Group Title: sociological analysis of man-land relations in Central America
Title: A Sociological analysis of man-land relations in Central America
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Title: A Sociological analysis of man-land relations in Central America
Physical Description: xv, 459 . : illus. ; 28cm.
Language: English
Creator: Upham, William Kennedy
Publication Date: 1969
Copyright Date: 1969
Subject: Farms -- Central America   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Central America   ( lcsh )
Land tenure -- Central America   ( lcsh )
Sociology thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Sociology -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis - University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 423-457.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00097783
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000134078
oclc - 01708948
notis - AAQ0123


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TilL iLNnilP !Fr OF FLORib4



I IIlIIII I I 1':1 11'11 III~ ill


to 1 0


Th-is dissertation Is the culinlation of a pectod

of study that had Its roots In Cuatenala in 195;,. In that

year I mian my first V.isit to Central AmTerica, and In only

a short few.. days I discov.ered a land and people that I

determlnedd to come to understand, and? to interpret to my

fellor; "norteamcricanos .

Ev.entu~ally this interest led me to the Univ'ersity

of Flordid and to Professor T. Lynn Smith In particular.

Over the last decade Professor Smith has continually stim-

ulated my interest in Latin America, at the same time

guiding me in the refinement of my own jsoio~logcal frjhme

of reference. In addition, he has bee~n a wllling co~n-

sulltant as problems arose in the p~ursuilt of this topic.

Hie has believed In me whenr m; own faith ;:.'avered, and :'ith-

ou r his encouragementi;~ this situidy' w'uld neve.r have. reached


During my ;ear; of study at the Uni-'eralty of

FClrdaa I have benef~ited from the teaching and counsel of'

many persons, professors and fellow students alikei. While

some others have been almost equally important, I will

single out for mention only the members or m:y superv.ilsory


ioreintece who hj've aided me on vardious occasions bj

=eaccing to my ideas and helping me to interpret data,

as wIell as enriching myi; backgrounds through their clacsses

;iost of all, these men hiave stood behind me, with en-

coIuragemeInt, and accespted the responsibility of reading

these many. pages. I offer m;' sincere thanks to Professors

Joseph 5. :'andiver and John ?r. D. Sauinders of Sociology,

and to Professojr Raymlrond E. C~rist of Geography, and

Pro~fessor Lyle !. M~ci~llater of Historl.

I must especially thank the Henr:' L. and Grace

Dohherty' -aritable Foundrationl for the fellows~hlp w~hlrch

helped to ;uppFort mie duiring my field researc-h in Central

nieirica. Ulithout that jrawar I wJould prob~ablly have had to

attempts a dif~ferrent Kind of study'. I also rwanrt to acJ-

kno',ledjge rhe aid of a n!ationral Science Foundation fello::'-

rhip duringJ the academic :.ear following my return from the


In Central ;merica I m~et .onderfully helpful people

at eve~r., or-ccsion, but they~ are mruch too numerous to name.

Suffice it to say that I greatly appreciated the aid of

the dozens of persons in the ministries of agriculture,

the census bureaus, the agricultural extenisin ser?'tcas,

the, univ'ersities, and the cartographic- agencies. In many'

cases I was provided wi~th preliminary or special data, or

given access to unpubllsheed reports thiat were extremrely~

helpf~ul. The same wajs true at the Inter-Americann Institute

of Agricultural S,-iences at Turrialba, and at the Escuela

Agricola Panamericana jt -amorrano,

I am esp~ec~aiall indebted to the many~ ordinarl

people whiom I mst because of thatr own personal relationships

to the land, and not because of any office or ponition that

they' held. These inl~cluded ;:a--c>.dan2.:- plantation a:wners,

fa3mil:-sized facm operators, sharircroppetrs, and just plain

laborers. Almiojt wilthout exception they; In.ited mne into

their hiomes and ma~de me trul; welcomel while patie~ntl;

telling me about lif'e and farmingq as they experienced


The Uni-versity of Florida has offered two specialized

FZeniCes whl1Ch must be mentioned. Its Latin American Data

Eank~ provided "data sets" of the Co~sti Rican agricultural

censuE of 1963 and the Guatemalani population census of 194i,

both of~ which enabled me to make: special tibulatiocs. Al~so,

the map co-llection of the Universit Li~brjr;y provided me

wilth the opportuinity to studyl top;jraphiJ- m~aps of 'ir~tualle'

tha entireC Sountry' of~r Guatemala fromn which Figure 11 wass

eventually; made.

Thea DirBcttor Generil of the InstitUtos Geogrifi1Ces

Ilacionales of Guatemala and Costa Pica, Ing. Mlanuel A.

Castillo Biaragas and Ing. Macio Barrantes Perreto,

rcspecctively, Kindly grnnted me permission to reproduce

the copyrighted maps of their respective countries for

Chapter V.I. For this I thjn'r them.

!;n the mechanical side I wasnt to express profound

appreciation to M~rs. Caroly~n Llyons who undertookr to tj'pe

this dissertationn in Gainesville, Florida, while I was

locat-d in Texas. .;s the reader can 3ee, she has done

a beautiful as w:ell as conscientious jcob in pre~senting

my anuacrip~t in final fo~rm.

Finally', thie greatest debt of all goes to3 my wife1~,

Jo;, wrho, in addition to being myi; companion, has labojred

.:ith mle at over, -tjge. 5:-e hasj been tha typist for the

preliminar; drafts, the map maker for anjny of the figures,

and a proficient proofreader of tables and text. Mlost

of all, she has maintained faith that this effort :ourld

be satiSfacCtorily' concluded even u o,n my own confidence

wjave~red.r 5he, of course, wasj right.









LIST OF TA~ELE . . , . .. . . .

LI ST OF FIGU E .. . .. . -- - -- - .. . .


II. AR ;L.IDi Rj FLE'.A.]T LI'TE1-.'TUE .........

III. TrHE: SI, r E.:;PLOTACi~- IO[IE' . . .. . .

5;.nre an ..~~: He:- ............ ls


chapter Page

I..LAN1D 'TEDURi;E ................................ 16.E'

?*Ci:; r. ;: r: ................... ...i

L.;.~~j~'; s ..ic:-................. 213

SYT 15 ICr LT -;: .................. .... 0

;;~j ~ : ;.:.i _-.....- .................... 340

.l. PA T ;l r. SETTL 1EllT .;. .~ .................. 213

'.'II.~:.. c,;.!:-: ~ ~ l al"A D C L SO 5 .................. L'3

.PPENDIE!1 ..........~i~i.....................------- ;03

(F;ir:iGU.E 18.;:-. ................... 41.9


,-tE~. LA'I.D AR ................. 4.


:-.PPE:.DIX D LI;'T CDE ,EBF.E.'I.'IATIOUS. .. .. .. 4Ll

SE~LECTED BIEIiOGE.AH't ............. ................. 123

b~iOGLEPHIC.'L SK:ETCHC .................. .............. -1Sb


Taole Page

1. Thel; f~aul ?-sized f~arm js defined in somel? ;.ft
cu~r~ret Ilit;-rture~ of. iLtin Ameri-TCj ...... 65

and jabsolute- and relsrtic amountt of' land

L.. Humber ;f lar.!, multi-fam~ril, fjrmsi, together
;Ith the~ ;elati. amouilnt of natlbinli
tesr=5rite, jnd of total fariL' andl. ._O;?rted
bj r~- ihEs farms:l~ fi--E Centra'. l 7.imurlic n
counuc~les bt la~tes car.jui .................. 79

-1. AbjSolute jrnd rela~ti'r e nunber1 of e~::-.prlet3Ciones
andj absolute and ~relati .5 amonurnt ;f lnd
in I:-:piotaciiones b~l 31-e of' expleiticdn

r. Guaemailj, 194i- ...................... 79
B. Eli3 -sader, 1961 .................... a'j
C;. Henducel~ 196 ....................... 91

E. 2Cota E-j.ic, 1961 .................... 85

de;-oted to seleot;d uses-, by~. s-ize o~r

;;ountrlas, latEst lata ....................... 116

6. F-lati. e distributlsnn of land. in e~:-*pjleta;lones~s,
aind oft 3selected 2reLps an li;'.'3stock,; ;ImongT
four 3;iz -Of fam c'il CiaS se: C.ent r iIrlQ Lmerican
countries, laitest date ...................... 129

7. ..bsolte andi relatively' numbersc. of~ e.-.Clortaciones
ofI Statid 51:es, together '.'ith Ab~Solute
jnd aelatii- chajnge:

A. Gunaleals 1950 to 1964 ............ 145
E. El Eail..:aderr, 1950O to 1961 ............ 1J9
:. CotL RiCa, 1950 to 1963 ............. 150

LIST jF "TAEJ~.E .*'7.t" ;!t:d

Tabjler Page

5. Absolute1 5 .nd~ reliti'.e amoun~itst of land~ 1Tn
rS..pi0t;ionesa of' stated size-, togetheri
:;tith ^-bsouit' and~ rejlates changes:

Ai. Guatemala,~ 19511l to 1964 ............. 152
E. El Sal'.'ador, 19'LD to 1961 ........... 153
C~. Cos~ta Rica, 1950L to; 1963 ......~...... 5

4. Dajta ;mpl;;dn in etiljatin thie runutsit
hous; cholds '-'hich Sect-*e 4 11.-ii lked
trom!l agr~icultural snd pastlral
acti itizs: central Americn ~countric;
inl the-l 196 'a .............................. L'02

1 Ejtiliates of thlE .iurdwar~i of J3nuineE f'jrms

t~he agrricultural e-:-n;,ses of the~
Central .Imer1ican cosunterer aince 1360l ... DO

11. Estima~tes o~f thel numbers~3i. and proporti;o ns of

agricultursl and pastorsl occupations

fjrc; laborers. In the 7;ntral ~American
countris in the 196ii's .................... 21T

classifiedj accoi~rdin t; tenur; of
th~e pJLroduI1ci' : i.ntrlil .Limer'l~icn
countriF;, 1960'3 .......................... 21;

13. C:-:plotacious~~ agropacuari s nd land In
e...platacious~i c~iilaified a=cor~ding toJ
tinecea o producer in csiilcted size

A. Gaternalsl, 131'64 ..................... 1
B. El Sal-:3do~r, 19-1 ................... r-'1
C. Honduras, 1966 tand 1952)...... "
D. :licaranusL~, 196; ......~............... 22
E. Cosjt.a R~ica,~ 1963~ .................... 226

LIST SF T.'-.LES--.'o ut.::

14. Abso-luted ,ind relaJti'. TIa nTer ~f' explotaictor.ej
jgrpsl-siapauaia iianjagd b; sdminilstrito~rs, and
ico2iluteF iand r~jL-lat'. amou~nt of farm~land in
;uch e.-:plotaciions ysieo xpoair
ljuatemala, 19, l and111 C-5ta ExiCa, 1963 ....... Tr3

15. ume f penanenrlt agricultur3l Iverk:rs p~er
i::pl;otacidcn, i iai of ej:-:lotacion::
El Sal'a~dor, 1961, and Cotst Exca, 1963 ..... :'0

16. Duncers _f ca~non emrploye~d inl agriculture
and ;strimated numiioer sf form operators,
and the raJti3 of farm~-~i~l.e male ad ve ons
to~ firm ex~~ri cats r at the' tl!me~ of the~
t'o noSt re~Cent Ci1nsuses: G'uatem.Jal
El Sal'.ador and Costa Rica .................. 281

17. Chase~ it, the~ nuanter and arej of e.-:r010t, cionc
agroprcuarias clissified according to
tenu~re _f th~ crediucer in sel~ctedJ 3ize

A. luitremaljl, i'190 t~o 194? .............. 284l
8.. C1 Sal-.'ador, 14950 to 1961~ ............ 226i
C. Costat F.1:a, 1950i tos 1963 ............. 2a7

18. IDurbe;rs and p.TrJperti oT.S f i:.:ple~taci;Ones
agrapacuarlaria r~tporting no~ t::.c'pt
humL~an rffo-rt, or 31ze of e.-.plt3ciones:

i. Gutenals,3 19501 ...................... 312
e. 1 5;1lvadsr, 1961 .................... 313
2. Cota ERica 1?63 ..................... 511

19. ;:u~hrr1 er:s an roportions, of ;::plotaciona s
agrapcuari~aris reporting th-e ue o-f
animal ps~::err~ by size ofr E::plotLLciones:5

Ar. Guat.=ruals, 1950: ...................... 310"
P. El ~sl:udor, 1961 .................... 321
C. Zcota Eica, 1933 ..................... 322

Li0. iumbers arcd preparations of e..plotaciones
agr3paCUarllas repo~tting tna Lus.e or
-nrimal- arnd trjactor-r-dr:-: clo:.'s, he
sizei of ie:-.ptltziones:- Cos~tb P:1C-a, 1963 ... -


LIST OF TAELEE-- pr.;[*: .ad

'Tablei Pace

31. :ium~ber and~l graportiona of e:-r.iotaciones
aglrcp-uruarie reueritina: the use ofi
tractors, b; si-e of e::.plotacones:
Coatj Eica, 1963 ............................ 331

22T. C~hang~Es In1 the nuwlTher- Of farm;S ep laylinll
different sources3 of power3, ,; by hrte
ziiz 2ategories: Cost; Elea, 1950
to 19E3 .......... ........................... 541

11':C~ 0.. their 6:-.plotjciones, b; iee of
5:-:p:lotacionn and o~ccupation rf producer*
Costa Exca, 1930 ............................ 35:

Td. R~e!ilat~ie nurmsr ;f h~adis of houiseholls ::ho
:t-E farmer'js nd _attlemen li~in.;g or, an
3::plztaciin agriola bytrinic~ group
and reion: uatemala,, 1964 ................ 37'

35. Re-lati.e number~a s of prod-ucera resLding: ~ff
the e:-.pletj=i~n, and~ aw~pl'fi ment-~ of fjrml
administratoror, b sz fe-pe;tn
Corta rica, 1950I and 1963 ................... 59f



Exqur- PagE

1. i unt~lliLc of permanent agriult-i ucal '-ork~rs per
e>~.Filoaacidn by siz- of e.-:pl.othcidn: El
-.11.; dor, 1961i, srd Cost; Elich 1963 ........ Ct;

2. lu-rber of agricultural .'erl~rrs at *:'ock.: psr
ile.-:poticion, on; one~ jr.ecifiedr dayj orT ..wk!,
t size rf -:-.cloticion:i Guatemala,~ 195n:
He~ndlurcas 1952; and~ 5Cost R1Ca, 1955 ........ 67

3. M~ejian .size of e.::plotario;.res ageopeaniasia

-1. Eroportion of all lar.;i in e:.plotacione.= I'hic-h
.:as included-3 In 1laces multi-famil;' tfrrs,

In thec 1960's ............................... 8r

5. Relat-. Ee n~uTmbe Of ::F1j.pcltaTor~e wi.rc~h :.ere'i
in the range ojf finmil -;i= d farms, b:
majo 5r c~i il di-. i hins?3: lCe ntra~l .Lm, rica
in the; 1960's .. . .. . .. . .. . 9

i. Procorttion. :E farnland de-.rted tOO annual -rops,
bl. si; of e:-pletacin: e-eCenra
.i;L.meican cou1nt ri s .. . .. .. . .. 117

7. Pr~opor-tion~ oft fariand de-oted to permalnent~
crop~s, by aize of e::rt..putacion tIre
Cenltrali Anei~rlcan coun~cles ................... 115

8i. Proposrtionn of fjrnia~r.d devo'ted~ to stares,
'oo;dlan~de and. itne~r cnonrop uses, b
51:+~ ;f e.-.el,t;:1n: fi:'.s Centrnl
.mEric- a n countries ... ... ..... .. 119

100O males employed' in agrlculturjl accu-
patio~s,, by; major ci:11 di-.isla~ns
Central America in the 1960I's ............ 229


Figure Page

10. True agricultural -illage of San Lucas
Toliman at the southeast corner of
Lake Artitlin, Guatemnala3 .................... 355

11. Schematic representationn of the predominant
settlement patterns in Guatemala, gen-
eralized from large-scale topographic
maps showing house locations throughout
the c-ounrtr: ................................ 357

12. A rural section of Usulutan Department,
El Sal-.'ador, showing the distribution
of rural houses in hamlets (caserios)
which lack: v.irtuall: all ser-vices, but
are clustered enough for considerable
social contact ............................. 359

13. Fruit company settlementa in the Sula
'!alley of Hondura; ......................... 362

1.A line -illage development extending to the
east and vest of the village olf Turrdcares,
ProVince- of Alajuela, Costa Rica ........... 368

15. False line village of Chichipate, near
El Estor, Guatemala ........................ 369

16. Scattered farmsteads in the cereal and cattle
-one of Po-o Az~ul, Guanacaste, Costa Rica .. 372

17. Scattered fasrmsteads in a =one of minifundios,
Santa Cruz del Quiche, Guatemala ..-........, 373

18. Mlap identiflling the major divisions of
the Central American nations ............... 141



For the undErstanding of the o'.'zu;helmingil rural

and agricultural courntries of~ Central Ar1erilca, an appre-

clation o;f man'j social relationshipss with regard to the

land is fundamentall.: The mrajecity of the more than

14i million people~ of this- region of Latin Amlerica li.e

out their intimately bound uLp ini the slystemns which

ha-.'e de'.loped around the sire of farmiis, land tcniire,

~..'ays o' farming, andi f-orms of settleme-nt./ Cceverthelress,

the~ tact tha~t ecjh of' thorsi sociocultural systems is

In-;titutionalzed as part of the total rural soc~il systera

i s f requlntly overloorked. It is a goail Of this Study: to

jhow: that all of these miust be tak:en into account in any'

teffort to compr3Ehend the nature of rural 11fe, and~ more

especially, in an; endeavor to Introdu~e c-hange~s in these

sys-;tr ms .

Objectives of the Study

The principal obj~ctive of the present study is to

appl; a wetll-de'.eloped sociological frame of reference to

the analysis of the relationships between mien and the land

- 1 -

In Central Amner-ica. This Is somesthing which has never been

attempted In the area on a regional bjasis, although sever-al

national or sectional studies have~ been made previouslyy

rsee T. Lyrnn Smith, 1945b: ; Whtten, 1961; [-nesmn, 1rl-3,.

Piart of the significarnce of the effort is that the same

investigators is responsible for making the obser,ations,

app1;ling the analytical frameworkr, and performing the

detailed analysis for all of thec co>untrie-s included.-

A second goal of the Study is to assemble~i, evaluate,

and organize the most signrficant racts about the chosen

relationships in Central Ameri~ca. This Is a selezctl've

effort, therefore, and many other important and alid

facts and relationships ha-:e had to be omitted from


The description of the contem-iporar: rural social

s;stems ulth regard to the size of farms, tenure of the

land, systems of agriculture, and settlement patterns also

is a major oblectiv.e. 'In connection wi;th this, manyl
national and local v'ariton ar idntified.

Finally It is hoped that sufficient historical

infrmration is provided to plae the present-day situation

in proper persp~cti.e,, and to> indicate thec trends cuirrently

under w-a.

- 3 -

Scope of the Study

The geographic limits of this investigation are

drawn so as to include the five nations which historically

have been bound closely together. Guatemala, El Salvador,

Honduras, tlicaragua, and Costa Rica began their independent

existence as the constituents of the United Provinces of

Central America. Since the breaking up of that confederation

the dream of reunification has been expressed frequently,

and at present the Central American Com~mon Market seems

likely to be the forerunner of more and greater integration.'

Since Panama's history and sense of self-identification are

distinct from the other five nations, this country is not

included. Neither is British Honduras for Belice) In-

corporated in the area of investigation. Of course attention

is directed only to the rural and agricultural regions of

Central America, and not to the distinctive social arrange-

ments affecting urban life.

It will be apparent in the tables and in the

discussion that I have chosen to present the information

country-by-countryI in the order in which I, personally,

think of them, that is, in the sequence in which they

'The recent armed clashes between El Salvador and
Honduras have raised serious questions about the future of
the common market, and about any other cooperative efforts.
It is too early to tell how important or lasting the
effects of this war will be.


occur In tra..ersing the Inter-A.merican Highway fromr

Guaijtemala to Costj F.1Ca. ThiS has thP adva'ntage of

placingJ the? countries in a geographically-meaningfulfir

order, and at the same time it is also in descending rjnk

according to the size of their total po~pulations. AIn

alphabetic-al arrangement~ has little to3 commeind it.

The~ basic suibjclt ma~tter of this Study: is a c-omple:-

of four basic relationships bt .'een man and th; land. The-se

fOur area are jelected from amocnJ a much larger u~ni'.erse

of distinct sociocultural sy~stems ;hl~ih hia'e beesn Identified

and studied in the rural segmints of socieities.'Th

particular elements of rural life Ininclded In this anal;sis

are those to do witCh the si=" of agr1icultural units

(;I;.pl;-.;er: er ageo3Lgro:u:.-ices, the tenure patterns, the

wayls of extracting products f~rom the soil, and the airrange-

mrent of rural homels withi rigard to one another and to the

location of thie farmland.

Inc e~mphasis in th'ii stu~d; is placed oni the con-

temp-rar; situration,, .:ith most discussion describing the

situation as It ;xists today. This is the only studl

k~no~:.n ts thes writer which hias had ava'ilable to it thec

LThrs four~trlen separated sy;tems listed by' T. L1nn
Smith (196Pc:27~2-273 Il'.e a gccd idEa of the va~riety and
mTultipllCity' of the complexe;s jwhlch majke up rura1 l fe.


data from the agriculttura censuses taken during the 1960's

in all fi've of the1 countries. l.'hrerever possible, data and

obse~r.ations hav.e been assembrtled to provide- insight Into

the revolution of the present situation during pst centuries,

and also to indicate the changes that are occurring.

~surces of Data and Me~thods

The principal substjntie materials used in this

analysis are the result of appro:-:mately ten months of

travel and residence in Cen~tral Americaa in 1965 and 1963.

During this interval I travelled the length and breadth o~f

the? region, from, the Me.-~:ican border to the Panamanian

frontier, in v~ehicles of all sorts. ll-10t of the mileage

w~as co'.ered In ml own Volkswagen mecrchus. bult I also f~le::

in pri.ate and concl~erciali planes, hi~tchel~d rides b;y geep and

trucK, rode buses, and made one e:-.tensiv.e journey. of four

days in a ?Ugout bjoit.

During the entire field incestigation I kept: a

pe~r;oral journal in which pertinent obscreations were

recorded. Iiotes were made as soon as possible after seeing

or discussing anything of valjue, anS I could often be seen

jotting awayB_ at a restaurant table while awaiting a meal.

.Rs a precaution against the loss of this record I also

wrote rather e:
parents, with instructions that these be preser-ed for me


to use up;on my return to th-e United States. Since thesc

::ere~ written at less frequent interv.als, they~: serr.ed th~e

additional purpose of proidin g opportunity for my thougrhts

to be seasoned by time and further consideration.

In the course of tim1 I spoke withi cou~ntless persons

of all Soclil Strata, and endeavorcd to obtain relevant

Information from their particular perspectives.. These

included peasants, sharecroppers, owners of family-si-ed

farms, and operators of large haciendas and plantations.

Of course, I also discujssd my project with persons in

positions of responsibilitly In the m~iniztries of agriculture,

the missions of the United States isgency for International

Djeveilopmernt, agrarian reform agencie-s, and producers'

organizations of co~nneodities suich as coffee, cotton, and

the like. tNotes on all of' these c-onve~rsations are a part

of the fisld data.

In order to inc-rease~ the opportunities to raise

such sensit:ive questions as those dealingr ?.ith sile of'

farmsc and tenurial r-elationships, I also condu~ccted some

structured'.:s with SOmiE of the farmi ope-rraors and

s ha recropp rs I found that having a formal questionnaire

somretiiim-s helped and occasionally hinderedl In dealing wit:h

the rural residents. Frequentlyl when my relationship

was alreadl somewhat biased by an introduction f~rom, the

agricultural e.-:tension agent of th-e loc-alit, I em~plo:ed

- 7 -

a minueographed questionnaire :.hich I filled out in the

presence of the LInformant.

I had little assistance from other persons in

condulcting anl' of the Lnter'.ie'js on W]lichh this study 1s

based. This is due to the lacx: of sufficient financial

jiupport to make~ it possible for me to havei local persons

trave.lling ::ith mre as Intefrv.ieversr translators, or

assistants. Th~eoreoe the observ'.ations and notes are

~conjist~tent mine, but suffer from lack of that additional

qualitl' which could h-a.av been gained if pecrsons thoroughly'

familiar aLth the local rolloquial e:-:pressions and regional

practices had been collabojrating w:ith m;e. Needlecs to say

the entire field investigation wjs conducted in the Spanish

language, and I had3 to rely upon secondary sources for

material regarding certain Indijn practrees. I was

pleasantl: surpjrisedl at the e~:-.tenrt to which' I, as a

"g~ringo," w:as iielcomed into th-e h~omes of persons of all

The statistical dat; LUpon wI~rnch so mu~ch of the

study. depe-nds are draw~n largely fromn the pulblished reports

of the agricultural andl population censujies take~~n b; each

of the countries be~twee~n 1-61 and9 196. Sine the first

agricultural censuses In Central i'.merica weree taken ir.

1950 and 1952, there have not beean any long series of

sources to be traced, but the reports of all of these

- 8 -

censuses are utilized in this investigation. In addition,

some special tabulations of data from the agricultural

censuses of Guatemala and Costa Rica have been facilitated

by the use of data sets In the Latin American Data Bank

of the University of Florida.

The use of census data involves certain well-

recognized problems regarding completeness of coverage

and adequacy of definitions which are necessarily accepted

by the investigator.' There are other problems, however,

which deserve a passing comment In hopes that the next

endeavors to enumerate the farms of Central America will

take these matters Into account. The first of these is

the lack of consistency In definitions and procedures.

Mluch of the value which should accrue to a nation as a

Although the reported census figures are employed
throughout the dissertation, they are known to vary widely
from the reality, and my discussion will frequently~ use
drastically-rounded figures. In a post-census evaluation,
Guatemalan authorities estimated that 22.8 per cent of the
explotaciones agropecuarias were missed Imostly small
units), for a deficiency of 5.1 per cent of the area In
forms (see Guatemala, DGE, 1965:Tabla 5, page 39i. On the
other hand, Costa R~ican census officials reported that
2,808 explotaciones were probably missed, or 4.3 per cent
of the farms and 9.5 per cent of the farmland (Costa R1ca,
DGEC, 1965b:26). Ilo evaluation was Issued by the other
countries, but an estimate of the uncounted land in the
1952 agricultural census In Honduras is giv'en In Organization
of American States (1963, III:61). Data from the 1952 farm
survey in Nicaragua are not used at all, owing to their
acknowledged deficiency in coverage, and the fact that the
survey was made directly by the jacces de mecta (rural
authorities directly under orders of the political chief of
the departments) who seem to this writer to be too politi-
cally Involved to obtain reliable data (see Lanzas, 1954:435).


result of ha-'ing the results of two inl'entories available

r;s lost in Central Arerica;. In this regard, Costa Pica

deserves~ commilendation, for in that count;;'s effort to

imrpr~ov.e its jtatisticE care has been taken to, preserve

the ~cmParability of mrost con-epts and tabulations. For

example, iwhen it wa:s drecided to mrake the 195: and 1963

size-of-farm categories compatible with the International

metric system;, ajddtional class limits we~re Introduiced.

T'hese made thei presentationr a bit more cumibersomr e buit

prese~r'e the integrit;; of the time series. Regarding

land tenure, every census authority except that of Cos-ta Rica

mad; ;uchr serious modifications that the 3dta from the 1950~

and 1960 censuses are difficult to comoare.

'T'he worst problem is that regirding the units of

land mea~sur~nemen that were employed for census purposes.

The cormonsr measure cf land in eve'r;day; use in Central

A~merica is the Epanish macan;a;; ,quii.a.lent to a sq~uare

tract of land 100i I!C'riZ on a side (see the AFppndixi for a

table of equivalent mieasuresl. Howver, the metric system

is the preferred on; for legal and international comparati-ve

purpojses and so hectares are ulsed In a fe: tabulations.

This mikes it impossible to find coi;m~on measures for com-

paring each of the central Armericjn nations with the others.

Ml~or.eove Honduras complicated the matter further by pub-

lishing its 1452 census with hectare sizes, and its 1966 data


on~l; in terms of manzanas, eliminating anyr possibility~

w:hatsoevere of makj~ing c-omlparisons time for that c-ount-y.

F~inally,, in Guaitemr~al the larger farms are measured in terms

of another Spanish unit, the ::&0 ?eric,, which Is equi:alent

to arpproxinately 64~ manzanas. Farms measured in cabjllerias

are not even comparable to those in manlzanas in the other

c-ountries employing the Spanish units.

Census statistics are supplemented by; data fro~m

other sources, such as the yarb~ook:s ia:uAr,ia published

by the cens-us authorities, and the reports of government

ministries and other age-ncies. The unive~rsities and agrarian

reform institutes w~ere able to pr-ov.ide~ some quantitative'


No new: technlques of m~anipuBlatng data were de'.eloped

In connection Iwith this study. Instead, the tried and tested

merthods of making cross-tabulations, computing percen~tages,

and determining rat1.os are emrployecd e:-tensiv.ely. In many

cases the numer~ical data are presented graphically~ instead

ot in tabular form, since this enables the reader to graspF

the im~por-tant variations In a geographic as well as pro-

portional sense.

Importance of the Study

The nations of Central Aml~erica are all in the

=ategory comrmonly referred to as "dev'eloping," and in order

- 11

for them to de-elop In thie most satisfajctory~ manner it is

important that rural' jsoial S;.stems3 be, understood. This

study' attempt; to pro-.ade a comiprehensiv~e picture of' four

inte~rrlated ;ociscultural systems~ which combine to affect

the I.;ll-beini g and~ potential 'or de'.elopmentc for the farin

population of Central America. Hop~efully it :ill counteract

to omie e:-:tenrt the o.erl; simple presentations of' rural

de.elopment cihich are sometrrimes enplj;ye in planning


Since this is the first effort to apply a consistent

cociological frame of reference to this dev'eloping ar-ea of

Latin. ~iamecj it also has a certain academic importance

simply as a ground-breaker. In this respect it both adds

to tne 5.iljlabl kno::le~ge of th"e C-entralj American area and

adds ~centr~al .rmerica to the areas about which such studileB

havei been made.i

The imrportane of the study willl be enhanced when

it is poisible to move.' it frrom the academlic setting into

the public domain wjhsce its obse~r.ations and facts may be

taken into consideration by "social engineers'' in their

da;y-to-day tasks of planning. The~ pressures of population

gr-outh, rciral-urban migration, rural unrest, the in'.asion

os estates bl' th~e landless, and m~an; other contemporary

phenome~na make~ an understanding of the total rural social

sl'stemr essential if planning is to forestall widespread d

social disorganization.

- 12

Order of Presentation

'The m~aterials of this studr are presented in three

major sections: an Introdutory part, the principal

findingss and considerations regarding man-land relatioln-

ships, and the summasrry and conclusions. The introductory

section is comprised of this present chapter, and a chapter

in which the literature contributing to the stud- is re-

ciewed. The review of the literature is designed to trace

the development of the frarre of reference emplo;yed In this

anal:sis, and also to evajluate pre'.ious studies of nsn-land

relationships In Latin Amierica and in thie Central .Enerican

region specificallly

The heart of the dissertation lies In the second

part, where a chapter is de~~ot~ed to each of the four

sociocultural systems studied. Chapster III is concerned

-rith the analysis of the size of e:-:plotaciones in each of

the nations, and In the region as a :;hole. It includes

both conceptual and emlpirical8 discussion. Chapter I'.

covers thre large matter of land tenure, including the

relationship of tenure to the size of e:-plotaciones.

C-hapter V: takes up the mrattrc of the ways in whlich mren

extract products fromT the land, or the systems of agriculture

employed in Central Fmerica, and Chapter 'II presents w~hat

the investigation has been abjle to reveal about rural

settlement patterns and their relationship to rural life.

- 13 -

The final parr. consists of C-hapter '.'II, the Surrmary

and Conclusions.. Supplementar; malterials are presEnente in

appendices, which include a listing of the laws of Central

Amei~rican nations requiring that land be- rrlde toj fulfill j

social function. There is also a map w~hichi identifies each

of the maljor di;.isions of the fi'.'s countries of the

region, jnd a table of equivalent measures in the Spanish

and metric systems. For con;'enince In citing sources, I

hj;.e also~ appendedd a list of abbrE'.ia tions urhich are used

in the te?;t. Finally, there is a selected bIbliography

whic-h includes fuill information about each of the publi-

cations referred to textually, and also some general

'.olumes wIhich rere of particular '.alu:e to the investigator

in his preparation for the field pha-lse of the study.



In order for a scientific study to nlake a significant

contributions to ita disclpline It mrust mieet tw:o prerequi~ltsits

First, the investigator must bie thoroughlyl famiiliar w-ith the

framea of reference that has been evol;.ed w:ith regard to his

subject of study by; those w~ho have~ nade pjrior studies; of

the samie problem. Second, he must be. awJare of the gubstan-

ti.e findings and the conclusions of previo1us analyses of'

the question under inve~stigti ion. The mrain purpose of this

chapter is to trace the dev~elopment of the frame of ref-

ere~nce which is emiployed in the analysis of mans-land

relationships. In addition, the principal studies of this

question in the Central1 :-.merican Betting are identified and

evaliuated. Thus the present chapter is the very foundation

for the remainder of this dijssrtation.

The Develaopentcn of a General Frame of Refe'rnce
for the Study of Man-Land Relationship%

The study of rural man-land relationshlpss lies at

the heart of the discipline of rural soclioglog, and this

field of investigation and anal:sis has devEloped concur-

rently: with other facets of the young science of sociology.

-14 -

- 15 -

T~he first book intended as a text for college sociology

co~urses was published in 1894~ by~ Albion Wi. Sruall anrd

Ge~orge E. \.ince-nt as 45 Iranada~cti,, to~ beri -'t:Iy of SL.-at:1.

In treating "The Natural History of a Societ,," mention

is mjde of the nature of the commu~inity, including the

subject of settlement patterns. The authors also refer

briefly to land tenure and elements of the system of land

oijnership and titles. Thus these facets of man-land re-

lationships which are so much a part of the present stud:

have been recognized as beingg important e'.*cr since~ the

jppearance of the cery first general socioloJ:y text.

The dev'elopmientt of rural sociology' as a separate

discipline began largely in the concern of church leaders

and rural pasters who Iwanted to do something about the decline

of thle small villages and the considerable~ movement of rural

people to the towns and cities.' Thus the first book~ \;ritte~n

specifically' as a text for rural sozcilogy courses, Jo~hn [.

Gillctte's .'mur:I;ctivel~ heal3 Sodologyj~ (1913), devoted mucrih

attention to the problem aspects of rural society. ;sver-

theiil~es, he also stated that the main responsibility of rural

sociclogy as a discipline was to "tjke a full inventory of

the conditions of life in rural conciunities. It must discover

their tendencies and deficiencies, map out the special

Ain exce~llent ov.erview~ of the development of the
entire field of rural sociology has been published by
T. L;nn Smith (1957b).

- 16 -

problems, and indicate ways of betterment. . ." Among

the subjects he thought it necessary to discuss were those

of the size and tenure of farms, and those of rural

isolation, based mostly on the isolated farmstead pattern

of settlement. Another text was soon forthcoming at the

hand of Paul L. Vogt, entitled Intsrou~iction to Rural

Scciolcgy (1917), which further developed the interest in

the size of farms and land tenure. Vogt stressed the fact

that tenancy and small farms were both related to low

levels of living.

A major event in the development of rural sociology

occurred in 1915 with the publication of a 34-page bulletin

entitled The S~coal Analtomy of anI Agriculturalr Communi2tyr

by Charles Joslah Galpin. The bulletin contained the brief

report of a systematic empirical study of the rural com-

munities of Walworth County, Wisconsin. Galpin had care-

fully delineated the boundaries of social significance

for a dozen villages and towns in the county, determining

gust how far the Influence of each penetrated out into

the hinterland of scattered farmsteads. In doing this his

greatest contribution was not his clear statement of the

nature of the rural community so much as his use of care-

fully controlled observation and data-gathering techniques

which enabled any investigator to repeat what he had done

- 17 -

and obtain the~ samile results. This carefully' systematized

observanton and anallysis came a strong part of the

tradition of rural sociology, carr,'ing over to the present

st ud.j

Galpin also madej another major contrib~ution to~

the scientific study of rural society when he published

his owni first vo;lume on R l,re: Life in 1920. In this case

his maoor contributlan wass that hie tried to sy~nthesize

the various facts about the nature of rural life which he

and others had already reported. Since the rational

development of any science requires the careful integration

of all available facts into a consistent whole, this sys-

te-matiring element is at least equall_ important when

compa~red with the deri:'ation of indlvidual ''facts." The

problem-oriented nature of concern for rural sociologyl was

again demronstrated when thiis same author published another

'.rolume~ entitled R:0-a~: Sectal3 '?I:Mc- in 1924-. The tw~o

most relev.ant prob~lems relating to the present topic of

man-land relations were those of "Landlords and Farm

Tenants," and "The Farmer's Standard of Living," each of

w~lhic maiide up a c-hapter in Its ow:n right.

In the 1920's the field of rural sociology began

to come into its own as Galpin, from his position as chief

cr the Division of Farm Population and Rural Life, pushed

f~orwasrd cooperative research withi the state agricultural

- 18 -

experiment stations, and Edmund deS. Brunner began a series

of surveys of agricultural villages in the United States.

Each of these men contributed mostly (with regard to man-

land relationships) by his insistence on the careful and

consistent collection of empirical data as the basis on

which analysis and conclusions should be based. The effort

to survey 140 American villages which Brunner headed during

the interval from 1923 to 1925 resulted in five volumes,

typical of which was that of Brunner, Gwendolyn 5. Hughes,

and Marjorie Patten on Ameri-an Apri-ultural ViLLages (1927).

Teams of investigators had personally probed conditions in

and around these villages, and references abounded to the

tenure and living conditions found. As a result of the

depression of 1929 and the ensuing years, the President's

Research Committee on Social Trends decided to resurvey

the same communities with the same teams of investigators

to learn what had happened in them and why. The results

were published in 1933 as Rural Social Trad~e by Brunner

and J. H. Kolb. A third study of these selected villages

was made in the mid-thirties, confirming, among the

findings, that farm tenancy was an increasing prootem.

This was reported in Edmund de5. Brunner and Irving Lorge's

volume entitled Rural Trarnds inl Depras~ion Ye-are: ASr

of I'illr-age-CEnterred gricultucral Commulnitica, 1930-1936

(1937). The contribution of this unique series of studies

- 19

wajs mostly~ in the area of research procedures, since the

repeated, consistent study'1 of the same; places and populations

demolnstrated4 In unn-istak~able terms thle value of longitudinal

analyzses in the stud; of social and institutional change.

Neanwhile, during the same period of time that

empirlcall research wajs being pushed forwajrd, the iff~ort

to refine and de-elop the framework for understanding rural

life wajs being carried on. In 1922 Gillette wrote a newr

text entitled simply a.;: joioo, in which he says

(p. ''l) that hie is trying to correct the obviouss defects"

in his pioneer-ng work. .L great deal of his attention was

focused on the matter of~ developingg a rjtional landj policy

for the United States in which methodsj of alienating land

and promoting tenure changes vied for prominnce \;ith the

question of res~tructuring rural conlrrunities. In Chapjter :.:V,'

on "IMitigating Rural Isolation," he reviewt~ed various patterns

of settlement and argued against the creation of small

agricultural or farm -illag~es. in spite of the isolation

of the single~ farnmstead, he found the small v'illages

;irtuall, dead as places to raise children, and quite lacking

in .alues which ove'trcame the farming .alues of open-country


Carl C. Taylior prepared a te:-t, R:.ral Sj-ciology:

d fsudj of Ru.ral Felblem~s in 1926 uhich placed renewed

-20 -

stress on the need for systematic etudies of rural life,

and maide proposals for ho: these might be done. IA fewu

:Iears later as head of the Di:ision of Farm Prpulation and

Rural Life of the Department of Agriculture he was In a

position to carry these into practice.) Among the contri-

butions of this wJork: to the understanding of man-land

relations were his analyses of the rilationshipj s bt>.'een

tenancy and plantation ("one-crop") agriculture on the

rural standard of living. Statasticlll1. he found that the

presence of each of these "unri.;rsally"' (p. 120) depressed

the levecl of In Chapter ',III, "The Problem of

Tenancy~ and Ownership," he emp~lo;yd datj from the 1920 and

earlier censuses to trace the trend regarding tenanrcy

and concerned himself wjith the problem of the concentration

of control o:ver the land. Chapter XVIII treats the re-

lations between "The Farmer and his Comimunity~," tracing

the various tYpes of commi~unities In the United States, and

their historic evolution as settlement patterns. H1e

concluded wi;th the statement thiat in the American colonies

there was established "the isolated farm residence for

the first time in the hijstry of the world" (p. 399). The

accuracy: of the statement is not the Important thing, bjut

ratner the evident concern with understanding this important

facet of rural social organizatcn.n.


Another rural sociologist, Lowry. Nelson, published

a significant series of monographs and studies of settlement

patterns and landholding practices during the interval

1927 to 1933 In which he analyzed the uniquely American

practices of the Mormons in Utah. The most important of

these was his The Mlormon I'iilage: A Stu~dg iN Social Origines


A few years later Walter A. Terpenning issued

V'ill~ag and Open-icountry Neighborhoode (1931) which ad-

vanced the understanding of rural settlement patterns

considerably,as It treated the American experience in one

chapter, followed by eight chapters detailing the typical

rural arrangements in Swiss, English, German, French,

Italian, Irish, Danish, and Russian societies. This volume

was one of the early ones to employ International comparisons

In a systematic way.

In the late 1920's a unique intellectual partnership

between an outstanding European sociologist, Pitirim A.

Sorokin, and a young American, Carle C. zimmerman, began

at the University of Minnesota. Drawing on a thorough

knowledge of studies on both sides of the Atlantic, Sorokin

and zimmerman published Princ~iplEs of R:Lra(-Urban SoCiologyY

(1929), followed in the next three years by the volumes of

A Systematic Source Book in Rural Socciolof (1930) on which

Galpin also collaborated. Their effort was the first to


try to be- a cross-cultural rather than simply~ a national

rural sociology, and- also the first to makeI a clear

analysis of rural social strajtific-ation and social mTobility,

all of which are Iimportant for the understanding of man-

land relation; In any' settling. Serious study' wnas also

applied to the developingJ understanding of settlement

patterns. Perhaps the malor point of original theoretical

distinctivenesss was their decision to treat the tenure

of land and the size of holdingss as two distinct charac-

teristicj of the rural social syste-m, whereas previously

these hadr traditionally been mi:-:ed In oneo category. It

is unfortunate that most studies of the Central Amnerican

area eve~n toda;y fall to make this critical distinction.

The period of the later 1430's, w~ith the exception

of the work of Birunner and his associates already cited,

was not as productive as the earlier years of rapid growth

of the discipline. One work of the period w:as the volume

by J. H. V:olb and Brunner entitled i. St.,dl y 0;1'~ -TDa locIe:

Its rgad~asonand hane (935 nly~ limited at-

tention w:as given to man-land relationships, but the

chapter on "The Social Economics of Agriculture" treats the

matters of size of farms, land tenure, and the usual ex-

pression of concern for increasing tenancyr with its usually:

adverse effects.

- 23 -

In 19410 a synthesisj of the understanding of man-

land relationships achievedd to that time wase undertaken by

T. L;nn Smith In The.. Socioslogy ,; Rlrl~- lffe. In Part III,

''Rural Social Organization," 3mith de-eloped the four

basic dsivisions of the field that he re~cogni-ed at that

time, including, as ,-hapters, the form of settlement, land

di-'ision, land tenure, and si-e of holdings. In this

volumei for the first time the system of land division and

titles were handled as a major subdi-.ision of rural social

;rganizatio on, with their impor~tancei for rural commr~unity

organization, the provision of various services, and the

general effect of land titles on the degree of harmony

and permanence In a comrrmunity. This b~ook was also appar-

ently the first to completely separate the topics of land

tenure and si20 of farms into distinct analytical units,

although it was forecshdowed by' Sorakin and Zimme~Irman (1929).

The general treatment of maln-land relationships in rural

sociology has not changed greatly since this statement,

e.:~cept in the refinemnat introduced within the framework

established by Smith.

Endeavorrs to improve the whole subject of rural

soscilogy continued, of course, and in 1942 LDwight S-anderson

produced Rura~l Soziologyr znd Real~ S,-cial LOrganizationn in

which he decried a lack of sound study on wJhich to base a

good rural sociology textt. He said, "It is my belief that

- 24 -

rural sociology lall not be abjle to make the contribution

to rural social organization which it should unless it

pursues a strictly scientific method and creates nex

k~nowrledge concerning its phenomena, through a more scientific

analysis of their elements" (p. ix). In his own analysis he

tried to find miaterial to impro'.e th-e study of rural problems

and made extensi-ve use of the size of farms as a ;ariable in

the stud: of "Some Problems of iAmerican Agriculture" in

Chapter 7. He also emphaeized the mTatter of s1,-e of farms

in chapter 25 as he discussed "Class and Caste in Rural

Societ -

Other bGoks, each producing a slightl;' different

balance in the treatment of the BLl.eveal relationships

between men and the land, w~ere produced In succeeding )'ears,

but without t significant changes in the overall understanding

of the~ field. Along the b~etter- of these are R'.;Ura iffs-

t,: Procate by Paul H. Landis (19-10), liAre: Life i the r:

UInltod States byl Carl C. Ta lior and others (19~49) and

5;;- ral :; Soc al Sstem by Chalrles P. Loomss and J. Allan

Beeegle (1950). The- latter devo~tes considerable attention

to the matter of rural social stratification and deals

v~ith the relationship of land tenure to these strata.

It also contains repeated references to the family farm

as a ;alue and as a practical facet of the rural social

s:stem. On pages 293 and 2941 Loomis and FBieegl stressed

- 25-

the results of a stud; of~ the family farmr which~ emnphasi- ed

the claim that no other formi of agricultural organization

provides greater development of individual abilities

and competences (see Ackerman and Harris, 1947).

The growth of the+ frame of reference~- employed

in cars dissertation was~ nearl: complete as early as 1940., T. Ly~nn Sm~ith's extensivse experience in Brarll

and Colombia following the publication of his first

edition of I::. So-io:.cgyj of` n`;.:l LIf'r (1940l) led to a

furthe-r area of In'.es~qtigaton namely1 thie sociocultural

complej:.ea b; hich agriculturists ex:tract a live'lihood

from the soil. First in pubilications dealing ulith Braz-il

(1946)0, and later in a broader setting (19-49), Smith

de.eloped a new area of analysgis and tcermted it "s;ysttems

of agriculture." The full developmrent of this new aspect

of the rural social system was presented in the third

editionof :e 5:-50ageof ?..r: Lfe (953 ith this

publication the e~ssnce of thle general iramewor: wilth which

the present study approaches the ;tudy of man-land re-

lationships was complete. Further refinements ha-ve

occurred largely in thle literature dealing spcifically

w:ith Latin Ame~rica, to which attention Is now turned.

Studies of Man-Lind Relations in Latin America

The earliest w~ritings about rwhat wre nsrw include in

"man-land relations" in Latin A~merica were ;!ritten before


the frameworkk for this t;.pe of analysis had progressed

ver: rar ev.en in thei United States. The first North

American to observe and report some of the facets of the

size of agricultural holdings and the relation o~f these to

the class structure in rural areas wJas Edward A~ls'.-rth

Ross, w~ho published So:uth of Fan~.irma In 1915, after having

made careful observations during his trave~ls there. Pass

later also uJrote The -'iee: .C2 Revolutiic: 2 i.':rlXi23 (1923J,

in which he anal;yzed the efforts to restructure both si-e

of holdings and tenure in thajt revoilu tion-wracked

count ry.

Ageorgrapher, George MclCutche cciei

series Of studies beginning w.ith~ his -:;; iLand~ :1Speters of

A\'-exic-a In 1'J23, undertook~ to comprehend and explain the

dev.elopment of the rural society in Latin Amierica in

relation to the large haaiEnda;; and~ the system~ of sociall

and economic relationship; surrounding these establishments.

H;s thuse In these countries I.liexico; and C'hile) was~ well

spent, for he mastered much of the historical revolution

of the land systems as well as their contemporary practices.
The v;olume n Cile 2n .*nd Sciet: (1936)I was perhaps

ev.en better than that on Maxico. IMceride's studies are

certainly~ among the best that wJere done by~ scholars in

any discipline at that point In time.


Another early scholar undertaking serious field

study In Latin America was Eyler Nl. Simpson, who published

his analysis of The Edido: Mexcics' L'say out in 1937.

This study traced the development of discontent in the

masses who labored under the system of large haciendas,

and showed what was being done to try to establish an

improved tenurial arrangement for very large numbers of


At about the same time, the Foreign Policy

Association responded to an invitation from President

Carlos M~endieta of Cuba that it appoint a Commission on

C~uban Affairs. Among those named was Carle C. Zimmerman,

who directed the study of rural life and applied the

frame of reference which had been developing in the United

States. Thus, when the report was published as Problaes

of the New Cuba (Buell, 1935), it contained a substantial

analysis of the relations between men and the land.

Whken Horldd War II broke out and the United States

became a participant there was great concern in the United

States government about what might happen in Latin America.

Accordingly, the Department of State and the Office of

Foreign Agricultural Relations agreed to invite three of

the leading rural sociologists to accept assignments to

the three largest nations in Latin America for the purpose


of studying rural patterns there. As a result, rarl C.

Tay'lor ent to Argentina, ijathan L. W~hettenl to He>~:i~c,

and T'. Ly~nn Srmith to nrazil, each prepared to spend a

yea-r in beconing thorcughlly famTiliar withi the respective

country~ to which he had bcen sent. Since the th-ree men

in.olv.ed we~re dedicated4 to the advancemrenlt of their

diiscpline as we~ll as to their indiiv.idual stud~ies, they'

met together to re-iew prog3ress, and share ideas on occasion

during the field in-'estig~ation, as well as regularly e:-.

changing memoranda with one another. As a result, thei

three voluazs wrhich we~re produced we:re comprehen~sive, and

covered v.ery much the same aspects of~ the respctive

societies. These includedS Smith's 3,aziL: P=Lopia ai;di

Later on during the w~ar, additional assignments

of INorth American sociologists to Latin Amenrica w:ere made.

C~harles P. Loomis was sent to Peru; 01en E. Leonard to

Bolivia3, Ecuador, and Peru; Sminth Was assigned to Colom;bi

as adviser sn coloniration ind settlement, then later

returned to Brazil; and Lowry~ Nelson w~as sent to Cuiba.

Again, after a period of time to analyze and digest the

observations which had b~een majde and the data which had

been collected, reports were issued which treated the

important aspects of rural social organization, including

land tenure, the size of farms, settlement patterns and

s:.ztems of land division. These inlcluded Loomis'

Latinl Amrlicai, ,-nd C:n-m;: l (19415), Smith, Daia, and Garcia's

Sriith's "The Cultural S-etting of Agric-ultural Extension

00rk: in ~olombjia" 1945:3), anid Leonardlj's E;:Chiling (1947),

janche chal:;.a (194831, and 5knee cr;- i1948b). In 1950

INelsorn published h'is, volu.Tle on ,Rural Cubat~, and r in 152

Leonard released the fifth full report on rural life

a Latin .Lmerican couintrl with has ScDUCCL: : Land, Feopl:?E,

Unfortunately,, co;paraible studies of the other

latin Amerricanr nations uere slow: In being made, and the

only ones which have~ yet come forth from rural sociolo~gists

have~ been made by t;;o members of the original group who were

sent out 1.n '.Jorld W~ar II: \Thactten and ;mitfh. T'he former

published a substantial v'olume entitled Gu~atem2:2 The

Lend: "and th$ INaple- In 1961, ?;hile the latter added Colombia

to thie list of SOciiates about which national studies had

been made when C_:.-.:-m--: Soc.rizl Stirrutulrz ..eld the; Prc-as

aof Dev;lop-rent was miade av.ailable (196d7a). Another study

of the people of an entire nation is entitled ;sjr- RS-:-&

L:fe, by John and Majvis Biesano (1944), but it is neither


veary~ scmprehensive~1 nor cleajr w!th regsard to the several

facets of man-lan-d relationships. The study by~ I-lonrtaorte,

Ju:IterI:C: Monog~Cr*.U':;l ~I:mfogica WhiCh idas first

published in 1959, is a substantial analysis of rGuatimalan

society, but further commentt Is reserved for the2 2nsuing

section on ~cntral American studies.

The general effort to refine the tool; for ~the

sociological analysia of man-land relations continued,

and the wJork done at the UniveraSit;' of Flor3ida under

T. Ly~nn Smith'ss guidan-e among the most fruitful. In

194: San Schulman completed hisi dissectation on ? ',:-;rio~Logie

he maide 3 a careul historical anal;sis of t~he e.olution of

contemporary tenure pattern; f~rom~ their aboriginal and

Iberian roots. He collected and evaluated the materials

avalabl; up to that time from the agricultural censuses

of the Americas, discussing the conceptual problems found

in the c;nsus mathodology and in the sys;tnem of classi-

fication employed. To the e.:tent thajt It was possible,

he also p~roJISded the quantitati'.e data w:hich he wass able

to obtain, showing the distribution of the agriculturists

among the tw; major classes of farm operators and farm

laborer;. Followning the comp~letion of the dissertation,

threc articles reporting his findings were also published

(1955, 1956a, and 1956b).


Some other studies done under Profe~ssor Smith

include the f~ollow:ing, each limited to the area of man-

land relations: Thomas Ford' P: e:J IndL in Pe 19551,
Orlando rjal-Biorda's A Fac-' ic: : ..d o t! Rlation: -

-oloctta (1955.1, Harold 1-1. Clements' .- v-ogi:Std

6razif:l (966), Josep~h Sardo's .-1~jr iI -opa Lcde L"d ofC

jel =.2neaj, Coljrnbia23 Ski~ :c.ll, Itoly (1968), and 1:esman's

study of 13icaragua (1969g) which is discussed belo*.:.

Using the same frame of reference, John V'. D.

Saunders mladei~ a careful anal;ysis of the size of hosldings,

land cenure, and sy~stems of agriculture in Ecuador in

his article entitled "H~an-Land PRelations in Ecuador"' (1961).

Other scholars, many of themrr Latin Ame~ricans, have more

rece~ntly begun to give serious consideration to these

insti=ucionalized relationships betw~een min and the land

in rural life. Among these rc~ight be inclu~ded Antonio C1.

Ar~ce and Mainuel Alers ilontalvo, both connected w~ith the

Inter-iumerican Institute of Agricultural Sciences, who

and jJ:'c:L753 : In~tl'~rodu~CZ'J'! J iea :ro as programas

agrcoas :.Pald 196~0), and Joao Goncalves de Souza,

- 32 -

who drew attention to several aspects of man-land relations

In his article on "Aspects of Land Tenur-e Problems in Latin

Amer1ica"' In ,Siar Socio ageL7 in 1960. Unfortunately~, the

latter article reflects the frequlent inaccurate use made

of the term "land tenure" in Latin Am~erica by sociologists

as vocll as others, since it actually includes a much

broader range of topics than simply tenure.

During the 1950's a great deal of attention was

focused on the~ "land problem" in Latin ;imerica, and twlo

international conferences we~re held, sponsored by' the Food

and agriculture e Organization and other carld and regional

bodies. These dealt principally :;ith the injtitutional

problems of land terlure and its defects, the use of land,

and the broad area of agrarian reform. The report of the

first conference,held in 1953, wias quite~ general, including

only one recommendations: that a regional center for

research In land problems be established Isee Thomas F-.

Carroll, 19:53. The second conference, in 1959, w~as a re-view

of studies anid projects undertaken since the 19:3 m~eetinq

(Carroll, 1961a).

During this samre period, in an effort to identifl

the prinlcipal social problems of Latin nrmerican societies,

T. L;nn Smith published a monograph entitled curr~e;! 30ocial

TIend; s an Piis:roble in Lai~25:-n .-lm je (197a). "Latifundicn e

and Minifundismo" figured among the four major social


problcrms identified.. The others w:ere illiteracy', health,

in? rural-ujrban emigration. Among the important treatm~ents

of thif problem In the conte:-. of agrarian reform are those

of Carroll (1961b!a, imith (196~531, andr Acrce (19655.

In the entire field of ma~n-land relations analysis,

the most recent dev'.elopments hj'.'s been in studles related

largel~ t~o Latin knerica.~~a In 1964l 'T. Lynn ;mith presented

a paper entitled "Aportaiones para el estudio de los dos

sistenlis sociales rurales" ast the '.'II Latin Ame~rican Congrjss

of Sociology' In bEooti, ;.'i-ih published In the pro-

ceedings of that mee~ting; (19650l), and later Included In his

m~onogriph on T:; proces.- .3.' FRue, oCaE~Zi 7~l:pn in L::tin:

Dut11i,'.z (1967b). The f~oregoing monograph also includes at

trsnslation of his paper on ''The Dev;elopmelint of Famirly-

S12ed Fajrms" 1-.duch was del.ivered berfort. th-e 1959 regional

conference on land problem~ (mentioned abo-'e,, and a sig-

nificant study I-nonerning the "';eent of trhe Sysjtemrs

of Agriculture in Colowina."a. Ev.en mrore recently' there

hav.e been tw~o new additions to the field. "Agricultural-

Pastoral Conflict: A Mlajor Obstacle in the Process of

Rural De*:elopment," by Smith (1969a) introduces the interests

of two 3ppojsing groups Into the whole nmatter of the size

of holdings, iwhile2 i manuscript (as y'et unpublished) on

the general ''Sociology~ of Agriculturil Deve~lopmEnt" ..'ill

make a broader application of principles learned In Latin

Amlerica (Smith, 1969b).


The Study of Mlan-Land Relations
in Central America

Genuinely sociological analyses of any aspects of

the Central American societies are comparatively recent,

the earliest being the volumre by John and IMavis Blesanz

on Costa Rica (cited earlier: 1944). The following year

Smith made the first contribution to the understanding of

man-land relations when he visited El Salvador and wrote

"N~otes on Population and Rural Social Organization in El

Salvador," which was published in Rulral SocJiologyr (1945b).

He pointed out the fact that a few families controlled the

bulk of the land and that the Independent famrily~-sized

farm was conspicuous by its absence. He also discussed

the several elements of the agricultural technology and

cultural practices which he soon came to call "systems of

agriculture," though that term is not used in this article

(see his "Sistemas agrfcolas," 1947b, for the first use of

the term).

In the ensuing years there have been a number of

genuinely so-iological studies touching on man-land

relations In Central America. The earliest ones were done

in connection with the Inter-American Institute of Agri-

cultural Sciences at Turrialba, Costa Rica. Charles P.

Loomis, who had earlier worked in Peru, headed a series


of studies of rural life in the Ivicinite of the Institute.

These .;ere done as e.-.perire:ents in the introduction of social

change- as well as for the more immedirlate v.alue they~ had In

training students in practical field research methods.

I-lan: of the studies are included in the '.'oilme '..hichh

Loomis and his associates; edited In 195J3 ;ntitle-d 2:
Jacil Sean:Ja~ cheInto~i omeof J~e~e. ne of the

basics ideas in the w:holle series of studies \was the testing

of differences created by~ (or associated ::ith) the size

of frmrs. Therefore many of the efforts in''ol"ed the com-

parison of a comm~iunit; of small peasant farmers (San

Juan Surl ::ith- the hacienda commlunit;y at Agcuiaces-. Roy

.'-.. Clifford (19531 wrote a report on the e'.aluationr of

"Lev'.els of in Hacienda and Smaljl-Farm '.'illages"

which showed that the hacienda w~orkerrs w:ere at a definitee

disad'.'antage. Thomas L. 'lorris anal:'zcd the economic

differences in the systems of large and small landholdings

(19513 and 1953b)3. Prior to these studies, Paul i-10rrison

and Jorge Leon (1951; rrpoorted on the e'.olution of land-

holding and eco-omic and social relationships In the central

district surrounding the Institute, and provided a greit

deal of detail about one of the largest coffee plantations,

Aquiares, In their "Sequent Occupance, Turrialba Central

District, Costa Rica."


Other sociological studies include several by

\rhettepn, and thos-e by~ ;onteforte, :arroquin, Upct-urch, and

Hill. Nasthan iwhetten turned his attention to G;uatemala

after completing Rural~ I.'.:rtee, and his first contribution

relating to our subject wja an article, ''Land Reform in

a Modern W/orld,"' dealing e-.ithGuatEmala9 (1954l.i. Ilext, in

a '.'olum~e publishedc by the Seminarlo de Integracion Social

Guatemarltela in 1956, came his "Patjrones. de poblacidn," in

which he reported on the settlement patterns found in

Guatem~ala. This study; ;:as bSjed upon a quiestionjire

distributed to the ealia;~, Ismayers, of jll thei municiplos

of 2uatemala in 1952, in which these officials :Iere asked

to indicate the nature of the settlements in the rural

districts of their jurisdiction. Data on the large farml

centers3 from the 1950j census were also emplol'ed, and thie

result was one of the few statistical -tudies of settlement

patterns of wrhich the present writer is a;;are. Later, in

1961, Whietten completed a full-length book on Guatemsal

whlch has already~ been cited among the fe:: compr~ehensive~.

studies w:hizh presentl' exlstt on Latin American soci~~eties.

In it a careful treatment of thle s;stems of land tenure is

deve~lo3pedj and the study' of size of holdings based on the

1950 agricultural census 1s effecti;'ely done. Descriptive

material about the agricultural techniques is provided,


but thi~s section lacks an adiequate conceptual organization..

The settlement patterns are further described in the


Another study of Guatemala is the magor effort by

Maj-;jrio onteforte Toledo (1959) wh:iclh must be Included wJith

bectten's v'olume as one of the few~ national studies which

exist for Central Amer~ican sosceties. Mo3nteforte lacked

an adequate~ frame of reference with which to organize his

analysis or preseintation of man-landj relationship, utj~

the mraterials1 he~ gathered and the grasp of the social

setting in which man-land relation; are couched are good.

Unfo;rtunately, many of his observations are f~rhnamed in

ideological rather than objective~ terms. In Chapters ':XII

and XXIII most of the relations of men to the land are

treated, Including a brief but revealing analysi; of the

Im~plemients used in agriculture IPop 4259-32).

Arnothe-r Central Ameicanl~s who turned his attention

to his ownr country 1; Alejandro Masrroquin, of El Salvadj~or.

This scholar, :.ho m~ay be his nation's onl; experien-ced

sociologist, produced an excellent study of one corimunity

in his Potae: invenican.3 i; coci~o~jlbaca (1959).

Again, although he did not hav~e a consistent framework for

the orgjani-ationr of materials on man's social relationships

I-ith regard to the land, he discussed the various forms

of land tenure ver;' all, and conceptualized the stud, of

- 38 -

siess of farms an~d ranches effectiveel This report was

f~ollowed b~' y another on San-. F,;ive- .:anuai3C:5 (n.j.), bu~t in

this case the invesctigation of rural Osoial organization

was less sell done than it had been In his first stuidy

;;arraquin also wrote an acticl, in 196,5 in which he tried

to genera~-il~iz about all of latin America.j In my judgment,

the article is usaeful, but showsB that much miore invesitigation

is needed to pro'`ide the infocationr for sucih a ;iummrac.*

(csee "Camb10os ea la agricultuca j sus repercussions scaless"


A master'z thesis at the Uni_;ersitl of Florida b:

Harley~ M. Upchuirch en~titled "Mlagdalena Ililpas Altas: Ar

Stud of Society in Miniature" (1960, applied the full

sociological frame of reference concerning man and the land

to the Guatemalan community indicated in th~e title, and

demonstrated how the sev'.eral elemlents are related to one

another. Two studies by' George UI. Hill and others comPl~et

the review of the more distinctly sociological studies. The

first of the2- concerned the area of San Vito de Ja-va,

site of an Italian coloni:ation projct In Costa Rica, and

ucse written with M~anue-l Gallas and Gregorio A:lfajro (1963).

Later, Hill turned his attention to Guatemsla, and he and

GOllas produed Zh:e ?,Midged-:ia Ecocn.,andFaiet of:

3latcnm.^.2e High13nd led~ian, (1968). Duringg these studies,


Dr. Hill wajs working g on projcts of the Land Tenure Center

ofr the University of r*'is~cnsin.

.l. great deal of other e::Cellent Informlation is

a'.'alljble about Central .1se~rican society. and culture. Fosr

one w~ho needs to see the historic revolution of the rural

social s;ste-ms ther-e is no better source tha~n a careful

reading of some of the earliest tra-:~El accounts. In these,

..ten the trave~ler was a k~een, one gets a fresh

and clear .lew~ of howi the people beha'.ed a~nd thosught in a

particular era. In this re-gard I havie found it particularly'

useful to peruse the delightful account left by' Friar Thoma;

Gage of his sojourn in the Captainc: General of Guatemala

in the 1630's and3 1640's: I.-E;il mrtn 0

Su-D;, f o'.- r e Ind se* Sc'S (946 Gage spent yei ar

ser*.r~ng the Church in and around Guatemiala Ci1t', and as a

consequenc- had plent,' of time and o~pportunity~ to sharpen

his observations. Another useful record was left by the

..rchbishop of Guatemala in 1768-1770, Pedro Cortis

Lairr3 z (see his 195.8). LmoCng more recent trav~ellers wJhose

account shave been? read for this study are Henr; Dunn (1813),

Jonn Llo,d Stephens (1841)l, Robert Glasgowr Dunlop (1847!.,

Ephraim George Squier (1E555 and 1E60), Carl Scherzer (1857),

and n. T. Brigham (1",871.

Other historical data have been found in the account

left by Fuentej ;. Gu-man (1932), c-ov.ering the early years

- 40

of the coljny at Guatemala. Later events are chronicled

by~ Bancroft in his three-volume~ Hzistoryof a, ed;!:r~ Ame.Iri

(186)F, in !.alentin Soldr-ano F. (1963), and in 5oley

cluell' s CjmulC-:di3 de ::.torlia Lecon?7=f II ** hc-nda-a

R~egarding the Spanish colonial institution of the

i':n.:00-cia, the works5 of Silr'ic la'.'ala are impor-tant--

particulacly his toe 6any7munddZI ii Pr-oPeded terrof~ltor-al d..

clearly demonntrates~ that: encomienrdas and landholdlngs ?'.'re

distinct and separate, in Spite ;f a great deal of traditional

confusion o'.'r this matter.

During tne 19:0';- two important field studies; were

conducted in Central Amer~ica, and both contributed much

Inforr..ation about man-land relations. Thee first is a

series of cultural surveys~ sponsored by the Pan Ame~rican

janitary~ Bureau and directed by' Richar-d 11. Adams~. The

final report of the stud,. wa; u:ritten b, Adars (l1957), and

includes a separate section on each country of Central

.-'.merica and Panama except C~osta Ric-a. Each report includes

Isinformation on the extent of farmi tenancy-~, and the relati:ve

prevalence of plantations and haiendas or of mediumr-size-d

farms and minifurndios. .Agricultural practices are cavriewed,

and some information on le-.els and standards of l11'.'ng is

gji..'en. In the report for each countr; there is an extensi'.-e

- 1 -

"etion summailriizing the observationsn for the nation as i.

whole, and also a plac-b1-place account of distinctivee

obser'.'jtions from each of the man; coaa~unities and localities

.Isited in the course of the SurT'.*ev.'

The second regional sirl.ey~ was- made by a geographier

under a financial arrangement sIrith the OffiCE of i19aval

Researc-h, Geography branch. The surver w~as conducted by

Craig Lanier Dorier and is entitled -;..ifyne:43 "?ropical

FPiot:;rX a (1953). It deals with~ all finve =ou~ntrles. This

sur.el also provides Infjrmailtion on many specific

localities, co?'ering--in a rather sportty fashiion--th; topics

of land tenure, s;iz of farms, title arrangements, and

;;syst-ms of agricultures tnot identifleed as such). Some

excellent corrmlents In It supplement myl own e:-perience for

regions I waJs unable to -isit. during the 1950's, stimulated by the prospects

of American e-cnonoic assistance for dev.elopment projects,

the governments of Central America contracted for Inter-

national teams of i:-perts to make analyses of the prospects

and priorities for economic deve~lopment. Two such teams were

commilssionedj by the International Bank~ for Reconstruction

and Deve~lopment, one stldyingg and reporting on The~ Sco~nom:"

DeLvelcoment1: of :awar-:la (1951), and the other doing the

same for :licaragua (1?531. These studies included as


important variables th, size of farms, land tenure

arrangements, and rural levels of living. Considerable

attention was focused on the need for credit facilities,

agricultu~ral e:-tension. Improved3 roads and schools, and

better seeds, and animals. The Food and Agric~ulture

Organization of the United Irationg also wjas invited to

make a number of studies in Costa Rica, :jicaragua, and

El Salv.ador, but many~ of these sculd no longer be found

in government offices in 1963, and, therefore, they, have

been\weds only ispttil:. One of the better ones

:;as made by Feuerlein (1954) fcr El Zalvador, but it

contains no information about man-land relations, e:.en

though its author las comm~ijsionadd to study' "economic

and social development."

A similar study, sponsored by~ the Tswentieth Century

Fund, wass made in Costa Rica under the direction of Stacy

May May etal. 192).It w:a-- supplemented later by

a report made under a contract with the United States

Agency for International Deve~Llopment (AIDr, and carried

ouc: by International DevelpcFment. Services, Inc. !196,0)

The analysis included an e.-:ellent, if brief, re'.ierw of

the history of land settlement and titles In Costa R~ica,

and made concrete proposals for a new! land law. that :;culd

establish national policies and priorities for the handling

of squatters and the alienation of the remaining national


- 43

Another T\wentieth Ce~ntury~ Fund effort to aid In

the dev~elvpme~nt of Central America wJas made~ during the

1950's, the result of a field Investisation In Honduras

by Vincent \-hecchti and hrj associates (1959.>. The title,
Han a-:. l Prole T*2olr, l t:-:ncOe~o indicates

something of the findings, for the problem nature of the

area was ev'ident. In spite of the official statistics,

the authors emphasied considerable inequity in the holding

and use of land, and graue deficiencres In agricultural

About 1960, Honduras petitioned the Organization

of Am~erican Stjtes (OAS) to assist her in planning agri-

cultural deve~lopment and agrarian reform In that country.

In response, a technical assistance team wase established~

as rlission 105 of the assistance program of the OAS.

Subteams for many jubjcts ;:ere created, including one on

rural socivllogy comrposed ofr George Ir. Hill and Malrlon T.

Lcftin. These teams all conducted field studies In sample

areas of the country, and then wrote team reports to be

edited as the final report and recon~ruTIradation of the

Mission to the government of Hosnduras;. The report of the

rural sociology team (Hill and Loftin, 1961) w~as never

published separately, but the typescript of it contains

some v'ery~ acute observations on the nature of man-land

relations in this pjart of Central .:-.mrica. Te fica

report ~pperard in three .olumels iOAS, 1963) as In foir7;

It a more complete anallels of maln-land relations

than an; others of the missions and report% cited here

had done. The report includes specific proposals for the

dc.elopmnt~t of a large area of the Aguan Valley which at

that timei consisted of public lands that were infested

with Bqua9tters. Thb r'eCOmmeTIndation1 for i national policy

fa:voring the family-sized farm was adopted In the agrarian

reform law, of 1962.

In 1961 an international study of "Central -Ame~rican

Land Tenure and Conditions of Agriculturjl Ljbor" I"Proyecto

Tenecia de la sierraa :* Condic~iones del Trahajo Agricola en

Centreamerica") was undertaken by the Instituto Centreameri-

cano de In.*estigaciones Eco-ndmTic-a; y Soc-iales.' As is

frequentl_ the case, "land tenure" was amnplifled to

include thle consideration of the sizes of farms- or holdings,

In prosec-utin~g this study, the Institute, a
subsidiar: organ of the Consejo Superior Unive~rsitar10~
-entroamericano, enjo adj thle suppsrt of U[:ESC~O snd of the
Tood and9 AgrICUlture~ Organizaion, the UU1 Econom~ic- Co~m-
mission for Latin Amesrica, the In~ternational Labor Irgan-
ization, the~ Latin ;smerican Ce;nter for So-cial Research
(Rio de Janiciro), and the Inter-.;melricansr De'.'elopment Bank.
The Institute t.'as under the direction of Lic. Oscar C~ha~'es
Esquive~~l, and the principal In.estigators weare Sargic
Malturana ;edina, Jorge Oichjj, and W~alter E. ChrysEt.


and an e~ffo~t was made to determlne~ the limits of four

ISojmetrimes fivel size csteneories: micro-farms (in

GuatL;;ialj alone., subfamly-sized farms, famil:-sized

f~arms, medium-i-sized multi-fanlly farms, and large multi-

family farms.' A ~general frasmework was estab-.lished which

ioutlined a series of~ studies to~ be made in each country.

undrr the suspies of th-e national unive;rsit;y. These

wert to be basedj on excistingl sources, such as the censuses.

ThE results of these In''estigations va~r: in quality, but

many~ of th,;lr findiings w:ere useful to the pres-e.-t inveslz-

tigator.; Those of Rainfrez (1961) and U:IAH, IILS (196131

we~re unique In that the: analyzed each major civil

di;ision of their respectivei countries Separately to

determined the limits of their size groups. Therefore the

family-sized farm, for example, is given different size

boundaries in diffrrent departments or provrinces.

Inhepash(from w:hich I havie translated the

terils Indicated) these are miicro-fincas, flnca33 sub-
famniliates, fincje familiates, 1ncjs miultifamiliaces
medianas, andi finess muiltfamiilijres grandes (Mlaturana,

'~amng the studies of Indiividual countries jre
the following by~ couLntry:: Costa Fhlca--Anibal F.Tmnire
Easjordo (1961l) and Jos&i IlanuEl ~sal&26 11. (19621; El
Salvadior--Faafael :Injivar (1962) and Abelardo Tojrres (1961)j
Guatmala-dos Luls Paredes INor,-ra, ;C al. (1961) and
Puberto Lop~er Porras (1961); Uondu~ras--Uni,ersidad Lajcional
Auttrnona de Honduras (U~lJAH), Institulto de In.'estigacioness
Econdmicas y Ssoiales (IIES) (19613, 1961b, 1961c);
!Jllcaragua--flamesslo Porras M~endietai (19621.


LSunciary~ sudies of the region as a wchole ::ere made

and reported by Mlaturana (1962) and Chryst (1962) but

these reports ::ere not Published in full. These studies

wen beondthe census and other ;.ailable statistics,

and included field sur-ve s in sele~ct areas. Later,

IMaturana presented a suseiary of his 1~ndings at a UNESC-O-

sponsored ~cnferenzc In Me:-:co City (see N:aturana, 1966).

The reports deserved a greater distributionn th~an they

recei.ived--espcpc ally; that of CLhr:st, ;hichh concentrated

on the distribution of income amjna different size and

tenure groups, based on his own sur:e_ data.

Central Amrerica has been the focus of other ;tudies

recen'ltlly as ::ell. TeItrAeia omte o gi

cultural Development (ICAD, or CIDA In its Spanishi form)'

has been actively~ promoting studies in the rural sector

in Latin Juno-rica, beglnning .;ith an Inven:rtora of. Ir:f..:*Pattice,

.. mn.The '.olume of this inv.entOry which~ deals with

Central Amierica (ICAD., n.d.) contains a rfleview of the

existing Information on size of farms, land tenure, and

1ICAD is an internationjl agency created when the
Chasrter of Puntj, del Este ;:as signed In 1961, and composed
of the follow~ing bodies: the Food and Argriculture O~rgan-
iration of the United Ilations, the Organi-ation of ,merican
States-, the Inter-rimerican Dev.elopment Bank, the UI1
Economic Commission for Latin Amnerica, and th~e Inter-
American Institute of Agricultural Sciences.

systems of agriculture w~hich CTmphasizes aqgin the paucltyj

of subtstntial Inform~ation. (The in'..Entory,, though

undated, contains mlaterijlss as recent as 1965.)

Anot~heT studl' byj the Committee (CIDA, 1965) is

conlcerned wiith Gustemala. The Commri~ttee sponsored a team

of in-vestigators ;:ho made field studies in selected areas

of different ;i,-es and typFes of farms~. Heading the field

w~ork wajs a Cornell Uni.ersit; Ph.D. candidate~ in agricultural

economics: Sebald Fljnger-Cats. His own dissertation (19661

and the CIDA study~ jre complementtary, prol.iding many~ \.alu-

able insights, but still celying almost entirely on 1950

4tatiscics. Hlanger-Cats was partic-ularlyr good in his

treatment of the minifundistas,, and in his analy~sis of

relative incomes of agriculturists of different sizes

(his Chater :I).

Several other recent doctoral dissertations ha:~e

contributed? to the understanding of man-land relations in

specific parts of C~entral Amri~rca. Philip L. Wagner's

study~ of the ijico:a pcninsula in Co(sta Ricj (1958)

a sensitivei report by a cultural geographer. His st:'le

is informal and reljtiv~ely unstructured, but pro:'rdes a

wealth of Information.

Two other dissertations In geograph, hav.e dealt

:.Ith Costa Rica. Uly M;asing (1964) executed a '.'ecy; detailed

study of tw~o foreign agricultural colonies--the Italian

- 8

settlement at San Vlto de Java, and the Quake:r settlement

at Mlontevecrde. of ne-cessit*: he included information on

the area surroundings these colonies, and som;e compajrisirns

betwreen the imm~igrants and their C~osta Rican neighbors.

In the following year, Pier-re Stouse (1965; comp~leted his

study; of .4 i-> :.a tt o t 2 .-n r c s .,c

52 ana R gionaL.~ In the stud, he cmplo:yed a ne:.' classi;-

fication of settlement pattern s combined with typical

farm sire, and evaluated areas on, both coasts of Costa

Rica wh!ich had been w~ithdraw:n fromi banana production. It

wals partic-ularly significa-nt that he found a great deal

of fire agriculture beingg emrployeid In coastal areas3 by;

persons w;ho had practiced perennial crop culture in the

highlands prevrousl: p. 163).

Another gaograph: graduate student, ;ialvin Frost

11964;, studied Fie :er Sl ?cet: n3. :Ci cle

of uaemaa.His wajs a leng~hy' study of two~ "jgrariani

development" pro~ects of the Guatemalan government, which

were assisted by USAID financial and advisory support.

Frost was concerned wi;th trio of the larger projects,

La Madquinj and luia 5oncepcion. The effect of planningr

scattered settlement in thecse tr..o largest programs; I1,258

and 1,252 pasrcels, respectiJel;) is clearly spelled out,

as Is the use of parcels averaging about 20 hectares for

famil-y-siced farms.

- 49-

Amo~~ng o~ther geogcrs phic studies of particular

value must be included the general summar~ry by Ra;mrnd

E. Crlst entitled "C~entral Amelricj: Asp~ec-ts of the

Ph:sical and Cultural Landscapes" <,1961). Frequeintly

d'rawing on the reports of tra-:elors and the obser.ationss

of other scholars, 2rist has fasntoned a brElf 6tatement

which succinctly: suggests the 6::tent oft the concentration

of the control of land In the hands of a f~ew and the con-

sequent use of mrargJinal areas for the production of the

basic food crops of the area. 01der geographic studies

include the Mc~Erides' study of "Highlandr Guatem~ala and

Its :-lays Commuunit~ies' i1942), and Felix ilebster Mc2-ryde's1

(1945~), thre latter also a doctoral dissertatio~n.

The geoigraPhic *.:orks of the pro~lific- Germjn scholas,

Gerhard Sandner, cannot be passed by, since they are cited

so frequently in this present report. Sandner, o~f the

Unt'.ersity' of Kleli, has been, stud;ing part-time in iosta

R~ica since 19:8, and probabl: y no man know~s th-e situation

with regard to agricultural colonization In that country

as ;,ell as he. His studies of one region after another

have included the tracing of the settlement frontiers,

the e:'olution ofr the land tenure arrangements in each area,

th-e analysis ofE the si-es of fairm~s and of tne settlement

patterns. His m~anl' separate exploritions have been

- 0

adeq.uately summarized ini his two-'.olumeI work on La

cLn.:-I as:P:C : agr~i52? L1 de Canat 9iC;1 (1962 196-1), which

integrates the findings of the smaller regional studies

into the total national picture.

Two studies of the banana industry deser-e mention.

The first, S,-I:-a .
iKepner (1936), is over 30J years old, and is sev.erely dated.

Ne'.erthsless, It is a reasorlably; good anal,sis of the

way in which the companies formerly~ operated, and it

exposes the philosophy of the managers inl contrast to the

workers. The more recent prob~e, sponsored b; the Cational

Planniing Association and con~ductetd by~ Stacy May; and Galo

19J58)~ 1 an obtjectil.e study which. brrenefited frTom access

to Company, r~eords not ordrinarily~ av.ailab~le. aan

Pla-,a employ~ed a balanced approach, indic-ating many;

Company shortomings and especially the caaller attitude

toward local interests It has sometimes expressed. At the

s-ame tlime Credit is gi'.enl for the man~ publiclL ser-vices

developed by the Comp~any~ and for the ext~ent to which it ;;as

doing more for Its emplolyees than other farm employers.

This ;;as the best source I wa~s jble to find regardiing the

extent of the C~ompay~n,'s landholding and its use of land.

Finally, in gaining perspeCtjliv on the dynamic

population of the region, two articles proved to bje


de~ser.:i n of no;te. T. L;nn Smith prese-ntcd a concise

statciment of the p~rincipal aspects of the dem~ographic

situation In each ofI the countries and of the region a;

a wh~ole in his paper enttled "Th; Population of the

Central .Lmnerican Countrtes" (1961). Based on tne 1950

censuses, th; composition and distribution of the

pop~ulation are treated, followedJ by~ the :ital prc~esse

and the growth~ of population. Th e their study~ emphasizes

thei relationship be-tween population characteristics and

social and economic dev~elopment ("Eopulation and Economiic

G~row!th in Central Ame~rica,'' by; Robrt S. Smith, 196S).

The demographic pressures are related to fators such as

~iliteracy,. disease, and real pe-r capital income, and a

pas~simistic pictur; regarding short-run gains is presented.

This re~ie'..'of the most important literature has

traced the development-n of the concep.tual framew~ork which

is emplolyed In thi; stu~dy, both in the.i United Stases and

in Latin Ameirica. The deve-lopmnt~n of rural jociologicall

;tudy~ in Latin America is also3 sketched to show~ that the

present study continues considerable tradition In the

anal;sis of key aspe-cts of man-land relations In these

predominantly-rural countries. Finally, the e~ndeaavors of

p~revious inveastigators are re;.ieweJd to indicate how various

persons have attempted to ;tudy the several elemelcnts of

man-land relationship; in Central ;sner;ca. The present

analysils bulldss upon those prev.ious efforts, bign

the k:ey elements together in ene volume and naklng se:.'eral

atti-mpts to improved~ u~pon the conceptual frsirameuca and to

ref~ind the data. Thle present ;tundy is the first to employ

the results of the 196u scnsuses of the region.



Amoilng the~ several cloments in the total s;ystem

of maln-land relationship, no single factor Is moire

important than the -izie of the lan~dholldng units. In

genrasrl, it is the size of the holdings whichl 1 irs st

closel; related to the iianrner in which owi~nership and

control of land are distributed among the agricultural

populacion. This, in turn, affec~ta the general well-

-;eing of the rural population.

The~ ov-erwhe:tlm-ing unpol-rtance~ of thc size- of land-

holdings has been best e:-.pressed. by T. L;ynn Smith in his

studies of Erazil and Colombia (1963j:315; 1963c:6-11; 1967a:

S--'41, and in his general expositiaon of the two3 major rural

soc-ial sys3tems1 a the~y calate to rural decelojpment in

Latin Ame~rica (1967b:11-29). He has identified ten char-

acteristicj .which are highly co-rrlated with the predominance

of arg hodins.These, paraphrsased fromi the studies

cited, include: (11 a hig~h degree ;tf social stratification,

with a "ast gulf separating the large landholder from the

laborer; (2) little vertical social mobilicy; (3) the

caste-like inheritance of social posaition; (-l low



a-erage levels of intelligence, ind a high croportion of

illiterjte persons: (5) restricted pcrsonality~ dev.lopmen-,,

due to lack of practical e:-pcrience in decision-making;

(6; a sys.tem of pcrsonal relationshipse empihasizing the

unquestioned acscptance of orders from the domrinant class;

(7) a way' of life w:hich emphasizes thie routine pe;rformabnce

of tasksE inr traditional va**s instead of innov.ation and

ex.Perimentationor (j) a strong- Etigma attached to manual

labor: 13i "very low lev.elj of li.:1ng for nearl_ all th~e

rural people, due In large part to lot.' producti.ity; and,

finajll;y, 110) thes virtual absence of any stimulus to :;ork~

hard and to sa'e for a better future.

On the other hand, where the fam~ily-she~d farm

is the basis for a miadle-class rural ;ociety ene finds

the situation is rever~sed. For example, social class

differences tend to be minimized, and the agricultural

ladde~r prov"ide the o~pportunity for ve~rtical mobillty to

many of the people. The mental abilities of the inhab-

itants are deve~lopced, both by formal schooling and by

the managerial e:-periene gained in oFerating the family

fam An atmosphere of rilative~ social equaiit: pre.:alls,

and av.eraga Irl.evls and standards olf living are considerab1:

better than in the areas of large-farm domination.

Tniis chapter 18 colncernedr principally with whaht

may broadly; be identified as the weall-being of all of the


people of the rueal areas of C~entral America. Hek are not

particularly interested in the question of the relatives

effiienecy of production per unit of larnd or~ capital,

but are ci'tally~ concerned ulith the li'.Eie of li'.ing that

the~r land is jable to pro'ide for all those who derive

their liv'ing from it.' Thus the discussion of holdings

of .ariousis sizes will bce related to their Capacity', in

the g;.en cultural setting, to provided a li;i'ng which is

satisfatory both Economicailly nd socially for those

who are iependent upon the landholdlnng units.

Farms, Landrholdings, and Ex~plotjiones

In the United States It is coaimon to think In

terms of "farms" w:hen the size of agricultural holdings

31s under consideration., frmJl-s jnd lan-dholdingss

are not ailuays che same, and in Cerntral .Imlr~ic-a the

agricuiturasl censuses actually pro.ilde information about

an intity w;hic-h is neither a farm nor a landholding.

Thisis he ::Cocacde rap: aia.It is in order,

therefore to define tsrmsl briefly.

For sociologqical analysis it is best to think of

a farm as all of the land under the Immnediate management

!An excellent classic discussion of the differential
returns to labor, capital, and land in different sizes of
farm units is gi-en in Sorokin, 'irimmerman, and Galpin,
1930, I:387-395.


and control of a genuine farm operator. A farm operator

Is the person w~ho assumes the resposnsibility of accision-

mak~ing or mrjranagement of an agricultural unit (sece Chapter IV.

for a fuller diScussions. The farm is further de~fined as

necessarily being of sufficient ;ize to absorb at least

the great mialorityl of the operator's time and attention.

Thus the category~ of genuine far~ma does not include smajll

tracts of land which are used by agricultural laborers

mere~ly to sup~pleme~nt tneir v:ages; neither are such

nonoperators as sharecroppers. to be considered as having

true farms. A farm is the total area under the operator's

Inincediate control, regardless of whether it Is composed

of~ a single parcel of land or of a number of separate

and dratinc~t parts, and regrardle-ss of the ownership of

the land, so long as the operator has full operational

control during the time he uses it.

The concept of a landholding includes all the land

under the control of an indi-idual or group. It may Include

places too small to be farms, and ma- also at times be

cou~posed of farmrs when these are c-ontro~lled by; one

person but operated as separate units by different admin-


The cens~us concepFt of the exltain agropacuaria

does not coincide with either of the precedjing. The


c.Lplot3cion jagropicuoriaj is generally defined as all of'

thie land under the technicall managerial direction of one

person, whether It co-nsists of one or -e'.'eral parcols,

and regardless of r..-nether ;t is owned by; this person or

contro3lled by himi through rental or other arrangements.

In a~ddtion, as a matter of' operational practicality,, the

ce~nsus autho7rities have~ deemed it necessary to cule that

the parzces must be in the same or neighboring minor civil

di-':isins. Guatemalan (DGE, 1988:22) and Honduran authori-

ties (DG~EC, 1965;:2-F. insist that all parcels ber in the

same m~unicipio: parcels in different municipics are counted

as jeparate ex:plotaciones. (For the other definitions see

El Sal'.'ador, D2EC, 197:.-; HJicaragua, DGEC, 1966:uii; and

Costa PRica, DGEC=, 14i65::~:i-:-:i-:.:ii. )

In m~o-t cases one would e:-pect that these three

units :.'coldJ coinc-ide, and manry times they do. How~eler, many~

exoDlotaciones are too small to be considered as farms~. In

an effort to estimate the number of genuine farms (In

Chapt~e I'.'r, I found it necessar:; to classify 4E2,132

;xplojtjcciones 146.7 per cent of all reported) as supple-

me-ntary~ jcbsistence plots of agricultural laborers .'hich

are too tiny to qualify as farms. Moreover, the census

u~nit differs considerablly from a landholding because of

the separate counting of parcels which are too far distant

- 58 -

from one jnoth-er to be includedj as part of thle ;ame

explotandjn. Miany single landholdings appear In the

censuses as sev~eral explotaciones. Also, tracts falling

in the same., administrative~ jurisdiction biut managed b;

different admlnistrators are countedrl as separate ex-

plotjciones. Amjrong the holde~rs of large tractst the

pr;aCticalj effect is to concea'i~ l thle e:-:tent to which v.ery

large acreages are actujll; held b;y one person.

The-I~ census daht9 On which this Btudyj is j:based all

refer to the explotacidn, which includes more units than

can qualify as farms, jnd which understates the concen-

tration of landholdings. Ile'.erth;eless-, efforts to adjust

to either of the more dsilred- concepts are not practical

in this chapter. (but see the estimate of thei numbl~er Of

genuine farms in Chjpter IV.)

A Functional Classification of Sizes of Explotaiones

To grssp the more important distinctio~ns rbetueen

explotsciones of arious siles it is necessary to group

them in br-oad size: classes as we~ll as to see the full

range of sies as reported by,, thI

for the groupings employed- in this stidl Is simple. The

present section presents the reasoning inv~olved and the

operational sies ultimately selected.


There are thrCE EISil'.-diStinguished SiesS of

e~:-plota~cnione ;:hih are emplead~ throughout the ensuing

ansl.sii. While a further ditisiion into a more detailed

rjn~ge of si-es rwould ber possible, tha conc~ptujl dirffer-

entranoon wosuld become considerablly more compFLex, and t~he

practicalj or operati-njl equi-.'alents ould be fac less

jecure. It is jdequate for present purposes to di-vide

ill explotaciones into the following three categ~ories:

small units (commiionl; called. m:.*::/w:.~.-!.1EvL, famiil:;-size

fjrms, jrnd muilti-fail: y farmis. The latter two; groupings

jpproxsimate genuine farmsl and are so designated, wh~,il the

first includes mayjn places clearl: too 3nmall for this

term to be applied to them.

desired jnd almost unlvercially encouraged bl expert fo

Latinr mria' and its definition provides a Logical

';lot, for exanple, the follo .lng- quotation from
a Seminar on Lind Problem- in Latin Aer~irca iCarroll,
1953:3': Th-roughout the Seminar, the~ Grou~p affirmed
and reaf~firme. d its faith in the family~ farm as the Ldeal
or optinumT t:p.P"' It miust te stressed, ho''e-:er, thait
the~ encosuriagment of thea fami~ly-,ize farm is not ulniv~rsal,
as ma'' be indica;ted t.* the r-eaction o~f a San Salvador
banke~r'c 'i to the .-.11iance for Proqress= w.hen President
IKenned'.' announced It: "Trhat Han [Penned;]] '.ants to giv~e
ev~er;thing wea havje to . to .. to .. those
anim-rals with nameis" ILavine, 194d-:89)


point of departure for the analy'sis of the full range of

stres of >;?pletacio~nes. No1 total agreement e.-.lsts as

to lust w.hat constritutes a family-sized farm, but the~

basic Iidea is that of a unit operatedd as a famil; enter-

pose~, which is sulffiiently large to giv.e full emp~Floymentn

to the a.ailable family labosr force and Ilikewise large

eloughi to provide an aceptjtble for the- famnil_.

.4 more complete definition includes~ the~ follOwing1 bajsic


1. Farming is the principal cocopation of the

2. The lowesr limiit of land~j area ia such that the

a. 12 sufirclient to fully easicy~o the family
labor force

b;. is suff~icient, u:lth reasonable.' ;ffi~cint
utilization, to supprtt the family at an
acceptable level~ of 1191ing ;lthout recourse
to supplementary~ off-farm emplo,ment of
faml** membe;rs

c. 13 large Fnoug~r h to prov.ide a salable surplus
beyondn famrily consum-iption needs, both to
provided for non-home-poduced goods, and the
accumulation of capital

d. is large enough to permit. good land management
practices, and to avoid 3oil depletion

E. 1 large, enough to pe-rmit impjroveme-iint in
technology as the knowicdge and ability of
the operator are incrzased

3. The upper limit of land area Is set by~ the
requiremrlnts that:

- 1

a. the farm operator and his family perform
the bulk of the labor required, hiring only
farm hands to assist themselves

b. reliance on the family labor force does not
mean the inability to utilize the farm area
e~ffctively and appropriately,'

If these qualifications for a family-sized farm

are accepted, then conceptually it Is easy to define at

least two other sizes of explotaciones: those smaller

than the family-sized unit, and the larger ones above the

capacity of family operation. Basically, this is the

rationale for the three-fold division of farms by size in

this study.

Small extiplatarcience-` or minif! dice.?01--Logically,

those explotaciones which are too small to qualify as

family-sized farms are placed In this category. The

term minifundlo is often applied to such tracts. The

largest such places are subsistence plots from which the

operator barely is able to eke out a livelihood. However,

throughout Central Amrrerica there are many places too

small even to be self-sufficient on a subsistence basis.

The users of the latter typically work for others as

LThe above elements of the family-sized farm are,
of course, not original with the writer, although this
specific combination of them 1s new, to my knowledge. Many
of the above reqluirements are found in T. Lynn Smith,
1953:301 and 304; Carroll, 1961a:15; and Carroll, 1953:32-40.
The Ley de R~eforma Agraria Social of Colombia has a very
good statement of the basic characteristics of the unidad
agrioola familiar (see T. Lynn Smith, 1967a:241).


farm laborers, supplementing their wages with the produce

of their tiny; tracts. This size category also includes

the sharecropper and the cL ~:(:--the latter being i person

w~ho i; allotted the use of a small patch of land as part

of his rcmuneration for laboring cegularly for the land-

holder. ISe eChapter I'. for a full discussion of the

colono's tenurial status.)

In conceptulal te~rm; this typFe of exp-lotaci~n is

amiguoi~ius. :!any~ of the persons !who hild suen plots are

simultaneously farm "OPeratorS" On a small scale and firm

laborers in the emlploy~ of others. Some of the holders are

employed most of tihe time ouitside of the agiricultuiral field,

firming their ow~n small parcels on a supplemental basis.

These places run the gamat of sires from tiny garden patches

to nearly self-sufficient farms. About the most that can

be said Is that the minifundios wre clearly no more than

margijnal farms. 'Their possesasos rarely en~oy more than a

very lou, level of liiving.

77:; -,:t-it.-famil firo--T~he third major category

Into which e:-ploticiones may b; clssified readily on the

basis of sire 1s that of the miulti-f~amily~ farm. Ovosy

this grouping includes all those farmTS for which the: sire

exceds the capacity of: a familyl; to operate. Howcever,~ there

are twIo basic subjclasses of mTultl-family' farmis w~hiCh, by

their nature, are ClEjrly distinct from onre another.

- 63

The traditional kaciceda, or large, relatively;

littlec-used cattle- ranch, is one tl'pe of multi-family farm.

T;ypicailly the hacienda has a considerajble expanse of go~od

fertile land. at its ~ispo~sal. Thla land is used In an

extensive manner to grrac a herd of relativ.el:y low-grade

cattle for as mailny as six~ years tcfore the;' are mar;keted.

In order to ensure that the nee~ded laborers will alwayj;s

be a-'ailable, the hacienda also devotes some land to the

production of food and. fibers. This production is accon-

plished on small plots of the poorer or mrore hilly land

which are assigned to colonos or sharerolppers. Front

these- tracts the food and other necessities of both the

wJorkers and the farm operators are o~t~ained, makingq the

hanendaj a cirtually self-contained economic and social

unit. This ty~pe of multi-famiil;y farm has been frequently

desentbed (see Tsnnonbaum, 1962:Chapter 5; Hlarr-oquin,

195:185:) Carroll, 1961lb:16-I: and T. L\nn Smith, 1967a:25:-

26). illustration froml Honduras is given teliou.

The other class of large farm is the plantation.

It also required the labor of many familie-s and a great

deal of land, but its principal raison' d';tire is the pro-

duction of one or two cornlnercial crops on an intensi-ve basis.'

'See the acute discussions pro.'ided by Smith (1967a:44,
and 1959:126-12'). On some of the effects of the single-crop
emphasis, Marsh (1947) has given particular attention to the
case of coffee plantations In El Sal.ador. Wheitten r1961:124-1
137) describes many facets of the plantation in Guatemala.


On the traditional plantations th-ere mray~ be a semii-feudal

relationships between the operator and his workers :hich

providesS somre paternilistic "benefits," but on the mrore

modern farms of this class the relationships tend to be

strictly~ imrpersonal. In Central Ame~crica thie plantation Is

closely linked with the production of coffee, bananas,

cotton, and sugar cane. Other crops such as palmr nuts, and

henequen are generallyr p~roduced on plantations, and occa-

sionallyi csuh a place will undertake~ the raising of tomatoes,

cucumbers,, or pini-a~ppls for sn-ipme~nt to the United States.

It is much easier to ha-e a mental concept of a

size-of-farm cl~ss than It is to put the idea into operl-

atronal terms. Nevertheless, for the analyrtical purposes

of this study; it Is nece~ssar: to set somie~ defintelt lim'ilts

for each of the mager categories of farms and explotaiones.

The problems is greatly compounded w:hen the onl~ measures~

avajiljble for fjrm size is the physical dimension of the

land controlled. Howeve~-r, re-og3nizing that there are v.ast

differences between diffre~tnt type~s of farmring, and that

rar:in technologies, soils, topography and w:ater resources

all complicate the maltte-r further, a general definition

has been established for each of the three si-e classes.

Family-JShed fema!.--Ar single definitionn for the

family-sized form throughout IContral Acmrilca Is dsirable,

- 65 -

and for the present jnalysis it Is felt that a abroad size

class can be~ juistifiab~ly emplOl'd. After rev'iewilng the

mjnl' limited studies in the area which revealedd thait both

intra-country and Inter-ountry variations wereE considerable

(seI, for examTple, UHA~H, Instituto de Invlestigacioness

Eondmomia 1 sociales, 1961s:51-57, and 2Luadres 30-4171,

I feei-l that the '.'ast majority of genuline family.-si-,ed farms

fall ullthin the limait; of 10 to 99 mnjnanas of farm area.

This conclusion is based ca an analva~is o~f th~e labor force

emrple,e d on farmis in all of the couintries except N~icarsgua

,see P~gures 1 acd 21, and on the results of many studies,

including those noted in Taible 1.

MIost in:vestigators ha-e preferred a smaller upper

limit for the family~-;;zed farmi classification, and, based

on the stemses of agriculture wJhich are pre~dominant today~,

h 31maller' area woCuld be~ justified. Fecognizing,, however,

that thei trend is tow~ard thie progress sive improvements of

agricultural technzologly I havre chosen the ulidest practical

dimens:ions with the goal of including the places wIhich are

potentjially of family sZ1E. Among contemploraryl operators

onl: the most capable and ariltious czuld handle overP 100

manzanas an a famil,-operated basis, and the numb~cer of such

persons Is quilte small. Few~ of the owners of places of

50 or more manzanas actually perform the majoritly of the

ucrkr on their ou1n farms. Instead, throughout the region

- E 6,

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C~T;E;3~dX~ rj3 Z

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- 7

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T: *' o '" 7 v
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u-'L'odx .ze 42 >ze. n p u : o zqr

TazbLe 2. The famrly-sized farm as defined in some of the current:
literature on Latin Amrerica

51=e Limits Country of Citation

S-20 ha. Costa Rica Montualegre, 19412a:597
10-16 ha. Honduras i'AS, 1963, III:156
15-293 ha. El Salvador, 1962:11; Mlaturana, 1962:

10-45 ha. Costa Rica Montoys, 194:56
10-993 ha. Latin A~merica Goncjilves de Souza, 1960:31
10-200 he. Ecuador Saunders, 1961:58
5-29J m-. Costa Rlca M~arurana, 1C962:31
5-39 mt. Iicarag-ua Iiimain, 1969:36
5-64 mz. 2uatemala Frost, 1?64:135
10-49mz. icaragua OAS, intEraveriTcan EconomiC and
Social Council, 1962:Cujdro 741
10--19 mm. Iicaraguia Maourana, 1962:316
10-63 m-. Guiatemalj Maturana,. 1962:177; CIDA, 1965:56:
Manger-c~ats, 1966:13
10-99 mz. Costa R~ica International Development Services,
Inc., 1960:Appendix pp. 5, 6

-68 -

- 9

te '..'riEtr foundj nume1roUj families wh wer~c~r cult~vivatin

o~nly a smalli part ofE their land thi~:Em;sl-:es--ten ar-ound

!i0 manzanas--an w~ho Mrcre utilizing tenants or mefirs-A

(sharecroppers; to .cork th~e rest. Sometimcs this pattern

appeared to be due as much to the desire to hold the

status of a landlo-rdi as to an; person3 l injbility~c to -rk

all tne land avajilable. Thus many placsa In the chosen

categor; of famil y-sizd farms are actually run as small

bac~iands or little p~lantations.

The designation of 107 manzanas as the lower limit

of the~ famil;y-eized farm grouping is jlso arbhiti-rary.Ma

studies hav~e :hosen a smaller minimum isee Table 11.

Ha*, Barraclough and Domik~e i1966:396) reported that

in Guatemala

a large portio~n--ias man_ as half--of thie family-sized
units (using the~ ICAD cla;ssilfication [10-i3 mran-anas]j
w~ere found up~on field reall; to be
"minlifundia" altho~ugh this is obscured in thie census
datj because of the pre-alence of disguised under-
e~mplc;- uent on the smaller farms.

In addition to the~ disguised uinderemployment on the smjller

places, the same trend to..'ard more effiCienlt agricultural

sys~tmem whic-h justifies a larger u~pper limit is a~pplcable

to the m~inimrum as we~ll. One could reasonab~l; argue that

faruily-si-- ed farms should be no smaller than 10 man-anas,

as the Ljw of Agrarian Transformation specifies for

Guatemals (INjTAr, 1964:Artic-le 75).


As indicated, the preferred limits for thec

category~ of famiil;-si-ed farms are a minimiumr of 10 manzansa

and a na:
tabulating farm sizes In the censuses, and the different

units utilized! In measuring land area, however. r, the closest

appro:-:inations to the desired limits have had to be sub-

stituted in this study. Therefore the actual limits used

in describingg the clCss of f~amily-sizd farmis jre :

Guatemaillj 10- 63.9 m~aanzn
El ~slvador 10 99.9 hectares
Honduras 10 99.9 nanzjnas
Nicaragua 10l 99.9 nanzanas
Costa Rica 10 99.9 mranzanas

Whtle these Ilrrmts are admirlttedl; arbitrjry, the;' pjrovide

a slmplifiedd base for the description of the situation

In Central .merica ::ith regard to thie general size of

farms and the. relationship of 31-ze to seve'L'ral faiCets of

man-land relationships.

Sw:~:, dexpr' tn*c; cr ?, Unf':r ndl-=.--Jatting th-e

limits of the f~amil -sized f'arm~ class necessarily creates

another class of places too small to qualify~ as famril;y-

sized. The-se are the milnifundless anrd subsistence tracts

already~ described~ abo;e. In this study. all e.1:lotaiciones

of fewer than 10 mainzinas (10 hoctares in El Salva~dori are

considered as belonging In this clajj. Since the labor

force data show~ that two3 or more persons are empiloyed

- 71

e.'en on these small places It Is r;orthy of note that often

a fjrm family will use all ;ts able-bodled members equally

eve~n if pe-rsons could accomplish the ..ork:. This Is

doce both to spread such work as there is jaong the a-.all-

able hrandjs equall;y, ana perhaps alac to justifyl the right

of each person to a share of the product.

Nulci-f:Milyj fevesi.--PbSiCally' those farms anid

branches larger than 100l man,-anas In ex~tension are considered

to bei multi-fjmil;y operations. This say.s nothing about the

extent to which the land is utilized, or whether its use

is ete:~;nsi.e or Inrtensi\. e,: if used at all. Fromr the avalil-

able census reports there appear to be no data sufficient

to distinguish bet'..ein (1) the large properties which are

inadequately farmed ulith hired hands, (2) large haciendas

irtually unculti-:ated, .and (3. large, reasonably efficient

plantations. There Is plenty of ev~idence to substantiate

that all three sorts of multi-familu establishments exist

in Central Amirerica, as is show:n in the discussion of the

various sizes below. In this study multi-famrily farms and

ranches are th-ose with-inr the followiNngg limits:

Guatemala 64I man-anas or more
El Salvador 100 hectare-s or more
Honduras 100j manzanas or more
the~arjgua 100 manzanas or more
Costa Rica 100 manzanas or more

- 72 -

No effort is made here to define the latifundio or

uneconomically developed and underutilized large property,

but at times the more or less conventional 1,000 hectare

(or manzana) and larger farms will be singled out as a

separate grouping.

Distribution of Exiplotaciones by Size
in Central America

The agricultural censuses of the Central American

nations have recently provided a wealth of data about the

farm enterprises and the explotaciones agropecuarias of

the region. In this section a broad picture of the general

distribution of farms by size is followed by the analysis

of the concentration of control over land. The family-

sized farm also is treated as a separate topic, and then

some examples of farms of various sizes from the area are

used to give reality to the statistical picture.

Tlhe Broad Csentral ~lamercac n PNatlre

The minifundio is the predominant size of explotacion

In Central America. In summ-~rarizing the most Important facts

about the size of farms in the region, Including that about

the minifundios, Table 2 has been prepared Employing the

broad categories previously defined, the numbrr~ of explo-

taciones and the amount of farmland encompassed by each are

l'21..?2..dsluti jin rtlan~i.: r~iu-noc if 4xplota:10r.4s, ind libsojlut2 .and
riict.0 iimoun~t sf land Ir. e:-:plot~a:10nc In three~ naiiOr C12:

regio:~ n cr h- 1900's

Counry, ze~a, ad E::plc -scines Ljrnd II, E>pljtC torse1C3
size class gamber Prcn 1rzr Pier ,int

Ga~c.:ms~a (1.-11-11',3-1-1 1 i0.?j -, 2. ~E, 766 100.0
1.7311 36--1 ,97 8?7..4 416,E16 18.5

Mul i- -.m ly8,8 9 .1 3,8 ,1661.

Lir.111^J-11 O ,OE 9 .- 19 ,.*2- I ?O1.
Fam l.-si edIi l ,4 . 8 ,1813

F a1Tily.-si-ied 5-.,518 30.0 1,17,9 39.t.

Famiy-s .-d 3,95 F. .1 1,9 13.7
Cultifami 11,40 1.i 3,9"?,959 72.-:

Imailid 5-,92E 1-.9 110,384I ?.3
Famil*.-sized 9 'lJ -16i .4 J, 3 7 r*7.1

-"inual Arrorican Fsaion 98,2 100 1 ,31T,6~52 0
Small-1. 7 ;'-i 5 1 10 1 31.7
Famil*,-sized" ~183,-14 7 355 31 3'.
::lti- f:Call*,,C 33,-1-16 3. :.6 /316 .

,GIJl.:E: Compiled frmcr data In Tacales 4;. iii 4E.

ir.$ 10-10 I,. In El 5al.*ader.

.-1ult.11-fa-nalel: farnsB jri 100' na. ji n i er ef.-. r ci pt C- m and ovear
in uatmal, ad 10 h. ad oer n E .alvjder.

".anzareas conve~i-rted9 from hecujres .4 a.=1.

?- 7

prcesente f3r the rEgion as a whole, and for cach of the

countries. Of a regional total of nearly 1 million

explotjciones, some '70,000 places (7S per cent, are- too

small1 to be classed as family-jized farms. Sneepo

taciones ini this grouping generall; are so limited? that

their operators must seek other emiploynarlnt as we;ll, it

Is clear that only i small proportion of the agricultural

persoinnel of Ci.ntral Lamerlcaa may: be thought of ;s "inde-

peindent" fa-mers.. '

Family-sized farms, on the other hand, prove~ to

be only~ a small minority of the agricu~ltural units of the

rigionr, as onrl; abouJ~t 183,000jl farms;l (18.5 per- lent) fall

in the fairly generous size rsnge assigned to this category.

M~ulti-family farmrs aind plantjtions make up jlightl; more

than1 3 pjer cent of all u~nit',.

The ve'ry' large numberG~ of exploStSciones whlUch a'e

limaller than famil':~-siTzed tjler on additional menijnna

wrhen the data showing amounts of land In .arious classes

of farms are conisidered (see the last two columns in

Table 2.. Together these small places emb~rae just ovr;.r

million mjnzanas (10.7 pc-r cent) of the land In fsrming

units. Th;y average about 2.3 manzanas each.

LThe division of the agricultural perisonnel between
farm operators and farm laborers is left to the cext
chapter iIVIV, where estimates of the numbers of each are


Family~-sized farms, on the other hand, encompass

over 5 million manzanas of farmland, with an average size

of 29 manzanas. They contain 26.7 per cent of all the

land in farms. The multi-family farms average 373 manzanas

each, and together they embrace 62.6 per cent of the land

in explotaciones.

In order to indicate the geographic variation in

the sizes of explotaciones, the median size of agricultural

and stock raising units has been computed for each major

civil division of Central America. The results of these

computations are shown in Figure 3, where the darker

shadings represent the larger medians. From the figure it

is evident that the typical explotacion is smallest in El

Salvador, with Guatemala presenting a similar situation.

The average farm is progressively larger as one exam~ines

the data for Honduras, N~icaragua, and Costa Rica in that

order. In Costa Rica the national m~edian is 14.8i manzanas--

barely within the family-sized range; comparable figures

for the other countries are: Nlicaragua, 9.7 manzanas:

Honduras, 5.6; Guatemala, 2.5; and El Salvador, 1.6. For

Central Amnerica as a whole the median is estimated to be

3.2 manzanas.'

'This estimate Is relatively crude due to the
necessity of employing data with different size-of-class
intervals and different dates of reference. It is,
nevertheless, the best single indicator I am able to

- 76 -

1961 1966
(11* maN*areast

UN VDER 2 B.0- 79

2 O 39 3 O- 9.

4.C.( 59 IL. O AND OER


Fi P& .4.Median size of exploteiiones agropecuaries, bjy malor
civil divisions: Central Ameries in the 19l60's. (Data compiled and
computed from Guatfemla, DGE, 1968:Cuadro 1-1: El Salvador, DGeC, 1967:
Cuadro 31: Honduras, DGEC, 1967:.Coadro I for each department; rIicaragqua,
DGEc', 1966:Tabla 26; and Costa Rica, DGEC, 1965a:iuadro 9. I


The areas in solid black are the onl; divisions in

which the median falls in the family-sized category. In

generral, these are areas of relativel; little population

density, although some less densel: settled areas have

mostly small farms: e.g., El Petin, In Guatemala, and

C-lancho and Gracias a Dios, in Honduras.

OJne of the Imoortant facets of man-land relationships

Is the degree to r..hich; the ow;nership and control of land are

concentrated In thle hands of relativ.eil fci people. In the

C-entral Amersican region 3.-1 per cent of the e:-:plota-ilones

(the miulti-famil-; category; account foir 62.6 per cent of

the land In c:-:lotaciones, a fact w'hich indicates a great

degree, of concentration In the effecive. control of land.

The- larger ones of the multi-family~ farms,. generall; those

of 1,000O or more anear~nas, are treated separately In

Tabcle J, ;here the data for each country~ are shown in

relation to the total farmland and the1L entire national

teritoy.The conve'ntional, complete p~rasentationr of

e:-plotaciones and farmland by size of explotacion is given

for ec3h country in Tables 4-A- to S-E. For C'entral Amrerica

as a w:hole, 1,777 farms (0.2 per cent of the e:-plotaciones)

include 26.0 per cent of the lanJ In farms and ti.5 per cent

of thle entire territory. As ma; be seen, there are many

- 78

ri- .0


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T :r


e r C

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- 79

TZ..*1 4I.,. ..slt fepetcomadasl
irnd rilaici.; arrourst Jf isrud ir. cJvpletactorses,- b' s::e Of
explotmis:10. useas 9

Landi Ir, Ei:pkitji orses

.1,ars:.area Per Cent~

Cize of E.-glot-sacri;E

Expl taciOn~E

lub r Per C.=nt

Ujnaer 1

::.-1 ,E-




-16. 0. 3
130'.3 5C






11, r I- .an C II .er

6-1 .jind c er

43,6-5 10.5

7,5 1. i 1, 30,155

9 ---a 2,36

9,-i03 L.1 1 -4

11",34-1 100.0

SCURCiE. Co~iplied and ;ompuitas. from

"L~a-s tan :.05f per' ranc.

Coadtemaljl, LE ,

190-Si:Cuas.170 -. P;1ge -i

Idl 4. Ajiute and rel-ative ro~murner of e:i.~~-.pletaione and jsEaite-
and reljcte~.' j-7ncur15 Cr landi in dXpoiCtjicjiones c.*; 3rB Of
e:-plcta..10ra. El Sl.'lador, 1961

ji?.: Vf E:-.plotjiiioneJ E:
Ullliler P:r c^nt HetaesPr Csr~r.

Under1 10 ,05 -7.0 3,365 1.9
1-1. 48, 01 1.4 6,54 4.
--.4. 37,743 1 1 ,' .
5-9.9 14*. 6.2 3L' j6-31~.3

Und r 0 "=" .13 0. -1 2-6,6: .4

10-1S.4 4,52 .'1 ,l "-
20---19.9~~~ 711 3020651 .
'0-30.9 .i14 1 i 151,704 3.

10-99.9 17,4-10 ".. T, 5 0 -

10019.51,1-1 5 15 j.l,-19 10. 0
201.*-499.9 71? I. 1 ,2:1.t
500:-939. l ) 0. 12 ',60 b.1
1,0 0- ,49 .991 ---.. 12 ,2 0 .-1
2,500an D.*r -I ---1 11,' .-I

100r and j;cr 1,149 i..< 'F.,501 47.

Total ".26,59 10 1,5-1,-12.3 100~.

5~UF.CE. Compiled ani Cisr.p~ute. from~ El 5il.-adct C, EfZ 1..uars2

- 0

Less than Ij.05 per cent.c

73'd... .'.Deduce jnd rlaij*.*e r.umoo~ar cf explocacienes, arri jsoulate

51-0of .*:pl~cciou E.:picacine.Ljr.d in E,:plotacious,

;.zrCIber Pir isnt Majnzan~a P. r Cent

1-4 9 4,1 3 7.r 16 ,9 3 .5

i -91.9 1I13 1 196 =6.9

10-199 7'11: 5 135 ,0 10.4

50-99.0 ,4293 -.6 4'n-L.91.3

10-99.0~~~;~ 5351 .00 17,33.

100 19 .9 ,4 9 .E 12 ,68 .2

1,500and '.ar -- 3?E,:45 11.-'

Icoal ~1 8,361 100.0 ,5 ,1 11.0.3'J

5jUF.iE~: iComplied~ ind csmputed from; Honrdurlras, G"E~C, 196 ;:-uadr 1.


Zak '. .1.olutce and~ reiolatec ambe~r of explo~ji~rrz slrie,j an asolute
and r-=1.tie:e amount of' landi in explotciones,~- by~ slze of'
c...plota; ion: :iaau ,16

21:< of Explotaciones E>:pl;~~oetains Ln r ::ltco
I :ljnz jnjis)
surie r nt -anaa PCr CentI

Under 1 ,2153 Z.? 1,3 --

Uner1051,V34-, 5i0.j 130,0281 3.:

50-9 1 ,-19j. 10."." ,4 0 12.-1

10Q-199.5 S,i91 o.1 768,6, 14.
200--19 .9 ..,,5;-1 3. 61 0 '.1 .
500-0sh.O 20 0. 5t'83,7d1 .
1,00-2,1991 45 O 533,503 10t.
,500i jnd ister 170 0. ,01 7 0.1

100 and C-Jac 1,1-10 11.1 397997 .

Total 102,201i 10.0'-161,162 100i. 0

- 2

DGEC, 1966.Tabla; i andj

3vURCE.: iompLied and iompuceid from !I1caragua,

~Le;ss thah i.015 Fper i..?nt.

jnd rcalaci'.-a aiir-.cun: of nd ;n e~:.p;lcrtacione., by she~ of

Jize f Exle~acenesE.-4ctacune-s Land in E.-pleicjci ones

linjTberL Per Cont :lan--na;s F-r C-nt.

1-1.3~~7.c~ 1491 2.13,6 .1

1-9.9 27,92. 5 43.2 10 9-12

10-1->.93,542 1 .8 129,51 3.-
L'C--1 ..* 13,167~ 20 .- 11--,'1 1 0.1'
50-99.9,Z-40 1.l -'88,500 1Z.S

10-9 .9 2 ,--3 -1. -1 1, 33 87 7.

100 2-1 .94,4 1 .3 6-9,05.O
250-439.9 1, 9 *. 3 ,3 21 .-1
50 --9-,9506 I. t1,001 .:
1,00 1, >> )1'1 0. 2 ,*05.'

E.0UF.CE: icomiled and~I c-spFute frin Costj F.ica, DGEC, 190..a:Cuacro; 8i

- 3

'.ariations frcom country to country _. The greatest concentration

of control of both farmland and territory by the holders of

the largest farmsa c=curs in Costa Ri;.a. Ove.~r o..e-qusrter of

the fjrre.1and is held b;y operators of these larJer properties

in iCosta Rica, Cicaragua, andl Guatemala1. The~; farms invo'lve~d

represent less than 1 per cent of the enumerated e:-:plotazcines

in e'.'ery country~: tha,; are (j.64 per cent in Costa Rica,

0.56 per cent in Nicaragua, and 0.15, 0.09, and 0.05 per

cent in Honduirjs, Guatemala, and El; r, res~ecti.ely.

Ev~en the data just citEd doi not reflect the frill

ex~tent to whlch control ove.~r the- land--freque~ntly the better

land--is -sted in the hands of a few families. Statements

such a; the follo~wing often appear in print relative'~ to

this matter:

The~1 Somerla-s at Doresen!t cjntrol abou~t one ten~th of
the cultivable; landr in licaraguj----and just about overy~-
thing else ::orth owningrl. .. ihe Samousla are, of
course, an exitrerrE. case~ (Lainer, 194j:1031 .

Tihe agriculture [cof E~l Salv.ador] of the nodern
period Is under the control of asome fift healththy
families. .. The 3ame lanco~ner- w~ho control the
plantinJ of coffee, control alao the planting of
other commriercial crops Iames, 1959 :6~77

Census met~hodology; miakes~ it impossible to e.aluste

such assertions for two reasons. First, since each tract

of land w:ith a different administrator is a se~pjrate

e:xplotacic'n regardless of o'..nership, there is no !..a; to

kne:. how? many. o..ners are involv.ed. It is known that many

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