-
pecially when asked to contribute supplies (cattle and bananas) to the
armies of the revolution. So to the disgruntlement felt by those of Cali at
being governed entirely by those born in the Peninsula, was added the
aggravation of being economically dependent upon the absentee landlords
of Popayan, who identified themselves with the Spanish regime. Further
the Franciscan priests in Cali, all native-born, were unanimously on the
side of the revolution; their college was a nucleus of revolutionary activity.
But the priests of the same order in Popayan with identical religious views,
were fanatical royalists; they were Spanish in origin almost to a man.20
With these causes operative, there developed a feeling which might be
termed supra-municipal. The horizon of the dwellers of the Valley was
not limited by the boundary of the Municipio, or municipality, and the
sense of regional solidarity was so strong that there was a close federation
in the Valley between the six cities of Cali, Buga, Cartago, Caloto, Toro,
and Santa Ana de los Caballeros de Anserma, under the leadership of the
Junta de Cali. The hostility to the Spanish rule emanating from Popayan,
and to the person of the Spanish Governor, Tacon y Rosique, was intense.
Thus was confirmed the old rule that a river is a uniting, not a dividing
factor, and where the Cauca narrowed into defiles, north of Cartago and
south of Suarez, the unity of the broad low-lying valley was broken up.
The colonial epoch was an era of economic monopoly, theological ob-
scurantism and disdain of work. Local customs barriers, prohibitions, muni-
cipal and departmental taxes, all tended to hamstring agriculture, industry
and trade. Spain tried to impose a uniform economy on a crazy-quilt of
people of different tribal backgrounds, in various states of development,
and in varying landsacpes, and expected it to hold for all time. No en-
couragement was given to interregional intercourse, and even the slightest
regional adjustments were not envisaged. The State was negative and
parasitic, content to fix taxes, with seemingly no interest in the creation of
new wealth through the stimulation of agriculture and industry. All the
power of a distant and highly centralized government was used to dis-
courage the least trends toward growth. Stagnation was the summum
bonum.
The leaders in the mother country seemed oblivious to the fact that if
the colonies were to be a market for Spanish products they must acquire
purchasing power. But only two classes of people made up colonial society:
the owners of land, for whom all work was vile, and the completely indi-
gent, for whom work was unproductive. This being the case, capital accu-
20 Father Alfonso Zawadzky C., Las Ciudades Confederadas del Valle del Cauca
en 1811, Cali, 1943, p. 66.







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


mulation was impossible. The economic malaise of the colonies was soon
reflected in Spain: agriculture declined, grazing increased, industry ceased
to exist, commerce was in the hands of foreigners, and hunger became
endemic. Conditions at home intensified restrictions in the colonies-every-
thing was taxed: capital and rent, industry, commerce and land, the living
and the dead, even joy and grief. A bad situation with these new aggrava-
tions grew rapidly worse, and in turn reacted presently in Spain, where
the screws were further tightened. And so on in a downward spiral. No one
in authority seemed to realize that means should be tried to save the
economy other than those that had led to the general ruin. This in spite
of the warnings of men like Martinez de Mata, who in 1656 wrote: "Indus-
try is the true philosopher's stone which changes into silver and gold the
raw materials which God created."2'
But on top of all the other taxes, monopolies and customs duties, which
were constantly increasing, there were irregular assessments. In 1734, for
example, the royal palace caught fire and was in a short time reduced to
ashes. To obtain funds for its reconstruction, Philip V thought of his faithful
vassals in the New World, and quotas for the various political units were
worked out and prorated among the towns and communities. The quotas
were high; Popaydn was to contribute 7,000 pesos, Cali 2,000, and so on.
Shortly before the Revolution, under date of December 22, 1798, the
Viceroy Mendinueta made public a Real Cddula (Royal Decree), in which
individuals and communities were requested to make "voluntary" contri-
butions to the royal treasury, which was being depleted by the war being
currently waged by the monarchy. The alcaldes, or mayors, of the towns
were requested to collect the money; since they compelled everyone to
give, the voluntary contribution amounted to a forced loan which even
the most optimistic realized was an outright gift.
A river in flood is totally different from a river in low water, and the
difference is equally great between a peaceful society and one at the verge
of revolution. The native born in the New World had long been restive
under the rule of the Peninsula-born Spaniards, the hated chapetones who
had all the good government jobs, and in whom the Colombians saw
incarnate the heavy taxes and tariffs on manufactured goods. Even the
masses began to feel that any change in the regime would mean economic
betterment. The native born upper class exploited this discontent in their
efforts to liberate themselves. When grievances are at a maximum, even
the slightest additional provocation is like water added to a river already
bank-full: a little trickle starts over the bank at the lowest part, resistance
is weak, and the channel is rapidly deepened. The whole river may soon
21 Quoted by Joaqdin Costa in Colectivismo Agrario en Espafia, Buenos Aires,
1944, p. 83.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


be going through the breach where the fall is greater than in the main
channel. When a society is in ferment, strong spirits come to the top and
act as yeast for the rest of the pot. They draw their support from all those
who envisage better conditions through accepting their leadership.
The settlement pattern implanted in the Valley during the Colonial
regime was a close copy of that found in the greater part of Spain at the
same period. The big cattle haciendas had gradually encroached on a large
percentage of the flat fertile land, and the remaining small farmers were
at the mercy of the ranchers. Those who had been displaced by the expand-
ing cattle estates, and their descendants, had either been forced into self-
sufficient shifting agriculture in the remoter mountains or they had migrated
to the towns where work was almost unobtainable. The urban proletariat,
unemployable for lack of industrial development, was miserable in the
extreme, and had the conviction that any change would be for the better.
On July 3, 1810, the Cabildo (Municipal Council), of Cali met in historic
session. Their deliberations were naturally colored by the fact that the
hereditary king of Spain was in flight before Napoleon's army. But even
more important was the historic development in the Valley: the expansion
of pastoralism had meant absentee landlordism in the Valley and the
absentees were living in PopayAn and making common cause with the
hated Spaniards, the Chapetones. They were not like the royal monarch
who lived so far away, in Spain; they were near enough to the people of
Cali to be tangible objects of hatred, and especially when they were slow
to supply the home market of Cali with meat. Further, the assessment of
taxes had become almost a disease on the part of the Spanish regime, with
disastrous results for industry, agriculture and commerce in the colonies.
It was not only a question of taxation without representation, it was
taxation that spelled degrading misery for all but a very few families. And
these few families were violently opposed to the ascendancy of the Spanish-
born, as they had shown on many occasions.
The third of July 1810 marks the initiation in the Cauca Valley of the
rebellion against the colonial economic set-up. On July 20, the Supreme
Council (Junta Suprema) of Bogota took formal charge of the program of
liberation from Spain. Bolivar proclaimed the Gobierno de la Gran Co-
lombia (the Union of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador), and the Secretary
of the Treasury, Jos6 Maria del Castillo y Rada, advocated free trade,
abolition of the tithe and the nationalization of Church lands. These are
the reforms which the people thought they were fighting for, and their
faith in their vision made them formidable opponents of the Spaniards.
But the provincial leaders, the caudillos of the feudal satraps, were not
prepared for such changes and sabotaged all trends toward federalism.
The peripheral segments of Venezuela and Ecuador broke loose and went







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


their own separate ways under the aegis of their provincially-minded
leaders. Don Francisco Soto became Secretary of the Treasury of what
remained of La Gran Colombia, i.e., La Nueva Granada. He represented
the restoration of the colonial economy and was backed by the landlords
and the clergy, precisely those who had enjoyed the greatest privileges
under Spain. He defended and sustained all the barriers to the development
of commerce, industry and agriculture that had existed before the outbreak
of the Revolution -that indeed had prepared the way for revolution.
The de facto siege economy of the component units of the Colony-these
closely sealed entities were spoken of, in the picturesque Spanish figure,
as "cists"-was supplanted by a program of vaunted laissez faire, during
the almost complete economic and political anarchy of the years of the
wars of Independence, those years when Colombia is referred to by her
patriotic but ironic sons as the Patria Boba (the stupid fatherland). But
liberty of action was possible only for those who actually controlled the
supply of produce and goods; the so-called "freedom" turned out to be an
ossification of the colonial system, with the disadvantage that the pro-
visioning of towns was no longer enforced, nor were price ceilings fixed.
The monopolists had a field day, as we shall see; they put the price of meat
so high as to be prohibitive for most consumers. The monopolies were
broken during the revolutions, when the people took what they could not
otherwise buy.
Almost to the middle of the nineteenth century, the land-holding oligar-
chy-civil, military, clerical-continued to strengthen its position. Then
the civil and military forces joined hands and effected the breaking up
of the properties of the Church held in mortmain; they took advantage of
their possession of government bonds to pay for these lands (and land
worth $4,000 could be paid for with $600). Those in control of a society
based on great landed estates are interested not only in the status quo,
but in continually increasing the size of their holdings, whether or not
they can make effective use of them even in the most extensive manner.
But a concomitant movement of far-reaching effect was the peaceful
penetration by settlers from Antioquia, Tolima and various less favored
sections of the Valley itself, of privately owned lands that had been aban-
doned, in the Valley of the Cauca. The initial tidal wave occurred during
the years 1840 to 1870, but from then on to 1900, in spite of local revolu-
tions, the movement went on. The centralist and theocratic constitution
of 1886 tended to fortify the ruling oligarchy, but it could not stop internal
migration. Transportation facilities, though still poor, were slowly improv-
ing. The oasis-like "cells" or "cists" of which the country was composed
were no longer hermetically sealed against each other. Further, the settlers
became more than ever convinced that the social and judicial title of







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


property in land should be conferred by work and actual possession rather
than by a written document (escritura).
The New World which Spain conquered but did not colonize was saddled
with a tight-fitting social and economic organization, a strait jacket which
brought on an acute case of social arthritis and economic anemia. Gold and
silver circulated through the bloodstream of the farflung Spanish Empire
by virtue of terribly high pressure in extremely narrow but customs-walled
channels, but this life blood never reached the veins and capillaries of the
smaller regional units. The hinterland retained a slightly gangrenous taint
throughout the Colonial and early Republican periods.
As we have seen, the only ones eligible to public office in the New World
were the Spanish-born, chosen to support the interests of the mother coun-
try. They were really the lords and masters of the Spanish world, and they
discouraged any initiative that threatened the carefully achieved status
quo, by force if necessary. Although living conditions in colonial days were
in millions of cases barely compatible with survival, surplus manpower did
come into being, even in areas that had had a sparse population when the
Spaniards came. If Indians died off in the hot country from overwork, they
were replaced by the more resistant and more sturdy Negro slaves who
rapidly increased in numbers. But the whole civil, military and religious
administration of Spain was fundamentally hostile to any new kinds of ac-
tivity that could have absorbed this oversupply of human labor. It was
precisely this reservoir of human beings that was used by the disgruntled
Creoles to free the New World from Spain. Spain would be supreme in the
Latin American world today if it had achieved an enlightened policy with
reference to the Spaniards born in the New World.
Freedom of trade, decreed by the Congress of Cucuti in 1821, was an
extraordinary boost to commerce. Imports increased as more ships called
at Colombian ports, and agricultural products began to find foreign mar-
kets. Export of tobacco flourished especially, after the local taxes were re-
moved and it became mobile again. Jos6 Maria del Castillo y Rada, Secre-
tary of the Treasury of La Gran Colombia, advocated free trade, abolition
of the tithe and nationalization of church lands, but the loose agglomera-
tion of feudal satraps was, as we have seen, not prepared for such changes.
An important factor in the material progress of the highlands of parts of
western Colombia was the absence of the latifundio, or great landed estate.
Caldas and Antioquia, even portions of the Valley, have many sectors
which are minutely subdivided. In eastern Colombia under the Colony
small-scale farming and household industries flourished; in Antioquia, with
much the same type of agricultural economy in a later phase of national
evolution, manufacturing came into being. While the greater part of Colom-
bia was economically in a subconscious state, capital was accumulating in







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


Medellin where a wealthy middle-class was evolving. These men were not
politicians; they did not believe in the conspicuous waste of money; they
were typical men of the mountains, shrewd business men who put money to
work where it would do most good-in factories. The gold that was mined
went directly to the mother country and did little or nothing to improve
living conditions in the mining areas, but the great wealth that came in to
pay for the coffee crop was put to creating new wealth in manufacturing,
and this activity absorbed the surplus rural population. There is a striking
parallel in the development, on coffee money, of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The
trickle of incoming capital was swelled when the $25,000,000 of Canal Zone
conscience-money came in from the United States.
After the wars with Spain there was a population increase which began
slowly and reached huge proportions by 1850. This meant that there were
in many settled areas more people than were needed to carry on the agri-
cultural activities on large landed estates. This surplus population was
forced to colonize the steep slopes of the mountains where lived the self-
sufficient remnants of the pre-Colombian tribes, still making a living from
shifting agriculture. The same practices were employed by the newcomers,
even those who began to grow a cash crop such as coffee. The recruits in
the ranks of the patch agriculturalists found more healthful living condi-
tions in the mountains than they had in the lowlands; as a result the death
rate decreased greatly and the already existing increase in population gained
momentum. This has continued for several generations. And in recent years
a new exodus has begun, of people leaving the steep but healthful mountain
slopes to go to the cities in search of work in industry. This movement has
come about largely for two reasons-the dearth of available land (physical
barriers in the mountains, social bars in the lowlands), and the rise of in-
dustry, added to which is the fact that, because of certain modem hygienic
practices, it is somewhat less unhealthful in the lowlands than formerly.
The colonial economy was fairly well sloughed off during the years from
1800 to 1850. Toward 1875, there was a crisis brought about by the low
price of exports (coffee, indigo and quinine) and by the world-wide eco-
nomic depression. This lack of equilibrium became ever more acute during
the years following, and in 1880 there was a political upheaval, known as
the Regeneration. During the next decade, thanks to good prices for coffee,
the economy began to achieve a modicum of stability, capital accumulation
was possible, and investments in industry continued to increase. Toward
1925, the policy of public works was initiated. Roads, canals, and railroads
were built by both foreign and domestic capital, and the proletariat began
to achieve mobility. Agriculture languished, deserted villages were numer-
ous, and factories increased in number. More factories grew up in An-
tioquia than elsewhere because it was in that state that industrialization







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


began. Laborers trooped off the farms to the factories and created a domes-
tic market for agricultural produce, which spurred latifundistas, or the
owners of large estates, in nearby areas, toward intensification for the pro-
duction of food crops, on their extensive cattlelands. The mobile proletariat
inevitably prefers the relatively high wages of factories to the meager self-
sufficiency of small plots of uncertain tenure. But a growing industrial
population as inevitably calls for rising production of food stuffs, and re-
quires that fertile, cultivable land be increasingly used for the growing of
crops for food.
What has been generally true of Colombia as a whole is more specifically
and emphatically true of the Cauca Valley: the rural population has been
forced into the peripheral foothills or even into the steep mountains so that
the fertile level lands can be dedicated to cattle grazing. Wherever there
are many cattle extensively grazed, there are bound to be few people. The
rural hamlets, elbowed out of their natural area of potential expansion by
large estates, frozen in their present form, have become places where sur-
plus labor has its origin, but where it has no outlet. It is not to be suggested
that human beings must live specifically on the land that in an extensive
grazing economy fed a certain number of cattle; but, in a progressive coun-
try, potentially productive land should be made to increase the per unit
yields of food value. Outmoded systems of land tenure must not stand in
the way of bettering the standards of living. Onto the ancient cattle culture
must be grafted a vigorous agricultural society of the twentieth-century
pattern. As Alejandro Lopez wrote in Idearium Liberal, "Colombia can no
longer continue to be an immense domain for breeding unskilled workers.
As long as there are too many peons there will be no immigration, nor will
there be true elections either."22 Instead of taxes falling heavily on culti-
vated land and those who till it, they should fall on idle lands and their
indifferent owners. Perhaps the State will enforce in each locality the cul-
tivation of the crop or crops best suited to it-a kind of modern "Flur-
zwang." Cattle now being pastured on potential cane or rice land should be
"expropriated" in favor of the high-yielding crops, their owners forcibly
made to assume the responsibility of increasing the productivity of their
land, and to accept, incidentally, the higher returns that would result on
their investment. This increased production would give the economic lever-
age for the raising up of a society in which industry and services would tend
to absorb the present surplus population. Once the people were happily and
prosperously at work, the problem of settling them on the unoccupied lands
of the distant valleys of the Atrato or the Putumayo would not haunt the
minds of politicians, but would be left for solution to the distant future.
The cultural landscape of the Valley differs markedly from that found by
22 Alejandro L6pez, Idearium Liberal, Paris, 1931, pp. 108-109.







HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


the Spaniards four hundred years ago. The large estate is still dominant,
but certain changes in land use have taken place. On many haciendas where
steers were formerly fattened, dairy cows are being intensively fed for the
production of milk and cheese. The growing of sugar cane and rice has en-
croached upon large tracts of land formerly devoted to grazing. The acreage
planted in corn and beans widens from year to year. The growing of grapes
on a family household basis is increasingly important on the alluvial fans,
particularly in the extremely dry area at the eastern foot of the Western
Cordillera. The influence of the Agricultural Experiment Station at Pal-
mira has already made itself felt in the agricultural pattern of the Valley.
The Station rendered great service in the sugar cane crisis,23 when the crop
was threatened by "mosaic," and experiments are being carried on in the
development of a cacao that is immune to the disease known as "witches
broom," which, if successful, might make it possible to reestablish the pro-
duction of cacao on a large scale.
The practical progress of the Station reveals an awareness of problems on
the part of the Vallecaucanos and a willingness to face them realistically
that is in every way laudable. Indeed, the Agricultural Experiment Station
in Palmira is outstanding of its kind in Latin America. Guided by the gen-
ius and devotion of Dr. Ciro Molina Garc6s, it continues to disseminate in
a widening circle, through its teachers, students and investigators, the
fruits of the most modern scientific and technical investigations. In the
realm of plant and animal introduction and cross breeding it makes a vital
contribution. It emphasizes not only techniques and practices of immediate
concern to the farmers, but at the same time basic research. In short, it
provides not merely an extension service; it is at work upon a long-range
schedule.
The most significant change in the cultural landscape in the Valley, as in
so many parts of the world, is the appearance of the factory. The impor-
tance of industrializing, or of processing in the Valley its agricultural prod-
ucts, will be discussed in the chapter on industry.
23 Carlos E. Chard6n, Viajes y Naturaleza, Caracas, 1941, pp. 97-99.










CHAPTER III


LAND TENURE
Old-World background. Attitudes and agricultural patterns. Exten-
sive cultivation and great estates. Limitations and needs. Pressures
toward revision of land-occupance systems.
The land and the people are the most important resources of a nation,
the success of which can be measured in terms of how conservatively yet
how effectively use has been made of them. Human nature being what it is,
there have ever been those who wanted to monopolize land, because land
was power.1 In England the process of the encroachment of the great land-
holder upon the peasants and the commons of the villages went on for
centuries. The Peasant Wars of the reign of Richard II, the countless riots
and rebellions, were the reaction to enclosures by force. But to no avail.
From 1500 to 1875, the holdings of millions of peasants were absorbed by
the great landlords, and the specious benefits brought about by the im-
provements in agriculture accrued to those who had enclosed the land. Un-
fortunately in many cases land that had formerly supported a hundred
people was turned into a sheep pasture. The former occupants became the
cheap laborers in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.2
Similar encroachments had taken place in Spain, where the great land-
lords had become very powerful. They organized the Mesta, which made
it impossible for the small farmer to protect his crops against the flocks of
sheep of the manor lords. The result was a paralysis of agriculture that
lasted for centuries.
It must be remembered that the Moors had brought with them into
Spain the immemorial agricultural techniques of the oases of the deserts.
They had a love for farming and for life in the country, no matter what
tribes they belonged to or where they came from. And they left their mark
on the cultural landscape in widely separated parts of Spain: in the plain of
Zaragoza, in Lerida, in the gardens of Valencia, on the rich floodplains of
Toledo and Granada, and in the fertile valley of the Guadalquivir.
Andrea Navajero, the Venetian ambassador to the court of Charles V,
in describing Granada and its environs, wrote: "At the present time there
are many houses in ruins and gardens abandoned, because the Moors tend
to decrease rather than increase in numbers, and they are the ones who keep
the land in cultivation and planted in such a variety of trees; the Span-
iards, here as in the rest of Spain, are not very industrious, and do not
R. E. Crist, "The Land is the Chief," Scientific Monthly, Oct., 1939, pp. 368-
375.
2 Francis Neilson, "The Conspiracy against the English Peasantry," Amer. Jour.
of Econ. and Soc., April, 1944, pp. 293-306, and July, 1944, pp. 525-538.








LAND TENURE


readily plant or cultivate the fields; they much prefer to go to war or to the
Indies in order to make their fortune in this way rather than in any other."3
The medieval Spaniard was given to contemplation of himself or of his
external surroundings, consisting of material things or of other men, but
he did not look upon real estate with the fondness and veneration of the
peasant, because nothing in his experience made of it "The Good Earth."
Possession of land was not worth the sacrifice of taking root in it.4 The idea
of wealth was formed by the contemplation of movable things and of men,
of great flocks of sheep and goats on their treks from summer to winter
pastures and back again, and of the gran senior, who, richly attired, with
hands unsoiled by work of any kind, rode across the Meseta on his gaily
caparisoned steed-and it is significant that the word gentleman in Spanish
means horseman. Man's spirit in Spain was for centuries dominated by the
contemplation of man and things. The land played no role in the philosophy
of the Spaniard, to whom gold and precious stones were the noble symbols
of his desire. He wanted things he could always take with him: his sword,
his cape, his horse, his herds, and above all, precious jewels.
The news from the New World was breathtaking. The letters of Hernan
Cortez aroused to action spirits schooled for generations in the regard of
man's works. And, as if the Conquest of Mexico were not enough, Pizarro
conquered Perd and brought to Spain a part of the treasure of Atahualpa.
These world-shaking events took place within less than forty years-con-
quests the scope of which was never seen before and perhaps will never be
seen again on this earth. The spiritual exaltation of the soul of old Castille
can be imagined in that aloof, forbidding Meseta, where men had lived
miserably for centuries on the barren treeless steppes, cold and windy for
nine months of the year, an inferno for the remaining three. Those who
were not faint of heart had ever had a fondness for the liberty of move-
ment on horseback that could take them where they would, carrying with
them all their earthly possessions; now they hastened to the New World
with an iron will there to dominate men and things, so that they could at
last be hidalgos-"sons of somebody." The actual possession of land was
less important than the control of men who would till the soil, or tend the
herds, or work the mines for them.
It was but natural that the sixteenth century Conquistadores should
have imposed the manorial system on the New World, for that was the
only method of landholding with which they were familiar, and they were
happy to assume the attitudes and prerogatives of the manor lords of the
Peninsula. The manorial system, with certain feudal traits, was implanted
in the Cauca Valley by BelalcAzar, the lieutenant of Pizarro.
S Quoted in Pedro Corominas, El Sentimiento de la Riqueza en Castilla, Madrid,
1917, p. 185.
*Pedro Corominas, op. cit., pp. 210-212.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


Most of these men, who mixed their blood with the Indians whom they
conquered or with the Negroes whom they brought in to do the heavy
work, were not from the upper classes, but their dominion over Negroes
and Indians made it possible for them to occupy upper class status in the
New World. Neither were they peasants, in origin or in tradition, and con-
sequently they were not in a position to introduce the practices in agricul-
ture that are everywhere associated with the European peasant.
The Conquistadores and their henchmen were rewarded by huge grants
of land from the Spanish Monarch, bestowed originally for "two or three
lives"; but ultimately these grants became feudal fiefs, held by the same
family for centuries. The entailment through primogeniture was the usual
method, but not the only one. In some cases, at the death of a man, his
property fell to his heirs without division. In the course of time it not in-
frequently happened that some of the heirs or their assignees sold parts of
their shares in the property, and in this way the number of owners of a
property might be very large. As years went by it became more and more
difficult to bring about a division, and many questions arose under the
clumsy joint ownership. The village of Vijes grew up on the undivided
plots of a large estate.
Another type of encumbrance is mentioned by Holton: "The Hacienda
(La Paila) extends from Las Cafias River to the River Murillo, which for-
merly bounded the provinces of Antioquia and PopayAn. The width there
is seven miles. The length, from the Cauca to the summit of the Quindio,
may be 30 miles, and the whole cannot contain less than 500 square miles,
and may well be a thousand. During the good old regime of tyranny, when
prosperity was the lot of the rich, and unrequited labor that of the poor,
the hacienda is said to have boasted 36,000 cows and 800 mares; now the
mares are greatly reduced in number and the cows cannot be a tithe of
what they were. Two hundred years ago a dying San Martin bequeathed
this property to the souls in Purgatory and, until lately, it has been in dead
hands, manos muertas, from which, I suppose comes the French word mort-
main. It was fixed that the stewardship of the land should descend on
nearly the same principles that the crown does, from his eldest son down-
ward. None of his descendants, as a steward-mayordomo-had power to
sell or divide. Nor was it a mere honor. The estate was to yield so many
masses per annum at $1.60 each, and all that the property yielded over
this was the steward's. This excess of revenue became at length so great,
that the stipulated sum to go for the masses came to be considered as a
sort of tax, and the steward as the owner, subject only to this irrevocable
annual payment.
"A previous San Martin, the grandfather of him that deeded this domain
to the use of the toasted inmates of Purgatory and for the benefit of the







LAND TENURE


priests, pledged it and encumbered it with ten masses a year for the same
benevolent object. The person who was to receive the $16 per annum was
the Capell6n, and the incumbrance was a capellania.
"Land that is charged with a capellania cannot be sold, even if not in
dead hands, without the consent of the capellin. Many estates have in this
way been encumbered with six capellanias, and a division, or even a sale
of it, becomes almost impossible. Is there no remedy? Did the San Mar-
tines of the 17th Century exceed their rights in thus fixing impediments to
the alienation or division of the property by their heirs? Much can be said
on both sides.... I am inclined, for one, to think that the work should be
undone in some way, that society may not be blocked up till the end of
time by a superstitious provision in a will of the 17th Century."6
Thus it would seem that one or the other of two extremes was the rule;
either over-parcellization or over-emphasis on large estates. There was no
middle way. And it was precisely the middle way that would have spelled
progress and a higher standard of living in the Valley at an early date. But
it has been pointed out in the historical summary how great estates tended,
if anything, to increase in size, and how the most common method of ex-
ploitation was the extensive grazing of cattle.
Agriculture, the fundamental basis of economics everywhere, was never
given its due under the Colony; more emphasis was placed on extractive
industries than on agriculture. Rich mines did not always stimulate agri-
culture, because of the extremely low standard of living of the slave mine
workers. Only in some of the lower-lying areas, near especially productive
mines, did a rachitic, patch agriculture take precarious root. Even when an
agricultural nucleus did develop, it was stifled by the fiscal policy of Spain
which set up effective barriers between it and its potential market. When
agricultural produce began to enter the Choc6 from the Cauca Valley, laws
were immediately passed that tended to stop such traffic. The peasant was
forced to sell at fixed low prices in Call, and to give up any hopes of im-
proving his lot by expanding his cash crops. He continued to follow his age-
old farming practices, while the padre and the landowner enjoyed a peace-
ful manorial existence in a colonial culture.
Not only was the rural dweller forced to follow the practices of nomadic
agriculture, he also found less and less fertile level land to cultivate; such
land was gradually taken over for grazing by the great landlords, and the
farm worker went into the more rugged, less fertile areas. Samper, in his
Apuntamientos, portrays the attitude of the owners of the great latifundios:
"the oligarchy denied to the commonalty the unoccupied land, denied them
wood, and the fields and waters that they could use, and must have in order
a Isaac F. Holton, New Granada-Twenty Months in the Andes, New York, 1857,
pp. 418-419.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


to live. They imprisoned them for debt: they insulted them with a contempt
that concealed the fear they had of them; they vilified them in speeches,
and slandered them by the press; they denied the dependent man his
rights, whipped and martyrized him if he were a slave, despised him if he
were free, oppressed him with monopolies and brutified him with super-
stition...."' Throughout Colombian history the large landowner has been
the traditional conservative, whereas the small-plot farmer and the land-
less proletariat-whatever their race-have been the liberals.
The control of land in great estates, the bases of many of which are
historical rather than economic, have meant a defiance of certain so-called
economic "laws." Advantage has not been taken of site in the first place,
e.g., land near cities is often extensively grazed instead of being intensively
cultivated. This is especially true around the cities of Cali and Palmira.
An exception in the general pattern is the shoestring or ribbon settlement
of Rozo some fifteen kilometers northwest of Palmira, which is largely in-
habited by the descendants of Negro slaves, who were freed and given
additional plots of land for their subsistence crops upon the death of their
owner in the eighteenth century. They began at once to improve their
holdings and soon achieved an enviable position in the community, which
they have never lost. To this day their intensively tilled plots are market
gardens for Palmira, and supply large quantities of fresh fruits and vege-
tables. The people are healthy and prosperous, their well-fed children are
in school and their homes are models of thrift and cleanliness; they have
faithfully preserved the pattern of intensive cultivation, whereas the large
landholders have just as faithfully preserved the pattern of extensive cattle
grazing on the other side of the fence. Soil, climate and other physical
factors are the same, yet a plot of a size to support two steers on one side of
the fence will, on the other side, support an entire family at a relatively
high standard of living. The striking dissimilarities between the two cul-
tural landscapes are due to the fundamental differences in the whole eco-
nomic and social background and outlook of the people engaged in these
two kinds of exploitation of the land.
Where great estates dominate in a region, railroads have not always been
able effectively to bring about the delimiting of zones of land utilization;
such historic hold-overs tend to nullify what in many countries would be
considered locational advantages. Inertia is a marked feature of the land-
scape characterized by great landed estates, which are not highly sensitive
to "progress." Railroads do not immediately push back the frontier and
the extensive activities associated with it. In other words, accessibility has
not always resulted in the intensive use of good farm land. In developing
I P. 533, quoted in Holton, op. cit., p. 528.







LAND TENURE


the resources of Colombia, excessive space has been a handicap, but in the
Cauca Valley, where, on the contrary, space is potentially valuable, the
social system has kept it from acquiring value.
With prestige tenure, as has been seen, land uses have tended to be
static. The process of "ripening" into a higher use has been exceedingly
slow where the actual costs of supersession have been a factor in preventing
land from moving freely from a lower to a higher use. Farmers with land
that has been used only for grazing, long aware of the advantage of chang-
ing to dairying or even to the growing of rice or sugar cane, hesitate be-
cause of the cost of the herd or of the equipment and buildings. The gap
between the two uses may be long, and the owner may not have any other
income to tide him over while waiting during the first few years for returns
on the unusual investments. To be sure, some land that was formerly ex-
tensively worked is now planted to corn, which is shipped by rail to An-
tioquia, but this change is on a much smaller scale than would be expected.
The underlying and determining factor is that the holding of land is in
many cases on a prestige rather than a profit basis. Prices are not always
the determining influence in the scheme of land utilization under a prestige
tenure. For instance, Sefior A. owns an hacienda on which cattle have been
grazed for generations, but which could be intensified for the profitable
production of rice or cane. When asked why he did not use his land more
profitably he replied, "I make a good living for myself and my family now.
If I were to change the economy of this hacienda and make a lot of money,
I would use it to build a larger, more modern home. This would probably
mean that my good friends and neighbors, Sefior B. and Sefior C., would
feel obliged to follow my lead, which they would not like to have to do. I
want to keep them as my friends, and start no competitive enterprises.
Furthermore, I do not want to assume the responsibility of intensifying
farming techniques. That would mean getting another mayordomo, and I
am satisfied with the one I have."
One of the reasons for the relatively low income of many haciendas is the
mayordomo, or manager. The typical mayordomo gets from 70 to 80 pesos a
month for his work. In view of the responsibility involved this is a very low
salary. An American miner, who had bought a ranch, put the situation in
the following words: "Either the man in charge of an estate is so stupid that
he is not even worth 80 pesos a month, or he is smart, and is worth a lot
more. In the former case the estate vegetates from year to year as does the
mayordomo; in the latter case the mayordomo really improves things, and
pockets the profits. His cows have twin calves year after year, whereas
many of the owners' cows lose their calves. He makes money on all sorts of
little rackets, and after ten or fifteen years he is able to have a nice house







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


in town and to send his children to school. The owner receives his checks
regularly, and comes out from Bogota every year for a week or so, to return
to the capital feeling that all is right with his world."
All the great land-holding families in the Valley must become aware of
the new trends. The world does move, and parts of the Cauca Valley are
moving with it. The movement has become general-roads, railroads, air-
planes, factories and in places, even intensified agriculture, are here. Farm
workers, suffering from disease and malnutrition, are no longer content to
work long hours for miserably low wages which barely enable them to
achieve the material surroundings necessary for physical survival. Many
are finding work in the new factories where their increased purchasing
power will raise the prices of farm products to such an extent that rural
dwellers will find farming increasingly profitable. However, the farmer must
not only intensify production on the land he now occupies, but the small
farmer must have more land. All idle or extensively used land should be
made available to those who are willing to give it value by making it pro-
ductive. High taxes on idle land will turn the trick.
When the land available to farmers is limited by the social system, work
of some kind must be found elsewhere, regardless of the pay that can be
earned. In a pre-industrial society workers have no choice but to vegetate
on the large estates or earn a living as independent farmers, and the only
land available has long been the steeper, infertile slopes. Therefore incip-
ient industries are an unmodified boon to those workers who have for gen-
erations been held in the vise-like grip of the great landed estate.
With the gradual increase in pasturelands there has been a decrease in
the demand for farm laborers who, before the beginning of industrializa-
tion, were forced into the foothills to practice migrant agriculture, thus
continuing disastrous deforestation. In 1936, a law was passed (Ley 200,
Sobre Rfgimen de Tierras), which, in the letter, was supposed to benefit the
landless, but which actually stimulated the process of nomadic agriculture.
If a colono (renter or squatter), on a large estate could show that he had
brought certain plots of land under "economic exploitation," by virtue of
fencing, cultivation or pasturing cattle on such lands, he would be given
title to it. Naturally great landowners do not want this to happen; conse-
quently they try to keep workers moving before they have time to intro-
duce any phases of "economic exploitation." This law has tended to di-
minish the already precarious sense of security of the laborer, and has been
a powerful weapon in the hands of the large landlords.
It is not enough, however, to give a peasant access to so many acres of
land. Even if a good Illinois farmer were given twenty acres of land and
nothing else, he would hitch-hike away from it. In other words he must








LAND TENURE


have tools, seeds, live stock, materials for a house, etc., if he is going to be
able to bring his land into production. But first and foremost he must have
cheap and easy credit for his seasonal necessities, without forced recourse
to the usurer.
The credit situation in the Cauca Valley can be deduced from the situa-
tion in Colombia as a whole. We learn that in 1941 there were 1,186 loans,
to a total amount of $4,291,985.31. Only 60 people, however, received
1,108,000.00 pesos, or 26% of the entire amount loaned. In 1942, 63,245
short-term loans were made to the amount of 22,353,443.90 pesos. But
1,524 clients obtained 5,921,115.81 pesos, that is, 2.4% of the fortunate
borrowers received 26.5% of the total amount of loans made in that year.7
Dr. Ortfz points out that "if it is taken into account that these large
credits have been almost exclusively for coffee and cattle [farms] the prob-
lem is indeed grave with reference to the other farmers of Colombia."8 As
he says, "The state of abandonment in which the Colombian farm worker
lives does not square with the democratic sentiments we have been ex-
pressing, and now more than ever we must concentrate collective forces
toward a system of efficient production which at least is capable of feeding
us at low cost, without losing sight of the fact that, because of illiteracy,
our farmers need technical advice and that only the State has the pre-
emptory obligation of creating and organizing this type of public service
which cannot be subjected to private initiative."9 Dr. Ortiz concludes: "I
feel that only by means of cheap and easy credit, obtainable when needed,
will it be possible to reach the heart of the large masses of the dispossessed
rural population, if one wishes to bring about their economic liberation and
to better their living conditions.""
It must be added that the occupance of land is insecure unless it is pos-
sible to obtain a clear title to it. The landless proletariat cannot be an-
chored to homes and plots of land, tenure of which is uncertain. In many
cases bona fide settlers have occupied land for many years only to lose it
in the end through failure to obtain the proper legal document, or through
the criminal collusion of the local landlord and big stick and his henchman,
the Alcalde (mayor). By this process large estates stay large or grow larger,
while those people who could add value to land through intensive culti-
vation become migrant workers. It is not only difficult in many cases to get
clear title to land; there is no such thing as a renter's contract with long
range objectives. This state of affairs should be remedied; the contracts of
7 El Crbdito Agrario en Colombia by Luis B. Ortiz C. (Revisor Fiscal) Bogota,
1943, p. 98.
8 Op. cit., p. 98.
0 Op. cit., p. 99.
o Op. cit., p. 98.








CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


renters should be made in such a manner as to define the rights of and se-
cure the best returns to society, the renter, and the landowner. At present
the situation might be called one of splendid improvisation.
Few people, landowners or renters, know what they will do with their
land next year. Most renters have contracts for one or two harvests which
means that they are really birds of passage whose interest, by the very
nature of the case, can be only to force as much from the soil as possible,
with no thought to its improvement. Naturally the planting of tree crops
or other investments of long range cannot be undertaken at all.
The State is not aware of the quality, or the quantity, or even the exact
location of lands available for settlement. It might be called a poor guard-
ian of the national patrimony since it has made no inventory. A cadastral
survey is a sine qua non for the entire country; some simple method of land
survey, like that applied in the United States in the early days to the
territory northwest of the Ohio River, should be instituted. Once the land
is surveyed and there are facilities for acquiring clear title to it, there is
bound to be a reversal of the present trend, i.e., the migration to the pe-
ripheral areas, of those that want to work the land, which leaves the central
agglomerated nuclei to the extensive pasturing of cattle.
The overcrowded urban agglomerations are at present surrounded by
extensive pasture lands across which the patch agriculturalists of the pe-
ripheral areas carry to market their small amounts of cash crops. It is
these seminomadic farmers, whose interest lies in the way of intensive econ-
omy and the security of small plots near a market, that are exerting an ever
increasing pressure on those whose vested interests are in an extensive
economy, for those who withhold from intensive cultivation the land that
is near the urban markets are largely responsible for the low returns to the
patch agriculturalists. The antagonisms between the landed and the land-
less, which have their roots in the past, must be prevented from carrying
over into the future.
This peripheral penetration in the Cauca Valley means the opening up
of more and more rugged terrain, ever farther from the urban centers. The
regions opened up are to a great extent above the mosquito and hookworm
line, with the result that infant mortality is less than in the low-lying hot
country. This rapidly increasing population is migrating cityward in search
of work, education and comforts not found in rural areas. The lack of
educational facilities for their children is one of the mainsprings of the
rural exodus of whole families. The seeming over-production of human
labor on the farm, under near-serf conditions, drags down the wages and
standards of factory labor and undermines the whole national economy.
There should not be allowed to develop a widening gap between the me-








LAND TENURE


chanical progress of the factories and the standard of human labor on the
farm. The peasant should be liberated and granted equal rights to progress
with the rest of the nation. Life in the country should become as attrac-
tive, in satisfying the higher needs, as life in the towns.
To pay for the material improvements implied in these greater satis-
factions, increased production, per capital and per unit area, is necessary.
And to increase production, a more intensive and better correlated use of
human, water and soil resources is indicated. Every region has a limited
capacity for occupation under a given method: in many parts of the world
and on many occasions groups that have exceeded the limit of occupation
under one method have adjusted themselves by revolutionary change of
the pattern of occupation. When the method of occupation in any region
is no longer suitable to support the groups, the condition of overpopulation
is said to have arisen. Manhattan Island was overpopulated under the
hunting economy of the Indians. When the pattern of occupation was
changed, it was able to support millions of people. In the Cauca Valley,
too, the method of occupation can be changed, so that many more people
will be supported at a higher standard of living, by an intensified use of
land, water, and human resources.
The poverty of the people is due to the pressure of population on the
food supply. But the food supply is small not because the land has reached
its maximum productive capacity, but because, through social control,
it has remained in a low-use bracket. More men must have both a right
to till more land intensively, and a right to the fruits thereof, if farming
and industry are, through mutual stimulation, to make prosperous those
engaged in these activities.
"A fair chance to buy land at actual present worth, unaugmented by
speculative estimates of the value that his labor will some day give it,
makes for successful settlement here as elsewhere. A nation that allows
one group of its citizens, whether large or small, to withhold the land from
those who will give it value, until they have paid to the withholders a
great share of the value that is to be given it, is not in intelligent hands.""
All over the world the economies of grazing and farming have ever
been antagonistic, when not actually at war. Deserts, natural or artificial,
have always produced more people than they can feed. In certain parts
of the world social controls have actually become anti-economic, to the
extent that areas that could be productive croplands are instead made
into pasture fields. Under these circumstances, as far as human adjust-
ment is concerned, social controls can and do exert as much influence as
does the physical environment-if not more. The population outgrows the
Mark Jefferson, Peopling the Argentine Pampa, New York, 1926, p. 123.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


carrying capacity of the land, when the land is exploited under a social
system that does not permit its maximum production, as inevitably as a
pastoral desert population passes beyond the limit of the food supply that
is fixed by the physical factor of rainfall.
Whatever the potentialities of the natural landscape, each cultural group
achieves its own climax way of life. One group may run the gamut in the
methods of occupation from A to B, another, from A to Z. Once human
beings are introduced in the physical setting, it is impossible to postulate
the specific future which will be the lineal descendant of today, because of
the variables and unknowns. The cultural landscape of Latin America, for
example, would be entirely different from what it is today if the Indians
had been killed or pushed off the land, as they were in North America by
the Anglo Saxons. The superimposition of the closed economy of Spain
upon her Empire in the New World made it possible for the few powerful
families to put their private interests before the collective good, thus
bringing about swift and complete stagnation, social and economic. There
was even a retrograde movement in some instances-large areas of land
which had been under cultivation reverted to pasture and remained in
pasture. The flexibility of the pattern of occupance can thus be reduced
or nullified by man himself.
In the New-World Empire of Spain, Balkanization was complete. Family
ties were strong, but the families as units were not tied to the municipio
(municipality) by any but the very weakest bonds, and there was almost
invariably intense hostility between the municipio and the natural region.
The natural regions, a loose agglomeration of feudal fiefs, were cut off each
from the other as by a wall. The political concept of the supraregional
national unit was only barely glimpsed by the great visionary, Bolivar.
We thus see that under the colony, the family, the municipio, the region,
and the nation or central political unit, were in the relation of concentric
and not interlocking rings. It was this archipelago of feudal islands-
unrelated and unconnected, unorganized and anarchic-that Bolivar tried
unsuccessfully to fuse into a nation, La Gran Colombia. Upon this motley
of separate landscapes, climates and peoples, Spain superimposed a rigid
and uniform economy, allowing no leeway for interregional intercourse or
even regional adjustments and evolution. Indeed, all the power of a highly
centralized and distant government was used to discourage growth or
change.
The influence of the pattern thus evolved is so persistent in Colombia
that even at the present day the country does not cover her own agri-
cultural crop requirements. In protective foods-meat, eggs and dairy
products-the Valley's production is notably deficient. Increased produc-







LAND TENURE


tion of these foods should go hand in hand with the increase in purchasing
power consequent upon the relatively high wages paid in industry. But
the hacienda should be fundamentally modified, because of its influence
against the most efficient use of the land. The fertile lands of the Valley-
indeed of the entire country-are needed for more intensive production
and to provide homes for the mass of the landless population. An evolution
that will bring about a wider distribution of the land, the great source of
dependable wealth, will go a long way toward establishing the nation upon
a stable basis.
In order to keep rentals and land values up and wages down, the social
system that was evolved in the Cauca Valley demanded not merely enough
people, but too many people. This aim was steadily achieved by the encroach-
ment of pastoralism over vast tracts once used for more intensive purposes.
The inhabitants of the Valley today have never had to make the choice
between agriculture of a notably intensive form and cattle grazing of an
especially extensive or dispersed form. That choice was made by the ances-
tors of the great hacendados, or landowners. Time did the rest. It is hard
to undo that work-it is hard to change the ancient cattle culture into a
vigorous infant agricultural society. Professor Frank Tannenbauum, in his
recent article "An American Commonwealth of Nations," concludes that
"what Latin America needs, if either political or economic stability is to
be achieved, is the growth of a numerous, independent, small land-owning
peasantry and the growth of a large and vigorous middle class."'2
How is this desideratum to be accomplished? There are two alternatives,
revolution or evolution, whichever the Colombians wish to choose. Revo-
lution is so foreign to the thinking of the entire population that almost
any change is sure to be effected by evolution. But again, how? The process
has been relatively straightforward in England, where land that is ripe for
a higher use than that which it is at present enjoying is simply taxed until
the owner is forced to put it into a more productive bracket. A kind of
negative process ought to be operative in the mountain areas and hill lands,
which should moreover, be adequately zoned, with each zone devoted only
to those activities explicitly specified by the planning board.
It would seem, further, that the Government should decide, with the
help of competent advisors, which crops are best adapted for cultivation
on large tracts, and which can be grown more efficiently by small holders.
Crops such as corn and rice are adaptable to either small- or large-scale
holdings, whereas sugar cane is more economically grown on large holdings.
A limit must be put on the amount of land that can be controlled by the
sugar company, however, in the interest of other crops, or land above a
12 Foreign Affairs, Vol. 22, No. 7, July, 1944, p. 588.







42 CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE

certain acreage, leased by the sugar interests, must be planted in food
crops at specified intervals. The latter method, introduced into Java by
the Dutch, has been very effective in preventing overexpansion of the
sugar plantations at the expense of food production. A certain amount of
land should be set aside for animal husbandry and the growing of food,
on all landholdings, large or small. The production of fruit would probably
continue to be most efficient on a relatively limited scale, as it is at present
carried on in the Valley in the growing of grapes and papayas.










CHAPTER IV


COURSE OF SETTLEMENT
Cali, the capital city. Buga and Palmira. Factors in the occupance
pattern: slavery, local land tenure system, transportation. Cartago.
Deforestation and the community. Darien and Restrepo. La Habana.
Population growth. Rural exodus: nomadic farmers, pack train
drivers. Buenaventura. The Calima Valley. Trends and Prospects.
The capital city of the Valley is Cali. It is located on the only site on the
left bank of the Cauca where, from the political, social and economic
points of view, a capital city could have developed. Only at this one spot
on the eastern flank of the Western Cordillera has a vigorous tributary
of the Cauca worked headward fast enough to deposit an alluvial fan of
sufficient extent to serve as the physical site for a modern city. Great
credit goes to the founding fathers for selecting this site, which is relatively
close to the best pass across the Western Cordillera. Furthermore, it was
not difficult to supply the town with drinking water, as well as with water
for irrigation, by means of a gravity system, without the need of hauling
water or of installing costly pumping machinery.
Cali has been the barometer of life in the Valley, faithfully registering
the changes in economy, physiognomy and mentality. During the colonial
regime it was a plebeian town-the landed aristocracy for the most part
preferred to live in Popayan. The houses, of split bamboo or adobe,
were seldom of more than a single story, built usually around a patio. Tile
replaced the thatch roofs very gradually. Streets were narrow, unlighted,
and unpaved. The town was small, the horizon of its inhabitants was
limited. What society existed was exclusive and admitted of no change.
But even this squat, unimpressive town had what might be called its
sphere of influence, which it gradually extended.
The vast area at the eastern foot of the Cordillera Central, of which
Palmira is now the regional capital, was one immense estate or hacienda,
appropriately called Llanogrande (Big Plain), frozen, as it were, for gen-
eration after generation in the hands of the Jesuit order. But on February
27, 1767, the Jesuits were by Royal Decree expelled from all parts of the
Spanish Empire, and their properties were confiscated. The hacienda of
Llanogrande was among the properties within the jurisdiction of Popayan
that were sold at public auction to private individuals. Once it was freed
from Jesuit control, growth and development were possible; the valoriza-
tion of the natural advantages of the magnificent site and position meant
a rapid increase in population. By 1835, the municipio of Palmira had
8,173 inhabitants, slightly more than the municipio of Cali.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


Buga was founded in 1588 on the fertile, well-drained alluvial fan de-
posited by the Buga River, and it gradually evolved into a small town.
Arboleda1 mentions a sugar mill of Lazaro Cobo in the vicinity of Buga in
the late sixteenth century, showing that settlers were quick to take ad-
vantage of the exceptional soil and climatic conditions which prevailed in
the Cauca Valley, for the growing of sugar cane. The history of the develop-
ment of the territory between Call and Buga is vague. There is a record
of the sale in 1681 of the Hacienda del Palmar, near which the city of
Palmira grew up. In 1684 a boundary line dispute between the districts
of Buga and Cali was amicably settled. That there could be a dispute at
all proves that the area was becoming of importance. Very likely the cattle-
men were busy enlarging their holdings.
Toward the close of the colonial regime, as has been seen in an earlier
chapter, sentiment in Cali became supra-municipal to the extent that
Call assumed the leadership of the Confederation of towns in the Valley
against Spain. Even after the wars with Spain, however, growth was slow
and improvements were few. For those who could afford to do so, it was
safer to live in Bogota than in the small provincial capital, periodically
at the mercy of marauding bands of revolutionaries.
The great houses (casas de teja, i.e., with tiled roof), of the haciendas
not infrequently became the nucleus of a rural village when the slaves
were liberated. The founder of the village of Bolo was Dofia Margarita
Rengifo de Cobo who upon her death in 1783 freed a number of slaves.
In order to make them economically independent, they were each given
a ten-acre plot of ground with frontage on the Bolo River, "where they
could build their houses (casas de paja [i.e., thatch]), live, and raise their
animals without hindrance or friction, with the single provision that no
one could sell his land without the consent of the rest of the group."2 They
were given some animals and were obliged to say a mass every year on
the anniversary of the death of their mistress. Some slaves who were not
freed were given animals, as a basis for earning enough money to enable
them to buy their freedom and enter the free community of Bolo.
A nineteenth-century traveller in the Valley commented on the influence
of slavery on another phase of the occupance pattern. "After passing the
town of Caloto, famous for its gold mines, we soon crossed the road to
Cartago: in riding over extremely vast landed properties which belong to
people living in Popayin, I learned that [on these holdings] agricultural
labor was everywhere performed by slaves. Pride of race is no less in the
Valley of the Cauca, than in the colonies of the Antilles; so extreme is this
I Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 181.
2Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 506.







COURSE OF SETTLEMENT


that poor people cultivate only plots in the mountains where the cold
[due to altitude] makes it impossible to employ Negroes."3
An important factor in the settlement pattern has been the local land
tenure system. A traveller almost a century ago remarked: "Espinal and
Vijes may have been alike in their origin. All the difference between them
may depend on the entailment of Espinal, which kept it unpopulated,
and the property of a single heir, while undivided fractions of the Vijes
land gave rise to a village, filled with heirs of the original proprietor, and
assignees of those heirs, and heirs of those assignees, and so on."4
From the time of Belalcizar to the present, another significant factor
in the development of the Valley has been the condition of the transporta-
tion net. To the inhabitants of Cali, an outlet to the sea has represented
the summum bonum. Indian pack-carriers were the first to use the terrible
trail which connected Call to the upper Dagua. Transportation rates were
high in spite of the miserable living conditions of the Indians. Their place
was finally taken by large pack trains of mules and oxen. In the early
years of this century, when James Eder planned to build the sugar mill
at Manuelita, the biggest problem was to bring the heavy machinery
over the western Cordillera to Palmira. The material was brought by boat
from England to Buenaventura and unloaded there, whence it had to be
moved by pack train to Palmira. Eder owned 1,200 mules and 600 oxen
and hired many more; with these he began the task of moving the machin-
ery inland. All the pasturelands between his hacienda and the coast were
leased, and there the pack animals could recuperate for six weeks from the
arduous trip and scant rations of the upper Dagua. It took three years to
transport everything from Buenaventura to Palmira. Small wonder that
the people of Cali have always campaigned for a railroad to connect their
city with the port. The most important line in the region, and probably
the most important line in the country, the Pacific Railway, was at last
finished in 1915. It is mainly since that date that the tremendous develop-
ment of Cali has taken place, and particularly in the last decade. The
population, 100,000 in 1938, grew in six years to 130,000.
Thirty years after the railroad, the motor road was completed: "Five
loaded trucks made the journey from Buenaventura to Cali in January
[1945], bringing the first cargo ever moved inland over the whole length
of Colombia's long-awaited Highway to the Sea."' The road, officially
opened to public traffic eighteen months later, has proved a great stimulus
to trade and passenger movement.
The Cali-PopayAn section of the railroad has likewise been long com-
3 G. Mollien, op. cit., p. 288.
SIsaac F. Holton, op. cit., p. 535.
6 Bulletin of the Pan American Union, July, 1945, p. 428.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


pleted and regular passenger and freight trains are scheduled. The exten-
sion of the line from Popayan to Pasto, now under way, is not yet finished,
possibly because the automobile road was put through first.
The Armenia-Zarzal section, 73 kilometers long, has provided an outlet
for the agricultural products of the area it serves, and has shortened the
difficult pack-train route over the Quindio Trail, by which much of the
famous Quindlo coffee is brought down to the railroad.6 The through route
by rail from BogotA to the Pacific Ocean will not be a reality until the
Armenia-Ibagu6 section has been finished. However, passengers and goods
are shuttled across the Central Cordillera between Armenia and Ibagu6
in station wagons and trucks, so that little time is lost. Competition of
the airplane may be such that it will never pay to complete this difficult
sector of the railroad, which would make it possible for passengers and
freight to go by rail direct from BogotA to Buenaventura without trans-
shipment. At all events, the transportation net effectively ties the im-
portant areas and towns of western Colombia to Cali, which in turn is
connected to Popayan and to the Pacific coast by rail and motor highway.
Highways in future will serve as feeders to the existing transportation net,
and airplane traffic will certainly increase.
Not only is Cali an important national airport, but it is on the main
international line. Many planes from the west coast of South America stop
at Cali on their way north. Those going to the eastern Caribbean or to the
eastern United States continue north via Baranquilla; those going to Cen-
tral America, Mexico and the western United States continue via PanamA.
During World War II there was a tremendous increase in both passenger
and freight movement. Even fresh fish from the Caribbean is now eaten in
Cali, although Cali is only five hours from Buenaventura by train, the
reason being that the fishing industry is not as yet organized along the
Pacific.
Cartago was early a prosperous town. We read that in 1603 it was be-
sieged by Indians who stole the mules loaded with provisions for the town,
drove off the cattle en route to the market, and killed the herdsmen.7
Nevertheless it flourished for generations, in response to a most advan-
tageous position at the foot of the Quindio pass and at a point where the
swampy areas along the Cauca are not very wide; products from Anser-
manuevo and its hinterland-at the present time especially cattle on the
hoof-cross the Cauca Valley here where it is narrow, on their way to
market in Antioquia, or even in BogotA. Through traffic from the south
was forced to go by way of Cartago in order to avoid crossing the high
Raye R. Platt, "Railroad Progress in Colombia," Geog. Review, 1926, pp. 87-88.
7 Antonio Olano, Popaydn en la Colonia, Popaydn, 1910, pp. 8-9.







COURSE OF SETTLEMENT


mountain pass of Cuchilla de Santa Barbara to the east. The Zarzal-Ar-
menia railroad reduced somewhat the Quindio traffic through Cartago, and
once the highway through Sevilla, Caicedonia and Barcelona has been
improved the town will lose an even larger part of that transit trade. Dur-
ing the twenty years from 1918 to 1938, the population of Cartago re-
mained stationary, whereas that of Buenaventura trebled, that of Cali
doubled, and even that of Palmira almost doubled.
Ths Spaniards penetrated the Valley of the Cauca and founded towns
along the left bank of the river at the foot of the relatively dry and steep
eastern flank of the western Cordillera. Because of the poor site, the
settlements were puny-an easy prey to the incursions of the hostile
Indians. Many of the inhabitants of Roldanillo and Toro were killed
in 1602 when those towns were sacked and reduced to ashes shortly after
they had been founded. The left bank of the Cauca except for Cali and its
environs, early began to suffer from arrested development, largely because
of the lack of an extensive piedmont alluvial plain such as exists at the
foot of the western flank of the Central Cordillera. This entire zone,
relatively sparsely inhabited, was at one time densely forested. The brown
slopes that meet the eye today, reminiscent of the California Coast Ranges
in the dry summer season, are the result of vigorous deforestation, some of
it rather recent. The extremely tall isolated palms encountered here and
there as one ascends the mountain were originally surrounded by forest,
for palm trees do not grow to such great heights when not forced to push
their crowns into the sunshine because of the rank growth of their com-
petitors in the forest.
The man with the axe or machete has entered the dark green forested
mountains, the millenial silence of which is at last broken. The small
patches he has cleared for crops show from afar a lighter color in the
midst of the surrounding greenery. The sun reaches the floor of the forest
from which it has been held at bay for ages, and year by year the cut-over
area grows at the expense of the woodland; what was only a few years ago
a dense stand of trees, a solid wall hostile to man, is now a mosaic of
different-colored plots, soft to the eye and to the foot, separated by pic-
turesque fences of bambusa guadua (bamboo).
Deforestation is truly proceeding at a dizzy rate, and erosion is fol-
lowing in its wake. The road winds through the treeless foothills. House
types change from structures almost entirely of thatch in the treeless
zone to wooden dwellings with clapboard roofs in the upper, still forested
area. The enormous gullies at the foot of the mountain reach only to the
contour where the forests are still intact. Once the divide is crossed, one
enters a different world! The valley of the upper Calima is broad and open,







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


the fields of lush grass broken only here and there by dense clumps of the
feathery bamboo.
The process of clearing is being carried on in many areas by immigrants
from other sections of the country, particularly by those from Antioquia.
They do not go up from the valley of the Cauca into the mountains, rather
they infiltrate to the south from Antioquia along the contour, as it were,
in the western and central Cordilleras. Darien and Restrepo, in the western
Cordillera west of Buga, were founded by cattlemen, according to what
seems to be a general and routine pattern: a relatively few people get con-
trol of extensive tracts of land (often terrdnos baldios), which they rent
out to subsistence agriculturalists-largely Antioquefos-on a share crop-
per basis. In a few years the forest is destroyed and grass is planted. The
whole fertile valley floor of the upper Calima has been thus completely
deforested and is now an extensive cow pasture. And the steep slopes of
the surrounding mountains are at present being rapidly cleared for the
growing of subsistence crops and for coffee.
Restrepo, toward the south, a thriving mountain town in the drainage
basin of the upper Dagua River, was founded as recently as 1912; yet in
1945, it exported 350,000 arrobas of coffee. The inhabitants, with the ex-
ception of a few government officials, are almost all Antioquefios or their
descendants; they are building substantial homes, and the landscape has
the aspect of being permanently settled instead of merely temporarily oc-
cupied. The whole area, cool and amply sunny, is extremely salubrious,
and the population is increasing rapidly. Ever more of the beautiful forests
will fall before the axe if the next generation is to be adequately provided
for by agriculture. The energetic inhabitants are pushing the motor road
on to Buenaventura, which will shorten the distance between Bogota and
the Pacific and compete with the Cali-Buenaventura highway through
the AnchicayA Valley. The development of transportation should be a
significant step in the growing prosperity of this mountain community:
many people will find employment in trade, and household industries can
take root, as in the accessible mountain areas in many parts of Europe,
and in numerous sectors of Indo-Latin America.
Darien, to the north, is somewhat older than Restrepo and it has less
of the "frontier town" look. Around the' square there are substantially
constructed, two-story buildings, the ground floor of which is used for
small retail business and the second floor as a dwelling. Small balconies
on the second floor are the points of vantage from which the womenfolk
keep up with all the current events in town, and very little goes on that
is not public knowledge. Herds of steers are driven through Darien on their
way to Buga, to entrain for the markets of Antioquia; trains of five or six
tough mules and agile horses come in over the mountain trails laden







COURSE OF SETTLEMENT


with produce; coffee to be stored in the backs of stores, corn to be sold
retail for stock feed or bread (pan de maiz), and hand sawed planks, one
end of which is allowed to drag along the ground. With growth of urban
agglomerations in the Valley and the development of good transportation
facilities, some ranchers in the upper Calima have intensified their farm
units to the extent of founding dairy herds instead of merely fattening
steers. A milk truck rattles across the narrow cobble stone streets of Darien
in the early morning on its way to market. Dairying will undoubtedly in-
crease as a result of the steady market in the Nestle plant in Bugalagrande.
The afternoon drive from Darien to Buga is one never to be forgotten-
a large section of the Valley of the Cauca lies open to view as on an enor-
mous relief map. The Cordillera Central in the background, surmounted
by a great mass of cumulus cloud, is wrapped in the blue haze of distance.
Dark cloud shadows decorate the maturely dissected foothills. Buga, at
the foot of the mountain and flanked by delta deposits in the form of
rounded hills, is bathed in a warm afternoon glow. Shafts of sunlight pierce
through rifts in the cumulus-cloud mass to splotch with yellow light the
higher parts of the central range, at the same time that rain is falling
locally from a cloud over the lower foothills.
Delta deposits and post lacustrine alluvial terraces are well developed
east of Buga, along the road which has been built in the valley of the
Guadalajara River; they have been deforested and converted into cow
pastures long since. The process of forest destruction is now going on at
higher levels. La Habana, on the stream of the same name, is a small moun-
tain village founded only eighteen years ago, when it was on the active
frontier, the edge of the forest. During the intervening years the forest
has receded rapidly up the very steep slopes of decomposed granite or
metamorphics, which are being deeply gullied. The landscape has the
aspect of having been offered up as a sacrifice to destructive forces: half-
rotted logs and stumps of enormous trees clutter up the cut-over mountain
slopes in reckless abandon; the shabby maloderous houses are unkempt and
forlorn, with an air of impermanence. The countryside has been gutted.
Man here very obviously is living off resources faster than they can be
renewed or replaced-in other words he is living off capital, and not off
salary or interest on investments.
The growth of population in all of these towns, as in most parts of
the Cauca Valley, has been phenomenal. The Municipio of Cali had a
population, in 1835, of only 7,866, but of 101,883 in 1938. In the same
period the population of Buenaventura grew from 1,216 to 27,777, and
that of Palmira from 8,173 to 44,788. However, the period of truly re-
markable growth has been from the last quarter of the nineteenth century
to the present. The fifty years following the end of Spanish rule were char-







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


acterized by violent revolutions, during which the population remained
almost stationary, or grew very slowly. At the end of these political up-
heavals the standard of living of the people began to rise, almost imper-
ceptibly at first, then rapidly, and the increase in population was in almost
direct ratio to the rising standard of living. This has been particularly
true of those areas in which industry and trade have begun to flourish. To
take the same three municipalities: in the twenty years from 1918 to 1938,
Cali more than doubled in population, Palmira almost doubled, and the
population of Buenaventura trebled.
We note that La Florida had 969 inhabitants in 1835, against 10,294
in 1938; Bolivar, 1,301 in 1835, 13,469 in 1938. The significance of these
figures lies in the fact that where soil and climatic conditions were not
optimal the cattlemen were not interested in enlarging their holdings;
hence, because the land was available to the small farmer, the percentage
of population increase has been greatest. Even the population of Dagua,
in the rain shadow desert behind a low range on the Pacific slope of the
Western Cordillera, increased from 2,331 in 1905 to 14,149 in 1938. The
precocity of Restrepo is conspicuous: in the decade from 1928 to 1938, its
population doubled.
Even a brief consideration of the penurious existence of the campesino,
or small farmer, explains the continuous urban accretions. Whether he is
self-sufficient or is tied to the market by the tenuous thread of an occasional
mule load of coffee, firewood or charcoal, the life of the campesino has few
material satisfactions. The general lack of security has as its corollary an
absence of that rooting in the soil which characterizes the sturdy, inde-
pendent peasant of France and the Indian who farmed the collective field
in pre-Colombian Incan society. Many of the farmers on the mountain
slopes of the Cauca Valley enter into an agreement with the landowner
to clear a certain area of land, grow food crops on it for a year or so, and
plant it in grass before turning it back to the landlord; others find that the
land they have occupied in the belief that it was terreno baldio, or free
state land, and to which they have given value by the labor they have
invested in it, is successfully claimed by a neighboring landholder; they
are then forced to move on. The lack of attachment to the soil induced by
insecurity of tenure, manifests itself in a kind of latent nomadism, which,
for the slightest cause, can come to the surface and be a guiding factor in
the life of the farmer. In sum, the campesino has little interest in staying
for long on the same piece of unowned land; he has no tradition-as do
European peasants-of farming with veneration soil which generations of
his ancestors before him have cultivated with infinite care and patience, or
of putting down roots in the soil from which his children after him will
draw their daily bread. His hold is tenuous-he must move on.







COURSE OF SETTLEMENT


The mere physical process of living the daily routine, of taking care
of the animal wants, is on a very rudimentary plane: the small, one-room
house is usually of adobe walls and thatch roof, in which all the activities
of living are carried on; the simple fare is cooked in an earthen pot which
stands over the charcoal fire on three stones, either on the tamped earth
floor, or on a primitive table covered with a six-inch layer of earth-the
smoke finds its way through the roof without benefit of chimney; food is
eaten with the fingers-knives, forks and spoons are scarce, if there are
indeed any at all; slops are thrown out the door or through the very narrow
window, which, at night, is kept hermetically sealed against the night air
and its supposedly baneful effects; all the members of the family sleep
on the floor, over which rush mats, or dried cowhides or old sisal bags
have been spread-here children are conceived and the old breathe their
last.
The small farmer rises early and has his tinto, or cup of black coffee;
then he goes to his daily task of clearing land, or planting or harvesting
his food crops, according to the season of the year. From time to time he
must cut firewood to be carried on his back, or on the back of his wife or
children, to the village, in order to secure the cash with which to buy
cheap cloth, tobacco, matches, kerosene and other necessities; at mid
morning he breakfasts on coffee and bread (arepa de maiz), brought to him
usually by one of the younger children. At noon he returns to the house for
his big meal of plantains and beans, occasionally cooked with a soup bone
of a cheap piece of meat; then, after a little rest, to work again on the plot.
After his frugal evening meal, there is very little the campesino can do;
generally he is illiterate, and therefore he does not need much artificial
light-which, furthermore, is expensive.
It is abundantly clear that a day in the life of the small farmer holds
little in the way of diversion, variety, or even of work that is rewarding,
in terms either of cash or of satisfaction, material or psychic. And many seek
to escape. One of the methods of entering the life beyond the confines of
the little hut and its plot of land is to enter the transportation business.
Most farmers never accumulate enough capital to buy a mule or a donkey,
but those that do are able to take to the road behind a pack train or a
single cargo mule.
But the life of the mule train driver, or arriero, is one of irregular hours,
strenuous physical exertion and relatively small financial return. He must
get up at three o'clock in the morning, drink a small cup of black coffee,
load his mules and be on the trail by four o'clock. He walks barefoot over
the winding trails, which are covered with a thick layer of dust or with
deep mud, depending on the season. Once at his destination, he delivers
his cargo and hangs around the market looking for a return load, in which







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


he is not always successful. He probably has enough money to buy a roll
and a cup of coffee, and perhaps even a swallow of rum before starting
back. At home he eats a scant evening meal and catches a few hours'
sleep before getting up to take to the road again. This is the routine broken
only by the "big time" on Saturday night, when much drink is consumed,
in the company of his friends in the local bar. He may not get beyond a
crying jag, but sometimes there are fights, that may be followed by a spell
in jail and a fine. If he is unlucky he may have to work out a jail sentence
at forced labor on the road; if lucky, he staggers home on Sunday morning,
probably beats his wife, catches up some lost sleep, poultices a bruise or
even dresses a wound. On Monday morning the routine begins again. It
is a precarious existence full of hardship-literally a school of hard knocks.
Another important factor in aiding the urbanward trend is military
service, into which a relatively large percentage of the rural male popula-
tion is drawn. Those people living in town are more sophisticated and more
alert in escaping the recruiting officers than are the country folk; the result
is that the rural areas, whose inhabitants are simple and unsophisticated,
suffer a heavier drain of their youthful male population into the army.
For most of them life in the dingy barracks, crude and unwholesome as it
is in many respects, is much more comfortable and thrilling than it was in
the tiny crowded huts of the countryside. After the raw country boys have
spent a year in the barracks, where they have enjoyed movies and com-
panionship, running water and baths, a more varied diet-in short, the
many attractive features of living in the capital of even a backward muni-
cipio, they are no longer content to live in the country with all its incon-
veniences; they prefer to remain in the urban agglomerations, and in order
to be able to do so, they seek whatever employment is available there. Men
who have undergone their period of army service frequently graduate
from the barracks into the ranks of barbers, chauffeurs, or itinerant ped-
dlers, and in the larger towns, they join the class of clerks and petty officials;
the police force everywhere, to a large extent, is recruited from the men
who have begun the process of adaptation to the urban climate by spending
from one to three or more years in the army. Upon their peasant mores has
been superimposed a thin veneer of urban values, and any yearning to re-
turn to early scenes diminishes with every year they spend away from the
lowly, one-room, thatch-roof hut of adobe where they first saw the light
of day and around which they spent their boyhood years. Everywhere the
processes of urbanization of the country people are operative, and the
cityward migration is relentless. Although in some instances the rural
inhabitants migrate directly to the large urban agglomerations, the exodus
is usually made in easy stages-first to the villages, thence to the larger
centers.







COURSE OF SETTLEMENT


Even the large towns in the Valley are deficient in many of the modern
services, but the villages lack them all-medical and hospital services,
recreation and entertainment-and the shops where food and clothing are
sold have infinitesimal stock. Hence the small villagers have to go to the
capitals of the municipios or even to the "Centro"-to Cali-for many
vital services, which cannot be made available in the village because it
would not "pay." Inevitably, to the flood of cityward migrants from the
rural areas, is added a heavy stream from among the dwellers of the small
villages.
What will keep people on the land? The answer is simple: the oppor-
tunity to work and live under conditions which compare favorably with
those offered to skilled workers in other occupations. Another powerful
incentive to staying on the land would be security of tenure to a small
holding. With a stake in the land-where he has a home, a vegetable garden,
a few chickens, and a goat or cow-the rural dweller is less willing to
migrate to town. The farmer increasingly demands greater return for his
labor in terms of purchasing power, and a chance to improve his position-
to earn more at forty than at twenty-five, for example-and he wants
besides, the amenities of life that are not denied to other workers. A new
conception of labor organization and of the scale of the farmer's business
is needed if agriculture is to be able to offer a decent life and living to the
country-born Vallecaucano of today. Farming cannot continue to put new
wine into very old bottles.
A large and important sector of the Cauca Valley is that which includes
the one-hundred-and-thirty-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast slope be-
tween the San Juan and the Naya Rivers. The port town of Buenaventura
is the capital of this area, connected with Cali by the narrow-gauge rail-
road line which crosses the low pass in the Western Cordillera, and by the
motor highway opened in 1946. Buenaventura has a long but not par-
ticularly illustrious history. It boasts an excellent harbor-a feature that
is lacking on the South American west coast from Guayaquil to northern
Chile-and the site is attractive, but the great handicap until very recently
was the absence of easy connections with its hinterland. For several hun-
dred years the words of Cieza de Le6n held good: "I make no particular
chapter of this port, because there is nothing to be said of it". Even in 1823
Mollien painted a drab picture: "A dozen huts inhabited by negroes and
mulattoes, a barracks with a guard of eleven soldiers, three pieces of ar-
tillery in a battery; the Governor's house and the Customs building are of
thatch and bamboo, located on the islet of Cascajal, which is covered
with grass, thorns, mud, snakes and toads: this is Buenaventura."8 Onions,
8 G. Mollien, Viaje Por La Repdblica de Colombia en 1828, Spanish edition, Bogota,
1944, pp. 300-301.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


garlic, "Panama" hats, and hammocks were mentioned by Mollien as
the principle, though curious, imports for a province so rich in gold. Rum,
sugar and tobacco were the principle exports. Even in 1823 it was difficult
to get green bananas (pldtanos), corn, bread and cheese.
In recent years modern docks and huge warehouses have been built,
but they were not adequate to hold all the merchandise that was slowly
moved inland by the one inadequate narrow-gauge railway before the
completion of the motor highway in 1946 brought an end to the congestion.
In the few squares around the enormous railroad hotel there is an air of
modernity; the town has been considerably cleaned up in the campaign
to introduce modern hygienic and sanitary features. But the death rate is
still high, tuberculosis being the principle cause, closely followed by pneu-
monia, malaria, intestinal disorders and venereal diseases. Small wonder;
the average temperature is about 820F., the average relative humidity.for
the year, about 88%, and the rainfall is about 300 inches each year. There
is almost no food produced locally, except bananas and fish. Most of the
food is brought in--even fresh milk is brought from Cali every day.
The sprawling suburbs are made up of decrepit shacks, roofed with
sheets of galvanized iron or flattened-out five-gallon gasoline cans, where
live people of almost pure African blood. Ninety-five per cent of the
students of the local schools are of pure Negro or mulatto blood, and the
poorly paid teachers are predominantly Negro.
Buenaventura has an interesting life along the waterfront. Dug-out
canoes, laden with fish or agricultural produce, come to the local market
from tiny coastal villages or settlements along the lower Dagua. Except
for these villages, inhabited largely by the descendants of slaves, who
cultivate subsistence plots in the dripping tropical rainforest, the Pacific
border of Colombia is not much changed from what it was when first
skirted by Andagoya in 1522. The forests produce rubber, Tagua nuts and
coconut palms, and it is probable that many woods, fibers, oils and es-
sences await development. A geological survey might show the subsoil to
contain oil and ore deposits. But this is in the future. There can be no
doubt that the port of Buenaventura will continue to increase in importance
with the passing years. The building of the Panama Canal put Buenaven-
tura and its hinterland within easy reach of New York, and the increase
in trade that is bound to come with growing transportation facilities will
mean ever greater development in the beautiful Bay of Buenaventura.
Shortly after leaving Buenaventura on the railroad to Cali, one reaches
higher ground and enters the true dense tropical forest. The trees are not
of great height but the growth is luxuriant in the extreme; the floor of the
forest, as well as the branches of trees, being covered with vegetation,
progress off the trails or outside the clearings is impossible without the







COURSE OF SETTLEMENT


aid of a machete. This is the forest primeval into which the Negro has
penetrated, following the streams which empty into the Pacific. But these
people, few in number and with primitive needs easily satisfied, leave almost
no mark on this dense natural forest cover. After they have farmed for a
year or so in one place, the soil is leached and infertile; they must clear
another plot, and the vegetation quietly closes around their old clearings.
North of the Bay of Buenaventura but still within the boundaries of the
Cauca Valley, lies the fertile valley of the lower Calima River, a pioneer
land close to the rapidly growing port of Buenaventura. Since the valley
has already attracted both official and private enterprise, on a small
scale, a discussion of it is in order.
The sparse population of this area, too, is at the present time made up for
the most part of Negroes, descendants of the slaves brought in under
the colonial regime to work in the mines of the Choc6. They have pene-
trated, but one can hardly say settled, the region along the many rivers that
flow into the Pacific. They have barely made an entrance into the forest
primeval, except in scattered clearings on the rivers' banks. For the most
part they live, move, and have their being on the river itself. In fact, they
have encroached so little upon the land that they speak of coming, not
from a certain district, but from a certain river-"nuestro rio." There are
a few settlements of Indians, who live apart and do not mix readily with
the Negroes, but, in the opinion of one observer, the native Indian has
been a steady loser to the African, who was introduced, but who is perhaps
better adapted for survival in this steaming climate.9
The productive potential of the lower Calima Valley, with its tens of
thousands of acres of alluvial soil, on which falls an abundance of rainfall,
is indeed very great-so great as to warrant the spending of much time and
money in integrating it into the economy of the Valle del Cauca and of
the nation.
The alluvial soils of the area are, near the river, very fertile and usually
well-drained, in spite of the heavy rainfall, because of the underlying layers
of sand and gravel. The few places that are at present poorly drained will
undoubtedly dry out once the forest has been felled and they are prepared
for cultivation and exposed to the full force of the sun. The soil in clear-
ings around dwellings and in that part of the trail which has been cleared
of trees for a width of from ten to fifteen meters, is markedly drier than
that in the virgin forest. On the slopes, the soils have of course been leached
of their soluble salts, but they are not thereby prevented, given proper
care, from producing certain crops. In Puerto Rico, good crops of sugar
cane are grown on fairly thin lateritic soils derived from serpentine, that
9 R. C. Murphy, "Racial Succession in the Colombian Choco," Geog. Review, 1939,
pp. 461-471.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


have been greatly leached-although the text books say this is impossible.
With the application of fertilizer, particularly in the form of green manure,
the soils on these slopes would continue to be productive.
Transportation is now and has ever been the key to the valorization of
unexploited riches. Without transportation, Europe was subject to famines
only two hundred years ago; without transportation, the great fertile plains
of the valleys of the Mississippi-Missouri and Ohio Rivers remained the
hunting grounds of a few thousand Indians, and, without adequate trans-
portation, the lush valley of the Calima will remain only potentially pro-
ductive. Adequate transportation facilities will transform potential into
actual production. Those in charge of the campaign for growing colonial
crops have realized the fundamental importance of a road, and a trail was
opened which enters the forest at Kilometer 9 on the Cali-Buenaventura
highway and, running in a general northeasterly direction, comes out on
the Calima River just below the point where it is joined by Quebrada La
Brea, some seventeen kilometers in length. It is to be hoped that progress
will continue on this road, which began as only a foot trail, with about
eight hours required to cover the distance on foot from the road to the
Calima River. The work being carried out in the introduction of new plants
and crops is laudable in every way, but the man of science should, if pos-
sible, while looking to the future, not forget the present. In other words,
while planting crops that may be valuable ten or fifteen years hence, the
horticulturalist should not neglect those crops that will have almost im-
mediate economic significance. And it is my opinion that in the immediate
future the Calima Valley will become an important cattle ranching area:
grasses thrive in the valley, there is a big and evergrowing market for
fresh meat and dairy products in Buenaventura, and meat on the hoof is a
commodity that walks to the market, even over very poor trails. Once
the road is finished, it will be possible for ranchers to intensify production
to the extent, for instance, of producing milk or of making cheese, and if
intensification progresses to the stage of stall feeding, valuable animal
manure would become available for the intensively-tilled market gardens.
A somewhat comparable area has been studied in Venezuela, in the dense
tropical rainforest southwest of Lake Maracaibo, where, under the stimulus
of the Maracaibo market and of adequate transportation facilities in the
form of a railroad and lake steamers, ranchers are turning thousands of
acres of forest into rich pastureland on which lean steers from the Llanos
are fattened for market.10
That the area is already of interest to practical ranchers is shown by
10 R. E. Crist, "Cattle Ranching in the Tropical Rainforest," Scientific Monthly,
June, 1943, pp. 521-527.







COURSE OF SETTLEMENT


the fact that cattle have been introduced by the Osorio brothers on clear-
ings at the point where the Agua Clara flows into the Calima; they are
driven in over a trail that has been opened from C6rdoba to the Agua Clara.
Gordura pasture is doing very well in the clearings, as is the corn that is
sown broadcast.
Hogs could be fattened on bananas and later on the waste products in
the production of cheese. Chickens and ducks thrive; they could become an
important source of meat and eggs.
At present the relative humidity at night is 100%, as a result of the
rapid radiation of the heat received during the day. It is, however, probable
that once the forests have been in great part felled, the drying influence
of the sun will be such that the average relative humidity will be somewhat
reduced. This will undoubtedly be a benefit to those who make their home
in the Calima Valley.
The all-important factor in the development of an area is man, who turns
the raw materials of a region into wealth. The efficiency of man as an active
factor in any environment depends in large measure upon his diet. Now
the diet of the inhabitants of the Calima is not a balanced one; it consists
mainly of bananas and, for about six months of the year, of the cooked fruit
of the chontaduro palm. Huge quantities of these foods are eaten, but
quantity is not enough, for the human body needs not only starches to
provide heat for the human engine, it also needs foods which have the ele-
ments that serve to replace wornout portions of the machine. There is a
great lack of the protective foods: meat, eggs, dairy products, fruits and
fresh vegetables. Consequently the resistance of the present inhabitants
to tropical diseases is very slight and their productive capacity is poor.
Hence not only is the population in the Calima Valley sparse, but the
standard of living is extremely low. One of the first goals of those interested
in developing this great valley should be to teach the people the basic
principles of nutrition, and the essentials of infant and child care and feed-
ing. The increase in the production and use of protective foods will mean
better general health and well being, which will result in an increase in per
capital output. An increase of output consequent upon better nutrition
means growing wealth and purchasing power which in turn raises the
general standard of living, in an upward spiral.
Those people now living precariously in the little clearings along the
river that are seldom cut back more than a score of meters into the bush,
given a good road over which to ship out their crops, would be able to
produce fruits and vegetables for the Buenaventura market. This market
is now growing in response to the increased traffic consequent upon the
opening of the highway from Cali to Buenaventura in 1946. Docking space







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


is already being materially enlarged. The tannin factory is a big success
and has a wide radius of action. All these factors are operative in increasing
the demand for fresh foodstuffs in the Buenaventura market.
The inhabitants of the Valley could thus gradually ascend the scale from
self-sufficient, hand-to-mouth farmers to agriculturists tied to a market
and able to integrate themselves into the national economy. Those who
now work as bogueros, who desire steady work, might start small farms of
their own, or at least might be employed in transporting the produce from
the Calima Valley to Buenaventura.
Once the Buenaventura market is economically supplied with food
products from the Calima Valley, the possibility of growing plantation
products for the world market will be present, for young rubber trees
(hevea brasiliensis) are thriving, possibly even better than in their native
home; manila hemp is growing well, and the area appears to be capable of
producing an abundance of oil palms. The attraction which the growing of
plantation crops will have for private capital will probably be in direct
proportion to the financial successes achieved in the growing of food stuffs
for the Buenaventura market.
Few farmers want to become or remain self-sufficient, but unless they
can sell or barter their produce they have no alternative. Until a market
arose, the farmers of Illinois had no interest in cultivating soy beans.
Farmers and cattlemen would certainly have penetrated the lower Calima
Valley long ago, but for the fact that the potential market of Buenaventura
was inaccessible because of lack of transportation. Many handicaps that
now appear to be serious will vanish when the motor road has been com-
pleted from the Cali-Buenaventura Highway to the Lower Calima. Finland
and the U.S.S.R. have demonstrated during the past two decades in the im-
memorial wastelands of the far north what can be accomplished by present-
day techniques in overcoming natural handicaps. In Canada, similar pro-
gress is being made." Countries in the tropics, in spite of the beliefs of
the environmental determinists, are proving every day that farming success
depends largely on access to markets. Thousands of Colombians, once
properly in control of those factors of the man-made environment that
enable them to safeguard health and fortify the strength of the human arm
in its struggle with the tropical environment, will be able to live the good
life in areas of the Pacific Coast which are at present practically unin-
habited, as well as in many other inefficiently used regions of the Cauca
Valley.
Griffith Taylor, "Future Population in Canada," Economic Geography, Vol. 22,
No. 1, 1946, pp. 67-74.











CHAPTER V


HUMAN RESOURCES
Diet. Infant mortality. Disease. Low output and low wages.
Recommendations.
It cannot be too often reiterated that the all-important factor in the
development of an area is man. The degree of evolution in the area is
dependent on the degree of evolution of man himself. The higher the level
of civilization, the broader is the social freedom, and the broader the
social freedom, the more profound is the impact of man on the physical
environment.
The social arrangement of the Indians, who were, to be sure, not so
highly developed in the Cauca as in the Andean highlands, was replaced by
the manorial system introduced by the Spaniards. During the Colonial
period the manorial system reigned supreme, and the social organization
proved a more powerful factor than physiography. But the system of
great landed estates began to be attacked in the nineteenth century, and
perhaps it will not survive the twentieth. When broken down, it will
be superseded by a more appropriate response both to physiographic and
to demographic conditions.
The efficiency of man as an active factor in any environment depends,
as previously stated, in large part upon his diet. Students and even casual
travellers are struck by the almost universally meager and unbalanced diet
of the inhabitants of tropical America. Numerous studies of diets among
different classes of the population of Colombia have been carried out by
the Contraloria General de la Republica and the results have shown a general
deficiency of wholesome food, which is marked in the towns and very
serious in the country.'
A detailed investigation by Dr. Jos6 Francisco Socarrds, of diet and
living costs in various parts of the Republic, revealed that in Bogota
only 30% of the middle class families had an abundant diet according to a
classification based on the number of calories per day.2 Of the working
class studied, 72% suffered from undernourishment (2000 to 2400 calories),
28% from grave malnutrition (1500 to 2000 calories).3 In Medellin, of the
1 Luis B. Ortiz, El. Credito Agrario Regional, Bogota, 1943, Anexos, p. 84.
2 The classification of diets, on a calory basis, is as follows:
Barely adequate nutrition ...................... 2400-3000 calories
Undernourishment ............................... 2000-2400 calories
Grave malnutrition ............................. 1500-2000 calories
Acute malnutrition .......................... 1500 or less calories
3 Anales de Economia y Estadistica, Bogota, Tomo III, 1940, Numero 6, p. 19.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


group of working class people studied 28% had nutrition that could be
classed as barely adequate, 39% were undernourished, 32% were suffering
from grave malnutrition and 1% from acute malnutrition.4 Of the rural
families studied in the State of Boyaci 100% suffered from acute mal-
nutrition (less than 1500 calories a day).6 These studies were made among
workers with permanent jobs, but many workers work only a few days a
week; they can never rise above acute malnutrition, and their work output
is bound to be very low. They have found a response to these subhuman
conditions in increased consumption of alcohol. Since July 1941 corn has
risen in value 50% and panela (unrefined sugar), 23%-the principal in-
gredients of chicha, the popular fermented drink-whereas the price of
chicha is the same as in July 1941. An increase in drinking means an in-
creased intake of cheap calories, for 1,000 calories of chicha costs only 9
centavos, whereas milk costs many times more and is entirely out of the
range of the working class.6
Although such detailed studies of representative sectors of society have
not yet been made in the Valley, they would certainly show the same general
result. As elsewhere, wages in the Valley are so low that the workers can
buy little if any meat, eggs or milk. The diet is monotonous in the extreme
and consists of a few standard products, rice, corn, beans, bananas, un-
refined sugar (panela), and only occasionally meat, of the poorest quality.
This diet varies somewhat with the season of the year, the altitude of the
farmer's habitat, and the activity in which he is engaged. On some haciendas
chocolate is very much in vogue as a beverage, and milk, as well as cheese,
is of course consumed by workmen on the dairy farms, who enjoy visibly
better health than the general run of field laborer. Within the past ten years
the tomato has become an important addition to the rural diet, but vege-
tables and fruits are little used because they are so highly priced in terms
of the present wage scales. Tree crops in general are seldom cultivated,
principally because of an unsatisfactory land tenure situation. Yet citrus
fruits thrive in the Valley and could be grown in much greater quantity,
no less than many other tropical fruits. The semiarid hills are ideally
adapted for pineapples. Those now grown and served in the better hotels
are exquisite. Vegetable gardens should be greatly extended. Honey bees
could add a pretty penny to many a rural budget. All of this requires time,
long education, and a feeling of well being and security, present or potential.
The results to be achieved can easily be seen in the conspicuous difference
that is at present to be observed between the well-fed mayordomos and
other members of the middle class, and the landless proletariat.
4 Ibid. Tomo V, 1942, Numero 20, p. 16.
5 El Credito Agrario Regional, Bogota, 1943, Anexos, pp. 82-83.
6 C. T. Umafia y R. L. Rufz, "La Salud Publica En Colombia," Colombia, Nos. 1
and 2, Bogota, 1944, p. 83.







HUMAN RESOURCES


The inhabitants of the Valley in general eat inordinate quantities of
food. There is plenty of it. That part of the diet which is burned as fuel to
provide heat in the human engine is not lacking, but of the parts that go
to replace worn-out portions of the human machine there is a positive lack.
The serious deficiency is in such vital elements as are contained in meat.
As a result many people suffer from chronic malnutrition, for although the
quantity may be sufficient, the quality is lacking. Those vital organs,
especially the kidney, which have most need of the repair parts necessary
for rebuilding are more rapidly used up, because such organs under tropical
conditions bear a greater strain than in the middle latitudes; it is pre-
cisely in the foods of animal origin that we find the material of which they
are composed. A substantial increase in the amount of nitrogenous foods
should be made in the diet of the people of the Valley, as indeed of the
tropical diet everywhere. This in addition to the increase in the protective
vitamin-containing vegetables and fruits.
"The children of the poor who make up an absolute majority of the
population, are reared in worse conditions than animals, which are equipped
to support extremes of heat, and cold, and in general have neither too
much nor too little to eat. On the other hand, it is pathetic, it wounds the
most insensitive, to observe children growing up in the midst of garbage,
wallowing naked in the humid soil. They suffer from the cold because they
lack shelter, or in the hot country they are martyrized by clouds of mos-
quitoes; they live a vegetable existence in intimate contact with the domes-
tic animals.
"Chickens, hogs, dogs and cats, together with man, form a group which
constitutes the family of the campesino, or peasant, and in this promiscuity
they reproduce their kind. They eat out of the same utensils, sleep on the
same bed and support in common the vicissitudes of abundance and
scarcity, famine and hunger."'
In view of such living conditions there is small wonder that in Cali 155
children out of every thousand (in 1932) died before they attained one
year of age.8 It should be borne in mind, moreover, that these figures are
taken from the parochial register, and hence do not include the unbaptized
children who die. Further, these figures are for a large regional capital where
medical facilities, of a sort, and, good water are available. Conditions are
somewhat more unfavorable in the country, where marlaria, dysentery
and tropical anemia are endemic. Hundreds of infants, of whose birth
there was never an official record, are buried without benefit of clergy in
the fields near the lowly huts in which they died.
Even those who live to adulthood are by no means immune to diseases.
7 Laurentino Mufi6z, La Tragedia Biol6gica del Pueblo Colombiano, Bogota, 1939,
p. 15.
8 Ibid., p. 17.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


Malaria is endemic to the larger part of the Valley, and many who are not
actually suffering an attack are being sapped of their energy and vigor by
the malaria parasites. Relatively few people are aware of the necessity of
sleeping under a mosquito net, and many are too poor to buy one. The
least that should be undertaken is an educational campaign to teach people
this elementary necessity. Those haciendas employing large numbers of
migrant workers should be required to supply them with nets. Malaria, or
paludismo, has been a terrible scourge in tropical and subtropical America.
It has been a handicap to material progress, and it has also given tropical
areas a bad reputation for danger and unhealthfulness which it is difficult
to live down. Anti-malaria campaigns, education and a higher standard of
living are the specifics for this disease. Under modern control methods
the mountainous areas alone need no longer be considered as healthful
islands surrounded by disease-infested lowlands; with only a little care the
Cauca Valley could be classed as a health resort.
The hookworm is another scourge of the tropics whose ravages make
themselves felt in the Valley. The percentage of infestation is very high,
well over 90% in Cali, Buenaventura and Palmira, where several thousand
people were examined. The degree of intensity of the disease is based on
the density of population plus the insanitary habits and ignorance of the
victims. In some cases an open irrigation ditch is used as a latrine, at the
same time that the water is used for the washing of clothes and the ir-
rigation of rice fields. The hands of the washwoman and the feet of those
working in the rice fields are readily penetrated by the micorscopic larvae
of the hookworm. There should be an intensive campaign against this
disease, which literally sucks the life blood out of the working population,
who, thus weakened, must be put in the low-output group as far as work
is concerned.
Every man, woman and child should be told in simple words the nature
of his affliction and the means of preventing it. The helpless anemic at
death's door can be transformed into a ruddy vigorous laborer simply
on the expulsion of these tiny worms, by means of taking a few thymol
tablets. Every one so treated becomes at worst merely one-tenth as dan-
gerous a spreader of the disease as he was before treatment. But the general
use of latrines should be urged at all times. In 1937 the Departamento
Nacional de Higiene reported only 3621 privies for the whole Cauca Valley,
with its population of 613,230. The rural workman is unaware of the danger
of infection due to his going barefoot; in most cases he would be unable to
buy shoes even if he did know. The weeding by hand of flooded rice fields
is an occupation which exposes to infection thousands of women and
children who work barefoot. The water used for irrigation should be un-
polluted, and this can be achieved by the universal use of privies.







HUMAN RESOURCES


Once treatment for hookworm has been introduced (in Puerto Rico the
cost was 68 cents a person for hundreds of thousands of people),9 and
privies are generally used, a worthwhile goal will be the provision of better
food for the inhabitants of the Valley, and much more food of animal origin.
The problem ceases to be a medical one, and becomes economic and socio-
logical. It will be solved only by education, better wages and better trans-
portation facilities whereby animal products may be introduced from thinly
populated grazing areas. The existent cattle-raising concerns should in-
tensify their land use practices. The tragic story of the waste of human
resources should be brought to a close. Dietary reform, aside from making
people less susceptible to the invasion of diseases in general, will go a long
way toward wiping out anemias induced by hookworm and nutritional
deficiencies.
Another common disease and sapper of energy is amoebic dysentery,
but so few studies have been made that its incidence is not known. Modern
hygienic practices and the proper cooking of food and the boiling of water
would go a long way toward eliminating this disease.
Contrary to what might be expected in a warm mild climate, tuber-
culosis is prevalent among all classes in the Cauca Valley, but especially
among the poorer working people. Housing facilities are far from satisfac-
tory. Small rooms, tightly closed against mosquitoes, are shared as sleeping
quarters by large numbers of people. Chronic malnutrition, hookworm, and
malaria have so reduced the resistance of many persons that they are
easily attacked by the bacillus. Spitting on the floor at home and in cafes
is a too common practice. School rooms, barracks and prison cells are
built with little regard for the admission of light and air.
Although venereal diseases are widespread, no public health program
has been formulated to combat them. The general population should be
made aware of the seriousness of these diseases and should be taught the
foolishness of half-way measures. The proper specifics should be made
generally available instead of the currently used but expensive and worth-
less patent medicines.
An interesting sidelight is cast on the subject of disease by the remarks
of a mayordomo who spoke of the many factors which were to be considered
in the hiring of men. He pointed out that if two men presented themselves
for a job, one robust, rosy-cheeked and the picture of health, the other thin,
sallow and listless, the first question he would ask was where they came
from. If the sturdy one said that he had just come from the mountains,
he had no chance at all of being hired-and with good reason. For, said
the mayordomo, within at most two weeks he would be ill with malaria,
which, if malignant, would probably kill him. At all events his services
9 Bailey K. Ashford, A Soldier in Science, New York, 1934, p. 88.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


would be of short duration. The sallow, listless applicant would very prob-
ably have been born in the low country, or have been long a resident there.
In other words, he was either immune to or inured to the diseases of the
Valley, and although his output of work would be small, it would be con-
tinuous. But a laborer of low output is inefficient, and an abundance of such
labor can produce but one result-the extreme cheapness of laborers.
As far as the mayordomo was concerned, the solution to the labor problem
was to hire many low-output laborers. Thus, instead of providing working
conditions which assure the creation of a body of efficient workers, the
prime consideration has been to employ labor as cheaply as possible. This
policy has erred in confusing low wages with low labor costs, and in the
end has achieved neither an efficient nor a contented nor an economical
labor force.
From these few paragraphs on diseases it will be seen that one of the
fundamental tasks is to improve the standard of living; either costs should
go down or wages should increase. Every effort should be made to decrease
food costs, which would be a blessing for everyone. Taxes on food articles
should be the first to go; they hit hardest the most people and those least
able to pay. And the levying of taxes should be in the hands of a central
planning body, not in the hands of departmental, municipal, and district
officials. Greater purchasing power in the hands of the laborers will mean
that they eat better and provide themselves with more adequate housing.
All improvements act as health campaigns. To increase agricultural pro-
duction and the consumption of fruits and vegetables is a body blow to
disease in general. Leaders in the Cauca Valley should keep in mind the
motto of the New York State Department of Health: "Public health is
purchasable; within limits a community can have the death rate it is
willing to pay for."










CHAPTER VI


AGRICULTURE
Farming. Sugar. Rice. Tobacco. Corn. Coffee. Beans. Cacao. Grape
growing and wine making. Suggestions: Agricultural crops. Ration-
alization of water supply. Animal crops.
There was once a time when the forests of the Niu Mountain were beautiful. But
can the mountain any longer be regarded as beautiful, since being situated near a
big city, the woodsmen have hewed the trees down? The days and nights gave it rest,
and the rains and the dew continued to nourish it, and a new life was continually
springing up from the soil, but then the cattle and the sheep began to pasture upon
it. That is why the Niu Mountain looks so bald, and when people see its baldness,
they imagine that there was never any timber on the mountain. Is this the true nature
of the mountain?'
Although the Valley has a limited area of agricultural land, that land
is exceptionally fertile and productive. Deep deposits of silt, sand, and
gravel, later covered by successive layers of fine silt, were laid down by
the numerous streams from the Central Cordillera, at the western flank
of which is a series of alluvial fans that have coalesced to form a piedmont
alluvial plain. It is only along the upper margin that this plain consists
of coarse, poorly sorted material. A short distance from the mountains the
coarse deposits are covered with a surface layer of rich soil. The under-
lying gravel near the river is buried many meters deep under the thick
layers of accumulated silt and humus; the material is so fine-grained as
to be almost impermeable to water. Water stands in many ox-bow lakes
throughout the year, but only in the immediate vicinity of the river is the
soil poorly drained, and swamp-loving plants abound. Underneath the
entire valley floor the alluvial fill is many meters deep, and the fertility
is practically inexhaustable.
The flat valley floor was almost certainly heavily forested originally,
except for the swampy sectors. The forests were early felled to make way
for pasture: pard grass covers most of the poorly drained areas which are
contiguous to the permanent swamps. Guinea grass is a favorite on the
more permeable alluvial soils.
The steep eastern flank of the Western Cordillera has the superficial ap-
pearance of the mountains of southern California in the summer season.
A botanist thus describes it: "The mountain slopes near Call are covered
with secondary growth scrub in which melastomdtaceas and esterculidceas
abound. This low brush is a complex of three plant associations: Mico-
nietum prasinae, Miconietum rubiginosae, and Waltherietum americanae,
1 Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, New York, 1937, pp. 97-98. Quotation
from Mencius.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


found on the cut-over lower slopes at medium altitudes and dry because
of either permeable soil or rapid runoff, or both. Thickets of Bambusa
guadua are a characteristic feature of the landscape at these altitudes
(1100-1300 meters). They form hygrophilous clumps in existing forests
and stand out as isolated oases in extensive areas covered with second
growth bush or in sections of artificial pastures."2
These slopes were for the most part cleared and burned over during the
past four hundred years. The role of fire in the early phases of farming was
discussed in Chapter IV. The use of fire as part of the process of clearing
land for crops is, however, not confined to the New World; the same prac-
tice has developed elsewhere. To mention an example, nomadic patch
agriculturalists were living in the French Alps as early as the twelfth cen-
tury; only in the eighteenth century, when the exploitation of the forests
was regularized by foresters in the employ of the nation, were the inhabit-
ants obliged to become sedentary, and to devote themselves to the grow-
ing of cereals, to animal husbandry, and to the burning of charcoal; their
descendants are at present emigrating from the mountains to more fertile
valley land.3
The fertile and accessible Cauca Valley, with a delightful and salubrious
climate, is almost wholly undeveloped according to modern standards.
The temperature is ten or twelve degrees lower than is usual for the coastal
tropics, and the relative humidity is less; yet tropical crops such as sugar
cane, cacao, coffee, rice, bananas and palms thrive, although the rate of
growth is slower than in the lowland tropics. On the other hand, crops are
less subject to attack from pests and diseases, which, if they occur, are
not so damaging as in the low level tropics.
Let us briefly survey the present state of agriculture in the Valley.
The beginnings of the sugar industry in the Cauca Valley were very
modest, and the product was for local use only. As a matter of fact, the
by-product, rum, was of greater economic significance than sugar. Because
of the exceptionally poor trails and the high costs of transportation it was
more profitable to ship rum than sugar or molasses. And the tradition of
cattle grazing was so strong among the first families that the production
of sugar increased only slowly. Then came the wars of Independence,
during which was destroyed, in whole or in part, whatever organization
had developed. Mollien remarks that "this town [Pitai6n-probably Pitayo]
now produces much less sugar than formerly, because the recent wars
destroyed most of the draft animals which were used in its cultivation."4
2 Jose Cuatrecasas, "Resumen de unas observaciones geobot&nicas en Colombia,"
Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Fisicas, y Naturales, Bogota,
Vol. V., Dec., 1943, no. 19, p. 291.
s R. Blanchard, Les Alpes Occidentales, Paris, Grenoble, 1944, Vol. I, p. 301.
4 G. Mollien, Viaje por la Repiblica de Colombia en 1828, Spanish Edition, Bogotd,
1944, pp. 288-289.







AGRICULTURE


During the nineteenth century the development of the sugar industry
was still held back by poor transportation and by the application of local
taxes, octrois, alcabalas and other artificial hurdles to trade.
The Cauca Valley has the advantage, for sugar production, both of good
climate and of level, fertile land. Cane takes from 15 to 18 months to ma-
ture, but if the price of sugar is high, it pays to cut the cane when it is from
twelve to fifteen months old. Although work may be impossible for a few
days during April and November, cutting and grinding go on generally
throughout the year. The average production in the Cauca Valley is 50
tons of cane to the acre, with a recorded 80 tons in a good year, and a low
of 24 tons, when a dry season was too long or locusts were bad. As yet no
fertilizers-a costly item in most sugar-producing areas-are used; some
plots are said to have produced steadily from ratoons for forty years with-
out replanting. An article in the Cali newspaper in 1892 reported that
some fields had been continuously in sugar cane for eighty years.5 Eder,
writing nearly forty years ago, estimated that there was enough suitable
land in the Valley to produce at least 200,000 tons of sugar a year.6 In
1930, however, the potential capacity of the Valley for the production of
sugar was conservatively estimated at 3,125,000 tons.7 In view of all the
advantageous conditions and the favorable estimates, it is a wonder that
the cattle were not driven from the more fertile pasturelands much earlier.
Poor transportation facilities, state and municipal taxes, and a system of
prestige land tenure were the deterring factors.
In the days when the entire Valley was in huge cattle ranches, each of
which strove for self-sufficiency, small plots of sugar cane were grown on
every ranch. The juice, squeezed out in small mills run by hand or by oxen,
was boiled in large open copper vats until the residual mass became ex-
tremely viscous, when it was poured into moulds to harden. The result was
a block of brown sugar, or panel, weighing about a pound, which looked
and tasted something like maple sugar. Panela, still in use in small villages
throughout the country, supplies the demand for sweets on many haciendas.
Many of the working population have never used refined sugar-which
has been a dietary boon, in that molasses is the best known source of iron-
better than liver and spinach-for assimilation by the human body.
With the gradual opening of the Valley, mills for the production of re-
fined sugar were built. The most important of these was-and still is-La
Manuelita, located near the town of Palmira. All of the equipment was
I El Ferrocarril, Cali, July 1, 1892, no. 488.
6 Phanor J. Eder, Colombia, London, 1913, p. 205.
? Reconocimiento Agro-Pecuario del Valle del Cauca (Informe emitido por la Misi6n
Agricola Puertoriquefia, dirigida por el Hon. Carlos E. Chard6n, y presentado al
Gobernador del Departamento del Valle, en Colombia), San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1930,
p. 9. This volume is a mine of information on the technical phases of agriculture in
the Valley.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


purchased in England and shipped to Buenaventura, whence it was trans-
ported by oxcart and pack train over the terrible trail to Palmira. Three
years were consumed in this transportation feat alone. The initial capacity
of the mill was 5,000 tons annually, but several years were required before
the mill was working to capacity. The sugar was in the beginning all sold
and consumed in the Valley. La Manuelita has vastly increased its hold-
ings and capacity in the course of time and now turns out some 22,000
tons of sugar a year. Molasses is increasingly used in the manufacture of
rum, of which about 1,700 liters are produced daily to sell at one peso the
liter.
La Manuelita manufactures a large part of the centrifugal sugar pro-
duced in the country. In spite of continually expanding production, there
is still a decided deficiency in domestically produced sugar. In 1943 the
country produced 67,326 metric tons. The Eders have purchased a 50%
interest in La Providencia, and project another factory in the Tolima Val-
ley. At present 33% of the cost of Cauca Valley sugar to the consumer in
Bogota is for transportation. The whole country cries aloud for lower trans-
portation costs.
The production of rum could be greatly increased, and its quality im-
proved. At present rum has no social standing, and whiskey, of which
Colombia imported 531,000 bottles in 1937, is the prestige drink. During
the last war the importation of whiskey was greatly curtailed and profits
on the production of rum increased. It appears likely that production will
be stabilized at a high level.
Another sugar mill, Riopaila, has been established by the Caicedo family,
on the banks of the creek of the same name, between Bugalagrande and Zar-
zal. This will not produce sugar on the scale of La Manuelita, since land for
expansion is not available on the fertile acres of the Hacienda El Medio to
the north, which is owned by the Eders. But Mr. Caicedo does not allow his
money to be idle, nor does he send it out of the country. He invests it in
the Cauca Valley. His hotel, the Alferez Real, built in 1929, and remodeled
in 1948, is the outstanding hotel in Cali. He has a prosperous dairy herd
on a farm north of Cali, and an up-to-date dairy farm just east of town.
One of the by-products of the sugar-making industry, molasses, is used to
enrich the diet of the dairy herd, and the dairy products are used in the
hotel.
Sugar cane is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the Cauca Valley.
It was brought to the Antilles early in the Colonial Epoch and from there
spread throughout the tropical Americas. Up to 1928, the only varieties
cultivated in Colombia were the Otahiti (white, purple and striped-blanca,
morada and rayada). In 1929 the Misi6n Chard6n, at the request of Dr.
Ciro Molina Garces, introduced the first new varieties of cane from Java,







AGRICULTURE


Barbados and Puerto Rico. In 1932 the dreaded leaf disease, mosaic, ap-
peared in Colombia and wrought great havoc with cane plantations.
Fortunately the Palmira Station had extensive plots of resistant varieties
which could be substituted for the native or creole cane, and thus enormous
losses were avoided. There is still a great deal of sugar cane grown for the
production of panela, the price of which varies greatly from department to
department. Some 13,000 hectares of cane are annually grown in the Valley
to be ground in the large sugar mills for the making of refined sugar. In
the course of only ten years enough sugar of excellent quality was pro-
duced domestically to make the importation of sugar into the country no
longer necessary, and the price went down as production increased. In
1943, 2,627 tons of sugar were actually exported to Uruguay, but this was
premature, for there was a shortage of sugar in Colombia the following
year, and it was necessary to import 12,000 tons to meet the demand.
The production of sugar in the Valley, as indeed in Colombia generally,
is protected from foreign competition by a prohibitive tariff on sugar.
However the government can import sugar whenever domestic production
cannot meet the demand-which serves incidentally to set a ceiling price
on sugar for domestic sugar mills. The per capital domestic consumption,
including panela, or brown sugar, is estimated at about 133 lbs.
One of the problems most difficult of solution has been that of trans-
portation. Because of high costs the price of sugar varied greatly from
place to place, and many inefficient mills were able to charge high prices
because of lack of competition. To meet this problem, a selling cooperative
was formed, the "Compaiia Distribuidora de Azdcares," which controls
90% of domestic production. By establishing compensation on handling
costs, on the insurance principle, it has been able to keep the price of sugar
stable throughout the Republic.8 This has been an important item in the
poor man's budget. The system might well be extended to other crops.
Given reasonably stable conditions, the inhabitants of the Cauca Valley,
like all farmers, may be trusted to practice good husbandry. Prices agreed
upon in advance, that show a modest margin of profit, and a guaranteed
market, are the two essentials for stability.
The raising of paddy rice in the Valley began very early, in the vicinity
of Guacari. The seed was brought from Ecuador (whither it probably came
originally from the Huerta de Murcia in Spain). There was an abundance
of water from the streams of the western flanks of the Central Cordillera,
and the gently sloping surfaces of the broad alluvial fans were ideal for
irrigation. In 1857, Holton wrote that on his trip through the Valley he
saw, between Tului and San Pedro "an arrozal, or rice-field, the only one
I ever saw, so rare is the culture of rice in South America. This piece was
8 Anales de Economia y Estadistica, Tomo III, Numero 2, April 25, 1940, pp. 41-42.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


small, but the structure of it surprised me not a little. It was an absolute
plane, inclining slightly to the West. On the upper side was an acequia,
that sent over the field a sheet of water about an eighth of an inch thick,
that formed no channels and covered all the ground. A ditch was made at
the lower end to receive the water again and carry it off."9
Under the "soca" system, land to be planted in rice is first flooded for
several days, then cattle are turned in and left until the soil is a mass of
mud. The seeding is by hand, broadcast, in the months of April and May
or September and October. As soon as the plants start growing, the fields
are irrigated several times a week, water being conducted to all parts of
the field by shallow ditches; the amount of water is increased as the crop
develops and irrigation is continued until just a few days before the har-
vest. Bands of workers, usually women and children, pull weeds by hand
in the growing grain.
Grain is also harvested by hand, following one of two methods. Grain
is pulled off each separate stock and carried away in bags to be hulled, or
the stocks are cut and the grain flailed out. Hulling is then done on a small
scale in the hollowed trunk of a tree with a wooden hand pestle. This pro-
cedure is still followed in many undeveloped parts of the country. When
rice is hulled in large mills the husks are burned instead of being used for
stock feed or as fertilizer on the poorer soils.
From the very beginning of rice cultivation in the Valley it was observed
that after the first harvest the plants sprouted and in a few months gave
another cutting, called soca. This was facilitated by a special procedure:
immediately after the first harvest the field was flooded and a large num-
ber of cattle turned in to trample down the old rice stocks and the weeds
that had come up. The cattle were left in the field for two weeks or more
and taken out when they had made a mud hole of it. Then men with ma-
chetes effected the desoca, which consisted of cutting all remaining stocks
and even the shoots of the seeds dropped during the recent harvest. The
field was again irrigated as during the first crop, the plants grew rapidly,
and the second harvest was gathered in from three to three and a half
months. In this way two or three harvests in succession could be taken off
the same field with only one original seeding. One flourishing field of rice
was pointed out to me near Buga that had not been reseeded for seven
years, but this was doubtless an exception.
The cultivation of rice spread gradually in the vicinity of Guacari and
the seed came to be known by the name of the Municipio. The soca system
is being gradually replaced by the modern method of plowing. Farmers
became convinced that the plowing under of the old plants was important
in the struggle against bacteria and plant diseases. The system of har-
9 Isaac F. Holton, op. cit., pp. 500-501.








AGRICULTURE


vesting was also modernized. The rice was cut by hand but threshed by
machinery, except on the large level tracts where combines can be effi-
ciently used. And the hulling of the grain takes place in up-to-date mills.
By 1927, almost the entire amount of rice consumed locally was grown in
the Valley, but in that year the Central Government passed a law re-
vising downward the customs duties on agricultural food products. The
duty of imported rice was decreased from two cents to one cent a kilo-
gram, with the result that the farmer of the Valley could no longer com-
pete with imported rice. The price of labor and fuel oil had increased at
the same time. Many farmers not only sold their crops at a loss but were
forced to discontinue the growing of rice. Some even lost their farms.
World war II was a boon to the rice growers in the Valley. The produc-
tion in 1943, some 18,000 metric tons, was grown largely in Palmira,
Guacari, el Cerrito and Bugalagrande. Indeed, there was an excess of
production over domestic consumption in Colombia, beginning in 1943,
in contrast to the years 1936-1940, during which an average of 12,500
metric tons of rice were imported annually. Certainly the country should
never have to import rice again, especially if the standard of living con-
tinues to rise in response to industrialization, growing transportation
facilities, and rationalization of farming.
In the cultivation of rice there should be rationalization in land use as
well as in the use of water. For instance, rice growing on the permeable
soils near Palmira uses water in excessive quantities. Its place could be
taken by other crops and rice could be relegated to the heavier, less per-
meable soils farther north. Crops requiring even less water should be grown
on the dry sector between Zarzal and Cartago, which has a very permeable
soil.
The growers of tobacco have always had to contend with government
taxes so high as to be almost prohibitive. As early as 1766 the tax was so
high that the producers were on the ragged edge of existence, and it was
decided that the only way to increase taxes was to tax the buyers and
sellers of tobacco rather than to tax the growers further.'1
But the producers kept working in spite of the Wars of Independence,
and were in a position to export tobacco when Spanish vigilance was
broken down. In 1823 Mollien wrote, "The commerical transactions [of
Cali] are at present frequent and important, thanks to the tobacco of
Llano Grande, a village situated between Caloto and Buga; it is exported
to Peru and to Panama, where it is highly esteemed. Where produced it
sells for two piastres the arroba [25 lbs.]; in Panama it sells for 6 reales a
pound.""
10 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 474.
Op. cit., p. 474.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


For many decades after the wars with Spain, the growing of tobacco
was one of the principal agricultural enterprises of the Cauca Valley.
Palmira was an especially thriving center. Good seed was selected, and the
finest soil was used, and an effort made to put out the best cured tobacco.
Unfortunately the reaction to high profits was that producers began to
exert less care to market a choice article; they were interested only in
quantity and sold as much as possible of all grades. The buyers bought
up everything they could because that made an impression on the home
office. But the consumer is the final court of appeal, as was shown in the
drop in prices which followed upon the lowering of quality. In a few years
the price of 100 Palmira cigars was only one peso, against 7 pesos for 100
Ambalema cigars.12
In 1892 Colombia exported tobacco to the amount of 20,000,000 pesos,
and for decades this product was the economic life blood of the country.
Only toward the end of the last century did coffee and quinine outrank
it in value. In 1892 the exported surplus was greater than the entire 1942
crop. In 1940 there were only 973 hectares in tobacco in the Valley. This
is an example of what taxes, monopolies and poor marketing practices can
achieve. Tobacco taxes were first established by the departments in 1909,
and they have been increased each year since that date. But as the taxes
have risen, the price paid the grower has decreased in proportion. In other
words, what should be paid by the consumer is paid by the farmer. Mean-
time foreign tobacco enjoys a field day because once it hurdles the customs
it has no consumer's tax to pay and can compete very well with the local
product.
The growing of corn has always been a decisive factor in the develop-
ment of agriculture in the Valley, as indeed in most of tropical America.
It adjusts readily to various climatic zones, types of soil and systems of
cultivation, and it is found from sea level to elevations of 6,000 to 8,000
feet. Most forested land that is to be brought into production is first planted
in corn, which pays the cost in great part of felling the forest and pre-
paring the land that is ultimately put in pasture or other crops. Since corn
matures in the Valley in about 120 days, it is possible to grow at least
two crops a year, and yields are relatively high (2,000 kilos or more per
hectare) and the quality good. With more efficient methods of cultivation
and with better selection of seed, or the use of hybrids, it would be possible
to lay the basis of a profitable hog raising industry. One essential will be
the better storing of corn, a quarter of which is now estimated to be de-
stroyed annually by the weevil. If it were possible to store corn without
losses, the great annual fluctuations in price could be partly avoided. During
12 El Ferrocarril, Cali, April 23, 1897, num. 717.







AGRICULTURE


the harvest, corn is sometimes quoted at $2.00 the carga (125 kilos), only
to sell at seven times that amount shortly thereafter. Production for the
Valley in 1943 was estimated at 64,000 tons. A large part of the produc-
tion is processed in local maicena, or corn starch, factories.
Coffee (Coffea arabica), was introduced into Colombia shortly after 1724.
It was apparently first cultivated by the Jesuits in their missions on the
eastern Llanos, and later in the Seminario of Popayin. Coffee cultivation
on a large scale began in southern Colombia, in the deep valleys which
radiate from the plateau of Pasto. It gradually extended northward along
the forested higher slopes bordering the Patia, Cauca, and Magdalena
rivers. The higher slopes of the Andean ranges, with an average tempera-
ture between 65 and 77 degrees, an average annual rainfall of about 80
inches, and a soil of decomposed volcanic rocks, offered optimum con-
ditions for coffee growing. The rugged terrain was favorable for the devel-
opment of small plot farming, and all the members of the farm family
took part in establishing and caring for the plantation, as well as in pick-
ing the berries and preparing them for market.
Coffee, since about 1900, has been the foundation stone of the Colombian
economy. It is a shrub that grows on almost any tropic hillside, where
rainfall and shade trees are abundant. Hence no great skill is required
on the part of the coffee grower. Most coffee plants are set out as volun-
teers, and are merely reset from under the mother bush where the beans
fall and germinate naturally. A summary cleaning may be given a few times
a year to keep down weeds, but millions of trees never get a hoeing of any
kind. Coffee makes an ideal cash crop, for a small amount suffices to bring
in the money for minimal household needs.
In 1938-39 the Cauca Valley produced 525,615 60-kilo sacks of coffee,
and in 1942-43, 686,424 sacks, or 12.69% and 12.86% of the national
production.13
During the years from 1850 to 1870, when foreign trade was in its early
phases, there were only two other products besides tobacco that continued
to be increasingly exported. One of these was hides, which were exported
in 1846 to the value of 130,000 pesos, and in 1866, to the value of 400,000;
the other was coffee, the exports of which were worth only 23,000 pesos
in 1845, and 70,000 in 1870. From this modest beginning, coffee has become
the most important crop in the economy of Colombia.
Fortunately the Cauca Valley does not lean too heavily on the coffee
crop for its support. It was to be hoped that as a result of the high prices
for all crops during the World War II years, coffee plantations of poor
yield could be abandoned, and other crops could be fostered. Unfortunately,
'z Colombia en Cifras, Bogota, 1944, p. 91.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


coffee production has increased. However, the money accumulated during
the war years, once prices begin to decline, might be invested in introducing
new crops, or in establishing new industries.
The spokesmen of the Coffee Growers Association were somewhat bitter
and resentful about their situation after the end of World War II; they
are now completely at the mercy of the United States as regards the price
they can expect for their product. The European countries are no longer
in a position to bid against the United States as formerly, with the result
that coffee producers must take what the United States offers, or nothing;
at the same time, those countries that get most of their foreign exchange
through selling coffee must accept whatever manufactured goods the
United States is able or willing to send them, a patent reason why the
unindustrialized countries are desirous of establishing their own industries.
Beans are consumed in considerable quantities by the Colombians, in
hot, cool and cold climates. The plant thrives in various climatic zones,
it can be used in a system of interculture in the growing of other crops,
especially corn, and it has the advantage of enriching the soil in which it
grows with nitrogen, because it has the capacity of taking nitrogen from
the air and fixing it in the soil as a plant nutrient. It is a valuable crop in
a system of rotation, and when planted with other crops it helps to keep
down the weeds. The Experiment Station at Palmira has been instrumental
in trying out introduced beans and in distributing seeds of the better va-
rieties to interested farmers. The result has been a steadily increasing
acreage and very favorable results. The 55,000 tons of beans produced in
Colombia during the year 1943, represented an increase of almost 100%
over the 27,000 tons raised five years earlier. The largest producer
in Colombia is the Valley, which contributed 25,000 metric tons in
1943. Beans are an important part of the popular diet in the Valley, as else-
where.
Cacao was a tree crop of importance during the Colonial Epoch and on
to the end of the nineteenth century. Although records are scarce, it ap-
pears that there were no plantations devoted exclusively to cacao. During
the early years of this century it was exported in small quantities, and kept
mainly for domestic use, and even today it is used to make a beverage by
those who have access to it. Several factors have been responsible for the
decline in production.
The cacao tree is slow growing. Hence only those who have land and
capital, and who can afford to wait for returns on an investment, can
engage in production. The great landlords of colonial times had the neces-
sary land and labor. They not infrequently granted slaves their independ-
ence for planting a given number of trees. The slaves naturally were in-
terested in doing their work as fast as possible; consequently trees were







AGRICULTURE


planted too close together, and the plantations were never properly thin-
ned out later. Further, the cacao plantations were originally planted on
the higher land, on the gently sloping alluvial fans on the eastern side of
the Cauca, precisely those areas which have in the course of time been
cleared for pasturelands or for other crops, with the result that the cacao
plantations have been pushed toward the river where soil drainage is
poorer.
Very little attention was paid to soil characteristics when the trees were
planted. Some soils, underlain with gravel or sand, were too dry during
periods of drought, and the heavy sandless loams were often too wet during
the wet seasons. The water table was constantly fluctuating with con-
sequent bad results for the sensitive cacao. And the general deforestation
has meant that the insects which are necessary for pollenization are no
longer as numerous as they once were.
General deforestation has had its bad results in the production of cacao,
as in most other crops. Over fifty years ago, an editorial called attention
to the fact that "recently these extensive and productive plantations
[along the Cauca near Roldanillo] have suffered greatly from the inunda-
tions of the river, which formerly were either unknown or very rare; they
also suffer from the competition of the plantations of Palmira, Santander
and Cali.""4 The inundations of increasing magnitude gradually drove the
cacao tree from the vicinity of the river, and those plantations survived
which were given at least a modicum of care.
Forking is a common practice in many tropical American cacao orchards.
A short-handled fork with strong prongs is thrust, by hand and foot, ver-
tically into the earth, not too close to the trunk base; the handle is then
moved backward and forward till the tines are loosened in the soil, then
taken out. These tine holes let the air down six or eight inches beneath
the surface, no roots are broken, and the enlarged tine holes fill gradually
with fine surface silt and humous particles, held where the feeding roots
can utilize them.
It was also customary at one time to have hogs in the cacao orchards,
because, while digging for grubs, they aerated the cacao roots. Cacao
must have much care. The old planters in Trinidad say that "Old Mis'
Cocoa, she likes 'e sound' o' de human voice," and it is a fact that those
trees near the huts, which receive much attention, bear twice as much as
those farther away.
In 1941, twenty municipios in the Valley produced 4,200,000 kilos of
cacao. Technicians working in the Experiment Station of Palmira are of
the opinion that production could be greatly increased, probably doubled,
if proper attention were paid to present and future plantations. At pres-
14 El Ferrocarril, Cali, Feb. 24, 1893.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


ent the average yield per tree in the Valley is one kilo, which is the highest
in the country. Many trees, however, produce 3 or 4 kilos annually; yet
little attempt is made to start future plantations from these trees. For-
tunately the fungus known as "witches' broom" (escoba de bruja), has not
attacked the trees in the Valley, fortified by its special climate and eleva-
tion. Trees from the Amazon Basin, resistant to the fungus, have been
brought to the Palmira Station, where cuttings are being propagated
that can be sent to those zones badly hit by the disease, especially
Tumaco.
Colombia, the home of fine cacao, possesses extensive tracts of soil in
climatic zones eminently suitable for cacao growing; yet in 1941 more than
three million kilos of cacao were imported from abroad, all of which could
have been produced within the country.
The grape vine was introduced into Colombia shortly after the expulsion
of the Spaniards, by a few missionaries and scattered religious communities.
It was able to thrive on the fertile alluvial fans where irrigation was pos-
sible. Father Arango, in the garden of the Franciscans in TuluA, acclima-
tized the vine, learned the technique of its cultivation in a new environ-
ment, and generously gave cuttings of it to those interested in beginning
cultivation. This was in the early nineteenth century. Many plants in iso-
lated patios have produced small quantities of grapes over a period of
years, as well as shoots to start new vineyards, but only on a very small
scale. Grapes were a house crop, watered, pruned and tended by mem-
bers of the family. Wine was produced occasionally, but never in com-
merical quantities.
Early in the twentieth century vineyards were planted with an eye to
the market in Palmira, Guacari, Cerrito, Yumbo and Buga. But this va-
riety, known as "Morada Comercial", had a thick skin, was very low in
sugar content, and had a pulp which lacked firmness. In spite of these
disadvantages this grape found a ready market. Recently various species
of the famous Muscatel have been imported, and these fine varieties have
shown themselves to be just as productive and as resistant to fungus dis-
eases as the less desirable "Morada Comercial" or "Isabela." Further,
the Muscatel grapes are at a premium as table grapes and bring three or
four times as much per kilo as other varieties.
The best location for present and prospective vineyards is the gently
sloping area at the foot of the Western and Central Cordilleras. The al-
luvial fans deposited by the streams which empty into the Cauca have
the rich friable soil with permeable sandy or even gravelly subsoil which
is ideal for grape culture. Nearer the Cauca the soil is more compact and
the poorer drainage is not conducive to the growing of the grape. Farther
up, on the steeper slopes of the foothills, the soil is thin and irrigation








AGRICULTURE


water is not available. Particularly on the eastern flank of the Western
Cordillera, the percentage of possible sunshine is high.
Since towns and villages have grown up almost exclusively on the al-
luvial fans, the introduction of grape culture, once shown to be remunera-
tive, has not been difficult. Bolivar, Buga, Tulug, and Palmira are already
engaged in the production of fine table grapes, but the caring for vine-
yards on a large scale has barely been undertaken. Most of the grapes are
produced under a system of household industry. The man of the house, or
his wife and children, spend their spare time cultivating the five to fifty
grape vines growing in their patio. The transformation of this household
industry into a large-scale commercial enterprise will not be easy. First
of all, it will call for the training of intelligent, patient, hard working per-
sonnel-always a slow process.
The problems attendant upon grape growing in the tropics are being
confronted and solved in the state-financed Experimental Vineyard at
Bolivar begun under the direction of Dr. Ceferino Gonzalez, a Spaniard
with a lifetime of experience in grape culture. Once more it was Dr. Ciro
Molina Garces who was instrumental in placing the proper emphasis on
this important branch of agricultural development. Although in the tropics
grapes give two harvests a year instead of only one, as in the middle lat-
itudes, many handicaps are met with in tropical grape growing. The rain-
fall and temperature regime is by no means always predictable, and fungus
diseases develop rapidly; it is, moreover, difficult to practice grafting be-
cause the plants have no marked dormant season. In spite of these dif-
ficulties, progress has been made. Don Ceferino, in the course of eight
months, was able to give out to potential grapegrowers in the Valley, over
12,000 high-grade vines, properly rooted, and hence potential producers.
Even the local religious leaders became interested in this campaign; the
priest in one village gave as penance for lesser sins the cultivation and
care of three, five or ten grapevines, as the case might warrant.
In 1946 it was estimated that there were some 60,000 to 70,000 stocks
of grapes in the Valley (50,000 at Cerrito alone), to be augmented by at
least 100,000-probably 200,000-more plants in the next two years.
The nursery at Bolivar had on hand at all times from 20,000 to 30,000
plants for distribution, and about 1,000 vines which are about to begin
producing. Their produce should pay in a short time most of the expenses
of the Experimental Vineyard. Emphasis is being placed upon the "Mos-
catel Morada" variety, a fast growing plant which produces much fruit
and which is resistant to fungus. Some samples of the fruit, eaten at the
Vineyard, had as fine a flavor as I have ever tasted. Small wonder that
these grapes sell for one peso the pound. This variety is a heavy producer
(at least 25 Ibs. per plant a year, from the age of three years to possibly







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


twenty or twenty-five years) and even if an increase in production brings
about a decline in the price of table grapes to as little as one-third of the
present price, the money to be made from a diminutive vineyard of only
100 vines would still be considerable.
Although vineyards on a large scale continue to be developed in many
parts of the Valley, up to the present time barely enough fine table grapes
have been produced to meet the demand. It is hoped that in a not too
distant future increased production will mean an ample supply of grapes
to be used in wine making as well. In anticipation of this development,
Don Jos6 Sugrafies, a Catalan with many years' experience in the wine
business, established a wine cellar (Vifieria del Valle) in Buga, the first
of its kind in the Republic of Colombia. However, the demand for table
grapes is still so great that the growing of wine grapes is not extensively
considered, and it is almost prohibitive to buy eating grapes for the making
of wine. Nevertheless, this industry, now fast expanding, is already a great
boon to the economy of the Valley; not only does it make the Valley to
some measure independent of imported wines, but it also produces vinegar
and the extracts for flavoring local rums.
An expansion of fruit growing is one of the first requirements of the Val-
ley, to put fruit within reach of the thin purses of the poorer classes, who
need it most. Oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons, which are gravely
lacking in the local diet, prosper in the Valley. Mangoes, avocados and
nuts also grow exceptionally well, and are of excellent flavor, but they, too,
are now hard to find. There should also be an emphasis on the growing of
vegetable crops in order to break the monotony of the present diet and to
provide a better balanced ration. Cabbage, cauliflower and legumes are
rare. Food crops in the first instance should include bananas, plantains,
the root crops, yucca, yams, sweet potatoes, tannias, dasheens, eddoes,
as well as corn, rice, and other tropical grain crops, while gradually the
leguminous crops should be introduced to provide a more balanced diet.
It will need many years of development before the choicer middle-latitude
vegetables become popular. Meanwhile every improvement in the diet
of the people increases their productive capacity.
There is much to do if the present state of agriculture is to be improved:
soils should be classified, tilling techniques bettered, and seeds carefully
selected; proper rotation, drainage or irrigation practices should be
initiated.
But technical progress is difficult without an extension of credit to the
small farmer and without the organization of a producers' cooperative,
such as exists, for example, in the coffee industry.
The process of deforestation has been going on for over four hundred
years, while the consequences have become more and more acute as the







AGRICULTURE


demand for wood and charcoal increased with the growth in population.
We read that in Call over fifty years ago "wood used as fuel, which was
formerly burned in this city for domestic uses, in forges, and in the making
of tiles and bricks, is almost completely gone."'6 It was urgently recom-
mended that locally mined coal be used to complement the dwindling
supply of firewood which was "no longer to be found at less than a league
from the city."'" At the present time one must go many leagues from the
city for firewood, in spite of the greatly increased consumption of coal,
and during the dry season the deforested hills are sear and barren and the
stream beds are converted into mud flats, while during the periods of
rainfall they are swollen with great quantities of silt-laden water.
The migrant patch agriculturalist does not know or care that on a 45%
slope the run-off from bare soil is twenty-five times greater than from soil
covered with a paspalum grass. Once begun, soil erosion is cumulative; both
volume and velocity of run-off rapidly increase. A nation-wide effort should
be made to develop fruit orchards, tree crops, bamboo thickets17 and re-
taining pastures on hill sides. The farmers who at present occupy steep
slopes should be removed, if they cannot and will not conform to zoning
regulation.
It has been pointed out that native agriculture in Indo-Latin America
is self-limiting. Thirty years ago Cook noted that "Large areas of the
higher slopes [of southern Peru] that appear to have been cultivated in-
tensively in former times are now completely sterile and abandoned. Thus
Peru may be said to afford... striking evidence... of the fact that the
primitive agricultural civilizations were not permanent, but of limited
duration. Eventually the soil became unsuited to cultivation by the native
methods."8 The encroachment in the Cauca Valley of the great estates
upon the fertile level land forced the use of native methods of agriculture
over an ever-increasing area of steep slopes. These wasteful methods of
cultivation must be abandoned in favor of methods conducive to a per-
manent form of agriculture.
Past systems of agricultural economy have left their traces on the vege-
tation: deforestation has been carried to extremes. The steep deforested
flanks of the Cordilleras have been delivered up to the ferocity of the
torrential rains and floods of the tropics. The streams which should be a
perpetual source of fertility and of water for irrigation have covered many
fields with infertile stone. Stream regulation and reforestation must be
15 El Ferrocarril, Call, April 22, 1892, num. 478.
16 Ibid.
17 D. G. White and N. F. Childers, "Bamboo for Controlling Erosion," Journal
of the American Society of Agronomy, Vol. 37, no. 10, 1945, pp. 839-847.
18 0. F. Cook, "Agriculture and Native Vegetation in Perd," Journal of the Wash-
ington Academy of Sciences, Vol. VI, no. 10, 1916, p. 293.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


effected by modern intelligent man in order to restore the ancient order of
nature, an order that is not with impunity disturbed.
It is naturally a difficult thing to change a nation's crops and cropping
methods; yet the Danes, for instance, successfully made the shift from
extensive grain cultivation to intensive cattle raising and dairying, be-
cause the whole government policy was focused in that direction. Agri-
cultural high schools were established to assist the people in learning the
new business.
The mountain slopes of Colombia have a thin soil, and they have been
"desertized" on a large scale by the removal of the protective cover af-
forded by forest and scrub, and by the exhausting of the thin layer of
humus, a process that is accompanied by, and that at the same time pro-
gressively aggravates, destructive erosion. Lime trees are well adapted to
unirrigated hillsides. Some of the best navel oranges in the world are
grown near Palmira. The orchard of Dr. Carlos Durin Castro near Bugala-
grande has papaya, grapefruit, orange, lemon and mandarin trees, bearing
excellent fruits. The whole Valley could be a veritable Garden of Eden.
Guadua bamboos are already used in house building, and for fence posts,
flower pots, etc. Introduced types of multiple-purpose bamboos might be
used in hillside plantings. Their extensive root system acts as an effective
check to erosion; their wood might be used in the making of furniture and
in countless other ways, and their shoots for food. A plant of the Amaryllis
family called fique (Furcraea gigantea Vent.), thrives well in arid and rocky
soil, needs almost no care, and is the principal source of the fiber used
locally in sack-making.
Eucalyptus globulus, from the leaves of which eucalyptus oil is distilled,
could be much more extensively planted as an ornamental; at the same
time it would serve for reforestation purposes, as well as for commerical
exploitation.
The Sub-Andean belt, once known as the "Cinchona Zone", for here
grew naturally many of the original species that produce the Cinchona
bark from which quinine is made, is indicated for the propagation of the
best varieties of this useful tree. A hundred and twenty-five years ago
Pitaion (probably the Pitay6 of today) was celebrated for the quinine
collected in its vicinity, which in quality was said to equal that of Loja
in Ecuador. It was sold at two piastras the arroba.19 Digitalis and Remijia
might be grown at higher mountain levels. Remijia pedunculata, large
stands of which are located on the west slopes of the Eastern Andes north
or Bucaramanga, gives up to 3% of quinine sulphate. Cinchona pitayensis
was rediscovered in the Central Andes in the Cauca province, where it
19 G. Mollien, op. cit., pp. 288-289.








AGRICULTURE


had once been relatively abundant.20 It is a species very rich in alkaloid,
averaging 3% quinine sulphate and 5-6% total alkaloids. Large forests of
these trees, planted at government expense, would mean putting money
in the bank at a high rate of interest.
The wild pineapple (Ananas magdalense), of Central America, which
yields a fine strong silky fiber, resistant to salt water, might advanta-
geously be introduced into this section. The steep dry slopes of the eastern
flank of the Western Cordillera would be ideally fitted for the growing of
fique plants, which also yield useful fibers.
The conservation of water is equally important. People claim that the
actual rainfall has decreased within their lifetime. While the point is de-
batable, the policy of unchecked deforestation in Colombia, resulting in
the destruction, over large areas, of trees, in order to provide pastures,
has diminished the value of the rain that does fall, through failure of the
land to conserve more than a small portion of the water. The clearing of
trees has exposed the soil to the sun and has increased the rate of evapora-
tion from the ground, thus changing the climate.2 The loss of forest litter
which once acted as a check on the flow of water now leaves the storm
water free to flow rapidly down to the streams, washing with it the valu-
able top layer of soil and debris, as can be seen in the muddy flood current
of the small rivers after each storm.
Water for irrigation purposes on the lower slopes of the foot hills and
the upper more permeable sectors of the alluvial fans which form a frame
around the level low-lying valley of the Cauca, could be stored in the upper
reaches of the streams tributary to the Cauca. Southwest of Cali it would
be possible to irrigate large tracts of good land along the mountain front,
if water were stored behind dams, on the Timba, Guacinte, Claro and
Jamundi rivers. A dam on the Rio Palo would store water for use on the
western flank of the Central Cordillera south of Palmira. The Cauca River
itself could be dammed just south of Suarez, and, according to the pro-
ject, over 100,000 kilowatts would be produced-many times what will
be produced at Anchicays (cf. pp. 93ff.). The power feature is extremely
important in the industrialization of the area, and the dam would regulate
stream flow. Disastrous floods would be eliminated and water for irriga-
tion would be available. This is the project of La Salvajina.
The upset in the delicate adjustment between rainfall, run-off and the
forest cover, brought about by the deforestation of the steep mountain
20 W. C. Steere, "The Botanical Work of the Cinchona Missions in South America,"
Science, Feb. 16, 1945, Vol. 101, pp. 177-178.
21 On the trail between the Calima River and the Carretera al Mar, those sectors
which had been cleared for a strip some 10 to 15 meters wide were markedly dry com-
pared to the uncleared stretches, where the ground underfoot was damp and soggy.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


slopes by shifting agriculturalists, using the most primitive farming tech-
niques and having no idea of erosion control, has resulted in floods of un-
precedented proportions on the smooth valley floor where there is little
gradient. Fertile cropland has been covered with worthless stone, and
stagnant marshes left behind by the receding river, make breeding places
during the dry season for the malarial mosquito. The Cauca Valley has
problems, though on a smaller scale, similar to those of the Lower Missis-
sippi Valley.
Maladjustments are the products of slow natural economic and social
changes that take place over decades or even over centuries of time. The
result may be farms so small as to be uneconomical to operate, as in many
parts of Europe, or so large as to be incapable, in view of the land tenure
system, of being tilled intensively, as in most of Latin America. In either
case, houses may be poorly located with reference to potential markets,
the transportation net may be inadequate, and the population in the area
may be greater than is needed to carry on the agricultural work, in view
of the large areas that are given over to great estates. In the foregoing
pages a rapid survey has been attempted of conditions as they are in the
Cauca Valley at present, and of the interaction of physical and human
factors that account for their evolution. The whole set of situations, in-
stitutionalized over past centuries, which now tends to thwart the people
of the Cauca Valley in their desires and attempts to achieve a modern
way of life in a modern world, should, by a process of education, be made
more flexible. Certain suggestions, as refers to agricultural crops, have
been proposed. The vital subject of animal crops likewise demands review.
The marked emphasis on the cattle industry in the New World must be
examined in the light of social and economic conditions in the mother
country. The owners of sheep ranches in Spain had for centuries had a
strangle hold on the organization called the Mesta, which tended to make
a private grazing reserve of the country, where those engaged in sedentary
agriculture were at the mercy of the stockmen. The ranchers became a
power to be reckoned with, whereas the cultivators of crops sank to an
ever more lowly economic and social status. Hence the under-privileged
who came to the New World-penniless adventurers, impecunious noble-
men and half-starved peasants-had been conditioned by the social and
economic environment: the weak and lowly were those engaged in growing
food crops because the powerful stockmen had been able to inherit the
earth. With this background it was only natural that those who in the
New World sought for wealth in land, had visions of broad acres on which
pastured great herds of sheep or other livestock.
Sheep did not thrive in tropical and subtropical America, whereas cattle
did-so well, indeed, that in a few years thousands of them in a semi-wild








AGRICULTURE


state roamed the grasslands, and in some instances the forests, over ex-
tensive areas of the far-flung Spanish Empire.22 It was a logical step to
begin killing these animals for food. Once their value was recognized, the
land on which they grazed achieved value, and it was even worthwhile to
have a few workers around who could give the animals some care and drive
them to market. But the land was in the hands of the few, and it was the
few again who benefited from the ranching industry. Firmly entrenched in
possession of the land and, in many cases, during the Republican regime,
in political power as well, the cattlemen became an inherently conservative
class battling to the last ditch to preserve the status quo. The mentality of
the rancher has survived to the present day in many sectors of Latin
America, irrespective of the capacity of the soil for more intensive use.
The system of great landed estates introduced by the Spaniards was
favorable to the development of an economy of extensive grazing of cattle,
which early became the most important activity in the Valley. There has
even here and there in some cases been a retrograde economic movement,
i.e., land has moved from a higher to a lower use, viz., from cacao planta-
tions to pasturelands.
In 1718 there was an order of the alcaldes, or mayors, that prohibited
the wanton killing of the few milch cows of the town that occasionally
wandered into the gardens of their owners' neighbors. Cows were valuable
because "provisions were scarce and there were many children of tender
age; owners of milch cows were to fence their pastures, but if the stock got
out, that fact was merely to be reported to the magistrate, and no one must
dare to kill the aforementioned cows".23
Not only were cows being slaughtered, but steers as well, and the meat
was being sent to the Choc6, where it fetched high prices in the mines. The
authorities in Cali were alarmed because more cattle were being slaughtered
each year than were being replaced by the natural increase of the herds.
The people of Cali were experiencing a meat shortage that threatened to
be more acute in the future.
Throughout most of the Colonial Epoch cattlemen tended to become
monopolists and to charge exorbitant prices for meat; they were curbed
by municipal leaders who designated the number of cattle each hacendado,
or landowner, should supply, at the same time fixing the ceiling price of
meat. During the Wars of Independence almost all the cattle were con-
sumed, yet meat was selling for the small sum of 6 reales the arroba at the
beginning of the Republican regime. Purchasing power on the part of the
common people, however, was so low as to be almost nil. All during the
early stormy days of the Republic the price of meat was low, and as late
22 Ysabel F. Rennie, The Argentine Republic, New York, 1945, p. 66. W. Adolphe
Roberts, The Caribbean, New York, 1940, pp. 136-137.
23 Gustavo Arboleda, op. cit., p. 249.







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


as 1854 it was selling for only 8 reales the arroba. Even after the long and
disastrous revolution of 1860, the most destructive of all, meat brought
only 12 reales the arroba. But in 1875, after many years of peace, when the
pastures were full of fat cattle, meat rose in price to 3 pesos 20 centavos
the arroba, and a cow with calf sold for 60 pesos. Another price rise signalled
the period of peace that ended in 1890. There seems to be a direct correla-
tion between the years of peace and the high prices of meat, explainable,
no doubt, on the basis that the apparent security of peaceful times was a
temptation for the cattlemen to make as much money as they could. One
wonders if these high prices, putting meat out of the reach of the poor
and the landless, was not one reason for the ease with which revolutions
could be started. Local caudillos, or chiefs, who understood the meaning
and working of authority, were not above using the discontented in their
attempts to increase their sphere of influence; provincial leaders who
could organize large bands of followers could even hope to enter the presi-
dential palace. For their part, the hungry, the landless, the unemployed,
welcomed any change which brought with it the possibility of getting more
food by the simple process of taking it. In sum, the Republican regime of
the nineteenth century was not farsighted. Forced provisioning of towns
and established price ceilings had proved their worth under the Spaniards.
Barriga llena, corazon content, as the saying is-"A full stomach maketh
the mind content."
The growth of pastoralism in the Valley, and its emphasis on extensive
land use, was traced in the chapter on land tenure. As indicated, a certain
intensification of land use is taking place today. Less than thirty years
ago Hernando Caicedo, founded the dairy of Riopaila. His first task was to
bring together in one herd the best native cows he could buy in the Valley.
With these as a base he imported five Holstein bulls and began to improve
the stock. By saving only those that produced at high levels and breeding
them with pure-blood bulls, he developed an excellent type of milch cow,
some seventy-five of which, by 1946, were installed in the new dairy barns
of La Fortaleza, which is devoted to the intensified production of certified
milk. A resident veterinary is in charge of the herd, which is fed corn en-
silage and other concentrates. Three concrete silos of 180 tons capacity
were early installed, capable of feeding 100 cows each for 90 days, and ex-
pansion has continued at a rapid rate. The bottling room is well equipped
to put out certified milk. This dairy stands as a model of what can be done
in the way of intensifying land use and of adjusting domestic animals in
the Valley.
As farming intensifies, particularly in the production of milk for the
growing towns, more and more attention will be paid to the soilage, as
opposed to the grazing system of feeding stock, particularly when the







AGRICULTURE


pastures are dry. Under the soilage system, the cows are kept partially
or permanently housed in stables and all their fodder is cut for them.
Guatemala grass and some of the seedling sugar cane varieties may prove
useful under these conditions. Professor Pound, of the Imperial College
of Agriculture of Trinidad, reports that the Uba variety of sugar cane for
dry-season feeding is one of the favorite fodders in Trinidad; he also sug-
gests the planting of leguminous crops such as Dolichos hosei through the
fodder fields, to add to the palatability and protein content of the standard
grasses. The value of forage trees is admirably demonstrated on the estate
of Dr. Ciro Molina Garc6s, but this example is not being generally fol-
lowed. Elephant grass, suitable for slopes, can also be used in the cam-
paign against soil erosion.
An important by-product of the soilage system is cattle manure, which
could be used in the improvement of forage crops.' The aim of the dairy-
man is to maintain as many heads of cattle per hectare as possible, which
in turn depends largely on how much protein can be grown per hectare of
fodder. The weight of protein could very likely be greatly increased by
applications of animal manure and the use of legume crops, notably alfalfa.
The abundant water resources of the Valley could be used to generate
electricity at low cost with which to run an atmospheric nitrogen-fixing
plant to produce ammonia for use as a fertilizer.
In order to get the most out of the herds, they should be carefully bred
so as to be not only well adjusted to the climate but capable of yielding a
maximum of milk or meat, depending on their purpose. One expert writes:
"Although the capacity to withstand considerable heat is primarily a
physiological function, certain morphological characters as coat color,
color of skin, and length and thickness of hair coat contribute to the ca-
pacity to thrive in a tropical environment. Cattle with the lighter coat
colors, as the white of the Brahman or the fawn of the Jersey, throw off a
much larger proportion of the intense solar heat than cattle with deep-
colored or black coats. Short hair and pigmented skin are also important.
Short hair facilitates body heat elimination. Bonsma has shown with cattle
in South Africa that the Africaner has only 0.1 by weight as much hair as
the exotic Shorthorn. A deeply pigmented skin beneath the hair coat im-
pedes the penetration of strong solar rays that cause skin burns in animals
with nonpigmented skins. Breeds native to the tropics, such as the Brah-
man, and the Criollo, that have through the centuries become acclimated
to warm climates, have short hair coats, pigmented skins, usually are
gray or cream colored, and most important, are physiologically adjusted
to warm climates. All these add up to demonstrated heat tolerance and
adaptability to a tropical environment.
"The established native breeds and those carrying Brahman blood are







CAUCA VALLEY LAND TENURE


genetically adjusted to warm climates but many are low producers of the
products for which they are kept. The problem of the animal breeder is to
develop in these breeds greater specialization in meat or milk production
without materially reducing their superior adaptability. The amount of
heat tolerance to retain or to breed into cattle depends upon the severity
of the climatic conditions. In the subtropical Gulf coast region of the
United States, one-fourth Brahman and three-fourths European breeding
is sufficient. As the climate approaches true tropical conditions a greater
proportion of Brahman breeding, or native breeding carrying equivalent
heat tolerance, would be necessary to insure satisfactory adjustment. To
have animals genetically adjusted to the environment is a primary pre-
requisite to any successful cattle breeding program directed toward in-
creasing production."24
Selection within native types of animals should be carried further. The
Blanco-oreji-negro and the Romu-Sinuano are good examples of locally
developed thoroughbreds. Native types are already adapted to the local
environment, but progress could be greatly speeded up if grading up of
stock were carried out with already improved types, provided the im-
proved types meet the Valley's needs and are adapted to the environment.
Rapid improvement will come through the breeding of improved males
with large numbers of native females. Those grades that carry enough
improved breeding to give satisfactory performance and produce at higher
levels than the native stock should be further developed into a new type.
Inbreeding might be useful in the improved stocks as a means of increasing
the homozygosity in outstanding strains. Livestock improvement will
depend both upon the adoption of sound genetic approaches to breeding
problems and upon improving the environment. The improvement of
livestock and increase in their numbers, are indispensable factors in the
development of a well-rounded agriculture and a balanced national
economy.
As a result of even a limited amount of intensification, the number of
cattle in the Valley increased from 526,821 in 1932 to 794,448 in 1942.
There were 101,155 cattle slaughtered in the Valley in 1942 and 71,181
hogs.25 Yet the annual consumption of meat per capital in the whole Re-
public is but 18.3 kilos, which, in view of the fact that many millions rarely
eat meat, shows a very high consumption for the few who do.
Aquatic cultures, as an additional source for protein foods, have been
neglected all over the world except in certain sections of Malaya and south-
eastern Asia. Some seventy-five botanical species serve as crops that may
be grown in flowing or stagnant water. These aquatic crops require little
24 C. M. Wilson, New Crops For The New World, New York, 1945, p. 51.
25 Anuario General de Estadistica, 1942, p. 208.







AGRICULTURE 87

attention, take up no valuable ground, and allow the water to be used
also for fish culture. In many parts of the Orient, the Chinese raise enor-
mous numbers of ducks, using a special sort of duck-weed for pasturage.
Select strains of the weed will form a dense green mat over the surface in
four or five weeks from sowing, and the flock of ducks is moved from one
pond to another as fast as the growth is consumed. Fish may be raised
in the same ponds. Carp-like species are purely herbivorous, but offal
from the ducks, if dressed on the farm, feeds those fish which require some-
thing besides the plant growths.
In the countless ponds along the Cauca this art of raising meat for
human food could perhaps be practiced on a large scale. Food resources
and family budgets would thereby be greatly increased.
It is also possible to make the keeping of chickens universal, and to
increase the consumption of eggs. Conditions are such that the chickens
do not have to be fed intensively, and they may easily prove to be the
cheapest source of animal protein.










CHAPTER VII


INDUSTRY
Powdered milk. Chocolate. Tobacco. Tannin. Fiber. Citrus fruits.
Metal products. Minor industries. River regimes, dams and hydro-
electric power. Future outlook.
Industry, the very life-blood of material progress all over the world,
has suffered neglect in the Spanish colonies, and even discrimination. One
of the features of the Spanish Colonial regime, strictly adhered to officially,
was the policy of exclusion of foreigners. By Royal Decree of April 25,
1736, foreigners of all nationalities were prohibited from entering, living
and marrying in, and from carrying on trade in the Spanish Dominions.
Even those foreigners already in the Spanish Empire were supposed to re-
turn to their homelands. But, in accordance with the watchword of Belal-
cizar, se obedece pero no se cumple (obedience in act but not in fact), the
decree was not followed out. Traders, doctors, craftsmen and artisans of
foreign birth obtained permits from the local authorities to stay on; in
most cases they offered services that could be supplied by on one else.
Further, in the port towns lived many foreigners, a goodly number of whom
were engaged in contraband trade. Thus the cargoes carried by the Spanish
ships were subject to the payment of duties, whereas foreign goods came
in duty free. The result of the official policy was to curtail the amount of
Spanish-made goods which the New World could absorb, and a body blow
was dealt to industrial development in the Spanish Peninsula. At the
same time a premium was placed on smuggling and on smuggled goods and
a definite impetus was given the incipient industries of Great Britain and
the Netherlands.
Commerce and industry did not flourish in the Valley during the early
years. Its relative poverty in gold compelled its inhabitants to turn to
means of making a living other than mining: viz., farming and animal hus-
bandry. The shipping of food products to the mining population of the
Choc6, in spite of the handicaps of high taxes and poor roads, helped greatly
in establishing the agricultural foundations of the Valley. This relative
prosperity was in marked contrast to conditions in Antioquia, a province
that had produced 125,000,000 pesos in gold in two centuries. A priest
by the name of Finestrad, on a mission to that auriferous province in 1780,
wrote: "Until now it has been felt that the mining areas are the most happy
part of the colony. But I am of the opinion that they are the cause of the
marked backwardness of the provinces. Antioquia, which is loaded with
gold, is the poorest and most backward of all, in proportion to its wealth.








INDUSTRY


While on a mission in the field, poor people came to me in droves, burdened
with misery, in spite of being engaged in seeking for gold."'
Only a few Creole and Spanish families were enriched by the extrac-
tion of precious metals; the common people were poverty-stricken and
miserable. Even the mother country did not greatly benefit from the cur-
rent of gold from the New World, for it was not enough to pay the costs
of the wars in Europe and the expenses of the court. The lack of capital
accumulation in both the colonies and the mother country is the subject
of the well-known verse of Quevedo:

Poderoso Caballero es don Dinero
Nace en las Indias honrado;
Donde el mundo le accompafla;
Viene a morir en Espafia
Y es en Genova enterrado.
(A man of power is Mr. Money-
Of honorable birth in the Indies,
Where a worldly life he leads,
He comes to die in Mother Spain,
But in Genoa his bones are laid.)

Because of this consistent mercantilist policy which was practised during
the Republican regime, only recently has there been enough capital ac-
cumulation to stimulate industrial development. Nevertheless, industries,
although scarcely past their infancy in the Cauca Valley, and as yet based
almost exclusively on the processing of raw agricultural products, are
rapidly growing in importance: sugar-refining and the distillation of rum,
cigar and cigarette manufacture, coffee-roasting, dairy products and choco-
late making, spinning and weaving of cotton, the making of sacks and ropes,
tile- and brick-burning, lumbering, and the extraction of tannin from
mangrove bark.
One of the factors which has greatly accelerated the process of the
transformation of extensive pastoralism into dairying, an intensified form
of land use, was the construction of the first Nescaf6 (Nestl6) plant in
Colombia, in Bugalagrande, with a capacity for processing 40,000 liters of
milk a day. By June, 1946, an average of 6,000 kilos of raw milk a day were
being used in the plant, and this figure increases at a phenomenal rate
each year. It is significant that the factories are moving to the bulky raw
materials, rather than vice versa. It is profitable to ship fresh milk within a
certain radius of cities and towns, which are the large consuming centers
of raw milk, the length of the radius depending on the state of the roads
or trails, but beyond that radius it is economically preferable to con-
centrate the product for distribution. Bugalagrande, strategically located
I Pablo Vila, Una Nueva Georgrafia de Colombia, Bogota, 1945, p. 10.




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