CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY AND AGRARIAN REFORM
IN CHILE AND VENEZUELA
ELSA M. CHANEY
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
MASTER OF SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
My gratitude goes, first of all, to Mrs. Eugene J.
McCarthy who first kindled my interest in Latin American
Christian Democracy. Mrs. McCarthy accompanied her husband,
the United States Senator from Minnesota, to the Third World
Congress of Christian Democracy at Santiago, Chile, in 1961.
Conversations with her after this meeting and since on the
political situation in Latin America have been extremely
helpful to me.
I want also to thank most sincerely my adviser, Professor
Charles W. Anderson, for his counsel and assistance on this
project. His gracious willingness to listen, to clarify, to
suggest--and to object--have contributed significantly to
whatever may be valuable in this essay. He must not, however,
be held accountable for its shortcomings--some of which the
author hopes to overcome in a later study on the same subject.
Finally, my thanks are due Professor Raymond J. Penn and
the Land Tenure Center of the University of Wisconsin which
supported me during the past year of course work when this
essay was written. My particular gratitude must be given to
Professor Ronald J. Clark for his interest and advice, and
to Mr. William Thiesenhusen of the Land Tenure Center
economists' team at the Universidad de Chile for his great
kindness in tracking down and sending material.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . .. ii
LIST OF TABLES AND CHARTS. . . .. vi
INTRODUCTION . . . ...... ... .
I. AGRICULTURE, THE CRUCIAL QUESTION . 17
The Agricultural Lag in Latin America
Are Chile and Venezuela Underdeveloped?
Agriculture in Chile and Venezuela
The Tasks of Agriculture
Key to Agriculture's Progress: Land Reform
II. THE EUROPEAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS .. 48
The "Gestation Period"--1830-1919
Lammenais and L'Avenir
Lacordaire and L'Ere Nouvelle
Ozanam and Buchez
Von Ketteler and the German Social Catholics
Sturzo and the Partido Populaire
The Heirs of Social Catholicism
III. CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY IN LATIN AMERICA 70
Montevideo and "ODCA"
The Christian Democrats in Chile
Christian Democracy in Venezuela
The Social and Political Philosophy
Revolutionary, Not Traditional
Communitarian, Not Capitalist or Communist
Personalist, Not Collectivist or Individualist
IV. CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS AND AGRARIAN REFORM .... 109
The Catholic Teaching on Property
ODCA and Agrarian Reform
Venezuelan Agrarian Reform
Projected refonr in Chile
A Revolutionary Agrarian Reform?
A Comunitaarian System?
A Personalist Approach?
BIBLIOGRAEIPY . . . .. 145
LIST OF TABLES AND CHARTS
Table or Page
1. Major Christian Democratic Parties of Europe 6
2. Amount of Work Required to Buy Three Commodities 25
3. Christian Democratic Parties of Latin America. 75
4. Chiles Comparison of Popular Vote, Three Key
Elections . . . . 83
5. Chilean Parliament, 1961 and 1965 . 83
6. Organization of the Partido Democrata Cristiana
of Chile . . . . 96
As Latin America's first Christian Democratic President,
Eduardo Frei Montalva of Chile, begins a six-year term, there
is renewed interest--mingled with a certain amount of down-
right amazement--in the phoenix-like political movement to
which he belongs.
Why is Christian Democracy, which even its kindest
critics admit may have passed its apogee in Europe, suddenly
giving birth to new and vigorous offspring on another con-
tinent? Christian Democratic parties exist in various stages
of development in every one of the Latin American republics,
including such an unlikely candidate as Paraguay. Six or
seven parties are making significant progress in terms of
winning local and national electoral posts.
Thomas F. Carroll has ventured the opinionI that Chris-
tian Democracy's development--first in Europe after World
War II2 and today in Latin America--might be explained as a
reformist and democratic (if not revolutionary) "wave,"
rising to meet the peril of purely leftist solutions when
the crisis becomes acute, then falling again as reforms are
carried out and the leftist threat diminishes. At this
stage the parties become somewhat fat and complacent: de-
fenders of a new status quo.
There may well be much truth in this view. Christian
Democratic parties have arisen only in those countries where,
as Mario Einaudi points out, there has been no apparent al-
ternative between communism and a dictatorship of the right.3
Both in Europe and in Latin America, Christian Democracy has
been the creation of men who sought change and who wanted a
new social order, but who at the same time dreamed of restor-
ing to political and social life the values that had built
Western Christian civilization. Moreover, these men have, on
both continents, been firm believers in democracy and con-
vinced that democracy in some form is the only acceptable
pattern for political organization.
The political climate out of which Christian Democratic
parties have grown has been remarkably similar on both con-
tinents. On the one hand, both continents have experienced
a severe disillusion with conservativism. Rightists so often
were quiescent if not actively collaborationist in the
occupied countries of Europe during World War II, while in
Latin America, conservatives are blamed for holding their
countries in political and economic backwardness. On the
other hand, there was on both continents a fear of Marxist
solutions. The creators of Christian Democracy in both
Europe and Latin America have sought to provide a third
alternative--a political structure which would allow their
countries to enter fully the industrial, modern age, yet
world avoid the extremes of a depersonalizing collectivism
and an unbridled capitalism.
In Europe, the fear of communism and the disillusion
with the right reached their high points in 1945, and
Christian Democratic parties appeared as major new political
forces in the dark days of European reconstruction. Twenty
years later, Latin American countries with few exceptions
are in political and economic chaos. Latin Americans, it is
true, have not gone through a period as desperate and terrible
as Western Europe in the immediate post-war years. Neverthe-
less, increasing and awakening populations, lopsided urban
development and antique farm economies create pressures
similar to those which faced Western Europe after the war.
There is also a similar attitude towards the extreme left and
right: a disgust with rightest dictators and conservatives
in general, and a fear of communism--particularly after Cuba.
Besides this parallel in the outward circumstances
surrounding their rise, Christian Democratic parties in Latin
America today show, in their idealism and fervor, another
remarkable similarity to European Christian Democracy in its
first years. Born out of the desires of those who worked in
the various resistance movements for an entirely new form of
political party, Christian Democracy in the old world had the
largest share in writing the new democratic constitutions of
Western Europe and in setting Europe on the course which has
led, in the main, to economic development, at least some
degree of political stability and the preservation of Western
Latin American Christian Democrats think they see in
their movement the possibility of bringing about the same
results. A generation of idealists is present today in every
Latin American country, young men who consider themselves
heirs of Christian Democracy in Europe, men who also know
each other and who have determined to work along lines quite
similar to those pioneered by the Christian Democrats in
Europe: incorporation of their underprivileged populations
into the political and economic life of their countries,
economic development involving a measure of planning and
state control (rather more than their confreres advocated in
Europe), agrarian reforms, economic and political integration
of the continent.
Before going further, it may be well to define Christian
Democracy and to identify its main components in Europe and
Latin America (see page following; for Latin American parties,
see Chapter III, page 75). A general definition, in Michael
Fogarty's excellent work on Christian Democracy, seems to
cover both the European and Latin American developments.
Christian Democracy is, he says,
a movement of laymen, engaged on their own respon-
sibility in the solution of political, economic and
social problems in the light of Christian principles,
who conclude from these principles and from practical
experience that in the modern world democracy is
normally best; that government in the state, the
firm, the local community or the family should not
merely be of and for the people, but also by them.
The word "layman" in the definition is important. It is,
of course, used on contradistinction to "clergy," and repre-
sents the effort, largely successful, of Christian Democracy
to gain its freedom from control by the Catholic church.
That this has been accomplished seems to be admitted by most
observers. Even in such an anomalous situation as that in
post-war I Italy, where the party leader from 1919 to 1925
was Dom Luigi Sturzo, a Benedictine monk, the party managed
to maintain itself so remarkably free of control by the con-
servative clergy, that the Vatican threw its weight behind
Mussolini in preference to an independent Christian Democratic
In addition, during the years that Christian Democracy
MAJOR CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTIES OF EUROPE
Christian Social party
Catholic Peoples' party
Christian Historical Union
Christian social wing of
Christian Social party (1887)
Reconstructed from old Catholic
party and other social and polit-
Christian Democratic party (1896);
Popular Democratic party (1924)
Catholic Centre;Bavarian Peoples'
These three parties sometimes
vote as Christian Democratic bloc,
but are really separate
Congress Movement (1904); Christian
Democratic Movement (Murri & Sturzo)
(1899); Popular party (1919)
CPP founded in 1912; has always
had a left wing
Source: Michael P. Fogarty, Christian Democracy in Western Europe: 1820-1953
(London: Routledge & Keegan Paul, Ltd., 1957), Ch. XX and XXI.
has been developing, there has been a strong movement within
the Roman Catholic church to establish not only the right,
but the duty of the Catholic layman to work autonomously--
without any domination or dictation by clergy--in what the
church calls the "temporal order." This represents, as
Fogarty points out, a taking over by Catholics of traditions
long present in Protestantism: the duty of the church to
adapt to current trends and the emphasis on the role of the
laity in accomplishing this end. It is only possible to
understand Christian Democracy in the light of this develop-
ment in Catholic thinking on the proper role of laymen in the
political and social spheres.
As already indicated earlier in this introduction, an
ideology based on a belief in the values of the Christian
West, radical reform and democracy played a key role in the
formation of the Christian Democratic movement on both con-
tinents. There may very well be--as Seymour M. Lipset and
others have suggested--"an end of ideology" in the Western
European democracies, precisely because the fundamental
political problems of the industrial revolution have been
solved and the workers have achieved industrial and political
citizenship. Such is not the case in Latin America, and it
is evident enough that there the ideological battles rage on.
Because our political style is so different, it is
difficult for pragmatic North Americans to understand why
Latin American political parties put such stress on justify-
ing and explaining their practical programs in terms of some
all-encompassing world view--which is what an ideology seeks
to do. Indeed, Latin Americans often seem to believe that
the philosophical explanation behind a recommended course of
action is as important as the intrinsic merits of the practical
measure itself. This is easily demonstrated by picking up
any Latin American party document: almost always there will
be a section on fundamental principles from which the practical
actions are said to be derived.
In an article on Christian Democracy in Europe, Gabriel
A. Almond contrasts the American conception of "partial and
provisional commitment" to a party--a commitment based on
specific and concrete interests--to the historic European
conception of partisanship which, he says,
has tended to be one of a commitment to a complete
value system with a correspondingly exclusive net-
work of social institutions encapsulating an
individual from birth to death.
Whether or not Almond would agree entirely with Lipset
on the end of ideology in Europe (the above was written in
1948) does not prevent his description from being very apt
for the Latin American situation today. There is evidence,
however, that Almond did foresee an easing of the ideological
battle lines. In the same article, he characterizes Chris-
tian Democracy in Europe as a movement of accommodation--not,
certainly, to the status quo--but in that it was willing to
take part in the "third force" coalitions with socialists
Rafael Caldera Rodriguez, leader of Christian Democracy
in Venezuela, has said that one reason why his party and the
other Christian Democratic parties in Latin America are flour-
ishing 'among impatient and idealistic youth" is that they
offer an ideological alternative to Marxism, an integrated
approach to the social, economic and political problems of
At every turn, Christian Democrats in Latin America echo
Caldera. They claim that they have a distinctive ideology.
Because it is based on Christian principles and values, this
ideology is, they say, superior to other ideologies current
today in Latin America. Christian Democrats assert that
their superior ideological beliefs guide them in framing
practical programs, and that this fact also makes their con-
crete political proposals superior.
Are the claims Christian Democracy makes for its
particular brand of ideology true? We shall never be able
to decide on empirical grounds whether or not the Christian
Democratic ideology is "superior," but there is a question
which may be asked, investigated and answered: does the
Christian Democratic ideology contribute anything distinctive
to Christian Democratic programs? Given several alterna-
tives equally desirable on pragmatic grounds, will Christian
Democrats favor one over the other because of ideological
considerations? Are there certain lines of action Christian
Democrats simply will not pursue at all on ideological
grounds? Are there programs and proposals which flow
directly from ideological beliefs? In short, is ideology a
controlling factor in framing Christian Democratic programs,
or is it so much leftist window dressing which the party
uses to gain power? Will ideology have any real effect on
what the party will do or will not do once it has assumed
the responsibility of government?
Since the first Christian Democratic government in Latin
America has yet to present its practical programs in final
form--much less attempt to carry them out--a complete answer
to these questions must be delayed at least a few years. How-
ever, in both Chile and Venezuela, the parties have engaged
in several serious election campaigns. They have therefore
been obliged to spell out, in very concrete terms, what they
would do on a number of key issues should the responsibility
of government be awarded them. It therefore is possible to
at least begin to investigate the relation of ideology to
practical programs in the Christian Democratic system by
1) whether Christian Democratic programs are in any
significant ways different and distinctive from
the programs of other parties;
2) whether ideology is the controlling factor in ex-
plaining the differences, or whether other factors
--i.e., the situation of the country, practical
considerations, political pressures, etc. --enter in.
Among the important issues upon which Christian Democrats
in Chile and Venezuela have committed themselves is that of
agrarian reform. All parties, even rightist ones, are talk-
ing about agrarian reform, and it therefore is not difficult
to investigate if there is a particular Christian Democratic
approach to this issue. While the Frei government still has
to reveal final details of its agrarian reform program,
many preliminary statements indicate its probable content.
In Venezuela, where a vigorous land reform program has been
underway since 1959, Christian Democrats have played a large
role in framing the agrarian reform laws and in carrying them
out. Until the summer of 1963 the Minister of Agriculture
in the Betancourt government, a coalition of Betancourt's
Accion Democratica and Christian Democracy, was Christian
Democrat Victor Gimenez Landinez. Rafael Caldera stated
categorically to the author that "the agrarian reform is
ours."12 For the purposes of this analysis the Venezuelan
agrarian reform may therefore legitimately be considered a
Christian Democratic program, even if Christian Democracy's
claims to it may be somewhat overstated.
The goal of this essay will be, therefore, to examine
Christian Democratic programs of agrarian reform, to decide
what--if anything--is distinctive about them, and to dis-
cover if ideological or other considerations account for the
What is meant, exactly, by agrarian reform? Many writers
are impatient with broad definitions which tend to put land
tenure changes on a par with a whole range of urgent but
secondary agricultural improvement measures, going all the
way from improved seeds and agricultural credit to dams and
major irrigation systems. As Ibreen Warriner puts it, in her
distinguished and widely-quoted series of lectures on land
reform and economic development given at Cairo,
To use the term land reform in this wide sense Eto
cover improvements in agriculture] confuses the real
issues. The redistribution of property in land is a
very difficult to change to carry through, far more
difficult and controversial than other measures, and
we cannot really put it on the same level as other
Carroll agrees. "Land reform," he says, "if it is
seriously done, implies a drastic rearrangement of property
rights, income and social status."14 Following these leads,
the present essay will use the terms "land reform" and
"agrarian reform" in the narrow sense to imply drastic changes
in land tenure patterns. Other measures will be called
Bow will this study be carried out? To evaluate
Christian Democratic programs of agrarian reform, it is
necessary first to see, from an economic point of view, the
situation of agriculture in Latin America and the relation
of agrarian reform to agricultural improvement and
progress. This will be the subject of Chapter I.
Christian Democrats in Latin America derive their
ideology from the social teachings of the Catholic church,
and the "gestation period" for these ideas goes back to the
social Catholics of the last century in Europe. Chapter II
explores these sources of Christian Democratic thought,
with special emphasis on the economic ideas of the early
A third chapter sketches the development of Christian
Democracy in Latin America, including a brief sketch of
the continental development, the history of the parties in
Chile and Venezuela; the relation of the movement to Chris-
tian Democracy in Europe and the key points of its ideology
as developed in the Latin American setting.
Finally, a fourth chapter explores the social teachings
of the Catholic church on property which Christian Democrats
claim as their guiding principles in framing agrarian
reforms, examines the actual Christian Democratic programs
of land reform in Chile and Venezuela, and attempts to
assess and evaluate the influence of Christian Democratic
ideology upon them.
The interesting third step in this analysis--whether
Christian Democratic governments modify either their
ideological declarations or their practical programs (or
both) when they attempt to implement agrarian reform--
will be, the author hopes, the subject of a future study
to be'undertaken in Chile and Venezuela.
NOTES TO THE INTRODUCTION
1Carroll, an official of the Inter-American Development
Bank, has a long familiarity with Latin America. The opinion
was given in a private conversation, September, 1964.
21t is true that Dom Luigi Sturzo's Popular party, the
first Christian Democratic party in Europe to gain mass
support, appeared "like a bolt of lightning" early in 1919
(Mario Einaudi and Francois Goguel, Christian Democracy in
Italy and France CNotre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre
Dame Press, 19523, p. 13). However, the main development of
Christian Democracy in Europe came in 1945 and after.
3Einaudi and Goguel, p. v.
4Michael P. Fogarty, Christian Democracy in Western
Europe: 1820-1953 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd.,
1957), p. 5.
5Einaudi cites some of these, pp. 45-46.
6All the works consulted mention the intervention of
the Vatican, and Sturzo himself has written about it (Italy
and Fascismo London: 1926 p. 133, cited in Gabriel A.
Almond, "The Political Ideas of Christian Democracy,"
Journal of Politics, X, No. 4 [November, 1948], 746).
7Fogarty, p. 426.
8Seymour M. Lipset, Political Man (Garden City, N.Y.:
Anchor Books, 1963), p. 442.
9Almond, Journal of Politics, X, No. 4, 734.
10Ibid., p. 735.
11Rafael Caldera Rodriguez, "El crecimiento de la
Democracia Cristiana y su influencia sobre la realidad social
de America Latina," address to the Catholic Committee on
Inter-American Cooperation (CICOP), January 27, 1965, pp.
23-24 of the Spanish version. Hereafter cited as CICOP
address. All quotations from Spanish and French sources
have been translated by the author.
12The statement was made in a private conversation,
January 27, 1965, at the CICOP meeting.
13Doreen Warriner, "Land Reform and Economic Develop-
ment," National Bank of Egypt Fiftieth Anniversary Lectures,
Cairo, 1955, Agriculture and Economic Development, ed. Carl
Eicher and Lawrence Witt (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.,
1964), p. 273.
14Thomas F. Carroll, "The Land Reform Issue in Latin
America," Latin American Issues: Essays and Comments, ed.
Albert 0. Hirschman (New York: Twentieth Century Fund,
1961), p. 162.
AGRICULTURE: THE CRUCIAL QUESTION
The Agricultural Lag in Latin America
The question of Latin American agricultural performance
would be crucial today if only one brutal fact of economics
were taken into account: when balanced against population
growth, agriculture has ceased to make any headway. Indeed,
the situation is so grave that the Inter-American Committee
of the Alliance for Progress (CIAP) gave agriculture top
priority in its report to the recent meetings of the Inter-
American Economic and Social Council at Lima--over such ques-
tions as inflation, trade and planning.1
This is not to say that agricultural change has not bee.
part of the process of modernization in Latin America. Ari-
cultural production has been increasing, but the pace is
exceedingly slow. Measured against population growth, agri-
cultural progress is insufficient to maintain existing stEadar:
of living and food supply, as well as perform other impora:-:.
development tasks which will be discussed below.
Between 1957 and 1962, agricultural production in Latin
America grew by approximately 2.6 per cent per year, while
population increased at approximately the same rate.2 By
1964, agricultural growth had declined to 1.6 per cent, while
population was expanding at a rate between 2.6 and 2.7 per
cent (an increase which will double the population of Latin
America in 25 years). In contrast, agricultural production
in the 1951-1957 period achieved a 4 per cent growth rate,'
while the population increase averaged 2.5 per cent.
The consequences are grave. First, an already under-
nourished population faces the prospect of more and more people
gathering around a dinner table with less and less on it. This
would be bad enough in itself--but many countries in Latin
America depend on the export of agricultural products for at
least a part of the foreign exchange they need to import capi-
tal goods for industrialization and development. Indeed,
barring oil or strategic mineral wealth, underdeveloped coun-
tries usually have no other important sources for capital cLt-
side of agriculture which often is "the only major existing
But the difficulty does not stop here. There is a certain: :
minimum amount which must be put on the dinner table if people
are not to starve. Consequently, some countries--inclucdi;,
both Chile and Venezuela--are obliged to import great quanti-
ties of foodstuffs. Precious foreign exchange, of course,
must be used to buy them (see below, page 26).
Obviously then, the agricultural sector in many countries
not only adds nothing to the development effort, but is a
serious drain upon it. Indeed, many economists are saying
that neglect of the agricultural sector--coupled with the
lack of recognition of the crucial contributions agriculture
must make to industrialization--are the prime factors in the
failure of many underdeveloped countries to make significant
But if agricultural development is the question of the
hour, the crucial question in agricultural development may well
be that of land tenure: how land is owned, how one gains access
to it, how it is used. As Carroll says,
Economic developers are becoming increasingly aware
of the key role of agriculture in Latin American
economic growth, and there is a tendency to look
more closely at the land tenure system as a major
factor in the stagnation of the farm sector.
The growing number of economists who share Carroll's view
include several leading Christian Democrats. This chapter will
attempt to sketch, as a necessary background for understanding
Christian Democrat agrarian programs some ideas of these econo-
mists on three major issues:
1) the role of agriculture in over-all economic
2) the key relationship of land reform--in the
strict sense of the term--to increased agricul-
tural productivity and efficiency;
3) the family-sized farm as the optimum size unit
in land reform.
It is not my purpose to take sides in the interesting
debates over these questions. It is from another vantage
point that this essay proposes to look at these questions:
that is, how faithfully Christian Democratic programs of
agricultural development and agrarian reform reflect the
movement's ideology. Yet deviations from ideology--or in-
stances of apparently pig-headed adherence to it--cannot be
assessed in a vacuum. While it is beyond the scope of this
essay either to evaluate these particular views of economic
reality or to present alternative views in any detail, it does
seem necessary to present the economic rationale upon which
Christian Democratic programs are based.
The views presented here reflect ideas particularly of
three economists close to the Christian Democratic movement,
as well as related ideas of some influential North American
development economists. The Christian Democrats are Jacques
Chonchol, assistant Minister of Agrarian Reform in the govern-
ment of Edwardo Frei in Chile; Jorge Ahumada, whose economic
writings are widely held to be "the bible" of the Frei develop-
ment program, and Victor Gimenez Landinez, one of the major
architects of Venezuela's 1960 agrarian reform program and
Minister of Agriculture before the Christian Democrats left
the Accion Democratica government of Romulo Betancourt.
Are Chile and Venezuela Underdeveloped?
Before exploring in detail the agricultural situation in
Chile and Venezuela, one major question must be answered:
according to generally accepted development economics criteria,
are Chile and Venezuela really any longer underdeveloped? Both
countries have only some 30 per cent of their populations still
employed in agriculture, while the remaining 70 per cent are
at least statistically present in the industrial and service
sectors. From these figures, would it not seem that Chile and
Venezuela are "almost there"--just around the corner from being
In the long run, economic development indeed implies--as
many development economists have stated--a decline in the rela-
tive number of people engaged in agriculture and an increase
in the relative number of those who find employment in the in-
dustrial sector. This "transformation" continues in the devel-
oping country--if the development process is not impeded or
blocked--until the ratio of population reaches about 80 per
cent in industry to 20 per cent in agriculture, or even a
ratio of 85:15.
It would seem, however, that such a gross "rule of thumb"
measurement cannot by itself be taken as an infallible indi-
cator of development and underdevelopment. We must ask several
crucial questions: Is the industrial sector capable of produc-
tively employing its full labor potential? Has the transfer
to the industrial sector led to an increase in per capital out-
put (the accepted measure for economic progress)? And has
life improved, in terms of per capital income, in either sector
after the transfer? So far as Chile and Venezuela are con-
cerned, we would be obliged to answer "no" to both questions.
Chile and Venezuela may fall into the category of coun-
tries where the very backwardness and lack of opportunity in
the agricultural sector have simply driven the rural people
out of it. A premature transfer of population to the indus-
trial sector before that sector is ready to absorb them adds
not to development but only to the belts of misery around the
great cities.9 Industrial development does not necessarily or
automatically proceed at a rate sufficiently accelerated to
absorb everyone who is "surplus" in the rural sector, and this
insufficiency of industry has been clearly demonstrated in the
past 20 years by the growth of the callampa, the favella and
the barriada. "If agricultural development is not intensified,"
Chonchol warns, "the displacement of the campesinos to the
cities will continue and the problems of urban employment .
will get worse."
Obviously, neither Venezuela nor Chile is in the extremely
underdeveloped state of an Ecuador or a Guatemala, where the
population in agriculture still remains about 70 per cent.
But in both Venezuela and Chile, there seems to have been what
Chonchol calls "an excessive optimism about the rate at which
industrial development can solve the problem of unemployment." l
Each new job in the industrial sector represents a capital
investment; each new person transferred to the urban sector
makes demands on already critically strained housing, educa-
tional and medical facilities. An extremely high growth rate
is necessary in the industrial sector to enable it to absorb
its own population increase, without yet thinking of draining
off the surplus population in agriculture.12
Moreover, as will be detailed below, the state of the
agricultural sector in both countries is extremely backward.
This by no means implies that conditions should be improved
in agriculture so that the rural population can be increased,
but that efforts should be made to improve the agricultural
sector so that it holds the rural population for the time being,
There are many evidences in the literature that the Venezuelan
agrarian reform has this goal as a primary one. Gimenez writes:
the transfer of the surplus farm workers today and
even more in the immediate future will be difficult
to sustain. The rural exodus is higher than
industry and services require, incrusting itself
principally in official bureaucracy, exerting pres-
sure on the budget and ., adding to that phenom-
enon which we in Venezuela call a belt of misery
surrounding the cities, representing an immense
mass of farm population huddled in miserable huts,
which has come to the city in search of work.1
In at least one instance, a land resettlement project under
Gimenez, the Cojedes project, was designed specifically to
encourage recent immigrants to the city to return to the land.14
Agriculture in Chile and Venezuela
What is the agricultural situation--in more specific,
concrete terms--in the two countries chosen for this study?
Ahumada estimates that at present, 20 per cent less agricul-
tural goods per inhabitant are produced in Chile than 25 years
ago.15 Chile has not had an agricultural surplus since -he
late 1930's,16 and Chilean agriculture today contributes onli
9 per cent of Chile's GNP.17 Indeed, because of serious
deficits, Ahumada estimates that Chile during the past 12
years has spent about $1,000 million dollars to b :y i3cst .&-:s
abroad. Invested reasonably well, Ahumada says, this amount
by now would have generated enough return to raise the per
capital income of Chileans by $100.18
Food costs are very high in relation to wages. About 60
per cent of Chileans live in a chronic state of undernourish-
ment; fully a third have a daily intake of less than 2,000
calories and 113 out of every 1,000 infants die before the
age of one year--a figure attributed'in large part to the
deficient nutrition of both mother and child.19 Today in
Santiago, a minimum diet for an adult costs Eo 0,89 per day.
This means that a middle class family of five must spend 85
per cent of its income to secure this minimum diet, while an
obrero family of five would have to spend an impossible 135
per cent of its income to eat at the minimum level20 The
table below shows the man hours of work necessary to buy some
key commodities in representative Latin American countries,
Table No. 2
AMOUNT REQUIRED TO BUY THREE COMMODITIES
._. (in hours of work)
Country Bread Milk Meat
(1 kilo) (1 liter) (1 kilo)
United States 5' 4' 20'
Canada 10' 6' 40'
Argentina 13' 12' 54'
Venezuela 30' 20' 120'
Mexico 45' 28' 215'
Chile 81' 41' 667'
Source: International Labor Organization, cited in La Voz
(Santiago), March 21, 1965, p. 11.
including Chile and Venezuela. The effects of inflation on
food prices, to be discussed in more detail below, are very
evident in the Chilean column,
As the same chart shows, the situation is not so critical
in Venezuela, in terms of foodstuffs available in relation to
buying power. Venezuela still faces grave food shortages be-
cause of low agricultural productivity, but shortages were
worse before her agrarian reform and agricultural improvement
program got underway, prompting her Minister of Agriculture,
at that time Christian Democrat Gimenez to remark that food
deficits "put Veneziela in a situation of almost colonial
dependence in respect to other countries." Moreover, he
there is no doubt that today we live in a situation
of under-consumption and for some time we should not
have the riht to talk about overproduction nor of
Facing serious deficits in such staples as corn, vege-
tables, dairy products, rice and sesame, Venezuela in 1958
spent $574 million Bs on food imports.23 Even as late as
1960, the country was obliged to import a million eggs and a
million liters of milk daily.24 By 1963, the improved situa-
tion in agriculture had reduced this amount 25 per cent to $400
million Bs.2 The lower "man hours" necessary to pay for food
necessities in Venezuela reflect higher salaries as well as
the fact that food products are not in such short supply.
Venezuelans, however, still spend a high per cent of their
wages for food, and the figure of $800 per capital conceals a
very unequal distribution of income.26 Thus, cheap food is
In part, the neglect of agriculture in Chile and Venezuela
was due to nitrate in the one country and oil in the other,
enabling both nations to pay for food deficits. Before 1920,
Ahumada says, Chile was like a family which can afford to have
its meals sent in from the outside "and for that reason doesn't
have to worry about arranging the kitchen"27 Chile now is
reaping the disastrous results of overdependence on a resource
whose worth declined with spectacular suddenness. Venezuela
seems to be aware of the danger of continuing to pursue a
parallel policy. "Our country," writes Gimenez, "has been
unwise in excessively burdening a budget which is supported
by a non-renewable resource such as petroleum.28 In the next
three years, Venezuela plans to shift from an economy based on
petroleum to one based on diversified agriculture and indus-
trial production. In a report to Congress on his first year
in office, President Raul Leoni said that petroleum would con-
tinue as a major underpinning for the economy, but the govern-
ment would promote major structural changes to broaden Vene-
zuela's economic base.29
At the present time, then, improvements in the agricul-
tural sector would seem to be urgent both in Chile and Vene-
zuela, if only the feeding of their populations were at issue.
As development proceeds, however, demand for agricultural
products also will increase substa.-ti-ally, and failure to
expand the food supply can hold back over-all economic .*rcwiTh,31
William H. Nicholls has an interesting theory, e :
by impressive historical evidence, that no country has la;,-c-:.
economic "'take-off" without the development of an agricul.:rai
surplus--or at least, without having reduced food deficits to
a "safe" level where export manufactures can realistically
cover food imports. He goes so far as to acvccate, shoail- a
country be obliged to choose, giving _priority to agriculture.
Limited resources often will not stretch to fill e-:er:- ee:., he
says, especially in countries trying to la~:ch develv.--:,:
While programs of macro-economists with ',:icobal views :-. ::*-.-
ferring vast numbers out of agriculture into the ..
dustrial sector are perfectly correct, he says, short-tcr'
activities need not always be perfectly consistent r i ;.::
goal. It may be helpful even to the long-run z,~- .. .
tries to concentrate on agricultural pr.eress ui. ia :.'....*
fooed surplus is achieved.32
The Tasks of Agriculture
Aside from the fairly obvious task of providing more to
eat at higher nutritional levels, what are other contributions
a healthy agricultural sector can be expected to make to the
development process? The most complete statement of the role
of agriculture in economic development probably is that of
Johnston and Mellor in the article already cited several times
in this chapter. Sternberg draws heavily on their concepts in
framing his outline of specific tasks for Chilean agriculture,33
as the present writer intends to do here.
More abundant food can relieve a principal inflationary
pressure which food shortages often precipitate in underdeveloped
countries. Ahumada believes that Chilean inflation can be
traced directly to stagnation of agriculture:
If agricultural production had been increasing even
in a measure sufficient to maintain consumption per
person the country would not now see itself
faced with such a persistent and acute inflation,
prices of agricultural products would not have been
forced to rise so rapidly and government price
fixing wouldn't have been necessary. Once the
government starts to fix prices, the danger is very
great that it fixes them at a level so low that
production is not stimulated. Moreover, if agri-
cultural production had been increased, it wouldn't
have been so necessary to make massive readjust-
ments of wages and salaries, and inflation would
have lost one of its principal mechanisms.35
Already mentioned in the first paragraphs of this chapter
is another major role agriculture often performs in develop-
ment: providing export crops to sell for foreign exchange.36
Venezuela with its oil and Chile with its copper would seem
somewhat less dependent on agriculture for export exchange;
yet these are countries with precarious balance of payments
difficulties, and no avenues for export earnings ought to be
overlooked. While Chonchol, for one, warns against an agricul-
tural development tied exclusively to the external market--
leading to extensive farming, monoculture and under-utilization
of resources--nevertheless he believes agricultural production
for export should be developed.37 As Johnston and Mellor point
out in their discussion of this point, profitable export crops
often can be added without disrupting the existing crop system;
capital requirements often are modest, and labor supplies in
the rural sector are readily available,38
Still another important contribution which an improved
agricultural productivity can make to development is to give
increased income and purchasing power to those in the rural
sector, creating a market for goods which the industrial sec-
tor produces. Ragnar Nurske writes:
The trouble is this: there is not a sufficient market
for manufactured goods in a country where peasants,
farm laborers and their families, comprising typically
two-thirds to four-fifths of the population, are too
poor to buy factory products, or anything in addition
to the little they already buy. There is a lack of
real purchasing power, reflecting the low productivity
in agriculture. 3
(Without some mechanism to distribute the increased in-
come resulting from greater agricultural productivity, however,
the rural sector will remain outside the national economy.
Some economists believe that this mechanism is, precisely,
agrarian reform in the strict sense [see page 383.)
From the foregoing, it would seem that both Chile and
Venezuela can make a good case for at least some concentration
on development of their agricultural sectors Indeed, devel:p-
ment of agriculture would seem to merit first pricrit.
Key to Agriculture's Progress: Land Reform
It is evident that an increasing number of wha Carrel l
calls "economic developers"'--both North and Latin America:-.-
today are emphasizing the indispensable role agriculLtre .-:
play in the economic transformation of most underdeveloped.
countries. Several decades of insufficient emphasis on (if
not outright neglect of) agriculture's role in the develop.-.ent
process seem to be at an end.
Programs to improve agricultural productivity--that is,
to enable each person employed in the agricultural sector to
produce more--usually embrace a broad spectrum of measures,
ranging from improved seeds and implements, on up through bet-
ter agricultural extension services, and culminating in ambi-
tious regional development schemes involving irrigation systems
and dam building.
But in the minds of one group of economists, an increase
in agricultural productivity depends first of all and before
everything else on a thorough-going land tenure ref',;r1,,. These
economists--and among them figure the Latin Americans quoted
in this chapter--make land reform reconmenda-li--s on serious
economic grounds, quite apart from the political and social
benefits that might be gained from a change in land-h'lflii'-
patterns. They would agree with Wolf Ladejinsky, -h.-. contends
that no matter how important other ingredients in 0., agricul-
tural improvement program may be, "unless those vhc 'w.r' the
land own it, or are at least secure on the land as tena-.ts
all the rest is likely to be writ in water.Y40 Quite si.l;
they believe that the present system of land cocen~n ratin
breeds agricultural stagnation and inefficiency, resulti.ni ia
extreme inequalities of income and lack of 1iacentive frr -.st
of the rural population. The low investment and high cons.?p-
tion patterns of the few perpetuate the pattern by keeping
agricultural productivity at low levels which, in turn, -eans
continued agricultural stagnation.
Before examining some of these arguments for land tenure
reform as the key measure in breaking this vicious circle, it
will be helpful to review briefly the situation of land owner-
ship in Latin America today, particularly in the countries
chosen for this study. The history of the Spanish la-a- grants,
the major factor leading to the present ownership system, is
a fascinating and intricate tale, but for the purposes of this
present essay, it will suffice to outline the present situation.41
As is well known, in Latin America the land situation is
characterized by large concentrations of the best ericult.-ral
lands in the hands of the few (who hold them mainly thl:-~_h
inheritance), leaving an exceedingly small proportion -. crf-:;
marginal land in the hands of the many. Economist Gcn.-_l
Martner estimates that 90 per cent of the best a.r,1:-- 1
lands in Latin America are in the hands of 10 per cent : t..
owners, while the other 90 per cent of those enazc: in -i"-
culture hardly subsist on the remaining 10 per ce.- : .
The statistics on land concentration n Ven.c.-- .::'.
Chile reflect these over-all percentages. In Chil,.
4.4 per cent of the rural landholders own 80.9 per ce ::*
land.43 In Venezuela, 1.7 per cent of the rural lit:---.
own 75 per cent of the total lands, all these holdi;.-..-..
over 500 hectares. This leaves 67 per cent of the owners at
the bottom of the scale with 2 per cent of the lands (in
holdings of less than 10 hectares).44
In Chile, some 500,000 farmers need land, while in Vene-
zuela the number was, before the land reform began in 1960,
estimated at about 350,000.45
Translated from statistics to people, this concentration
of land and income means in Chile
for the vast majority of the agricultural popula-
tion low wages and depressing poverty. It
means per capital incomes of less than Eo 100
annually, poorly constructed and unhealthy housing,
an almost total lack of sanitary facilities, con-
taminated water, poor nutrition, disease and
Betancourt echoed these words, in a talk given as the
1960 agrarian reform law went into effect:
A wider and wider abyss has been opening between
urban Venezuela and a vast, pauperized mass,
vegetating more than living, on the precarious
produce of the conuco. Today in this Vene-
zuela where, according to the cold statistics of
the economists there exists the best .per capital
income in Latin America, 350,000 families--almost
a third of the country's total population--live in
miserable ranchos, have an extremely low family
income, and produce hardly what is necessary for
an uncertain subsistence.47
Besides the misery and poverty which land concentration
imposes on the landless agricultural family, the present tenure
systems in Latin America are non-economic in themselves.
First, latifundismo produces what Chonchol calls 'an extra-
ordinary subutilization and at the same time waste of the
productive capacity of the land 48 This is partly because
Latin American agriculture has been developed on an extensive
system, geared to the fluctuation of the external market. As
Chonchol points out, this means that when the prices for export
products go down, the land is left idle.
Nor is there much stimulus for the big landowner to pro-
duce for the internal market which offers very low returns for
such efforts. Moreover, as has often been pointed out, many
landowners value their large estates for prestige reasons,
rather than for their productive or money-making potential.
So long as his vast lands will, even at a very low rate of
yield per acre, provide him a comfortable existence, he has no
reason to work for increased productivity.50 This means, too,
that the landowner contributes very little to investment in
other sectors. As Sternberg's study shows, with apparently
few exceptions, the large landholders of Chile consume the
entire balance of their income not reinvested in farm holdings:
The contribution of Chilean agriculture to the process
of capital formation has been minimal. Acong
those who do invest in activities outside of agriculture,
almost all invest in urban construction or real estate.
Stock purchases appear to be small, and there is little
direct acquisition of industrial or commercial firms.51
To give land to the landless may not, however, require
taking land away from anyone--at least not for economic rea-
sons. The government of Venezuela, possessing an abundance
of unsettled public lands and acquiring more by confiscation
of the vast estates of Perez Jimenez and his henchmen through
the "Law Against Illicit Riches," found itself the country's
biggest latifundista.52 With a minimum of expropriation,53
Venezuela seems to be pulling off its land reform program.
But Venezuela is in a unique position among Latin American
countries. To open up new lands it is not enough that a
country possess them (and few other countries in Latin America
do), but the country must also possess tremendous resources
for all the expenses of what, in Venezuela's case, has amounted
to a vast colonization scheme: access roads, development of
markets, irrigation, housing, etc. Chile, as she todayr begins
girding herself for a true land reform, possesses neither
virgin lands in any degree nor oil to plant them.
Up until now, countries like Chile and Venezuela have in-
creased their over-all agricultural production figures simply
by extending the areas under cultivation. Year by year, barring
droughts and other obstacles, production figures in agriculture
usually go up--but agricultural yields per acre, as well as
dairy yields, have remained stationary (or, in some cases)
have declined.54 To increase productivity, as Chonchol points
out, would have meant changing the agricultural system and the
present agrarian structure.55 Now, with the possible excep-
tion of Venezuela, this road is no longer open:
there is not the least doubt that if we look at
the continent as a whole, the major part of the fer-
tile lands are already in use. There are no doubt
still very important reserves of land; nevertheless,
the major part of these are found in the tropical or
sub-tropical zones, and their incorporation poses
not only a considerable problem of new investments,
but also a very serious management problem.56
With new agricultural lands so scarce, there is only one
way to increase the vast amount of agricultural products needed:
by increasing the yields of lands already opened up to agricul-
ture. This cannot be done, so some economists think, under
present tenure systems. Not only does the excessive concen-
tration leave the campesino with scant hope of ever owning
land57--thus quashing incentives for more intensive use of
what they do not own--but even if agricultural improvements
are introduced, profits from the increased productivity still
go to the landowners. Under present tenure patterns, these
profits do nothing to improve income distribution, and there
is little reason to believe,as Sternberg has shown, that they
will be invested productively.
It is in order to improve incentives and to give a better
income distribution to their rural populations--and at the
same time enable the agricultural sector to increase its
efficiency and productivity--that many of these economists
advocate land division in the form of family-sized plots.
Because the family-sized farm also is the ideal behind both
the Venezuelan and Chilean reform programs, a discussion of
the economic advantages and drawbacks of such reform
patterns is pertinent.
The question which must be asked is this: is the family-
sized unit really more efficient? Would it not be more
economical--if land reform is to increase efficiency and
productivity--simply to take over the large estates,
especially the productive ones, and run them as cooperatives?
When large estates are broken up, do not low productivity
rates drop even lower?
There seems to be a growing accumulation of evidence
that the large farm is not necessarily the most efficient
unit, even though operated not by an absentee landlord but
by owner-operators on a cooperative basis. Many producer
cooperatives in Latin America have failed because of scarcity
of top management talent needed to run such complex operations
Doreen Warriner and Erven J. Long, for example, both respected
economists with experience in the underdeveloped world, warn
us not to use the Western European model with its sparse popu-
lation and vast lands as the criterion for judging efficient
size in the developing world.59 Long maintains that agricul-
tural productivity does not necessarily decrease with divi-
sion of large holdings, and he proves at least that the general
assumption that productivity must go down after such reform is
highly suspect.60 Nicholls says the belief that efficiencies
of large-scale organization can be applied to agriculture in
the same way as to industry is "a naive Marxian view."61
Another economist, N. Georgescu-Roegen, decisively states
no parallelism exists between the law of scale of
production in agriculture and in industry. One may
grow wheat in a pot, or raise chickens in a tiny
backyard, but no hobbyist can build an automobile
with only the tools of his workshop. Why then
should the optimum scale for agriculture be that
of a giant open-air factory?
From the other side, there is a least some evidence that
the family-sized unit is more productive than the larger one.
Solon Barraclough reviews many studies made in Chile63 and
elsewhere and concludes that smaller properties are more pro-
ductive per acre. Chonchol makes much of the deficiencies
of a structural system in which the mass of campesinos work
only 150-200 days per year; on their own plots, he thinks,
they would have incentive to work and produce more. Even
more important, the sub-employed rural mass can be profitably
occupied part of the time in such highly productive works as
building roads, schools, stores, small irrigation works,
drainage, on and around the lands they have been given. The
rural workers will not, however, do these things for the
benefit of the big landowners.65
This is not to say, of course, that the economists neces-
sarily believe that land can be given to all who presently
work it. Ahumada warns that to divide agricultural property
into hundreds of small parcels "is to condemn those farmers
to perpetual misery and the rest of the population to support
their inefficiency."66 He would like to see land division
result in medium-sized properties, given to those best equipped
to work them. Chonchol seems more inclined to a mass effort;
The fundamental, economic thing--and the thing
which will permit benefits to many thousands of
peasants--is to turn over to them the lands with a
minimum of investments and to organize them and help
them in order that, little by little, and in the
measure that they are not occupied in direct acti-
vities of production, they may capitalize their lands
with their own work there is not the least
doubt that this is the only way of helping the
great peasant masses of Latin America to go for-
ward rapidly at an economic cost compatible with
the resources of our countries.
In this chapter, economic aspects of agricultural produc-
tion and agrarian reform have been explored, as a background
for later viewing of specific Christian Democratic programs
in Chile and Venezuela.
In order to appraise these programs, however, it is
necessary to go beyond sketching the present agricultural
problems which these programs have been designed to meet.
Christian Democrats themselves tell us that their solutions
relate not only to present-day exigencies, but are shaped by
ideological principles. In order to decide whether or not
these principles have indeed influenced the drafting of
agrarian reform proposals, the chief tenets of Christian
Democratic ideology, especially its economic aspects, must
be examined. These tenets grew directly out of the "social
Christianity" which developed in Europe in the past century;
it is these early sources of Christian Democratic economic
thoughtwhich will be explored in the next chapter.
NOTES TO CHAPTER I
IOrganization of American States, Economic and Social Coun-
cil, Report of the Inter-American Committee on the Alliance
for Progress (CIAP) (OEA/Ser. R/X.6/CIES/621[English Nov.
14, 1964) (Washington, D.C., 1964), p. 5.
Organization of American States, Economic and Social
Council, Agricultural Development and Agrarian Reform (OEA/
Ser. H/X.4/CIES/301 [English], Sept. 7, 1963) (Washington,
D.C., 1963), p. 7.
Inter-American Development Bank, Fourth Annual Report of
the Social Progress Trust Fund (Washington, IADB, 1965), p.107.
Organization of American States, (OEA/Ser. H/X.4/CIES/
301, Sept. 7, 1963), p. 7.
Victor L. Urquidi, The Challenge of Development in Latin
America (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1964), p. 158.
Bruce F. Johnston and John W. Mellor, "The Role of
Agriculture in Economic Development," American Economic Re-
view, LI, No. 4, (September, 1961), 576-577.
Carroll, p. 162.
A thorough discussion of this question is given in W.
Arthur Lewis, "Agricultural Development with Unlimited Sup-
plies of Labor," The Economics of Underdevelopment, ed. A. N.
Agarwala and S. P. Singh (New York: Oxford University Press,
1963), pp. 400-449. The decline of the agricultural and the
expansion of the non-agricultural sectors, seemingly necessary
preludes to self-sustaining growth, are not fully understood
(Johnston and Mellor, American Economic Review, LI, No. 4,
Folke Dovring, The Share of Agriculture in a Growing
Population," in Eicher and Witt, p. 95.
10Jacques Chonchol, El desarrollo de America Latina y la
reform agraria (Santiago de Chile: Editorial del Pacifico,
S.A., 1964), p. 39.
Ibid., p. 38.
12H. W. Singer shows that a country with population in-
creases and per capital income both at 1.25 per cent per year-
which invests 20 per cent of its per capital increase in indus-
try--would take 67 years to change its population ratios from
70 in agriculture to 30 in industry, to the opposite. ("The
Mechanics of Economic Development," in Agarwala and Singh,
13Victor Gimenez Landinez, Objiectivos y exigencias de una
reform agraria integral (Caracas: Ministerio de Agricultura
y Cria, 1963), p. 14.
1The Cojedes project gave preference to former residents
of Cojedes state. Betancourt's description of the project
is worth quoting because he sums up the issues on premature
transfer of the population from agriculture:
these farm people went to the capital city because
the country was hostile to them, but in Caracas they live
on the steep hills, housed in ranchos, do not have steady
work and will not be able to have it in the future .
because the funds of the nation are not going to be in-
vested only in the capital city.
We understand perfectly well that in the hills around
Caracas--which have been called a belt of misery--there
are many campesinos who came not because they liked the
neon lights of the capital, but because in the country
they didn't have lands or credit. We are sure that
many of these farm families will gladly leave the Caracas
hills in order to again obtain the steady benefits and
security of work on the land. (Venezuela, Presidente,
1958-64 [Betancourti, Reiterados concepts del Presidente
Betancourt sobre problems del campo venezolano (Caracas:
Imprenta Nacional, 1959), p. 70.
15Jorge C. Ahumada, En vez de la miseria (Santiago de
Chile: Editorial del Pacifico, S.A., 1958), p. 67. Average
income also is inferior to what it was 25 years ago (Ibid.,
16Marvin Sternberg, Chilean Land Tenure and Land Reform
(unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California,
1962), p. 10.
Flecha Roia, La Voz de Democracia Cristiana, II, No. 75
(April 17, 1964), 6.
Ahumada, p. 67. This means that per capital income would
now be $410 instead of $310. These figures are corroborated
in a number of sources, among them a CORFO publication which
asserts that $790 million of the foodstuffs purchased abroad
could have been produced domestically (Chile, Corporacion de
Fomento de la Produccion, National Economic Development Pro-
gram 1961-1970 [Mimeographed], p. 16.
9Dr. Alfredo Requelme, Chilean National Health Service,
address to the Eight Regional Conference of the FAO, Santiago,
March 21, 1965 (Quoted in La Voz, March 21, 1965, p. 11).
20Ibid. Dr. Requelme also quotes a recent FAO survey
which shows that the Chilean worker's stature is diminishing
because of deficient diet.
21Victor Gimenez Landinez, La reform agraria y el
desarrollo agricola, Coleccion Estudios Agrarios No. IV
(Caracas: Ministerio de Agricultura y Cria, 1960), p. 8.
Ibid., p. 10.
23Venezuela, Ministerio de Agricultura y Cria, Memoria y
Cuenta, 1963 (Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1964), p. xvi. Here-
after cited as Venezuela, Memoria y cuenta, 1963 (Agricultura).
2Gimenez, Objectivos y exigencias de p. 29.
Venezuela, Memoria y cuenta, 1963 (Agricultura), ibid.
Victor Gimenez Landinez, Metas de production y de
productividad de la reform agraria, Coleccion Estudios
Agrarios No. III (Caracas: Ministerio de Agricultura y
Cria, 1960), pp. 22-23.
2Ahumada, p. 19.
28Gimenez, Objectivos y exigencias .. p. 31.
29Alliance for Progress Weekly Newsletter, III, No. 13
(March 29, 1965), 1.
301t is true, as various economists point out, that demand
for agricultural products will, after a time, level off as
Engel's law demonstrates. However, both Venezuela and Chile--
with spectacular growth rates and serious underconsumption--
would seem to be able to improve agricultural productivity
with no danger of surpluses for some time to come.
3Johnston and Mellor, American Economic Review, LI, No.
32William H. Nicholls, "The Place of Agriculture in
Economic Development," in Eicher and Witt, pp. 11-44.
33Sternberg, pp. 134ff.
34Johnston and Mellor, American Economic Review, LI, No.
3Ahumada, p. 67.
36Johnston and Mellor, American Economic Review, LI, No.
3Chonchol, p. 49.
38Johnston and Mellor, American Economic Review, LI, No.
3Ragnar Nurske, Patterns of Trade and Development (Stock-
holm: 1959), pp. 41-42, cited in Johnston and Mellor, American
Economic Review, LI, No. 4, 580-581.
4Wolf Ladejinsky, "Agrarian Reform in Asia," Foreign
Affairs, XLII, No. 3 (April, 1964), 446.
An interesting, concise history of the encomienda in
Chile is given in James Becket "Land Reform in Chile,"
Journal of Inter-American Studies, Vol. V, No. 2 (April 1963),
177-211. The background of Venezuelan landholding is ex-
haustively studied in Ramon Fernandez y Fernandez
Reform agraria en Venezuela (Caracas: Tipografia Vargas,
42Gonzalo Martner, "Polemica sobre reform agraria,"
Panorama Economico, XV, No. 225 (October-November, 1961), 275.
4Sternberg, p. 34. This author says that only Bolivia,
prior to the revolution, had a greater degree of land concen-
44Raymond J. Penn and Jorge Schuster, 'La reform agraria
de Venezuela," Revista Interamericana de Ciencias Sociales,
II, No. 1 (1963), reprinted by Secretary General, Organiza-
tion of American States (Washington, D0C.: Pan American
Union, 1963), 31.
45Moises Poblete Troncoso, La reform agraria en America
Latina (Santiago de Chile: Editorial Andres Bello, 1961), pp.
131 and 166.
4Sternberg, p. 55.
7Venezuela, Instituto Agrario Nacional, Reforma agraria
en Venezuela (Caracas: IAN, 1964), pp. 40-41.
48Chonchol, p. 39.
49bid., pp. 50-51.
50An Economic Commission for Latin America study of agri-
culture in Santiago and Valparaiso provinces shows that of
the funds studied in this prime agricultural region, 65 per
cent of the cultivable land was in pasture, and 22 per cent
of the irrigated land was not being used productively. Cited
by Ahumada, p. 102.
5Sternberg, p. 10.
52Venezuela, Central Office of Coordination and Planning,
News of Venezuela, I, No. 11 (November, 1962), 14.
53Private lands have, however, been expropriated. Vene-
zuela's Memoria y cuenta, 1963 (Agricultura), p. 424, shows
substantial expenditures each year for private property pur-
Urquidi, pp. 167-168.
55Chonchol, p. 21.
56Ibid.,, pp. 20-21.
57Even those who might be able to purchase modest-sized
holdings are unable to do so. Land is transferred primarily
by inheritance; when it is sold, as Ahumada points out, it
is transferred in large blocks beyond the reach of a prospec-
tive small proprietor (page 102).
58Penn and Schuster, Revista Interamericana de Ciencias
Sociales, II, No. 1, 38.
59Warriner, pp. 284-285. Erven J. Long, "The Economic
Basis of Land Reform in Underdeveloped Economies," Land
Economics, XXXVII, No. 2 (May, 1961), 115.
60Long, Land Economics, XXXVII, No. 2, 119.
61Nicholls, p. 22.
62N. Georgescu-Roegen, "Economic Theory and Agrarian
Economics," in Eicher and Witt, p. 149.
63Solon Barraclough, "Lo que implica una reform agraria,"
Panorama Economico, XV, No. 230 (May, 1962), 128.
64Chonchol, p. 29.
65Ibid., p. 53.
6Ahumada, p. 102.
68Chonchol, p. 55.
THE EUROPEAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS
The Gestation Period--1830-1919
From where does Christian Democracy in Latin America
spring? Where does the Latin American movement derive its
philosophical and theoretical basis? Are the movements in
Europe and Latin America in touch with each other? To what
extent has European "social Christianity" influenced the Latin
American Christian Democrats?
To answer these questions, the European Christian Demo-
cratic movement must be examined. The following declaration,
from the program of the Young Christian Democrats of Turin,
Italy, shows a concern for the peasant and worker not unlike
what today's Latin American Christian Democrats advocate:
We demand effective legal protection for labor;
restrictions on night work and on the work of women
and children; compulsory Sunday rest; accident, sick-
ness, and old age insurance; a fixed maximum of hours
per day and a fixed minimum wage.
We demand serious protection and effective promo-
tion of the country people and their interests; of
small property more rational legislation on
tenancy agreements; the extension of agricultural
education; the establishment of Chambers of Agri-
culture and of arbitration machinery.
We demand .vocational education for the
masses; producers', consumers', and credit co-opera-
tives; friendly societies and workers' housing
Despite the somewhat quaint language, the demands have a
contemporary ring. What is remarkable about them is that they
were published by one of the predecessor movements not ten
years ago or even twenty, but in 1899! The quotation is cho-
sen to demonstrate that--contrary to the impression which the
rapid rise of the Latin American movement has given--Christian
Democracy there has not sprung up out of nowhere. Indeed, the
Partido Democrata Cristiana of Chile itself goes back to a small
group of "Young Turks" in the Conservative party who began to
work together in 1933.2
Christian Democracy has its most immediate sources in the
Christian worker, farmer and employer movements which grew up
in Europe in the period between the two world wars. The roots
of Christian Democracy, both as a social and as a political
movement, go back, however, to a much earlier period, and the
task of this chapter will be to trace briefly the development
of Christian Democracy to some of these sources, highlighting
the development of the movement's economic ideas.
Present-day Christian Democratic parties ultimately owe
their ideas and programs to a group of radical and prophetic
men who appeared in various countries of Europe in the post-
Napoleonic period. Thus Christian Democracy traces its ances-
try back to a "gestation period" of roughly ninety years, from
1830 to 1919. In the latter year, Dom Luigi Sturzo, perhaps
the outstanding thinker and man of action the party has pro-
duced, founded in Italy the Partido Populaire the first Chris-
tian Democratic party actually to gain a place in government
through a substantial electoral showing.
Restoration France, where the reaction against the French
Revolution seemed to have triumphed so completely as to wipe
out all vestiges of the Republic, nevertheless produced the
first Christian Democrats. The devotion of most Catholics to
the ancient regime and to the union of throne and altar, seemed
complete. However, as Michael Fogarty points out,
below the surface, and indeed to some extent above it,
liberal political principles lived on. The charac-
teristic social problems of the modern world, espe-
cially those of the working class, were also begin-
ning to make themselves felt.3
So it was that after the new revolution of 1830 overthrew
the clerical monarchy, these movements came to the surface,
and the first "social Catholics," men concerned with modern
problems and relevant social techniques, appeared.4 Christian
Democracy can, then, trace its first origins back to this date
when, as Luigi Sturzo characterizes it, two tendencies among
European liberal Catholics appeared: a political tendency
in favor of a constitutional system based on political
liberty; a social tendency toward the moral, economic and
political rehabilitation of the working class.5
The first Christian Democrat may well have been the
liberal prefect of Lille, France: Villeneuve-Bargemont.
Recognizing the misery of the poor in an age which as yet
little understood it, he devised a scheme, set forth in his
Traite de economic politique chretienne (1834) to settle, with
the help of the state, 134,000 indigent families --some 670,000
persons,--on uncultivated lands of the north and west of France.
Ahead of his time, Maurice Vaussard tells us, his scheme came
Lammenais and L'Avenir
The first two men to found movements of significance were
the controversial priests, the Abbe Felicite de la Mennais
(1782-1854) (or Lammenais, as he signed himself) and the Abbe
Lacordaire (1802-1861), one of his followers. After the July
Revolution of 1830, together with a young nobleman, Charles de
Montalembert (1810-1870), they founded in Paris L'Avenir, a
radical newspaper which was forced to suspend publication 20
months later, but which served as a rallying point for the
progressive elements among French Catholic intellectuals.7
"The programme of L'Avenir anticipates in point after point
that of Christian Democracy today," Fogarty says.
With the masthead "God and Liberty" (audacious indeed,
when many French Catholics believed that "liberty" was an
invention of the devil), Lammenais' newspaper advocated free-
dom of the church from the control of governments, but also
freedom of the people. Lammenais also fought for freedom of
the press and of association, for universal education and
suffrage, and liberation for oppressed minorities: workers,
teachers, those living under foreign rule.10 The priest also
devised a scheme for a "social office" for clerics, whom he
called upon, in The Plight of the Industrial Proletariat and
the Peasantry, to protect the common people by serving as
mediator "between the rich who provides the money and the
soil, and the poor who can only contribute his work to the
All this "went considerably beyond the usual demand of
the liberals in his time," Fogarty says.12 Lammenais also,
all his life, was haunted by the sufferings of the masses; in
his book, Paroles d'un Croyant (1834), described by Waldemar
Gurian as "the lyrical praises of the oppressed and enslaved
peoples and dark, rhetorical condemnation of the oppressors,"
created an immense sensation. Lammenais believed that the
system of hereditary monarchy prevented liberty and justice;
if the masses were free, oppression would be mitigated.14
L'Avenir campaigned for the Irish, Poles, Belgiums and Italians,
all then under foreign rule, to be allowed to choose their own
governments.15 Moody says that Lammenais' approach, like
Marx's, can be considered essentially sociological: new con-
ditions demanded new relations of the church with government
and society.16 Lammenais of L'Avenir probably was the first
prominent clerical voice to speak out in favor of the separa-
tion of church and state.
The men of L'Avenir, with their keen interest in and pro-
motion of liberalism outside France, might be thought of, says
Fogarty, "as the ancestors of the Paris headquarters of the
Christian Democratic political international (the Nouvelles
Equipes Internationales) today.7 After the suspension of
his paper and soon after the publication of the papal encycli-
cal Mirari Vos (which condemned the advocation of such advanced
ideas as separation of church and state and religious liberty),
Lammenais left the church. But his influence was felt through-
out the French church for the rest of the century: as Philip
Spencer points out, "most of the men who were to stand out in
the French church for the next thirty or forty years gathered
around him."18 Read today, Moody says, "the genius of
Lammenais still is apparent. Few have interpreted their age
In 1903, Lammenais would be praised by the French Cardinal
Baudrillart as "the mian who is at the beginning of the intel-
lectual movement of the French clergy and at the source of all
great movements at the end of the nineteenth century. 20 Moody,
pointing out that Lammenais' program did not stop at the cur-
rent boundaries of liberalism, declares it "emphatically demo-
cratic, the first Christian Democratic movement in French
Lacordaire and L'Ere Nouvelle
Lacordaire, although he officially broke with his mentor,
was to continue in the tradition of Lammenais while remaining
faithful to the church. From his association with Lammenais,
says Spencer, Lacordaire had made two permanent acquisitions.
"He had enlarged his recognition of the inherent greatness and
power of the modern spirit, and he had acquired a new sympathy
for the common people."22
In the years between 1830 and 1845, Lacordaire led what
has come to be regarded as an extraordinary religious revival
in France. In 1848, he became editor of a new Paris daily,
L'Ere Nouvelle. It was like a repetition of L'Avenir, Spencer
says, but deprived of Lamennais and strengthened (almost un-
believably) by the Archbishop of Paris.23 The columns of this
paper, day after day, were devoted to earnest proposals for
social legislation: L'Ere Nouvelle dared to speak openly on
such subjects as'thristian socialism," the church and democ-
racy, the causes of misery, the organization of the workers.24
On the whole, as Spencer points out, most Catholics at this
time (like liberals) accepted the laissez-faire theory of
economics and regarded the poverty and starvation as a neces-
sary if regrettable part of a God-given social structure.25
The same author characterizes Lacordaire as one of the few
Catholics of his time alive to the dangers and possibilities
in the rising consciousness of the working man in France:
Only a small minority (among Catholics) acknowl-
edged the existence of a real social problem. The
clergy, coming as they did either from the aristo-
cracy or the peasantry, had no experience of indus-
trial conditions, and even when they did not fear
the workers, they failed to understand them.
Affre, Archbishop of Paris, was an exception,
realizing, however dimly, that the church must
develop a policy towards the victims of the social
But L'Ere Nouvelle was to fail, like its predecessor, in
another reversal very similar to that which overtook the earlier
newspaper and its movement. The short-lived workers' Revolu-
tion of 1848 provoked a furious conservative reaction, and
Louis Napoleon came to power two years later. The bishops,
alarmed at the paper's uncompromisingly democratic tone, for-
bade the clergy to read it, and its circulation declined. A
"small and helpless" Circle of Christian Democracy, supported
by a handful of working men, lingered on until 1851, Spencer
recounts.27 But Lacordaire's influence was on the wane and
Ozanam and Buchez
One of the chief contributors to L'Ere Nouvelle and a
close associate of Lacordaire was the layman, Frederic Ozanam
(1813-1853). Moody calls him "the most consistent apostle of
social Catholicism" of the period.28 Sturzo regards him as
"the first leader of Christian Democracy who clearly perceived
its historical coming and the social reason for its existence."29
Before his long tenure at the University of Paris, where he
became one of the most famous professors of literature of the
century, Ozanam held the chair of law at the University of
Lyons. There, in 1838, he outlined in one of his courses ideas
which later formed the substance of the social encyclicals.
As summarized by Moody, Ozanam's main theses were:
1. Economic liberalism is a materialist system which
degrades the dignity of the human person. Man becomes
a means, even a machine, rather than an end.
2. The system of production is basically unjust for
it leaves wages to the law of supply and demand in-
stead of adjusting them to decent conditions for
human life. Workers must not be treated as commod-
ities whose price rises and falls with the market.
3. Charity may bind the wounds, but it is not an
adequate remedy. Only justice can establish a true
human relationship between employer and laborer.
4. The labor market must be regulated by the free
organization of working men and by some state control.30
Ozanam also founded conferences or meetings among young
men of the upper class who worked at mitigating the terrible
conditions under which the working class lived. His was one
of the few voices raised against the conservative Catholic
reaction to the 1848 revolution. Moody believes the alliance
of Catholics with Orleanist conservatives (and not 1789) was
the event which poisoned the action of the church in France
for nearly a century.31 Ozanam spoke out against the Catholic
reactionaries in L'Ere Nouvelle; he declared that "while the
revolt (of the workers) was put down, the great enemy poverty
remained."32 He accused the wealthy of deliberately provoking
the uprising by closing their factories and denying the means
of subsistence to their employees.33
At the same time, the same Archbishop Affre of Paris who
had supported L'Ere Nouvelle encouraged the younger and more
democratically-minded clergy who were interested in the workers'
needs. This gave rise to yet another publication and movement,
L'Atelier, published by a group of artisans and workers who
had been reconverted to active Catholicism. They were guided
by Buchez, a Catholic socialist, and Moody considers them the
clearest precursors of Christian Democracy.34
In Buchez' theory of the "workers' production associa-
tions," which in his scheme would have replaced the wage sys-
tem and permitted the workers to become their own employers,
we can see a direct link to a common Christian Democratic
theory of today, emphasized particularly in Latin America by
the Chilean party. What the people demand, wrote Buchez,
is not alms, nor patronage, nor even bread, if to
the gift of bread is attached the condition of
servitude. What the people want is their place on
the hearth of the great family, the recognition of
their right to participate in public affairs.35
Von Ketteler and German Social Catholics
Meanwhile, Germany at the same period produced its greatest
precursor of Christian Democracy in a Westphalian peasant pastor
and bishop, Emmanuel von Ketteler. Only six years after his
ordination in 1844, von Ketteler was named bishop of Mainz,
and for 25 years after this, he battled in the name of the
proletariat. The German Catholic social movement dates its
first beginnings from the six sermons von Ketteler delivered
in the Mainz cathedral in December, 1848:
No one can say anything about our era or comprehend
its shape without referring again and again to the
prevailing social conditions and, above all, to the
division between the propertied and propertyless
classes, to the plight of our destitute brethren.36
Indeed, the picture which von Ketteler painted of the
life of the masses is not less impassioned than that drawn by
another pen at the same time: the pen of Karl Marx. Von
Ketteler was not above quoting Marx and Engels on the situation
of the working classes in his own works. Here is another
There can no longer be any doubt that the whole
material existence of the working classes, which
are by far the majority of all persons in a modern
state, the existence of their families, their
daily worries about the very bread required for
the subsistence of a man, his wife and children, is
exposed to every fluctuation on the markets and in
market prices. This is the slave market of our
liberalistic Europe. .38
Von Ketteler, as can be imagined, was dubbed socialistic
and communistic.39 But he continued to regard liberal capital-
ism as an enslaver of men;40 he spoke about the social respon-
sibilities of property, the dangers of an "atomised society"
and the evil effects of unrestrained competition.41 He pro-
moted many projects for the social self-help of labor through
such means as producers' cooperatives and workers associations;4
he campaigned for profit-sharing, reasonable working hours,
weekly rest days and factory inspection.43
Von Ketteler, in an echo of Lacordaire (whom he knew and
admired), also proposed measures which must have seemed very
radical indeed to the clergy of his time. One of his pet
projects, which he put into effect in his own diocese, was a
"social deaconry" through which he encouraged priests and lay-
men to train themselves systematically in economics and to
become personally acquainted with the conditions of the working
classes; others were given travelling stipends "so that they
might become better acquainted through their own observation
with the needs of labor on one hand, and with existing welfare
services on the other. All priests, he thought, should learn
about the problems of labor in their seminary courses.4
Sturzo and the Partido Populaire
Finally, something should be written here about the work
of Dom Luigi Sturzo since the various strands of Christian
Democracy sketched in this short study culminate, in practical
terms, in the Popolari party which he founded in 1919.
In the midst of his theological and philosophical studies
in Rome, Sturzo became active in several Catholic social clubs,
but did not find his "political vocation," as he calls it,
until one day in 1895 he visited all the homes of a certain
workers' district to give the customary Holy Saturday blessing.
The terrible poverty, seen at close hand for the first time
by the son of Sicilian aristocrats, had a shock effect:
What impressed me was the sight of the unheard of
miseries. For several days I felt sick and I did
not eat. I got hold of some social literature, I
sought out what the socialists and humanitarians
were doing, and tried to get acquainted with
workers' leagues and cooperatives.46
Italy was still under the papal "Non Expedit," that is,
a prohibition to Catholics to participate in the Republic
(even extending to voting) because the Republic had shorn the
papacy of its temporal powers, Barred from political activity
on the national scene, Sturzo nevertheless abandoned his
studies for social action. He had been deeply stirred by
Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) on the condi-
tion of the working classes, but distressed that it was re-
ceived so passively; what he hoped to do was to attempt to
translate its directives into action.47
During these years, Sturzo devoted himself to the organi-
zation of workers' associations and cooperatives, sparking a
movement that grew so rapidly that in 20 years his Confedera-
tion of Christian Workers had 1,500,000 members. These
peasants and working men formed the backbone of his later
political party. As J. S. Sprigge describes it, a network
of workers' societies and banks (including rural credit banks
and artisans' mutual aid societies) spread across the country,
rivalling the socialists.49
Before this work came to fruition, however, Sturzo re-
turned to his native Caltagirone where he formed his first
workers and farmers' associations. In 1902, landowners asked
him to mediate in a strike of workers in the orange groves.
Dom Sturzo's liberal plan proved unacceptable to the land-
owners, and there was a bloody workers' revolt.50 Shortly
afterwards, Dom Sturzo himself led a three-month strike of
80,000 peasant laborers of the district until their working
agreements were improved.51 In 1905, he was elected mayor of
Caltagirone, and in the next few years he became president of
an association of Italian mayors, pushing through many admin-
istrative reforms in the Italian municipal system through the
Dom Sturzo saw Italy as a nation of small proprietors,
and he very early advocated a sweeping expropriation of land
for the peasants. He worked vigorously for agricultural
cooperatives and achieved striking success also in this
field.53 "In many respects," says Moos, "Sturzo's belief in
a decentralized and agrarian society as the basis of democ-
racy are as uncompromising as those of Thomas Jefferson. But
as a modern agrarian, he would not disparage manufacturing
In 1919, as Italy was beginning to recover from the
effects of the war, Dom Sturzo decided the time was ripe to
launch a political party. A new regime in the Vatican saw
the Republic in a different light and, his followers now free
to engage in direct political action, Dom Sturzo formed the
Popular party which received 99 seats out of 508 in the House
of Deputies in the elections of November, 1919.55
It is interesting to note that in the few short years
Dom Sturzo and his colleagues were allowed to work before the
advent of Mussolini, they pushed for many revolutionary re-
forms. For example, unable to get through an organic land
reform law in the Congress, they encouraged the peasants to
take possession of underworked or abandoned land, "sometimes
consecrating the act with a religious procession led by the
clergy."56 Called "White Bolshevists," Dom Sturzo (who never
held political office on the national level and only rarely
gave formal speeches, leaving the actual leadership of his
party to laymen), and his followers had to await the advent
of Democrazia Cristiana under Sturzo's great disciple, De
Gasperi, to push through a comprehensive land reform in Italy.
The Heirs of Social Catholicism
As is evident from the foregoing, social Catholics in
Europe very early occupied themselves with economic questions,
not excluding a deep concern for the landless masses. Their
remedies may have been tentative and groping, yet they provided
a basis on which their successors in Europe and Latin America
have been able to build more sophisticated programs of economic
development and agrarian reform.
Today Christian Democracy in Europe has, in the opinion
of its own leaders, arrived at a certain plateau--if it has
not actually gone backwards--in its mission to give political
expression to the ideals of social Catholicism. As the Austrian
journalist and Christian Democrat, Dr. Friedrich Abendroth,
observed in 1961:
The significance of the Christian Democratic parties
of Europe is today pitiably small in comparison with
what it was in 1945. Even where they still dispose
of small majorities, they often simply are facad 9,
devoid of genuine vitality and spiritual energy.
Christian Democrats of Europe recently have become much
more aware of the development of sister movement on the Latin
American continent. It is interesting to see that some of
them look upon the rise of the movement in Latin America as a
means of renovation and rededication on the part of the European
parties. The Europeans have, for example, taken an increasing
part in the Latin American Congresses of Christian Democracy
since 1955. The first World Congress of Christian Democracy
took place in Paris in 1956, largely on the initiative of
Eduardo Frei who, as Chilean delegate to the United Nations
in 1950, met Bidault,Schumann, Fanfani and Sturzo.58
In the same article quoted above, Abendroth maps out a
new direction for European Christian Democrats. The passage
is worth quoting at length because it recalls the "glorious
days" of European Christian Democracy and indicates the
global aspirations always implicit in the movement, aspira-
tions now being realized largely without initiative on the
part of the European movement:
It is not so long since statesmen in the various
countries of Europe were prepared not only to take
responsibility for the events within their own
national boundaries, but also to take a hand in
working out general solutions for a global settle-
Today Europe is too small. The sphere of action is
the whole globe itself. And for us Christian Demo-
crats, the main centre has shifted to Latin America.
.Today most Christian Democrats have concen-
trated all their energies exclusively on the prob-
lems of their own country. They live and work from
one election to another, jockey for position against
their temporary partners in this or that coalition
and concoct an ideology of sorts from day to day.
Let us be quite clear about it: let the Christian
parties of Europe not imagine that they can shirk
the great ideological tasks of this hour. If Chris-
tian Democracy in its capacity as the sole spiritual
force adequate to the task refuses to help in finding
a just solution for the world's problems (especially
those of Latin America) then there will be catas-
trophic consequences from which not even the most
efficient national Christian Democratic party will
NOTES TO CHAPTER II
1Tupini, I Democratici Cristiano (1954), p. 326, cited
in Fogarty, p. 320.
Boizard, Ricardo, La democracia cristiana en Chile
(Santiago: Editorial Orbe, 1964), p. 179.
Fogarty, p. 155.
5Luigi Sturzo, "The Philosophic Background of Christian
Democracy," Review of Politics, IX, No. 1 (January, 1947), 3.
Maurice Vaussard, Histoire de la democratic chretienne
(Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1956), p. 22.
7Philip Spencer, Politics of Belief in Nineteenth-Century
France (London: Faber & Faber, 1954), pp. 43-49.
8Fogarty, p. 155.
9Joseph N. Moody, "Catholicism and Society in France:
from Old Regime to Democratic Society," Church and Society,
ed. Joseph N. Moody (New York: Arts, Inc., 1953), p. 124.
1Spencer, p. 44.
11Moody, p. 405.
12Fogarty, p. 155.
13Waldemar Gurian, "Lammnenais," Review of Politics, IX,
No. 3 (October, 1947), p. 223.
5Moody, p. 124,
6Ibid., p. 122.
17Fogarty, p. 156.
18Spencer, p. 41.
19Moody, p. 122.
20A. Baudrillart, Le renouvellement intellectual du clerge
de France, cited in Gurian, Review of Politics, IX, No. 3, 206.
21Moody, p. 124.
2Spencer, p. 79.
23Ibid., p. 124.
24Vaussard, p. 38.
25Spencer, p. 124.
26Ibid., pp. 123-124.
27Ibid., p. 134.
28Moody, p. 129.
29Sturzo, Review of Politics, IX, No. 1, 3.
30Moody, p. 129.
311bid., p. 134.
Ibid., p. 133.
34Ibid., p. 130.
35Vaussard, p. 31.
Moody, p. 408.
7Ibid., p. 415.
38bid p. 416.
Ibid., p. 416.
39Ibid., p. 414.
40Ibid., p. 415.
41Fogarty, p. 164,
42Moody, p. 411.
43Fogarty, p. 165.
44Moody, p. 416.
45Luigi Sturzo, "My Political Vocation," Commonweal, Sept.
26, 1941, p. 537.
47Malcolm Moos, "'Luigi Sturzo, Christian Democrat,'
American Political Science Review, XXXIX, No. 2 (April, 1945),
48Sturzo, Commonweal, Sept. 26, 1941, pp. 538-540.
49J. S. Sprigge, The Development of Modern Italy (London:
Duckworth, 1943), p. 179.
50Sturzo, Commonweal, Sept. 26, 1941, p. 539.
51Ibid., p. 540.
52Moos, American Political Science Review, XXXIX, No. 2,
55Sprigge, p. 181.
57Christian Democratic Review, XI, No. 66 (January-February,
58Alejandro Magnet, "Resena de los movimientos democrat
cristianos," Congresos Internacionales Democrata-Cristianos
(Santiago de Chile: Editorial del Pacifico, S.A 1957),
Christian Democratic Review, XI, No. 66, 4.
CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY IN LATIN AMERICA
Montevideo and the "ODCA"
Latin American Christian Democracy had its extremely mod-
est beginnings in 1947 when a dozen men from Christian Demo-
cratic parties in Chile, Brazil and Argentina met with
Uruguayan party members at the Catholic club in Montevideo.1
There they decided
to found a supranational movement which has as its
goal to promote, through means of study and action,
a true political, economic and cultural democracy
based on the principles of Christian humanism, the
methods of liberty, respect for the human person,
and development of the spirit of community.
At this time, only the Union Civica of Uruguay and the
Falange Nacionae of Chile were set up as political parties;
the other two countries boasted no more than Christian Demo-
cratic study groups. None of the four had any practical
political experience. Even as late as World War II, Rafael
Caldera recounts, the movement in Latin America
involved only a few intellectuals in the univer-
sities who tried to show that the ideology in-
spired by Christ is more revolutionary, more preg-
nant with hope for the dispossessed masses, than
the Communist ideology.
Tristan de Athayde (who attended the Montevideo confer-
ences in his ordinary identity as Alceu Amoroso Lima), Brazil's
illustrious social and political philosopher, called the first
Montevideo meeting "a little seed," and afterwards asked,
"Will it bear fruit, this little seed of Montevideo?5 With
additions from Colombia and Peru, the same men--now 19 in
number!--journeyed to Montevideo a second time in 1949 and,
under the guidance of Amoroso Lima and the Uruguayan political
philosopher and statesman, Dardo Regules, they formed the
Organizacion Democrata Cristiana America (ODCA).6 Among the
delegates at both meetings was a young man of 35 who in 1949
would be elected a senator from Atacama where he had gone
from the capital city to edit a newspaper: Eduardo Frei
Montalva.7 His presence and early involvement in the Latin
American Christian Democratic movement demonstrate clearly
that his Falange Nacional --as the young rebels who had broken
with the Conservative party in Chile were called until 1957--
very early was Christian Democratic in orientation.
In the best Latin American tradition, these men sat
together and defined the ideological basis for a movement
which they unhesitatingly called "international!' At these
first meetings, as is understandable with young idealists far
from the seats of power, there was little emphasis on framing
concrete programs. Rather, they debated, defined and drafted
their ideological position. As documents in this chapter
will show, there is a remarkable consistency in Christian
Democratic thought during the movement's official life from
1947 to 1965. This is not to say that the positions taken at
Montevideo in 1947 and 1949 have not been elaborated; however,
Christian Democracy's program, as the movement comes to power
today in Latin America, was indeed (as Amoroso Lima suggested)
present in seed at Montevideo.
What were the main tenets of the new movement? Latin
America's first Christian Democrats declared that their move-
ment would be one of "Christian inspiration," but non-confes-
sional in character and open to all men who accepted Christian
principles. They pledged that the movement would adhere to
democratic political processes and reject all forms of dicta-
torship. And they set as their chief goal the social and
economic betterment--along the lines suggested by the social
encyclicals of the Catholic church--of the immense masses in
Latin America who lived outside the political, economic and
cultural life of their countries.0
In the economic sphere, these first declarations reveal
the early preoccupation of the movement with several questions
in which it has been strongly interested ever since. The
movement declared itself not only against the economic phil-
osophies offered by communism and neo-facism (Peron held sway
across the river from where the Christian Democrats were meet-
ing, and Vargas' Estado Novo had fallen not long before), but
also of "liberal capitalism in its historical expression":
The Movement of Christian Democrats of America
rejects the capitalist system, characterized by
an accumulation of the means of production by a
minority who subordinate human work to the ends
of private gain and exercise total dominance over
the economic process, maintainIng the workers in
moral and material servitude,
In place of capitalism--both the individualistic, Western
variety and the state capitalism of the Fascists--Christian
Democracy would substitute a communitarian system which
would place "moral duty over private gain."3 Communitarianism
would regulate production according to the needs of consump-
tion. And it would recognize the primacy of work over the
claims of capital through progressive substitution of a system
in which "the instruments of production would belong to the
men who worked them."14 This system would distribute the re-
turns of capital to all the participants, as well as increase
the share of the workers in the management of the enterprise.1
At this first meeting, there also was an affirmation that
the movement would work for "a more just distribution of prop-
erty as the economic base for liberty and progress, stressing
particularly the importance of the small agricultural proper-
ty.l6 This early interest in the small agricultural unit is
significant, for it is the family farm which today remains
the ideal of Christian Democratic agrarian reform. The
ideological reasons behind this advocacy, which for many
years went against expert opinion on the question, will be
discussed more in detail at the beginning of the next chapter.
Aside from these declarations on basic policy, the most
interesting aspect of these early meetings is the Latin Ameri-
cans' recognition of the bonds which united them to Christian
Democracy in Europe. Until Frei's initiative brought about
the first world meeting of Christian Democracy in Paris1--
nine years after the first Montevideo gathering--there was
virtually no contact between the movements on the two contin-
Certainly the European movement did not seem to take the
Latin Americans very seriously until as late as 1961; even
then, a "second string" delegation was sent to Christian Democ-
racy's third world conference at Santiago. Only since the 1963
meetings in Europe have the Europeans seemed to become aware
of the potential of this child they unwittingly fostered in
the new world.19 A list of Latin American Christian Democratic
parties, on the page following, indicates that this child is
CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTIES OF LATIN AMERICA1
Country & Name of Party & Year Member of
Leader Organized ODCA?
Remo Di Natale
Andres Franco Montoro
Rafael Gumucio Vives
Alvaro Rivera Concha
Ernesto Rodriguez Dia
Julio Adolfo Rey
Partido Democrata Cristiano
(Existed before Peron era; has
broken into two wings since
reorganization in 1954)
Partido Democrata Cristiano
(1964; amalgamation of three
parties of C.D. tendencies)
Partido Democrata Cristao
(1946 after fall of Vargas)
Partido Democrata Cristiano
(1957: amalgamation of Social
Christian wing of Conservative
party and National Falange)
Movimiento 'Democrata Cristiano"
(Organized about 1955 as Grupo
Testimonio-not a party)
Partido de Liberacion Nacional3
Movimiento Democrata Cristiano
(1955 a party was organizing;
now represented by members in
Partido Revolucionario Social
Movimiento Social Cristiano
Partido Democrata Cristiano
Country & Name of Parti & Year Member of
Leader Organized ODCA?
Rene Armando de Leon
Eduardo Rivas Gasteozoro
Antonio Enriquez (
Jorge H. Escobar
Partido Democracia Cristiana.
Partido Democrata Cristiano
Partido Accion Nacional
(Since about 1955 has been
coming into C.D. orbit)
artido Democrata Cristiano
artido Democrata Cristiano
Formerly Union Civica Nacional)
ovimiento Democrata Cristiano
Peru Partido Democrata Cristiano
Hector Cornejo Chavez (1956)
Jose Luis Feliu Pesquez
Daniel Perez del
Partido Accion Cristiana
Partido Democrata Cristiano
(Organized in 1912 as Union
Partido Social Cristiano de COPEI
(Organized in 1946 as the Comite
de Organization Politica Electoral
1Some of the groups mentioned in this table are not yet properly
political parties although they may call themselves such.
2Year of organization given if available.
3The relationship of the Partido de Liberacion Nacional of
Costa Rica to Christian Democracy is an indirect one through
the trade union movement, "Rerum Novarum," which is affiliated
with the PLN.
Sources: Various Christian Democratic annals of congresses and
becoming a robust youth.
Is it not remarkable that Latin American Christian Democ-
racy has developed spontaneously--or so it would seem--in the
new world with minimal contact with the old? Perhaps this
phenomenon is not so strange when one studies the formation
of the European parties, all of which--as Fogarty shows--
developed autonomously, reflecting the widely different needs
of the particular countries and social environments.20 But
the superficial diversity of the movement fades quickly, he
adds, when a long view is taken:
When one has followed through the history of Chris-
tian Democracy, soaked oneself in its literature,
and caught the atmosphere of its meetings, one is
left with the feeling not of divergences, but of
fundamental, impressive and growing unity between
people and movements who indeed share one world of
ideas. Through the program s of all the movements
run common characteristics.
It is not difficult to trace the reason for the basic
unity of Christian Democratic parties in Europe. They all
spring from the same roots: the great thinkers who framed
social Catholicism in Europe before World War I, and the
Catholic social action groups into which these ideas flowered
between the two wars. The Christian Democratic movement in
Latin America has developed from similar sources: a synthetic
ideology based upon the same set of guiding principles, to-
gether with activity and training in Catholic university,
social and labor organizations.
The Latin American movement has never been hesitant about
acknowledging its roots in Old Europe. The ideological inspir-
ation of Latin American Christian Democracy writes Alejandro
obviously comes from the old world. In the origins
of American Christian Democracy we meet the thinkers
and men of action who, already in the past century,
inspired the first European movements. Among doz-
ens, the illustrious names of Albert de Mun,
Lacordaire, Leon Harmel, Toniolo, Marc Sagnier,
Monsenor Ketteler, were familiar to all those who
were interested in the social problems of their
Afterwards the admirable figure of Dom Sturzo
became known, the founder of the Italian Popular
party, and in the books of Jacques Maritain, a
whole generation drank in the philosophy of a
"new Christianity" and of "an integral humanism."
S A common doctrine nourished us, above all
the inexhaustible sourcespring of the social
teachings of the church, expressed in the ency-
clicals of the popes.22
Before discussing in greater detail the development of
Christian Democratic ideology in Latin America since the
Montevideo meetings, a brief sketch of the genesis of the
Chilean and Venezuelan Christian Democratic parties--the most
mature expressions of the movement to date--will be given.
The Christian Democrats in Chile
Chilean Christian Democracy is a product of the fusion,
in 1957, of two currents nurtured within the Conservative
party. The first and most important current was the Chilean
Falange of Eduardo Frei. The second was the Social Christian
wing of the Conservatives.
The Conservative party has existed on the Chilean scene
almost from the beginning of the Republic, and was always con-
sidered the proper political home of Chilean Catholics. Al-
though slow to gather momentum, social Christian attitudes
began to be evidenced in the party at the turn of the century,
and dissatisfaction with party policy grew after the labor
encyclical of Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, became known in Chile.23
The first outward manifestation of this dissatisfaction
was the formation in 1935 of the Young Conservatives, who also
called themselves the National Falange, and who remained for a
time within the Conservative party structure.24 The young
founders of the Falange, besides Frei, included Bernardo Leighton
Guzman, Manuel Garreton Walker, Radomiro Tomic Romero, Ignacio
Palma Vicuna and Rafael Gumucio Vives. Frei, who was national
president of Chilean Catholic Action in 1933 -1934, had been
preoccupied with social questions since his student days.26
He wrote his university thesis on "The Salary System and Its
The Falange entered almost immediately on trade union
activity, a field in which only Communists had been active up
to that time. There followed a period of extremely bitter
contention between the Falangists and their erstwhile parents,
who accused the young political party of putting itself at
the service of the Communists. Jacques Maritain, the French
-philosopher who has influenced Christian Democracy's develop-
ment perhaps more than any other contemporary figure, became
the center of the Falangist-Conservative debate, and the
period produced many polemicas for or against his communi-
tarian and anti-capitalist ideas.2 At one point, the Chilean
hierarchy was moved to pronounce a severe judgment against the
Falange, and party members actually had voted to dissolve when
the bishop of Talca, Manuel Larrain, stepped in to assert
vigorously their right to continue.29
The Falange failed to convert its parent body to social
Christianity and, in 1938, "left forever the ranks of traditional
conservativism." 30 Afterwards, the Conservative party split
into two wings, El Partido Conservador Tradicionalista and El
Partido Conservador Socialcristiano. In 1953, the latter group
allied itself with the Falange to form the Federacion Social-
cristiana until finally the two groups amalgamated in the
Christian Democratic party in 1957.31
The last president of Chile, Jorge Alessandri, was a
political independent. His candidacy in 1958 was supported
by the two major rightist parties in Chile, the Conservatives
and Liberals. When their candidate ran foArch in Thc voting,
the other rightist party, the Radicals, decided to support the
Alessandri government and, before 'hiv next olecti;on, had fc-Lr
with the Conservauives and Liberals the Dc.:ocratic Fro't. The
Radicals during the 1930's flirted briefly with the CcrCn-iscs
and Socialists in the Popular Frornt, b-ut slnce that tir.n have
uoved right, losing many of their supporters either to hic
Comrm-unist-Socialist Front, the FRAP, or ct the Christi.-an
In 1958, within FRAP, the Co=3unist part- came -:=. -a
.ears of illegality to win a considerable share :f .-.;=*r anr
influence. Until that year, the Socialist par:- in .hil.
had consistently won about 10 per ce-i :5f the v-:te sizce
140.33 In the 1958 election, the first tie :t a Chris-
tian Democrats rade any showing, the part- won L"-l;=, -. :ts
cowing in third behind the Conserva:ive-.-Lierl: -.-al i..
(390,000) and the FRAP (356,300).3
Since 1958, the rise c.f the :: hs Se. ~ -.G:e:ait,.
In the parliam-entary elec c f 1i: 1~, 1 L, J .2- -.7
DerCocrat s elec.tce 23 deputies ana 3 --e,,iSAi.. s u* c .-r 3..i Z, .a- "":t C
c:;-l the Radical. and A6Leral s y. ::.A 2:..ze', r :-.' -'s.
The April, 1%)3, 61uniyipal ect. 5::. 1C:Icp .aee. tt
Christian Democrats the most popular single party, while the
March, 1965, parliamentary elections swept the PDC far to
the front. Results of these three key elections are shown
in the tables on the page following.
Christian Democracy in Venezuela
The history of the Partido Socialcristiano de COPEI
can be more briefly told. It began very modestly in the
early days of 1946 as a group of young Catholic university
professors and liberals hastily set up a "Comite de Organi-
zacion Politica Independiente" to run candidates in the 1946
congressional and the presidential elections of the following
year, after an army coup in 1945 had overthrown the dictator,
Medina. The entry of candidates in these elections,
Copevanos admit, was frankly "simbolico."36
COPEI brought upon itself the wrath of both right and
left. "Egoistic capitalism, insensible to the social trans-
formations needed, hated it worse than Marxism," Caldera
recalls. From the other side, the Marxists declared that
"COPEI is the enemy."37
The progressive party of Romulo Betancourt, Accion
Democratic, won the elections, but fell ten months later in
the face of growing opposition to its reforms. Under the
CHILE: COMPARISON OF POPULAR VOTE,
THREE KEY ELECTIONS
-Presidential elections of 1958, Institute for the Compar-
ative Study of Political Systems, Chile: Election Factbook
(Washington, D.C., Operations & Policy Research, Inc., 1963),
2Municipal elections of April, 1963, ibid., pp. 40-41.
3Parliamentary elections of March, 1965, DECE, publication
of the Organizacion Democrata Cristiana de America, I, No. 8
(February-March, 1965), pp. 6-7.
CHILEAN PARLIAMENT, 1961 AND 1965
Camara de Diputados
Christian Democrats 3 13 23 82
Socialists 7 7 12 15
Communists 4 5 16 18
United Conservatives 4 2 17 3
Liberals 9 5 28 6
Radicals 13 9 39 20
iMallory, W. H. (ed), Political Handbook of the World
(New York: Harper & Bros., 1963), p. 34.
2DECE, I, No. 8, 6-7.
dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez, the Copevanos went
underground or were exiled along with the AD. COPEI recalls
proudly that it stood with AD in those dark days, not
capitalizing on the fall of the partywith which it had
vigorously debated and contended in the preceding three years
of freedom in Venezuela.8
The turbulent situation of the ensuing years prevented
participation of Caldera and his associates in the continental
Christian Democratic meetings until 1359. Accion Democratica
again having come to power through free elections, COPEI
came into coalition with AD and Caldera was free to attend
his first ODCA meeting in Peru. There he emotionally re-
called how, in previous congresses, an empty chair --"draped
with the flag of Miranda"--had symbolized his party*s
adherence to the Christian Democratic movement.39
COPEI adheres firmly to the principles of Christian
Democracy and, since 1959, the young and vigorous Caldera has
become the Number Two figure in the movement, after Eduardo
Frei. A university professor for twenty years, he has held
the chairs of sociology and labor law in both the national
and Catholic universities.40 There is an interesting coinci-
dence in the fact that his university thesis was done at
about the same time as Eduardo Frei's and on a closely allied
subject: the history and philosophical background of labor
law in Venezuela.41 Today Caldera serves as ODCA president.
Caldera is convinced of the future of Christian Demo-
cracy in his own country, even in the face of the reformist
party presently in power. The democratic left has, he be-
lieves, lost its force:
There have been among their leaders [parties of the
democratic left] men of indisputable stature. But
the lack of a clear definition and the gap between
revolutionary doctrine and pragmatic conduct
.has produced a raid deflation of this force.42
COPEI recently decided not to become an official part
of the Leoni government, and the Christian Democrats obviously
are disassociating themselves from their former partner in
preparation for the next presidential elections.
The Social and Political Philosophy
The sketch of the two Montevideo gatherings of Latin
American Christian Democracy summarized some points of the
young movement's ideology. It will be interesting now to
explore, however briefly, this ideology as it has developed
in Latin America from 1947 to the present. A few key ideolo-
gical themes recur over and over again; an attempt has been
made, in the following section, to draw from sources repre-
senting both early and recent Christian Democratic thought.
The Christian Democratic movement in Latin America de-
fines itself as revolutionary, not traditional; communitarian,
not capitalist or communist; personalist, not individualist
or collectivist. Obviously these terms overlap, but each
idea is distinct enough to permit them to be discussed
A word of caution should be inserted here: these are
official ideological statements on the positions of the par-
ties, and there is great variance among party leaders as to
how the official position is to be interpreted. This is true
from country to country and within countries. The Chilean
party has generally been considered to be further left than
the Venezuelan party, and within the Chilean party, Jaime
Castillo Velasco, for example, is considered spokesman for
the left wing while Christian Democratic Senator Tomas Reyes
Vicuna, executive secretary of ODCA, probably represents a
more middle-of-the-road position.
Moreover, party members also have to be taken into
account. Gabriel Almond concluded that the European Christian
Democrats generally were characterized by a left-oriented
elite while the rank-and-file was primarily traditional and
conservative.43 While the present author believes the Latin
American case may be somewhat different in that both the
Chilean and Venezuelan parties already have impressive urban
labor and campesino followings, it remains to be seen whether,
in the actual circumstances of power, the parties will remain
as far on the left as their present ideological pronouncements
would seem to put them.
Revolutionary, Not Traditional
From its beginnings, Christian Democracy in Latin America
has stressed the need for radical social change and for a new
economic order to alleviate the misery of Latin America's
masses. Christian Democrats have a refreshing habit, in a
tradition of high-flown oratory, of frankly admitting the
oppressive problems which their countries face. Looking at
present-day Venezuela, a recent COPEI congress asserts that
it is difficult to recognize the characteristics
of an authentic political society in this human
association where--while most must desperately
exert themselves in order to satisfy fundamental
needs--the few squander in luxury and pleasures
the goods which an unjust distribution of riches
and the existing social, political, economic and
juridical order have put into their hands, with
evident scorn for the common good.
Christian Democrats in Latin America, by consistently
advocating sweeping reforms for the benefit of the working
classes and the campesinos,have long been identified by con-
servatives not only with the democratic, but often with the
Moreover, Christian Democrats often use language any good
Marxist would approve. "Our criticism of capitalist society,"
Eduardo Frei asserts, "is as severe as Marxism."45 Writing
in the official Chilean Christian Democratic journal, Politica
y Espiritu, party theoretician Castillo demonstrates the truth
of Frei's statement, except that the solution which he goes
on to propose--the communitarian society--is based upon a far
different conception of man:
Asia, Africa, Latin America are the principal under-
developed regions of the world. They are the zones
which have suffered colonial or semi-colonial ex-
ploitation at the hands of the large capitalist
countries. .The Revolution of the peoples
against capitalist society, against the exploita-
tion of world capitalism, is an historical process
set on the march which cannot be held back. It is
in the backward, underdeveloped societies where the
revolutionary impulse gathers greatest strength. .
Capitalism has revealed itself incapable of respond-
ing justly to this challenge. The masses have lost
confidence in reaching any solution within the
capitalistic mold. 6
Another revolutionary feature of the Latin American Chris-
tian Democrats is the fact that since the early years, when
they were almost exclusively a middle-class party, they have
not only put their principal stress on working for the masses,
but also on preparing the masses to work for their own politi-
cal salvation. Jacques Maritain declares that one of the
principal phenomena of the 19th century was the emergence of
a prise de conscience in the working person, the "grasp of
consciousness of an offended and humilated human dignity and
of the mission of the working world in modern history.7 In
consequence, Maritain declares, the proletariat demands to be
treated as adult; by this very fact, it cannot be succoredd
or saved by another social class." The principal role must,
in Maritain's view, be assumed by the proletariat itself, but
not in withdrawal from the rest of the community as the Marx-
ists believe; rather, in association with whatever other
classes are determined to work with them for human liberty.48
These ideas remain basic to Christian Democratic thought
and action in Latin America today. One consequence was the
realization, from the earliest days, that Christian Democracy
had to become a mass movement--this, in itself, marked Chris-
tian Democrats off from the old elitist conservatives. At
their Santiago meeting, eight years after Montevideo (when
the little seed was a small and promising plant, but no more
than that), Rafael Gumucio, founder of the Falange with Frei,
told the delegates:
Christian Democracy must be animated by a popular
vocation which cannot be renounced or resigned. If
the people do not believe in us, if we are not capable
of gaining their confidence, even more, if Christian
Democracy is not made up of these people themselves
and does not become the expression of their longings,
then our political work will not go beyond good in-
The Christian Democratic emphasis on economic and social
problems has added to the leftist aura surrounding the party.
ODCA secretary Reyes, indicates that Christian Democrats do
not disdain the leftist label:
In Latin America, any political party must define
itself in terms of its social and economic policy,
since economic and social problems are the truly
urgent ones in all our countries. The primary task
of our age is to establish social justice, without
depriving the individual of his liberty. Insofar as
we are engaged in a constant struggle to improve
working class conditions and to bring about a whole-
some change in the old order in industry and agri-
culture, Christian Democracy is a movement of the
It remains to be seen whether or not concrete programs of
Christian Democracy in Latin America will match ideological
declarations. An observer of Frei's first months in office
has commented recently, however, that Alberto Edwards' des-
cription of Chile's social structure as a product of the
middle classes' tendency to ally itself with the upper classes51
today is being reversed. "At last," he writes, "a party with
middle class roots has linked its fate to the rotos, inquilinos
and other unfortunate ones."52
Yet in spite of their unequivocal stand for radical change,
Christian Democrats mean something quite different by "revolu-
tion" than the Communists--and even some of their brethren on
the democratic left.53 Christian Democracy wants to effect
its revolution while conserving certain Christian values repre-
sented in Western Christian civilization. As Caldera put it
We Christian Democrats dream of a revolution without
bloodshed, one which will break antiquated molds
and introduce new life, but without sacrificing
the fundamental values of our continent and its
As Fogarty points out, this introduction of a certain con-
servative note into Christian Democratic ideology results in a
paradox. Even though "in principle" Christian Democrats feel
"the priority should go not to preservation but to change,"55
they do not in practice by any means advocate violent revolu-
tion which would sweep away the old order entirely. Conserva-
tism among Christian Democrats is evidenced mainly, Fogarty
thinks, in an awareness of the time factor in social develop-
ment. Big achievements may take more than one generation.56
The paradox of "conservative revolution' often is revealed
in the Latin American Christian Democratic documents and litera-
ture: calls for social change are tempered by stress on the
need for cooperation among the social classes and by insistence
that revolution can be achieved without violence. Christian
Democracy, says Caldera, is profoundly convinced of the neces-
sity for a change--but maintains the possibility of a peaceful
revolution, a revolution in liberty:
We understand the arguments put forth for what might
be called a 'theology of violence": one can always
find in the best theologians justification for
violence. But we reject it from the point of
view of what might be called a "sociology of vio-
lence": because we have a profound conviction that
violence only engenders violence and that if the
destructive stage of the revolution is accelerated
it makes more difficult, and often impossible, the
constructive part that is, the building of a new
and just society. 7
Christian Democracy nevertheless believes that only the
Christian solution has the creative power to renovate society:
capitalism is inherently unjust and has spent its force; com-
munism would indeed bring revolution, but its solution would
be "materialistic, atheistic, destructive and, especially,
would scorn every human right."58
In place of capitalism and communism, Christian Democracy
proposes a new type of society which it proposes to build
through a peaceful revolution: a communitarian society.
Communitarian and Pluralistic, Not
Capitalist or Communist.
Christian Democracy, says Frei, is founded on an integral
humanism59 which seeks to implant a new type of society which
will be "communitarian."60 According to Frei, Christian
Democracy does not believe the structures and forms of the
older societies adequate to the aspirations of the masses.
A new type of civilization and social organization is demanded.
In the organization of work under a communitarian system, for
the community formed by men who work in the same
enterprise--whether this be industrial or agrarian--
assumes fundamental importance. This means over-
coming the profound class conflict inherent in
present social organization, where a very small
group holds the power, the resources, and the
prestige that give them the control of goods, in
the face of the vast majority of wage earners.
The communitarian idea proposes an order of things
where capital and labor are no longer separate
and, therefore, are no longer in conflict.61
Communitarianism or "solidarism" as it was called in
Europe, has been, Almond writes,
conceived as the democratic and Christian alterna-
tive to socialist or fascist totalitarianism on
the one hand and liberal individualism on the other.
Its essential meaning is that co-ordination in
society and the body politic is to be achieved by
acquiescence on the part of groups and individuals
on the basis of a mutual recognition of the inter-
dependence of human life and of the common good
The communitarian idea is based not only on the integral
humanism of Maritain, but on the principle of "subsidiarity"
outlined in the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno by Pius XI;
It is indeed true, as history clearly proves,
that owing to the change in social conditions much
that was formerly done by small bodies can nowadays
be accomplished only by larger corporations .
It is, however, an injustice, a grave evil, and a
disturbance of right order for a larger and higher
organization to arrogate to itself functions which
can be performed efficiently by smaller and lower
bodies. The state should leave to these smaller
groups the settlement of business of minor importance.
It will thus carry out with greater freedom, power
and success the tasks belonging to it, 3
"Subsidiarity" has ramifications not only for the working com-
piunity but for the whole of society. At every level of social
organization, there are units with specific tasks which they
are capable of working out efficiently--and they must be
allowed to do so, the proponents of subsidiarity contend, if
each individual is to come to his full human and spiritual
development, and if the society is to be healthy and promote
the common good. What can be done well on lower levels must
not be taken over by higher. Protestants express this same
idea in somewhat different terms as "the sovereignty of one's
own circle'" or "the special task and vocation of each social
group'--but the idea is the same.6
Subsidiarity means that a healthy society is composed of
many different communities, each as autonomous as possible in
its own sphere: family, neighborhood, municipal, regional,
cultural, age group, social welfare, worker, party. Viewing
the nation as a whole, many intermediate groups must intervene
between the state and the individual if the citizen's interests
and welfare are to be adequately insured Communitarianism
thus strongly stresses the need for decentralization and for
checks on the all-powerful state. The action of the state,