Citation
Exchange relationships in a community on the north coast of Colombia with special reference to cannabis

Material Information

Title:
Exchange relationships in a community on the north coast of Colombia with special reference to cannabis
Creator:
Partridge, William Lee, 1944-
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xii, 279 leaves. : ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Adolescents ( jstor )
Agricultural land ( jstor )
Cannabis ( jstor )
Cattle ( jstor )
Day labor ( jstor )
Highlands ( jstor )
Labor ( jstor )
Peasant class ( jstor )
Rice ( jstor )
Towns ( jstor )
Anthropology thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
Cannabis ( lcsh )
Colombia -- Social life and customs ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis -- University of Florida.
Bibliography:
Bibliography: leaves 264-278.
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by William L. Partridge.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
022780488 ( ALEPH )
14092475 ( OCLC )
ADA8968 ( NOTIS )
AA00004926_00001 ( sobekcm )

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Full Text







EXCHANGE RELATIONSHIPS IN A COMMUNITY ON THE
NORTH COAST OF COLOMBIA
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO CANNABIS











By

William L. Partridge


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

1974




EXCHANGE RELATIONSHIPS IN A COMMUNITY ON THE
NORTH COAST OF COLOMBIA
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO CANNABIS
By
William L. Partridge
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1974


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Many people have assisted me during my graduate career
through their teaching, counseling, and research activities.
Among these are members of my dissertation committee who
have contributed to the research reported here. -Professor
Solon T. Kimball, committee chairman, provided through his
classes, seminars, and conversations my training in the
methodological and analytical techniques of the natural
history tradition in social anthropology. My views on
the nature of socialization and the replication of social
structures were greatly influenced by Professors Kimball
and G. Alexander Moore. My interests in ritual and symbolic
behavior were stimulated and influenced by Professors
William E. Carter, Richard H. Hiers, Solon Kimball, and
Charles Wagley.
My interest in cannabis and social structure grew
directly out of my Masters essay (Partridge 1973a) and the
discovery that the scientific literature on the social
implications of cannabis was deficient. Through my exper
iences during the summer of 1971 in Bogot, Cali, and
Popayn, Colombia, interviewing professionals regarding
cannabis use, I became interested in the north coast of
Colombia as a research setting.
The research was supported by the National Institute
of Mental Health Predoctoral Research Fellowship number
1F01MH54512-01 CUAN and the supplementary grant number
3F01DA54512-01S1 CUAN. I am indebted to Dr. Bela Maday
i


and Miss Eleanor Carroll for their encouragement.
Shortly after arriving in Colombia, with the assis
tance of letters of introduction from William E. Carter,
I met several Colombian anthropologists who assisted me
throughout my stay in Colombia. I was granted sponsor
ship for my research in Colombia by the Instituto Colom
biana de Antropologa in Bogot. In Barranquilla I was
generously given office space at the Museo de Antropologa
of the Universidad del Atlntico. The Colombian anthro
pologists who assisted me devoted considerable time to
acquainting me with the culture in which I planned to
work, the geography and history of the north coast of
Colombia, and the range of human populations which give
the north coast its exciting variety. The profound know
ledge shared by these professionals was an invaluable aid
in my adjustment to and eventual study of one particular
community located in the region. The Colombian anthro
pologists who assisted me must be unnamed here due to the
sensitive nature of the topic.
Both in Bogot and in Barranquilla I was informed that
the former banana zone of Colombia was an area of intensive
cultivation and traditional consumption of cannabis. The
community chosen for the research setting, called here
Majagua, was selected for two compelling reasons: (1) par
ticularly excellent personal contacts existed between
ii


several Colombian anthropologists and several people living
in the community who were willing to assist mej and (2)
the entire cycle of activities relating to cannabis, culti
vation, distribution, and consumption, could be studied in
this single location. The proposal originally called for
a community study of a population in which cannabis was
consumed. The situation encountered in the banana zone of
Colombia encouraged me to expand the focus of my investi
gation to the entire cycle of activities related to canna
bis. The community was chosen only after several weeks
of extensive study of the varieties of human settlements
on the north coast.
Through the generous assistance of a Colombian news
paper reporter, who will remain anonymous, I came to know
the town called here Ifejagua. Spending several weeks in
the company of this quite skilled and engaging professional
journalist I came to understand the broad outlines of commu
nity life, the neighborhoods of the town and countryside,
the miles upon miles of dusty dirt roads running among the
cattle and rice estates, the legends of the United Fruit
Company days, the stores, bars, poolrooms, and brothels,
the old families of the community, the cockfights and fes
tival cycle, the church and government offices, the
influential and the powerless, the landowners, the govern
ment employees, the shopkeepers, the beggars, the town
iii


drunks, the peasants, and the contraband runners. My
friend the journalist and I spent hours discussing these
and many more elements of the tremendous range of human
life to which I had been exposed. It was only many months
later that I was able to abstract conclusions about the
nature of this community, for through my experience with
this journalist I was immersed immediately in the full
round of local life. I was not permitted the luxury of
interest in only one element of the community. Instead
I was made aware of the complexity which is Majagua and
its rich texture of human conditions, aspirations, and
abilities.
The contacts mentioned above evolved into further
introductions, hundreds of hours of conversations, and
numerous interviews all of which led to other contacts
and other arenas of community life. I carried a pocket
notebook and pen and wrote notes when possible. At the end
of a day the contents of the notebook were typed up and
copies were sent to Professors Solon Kimball and William
Carter. Each of these generously reviewed my hazy and
incomplete summations of what I was observing and offered
me the benefit of their own insights and experiences.
Out of this dialogue, which continued throughout the period
of study, I came to understand the range and depth of
community life.
Since the work of Malinowski participant observation
has been a proven method of field research in anthropology,
iv


and my particular use of the techniques needs only brief
explication here. Initially I purchased a horse and
traveled throughout the community and to several neighboring
communities, secured housing with a family, obtained a cook,
laundress, and several guides. Friendships developed with
many townspeople and countrymen as I went about learning to
ride, to enjoy the local food and drink, and in the course
of participating in the normal round of social life of the
community. Out of such friendships I requested and was
given personal interviews with those who could provide de
tailed information of special interest (e.g. the process
of rice agriculture, subsistence horticulture, festivals
and rituals). Participant observation continued throughout
such situations since interviews were often conducted while
other kinds of activity were in progress. Successive inter
views and wide travel throughout the municipality enabled
me to form certain conclusions and test them in a variety
of settings and through numerous personnel.
After many interviews and several months in the commu
nity three sample settlement patterns were chosen for inten
sive study. These were a neighborhood of the town, a rural
hamlet, and a highland peasant neighborhood. Demographic
information such as age, sex, social status, education,
occupation, household composition, etc. was collected in
each sample. From these sample surveys evolved invitations
to make other, less formal visits to certain households.
Intensive observations proceeded throughout the remainder
v


of my stay in the community in these three samples.
The collection of data regarding cannabis was diffi
cult from the beginning, for the topic was a sensitive one
and few individuals in the community did not consider me
an agent of the FBI or CIA. It was not until January of
1973 that I was able to obtain my first concrete informa
tion regarding cannabis. Since I chose not to join cannabis
user groups in the community, my first contacts were with
cannabis cultivators. These perceived me to be a wealthy
buyer who intended to transport tons of cannabis to the
United States. After repeated denials, lengthy interviews
on other subjects, months of study of all varieties of
community life, and continuous observation and travel
throughout the municipality, I managed to convince several
informants that I was indeed a scientist and not a cannabis
buyer. One successful interview led to others and soon I
developed good working relationships with commercial growers,
petty growers, petty vendors, consumers, and petty cultiva
tors. Once the identities of these individualsvere known
to me, and more importantly their roles in the life of the
community and the full range of activities in which they
engaged themselves, the patterns of the systems of social
relationships governing cannabis became clear. Soon it
became apparent that everyone in the town and municipality
but the anthropologist had known all along who were the
consumers, distributors, and cultivators of cannabis.
Their initial efforts to hide such knowledge had been a
vi


natural reaction to a foreigner poking his nose into local
affairs. Once the ice was broken and my informants under
stood that I understood the local situation, then the data
flowed quite easily, and most tension surrounding my in
quiries was mitigated. Still, upon leaving the community
in October of 1973 one of my best informants and friends,
an extremely intelligent and able man, expressed his amaze
ment at the fact that I had been able to keep secret from
everyone how it was that I was going to make a profit
through cannabis sales. He informed me that I must be
extremely intelligent to have hidden so successfully my
contracts with his fellows.
Upon nearing completion of my period of study, several
weeks were devoted to research in the national Library in
Bogot where documentary evidence was obtained relating to
certain historical and geographical conditions which obtain
on the north coast of Colombia. Census materials were col
lected from the offices of the Departamento Administrativo
Nacional de Estadstica in Bogot and Barranquilla.
During the writing of the dissertation I have benefitted
from the close cooperation of my committee, especially from
repeated reviews of the manuscript and constructive sugges
tions offered by Dr. Kimball and Dr. Carter. Dr. Charles
Wagley brought to my attention several theoretical issues
in the area of economics and development in the Third
World to which the data are relevant. While I have not
adequately responded to all of the many suggestions and
vii


insights offered by members of the committee, many of these
have been incorporated in the pages that follow. The
intellectual atmosphere generated through my interaction
with members of the committee provided the challenges which
led to the completion of the dissertation. Their thoughtful
help is very much appreciated.
A great debt is owed to the people of the community
in which I studied. I was graciously hosted by numerous
families of the town and countryside who must remain unnamed
here and in the text. Many informants devoted time they would
normally have spent engaged in other activities in order
to answer my questions and grant lengthy interviews. Names
which occur in the text are fictitious. The notes written
at the time of interviews with cannabis users, merchandisers,
and growers were coded and edited in such a way as to make
impossible the identification of informants. Only a single
copy of each interview was made and these were kept locked
in a trunk, so it is unlikely that the data gathered will
serve any other purpose than that of scientific investigation.
The translations of Spanish documents which are quoted
in the text are my own.
viii


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Acknowledgements i
Table of Contents *x
List of Figures x
Abstract x*
Introduction ..... 1
Chapter I Cannabis and Social Relationships .... 4
The Problem 4
The Setting 15
Chapter II Cultural Origins of the Community .... 39
Diffusion of Cannabis 39
The Region 45
The Estate System 49
The Subsistence Horticulture System . 52
Labor Recruitment 56
Forms of Human Organization 60
The United Fruit Company 68
The Highlander Migration 86
Chapter III Production, Distribution, Consumption . 90
Production Systems 90
Production of Cannabis 132
Systems of Distribution 13&
Distribution of Cannabis 148
Systems of Consumption 154
Consumption of Cannabis 163
Cannabis and Social Structure 174
Chapter IV Life Cycles and the Replication of
Structure 1^7
The Coastal Lower Sector I89
The Highland Lower Sector 219
Cannabis and Profane Ritual 235
Chapter V Comparisons and Conclusions 243
A Controlled Comparison 243
Conclusions 255
Sanctions and Policy Governing Cannabis. 257
References Cited ..... .... 264
Biographical Sketch .. 279
ix


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1 Population Changes .... 18
Figure 2 Population Changes 18
Figure 3 Map of the Magdalena Region ....... 20
Figure 4 Schematic Drawing of the Town of Majagua 27
Figure 5 Size of Land Holding in Orejones 34
Figure 6 Production Schedule of the Rice Estate . 106
Figure 7 Daily Meal Schedule of Consumption Units
with No Patterned Variability 156
Figure B Daily Meal Schedule of Consumption Units
with Seasonal Variability 15B
Figure 9 Daily Meal Schedule of Consumption Units
With Production Schedule Variability . 161
Figure 10 Retail Prices of Items Consumed Daily . 162
Figure 11 Reciprocal Relations Between Town, Estate
Hamlet, and Vereda 17B
Figure 12 Cannabis Networks in the Traditional and
Market-Induced Systems I84
x


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
EXCHANGE RELATIONSHIPS IN A COMMUNITY ON THE
NORTH COAST OF COLOMBIA
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO CANNABIS
By
William L. Partridge
June, 1974-
Chairman: Solon T. Kimball
Major Department: Anthropology
Social group structures and social relationships which
power systems of production, distribution, and consumption
in a community on the north coast of Colombia were studied
between July of 1972 and October of 1973- The origins of
the community are traced and certain subcultural social
traditions are found to be adaptations to the ecological,
historical, and geographical conditions of the north coast
region. These subcultures are found to be interdependent
through certain exchange relationships, yet also are found
to have clearly identifiable and distinct structures, forms
of productive activity, distributive systems, and systems
of consumption. Social group structures and social relation
ships characteristic of each subculture are examined with
special reference to systems of cultivation, distribution
and consumption of cannabis. Two systems of cultivation
xi


and two systems of distribution are described which corres
pond to the distinctive subcultural traditions present in
the community. Cannabis consumption is found to be charac
teristic of only one of these subcultures. The analysis
of cannabis consumption is focused upon the profane sphere
of everyday work habits, secular patterns of interaction,
and life cycles typical of the coastal subculture. A con
trolled comparison is made between the coastal and the high
land subcultures and cannabis is found to be instrumentally
and expressively related to certain social groupings and
social relationships present only in the coastal subcultural
tradition. It is concluded that cannabis is one of several
items of reciprocal exchange which functions to symbolize
interdependency relationships among laborers, peasants,
and artisans of the coastal subculture. In contrast, canna
bis consumption does not diffuse to the highland subculture
where different kinds of social group structures and social
relationships are found. It is suggested that cannabis
diffuses only to those social groups structurally predisposed
to accept and value the ritual which surrounds it.
xii


INTRODUCTION
The research reported here concerns cannabis and human
social groupings. It is not concerned with cannabis qua
cannabis, but with the locus of cannabis in society. As
Hollister (1971s2S) points out, increasing numbers of re
searchers have turned to questions involving cannabis but
this has increased our understanding of the social impli
cations of cannabis very little. The reason is that
scientists continue to focus upon the psychological and
physiological effects of the drug and to ignore the social
dimensions. The observations of Wallace (1959), Becker
(1963), and others that the significance of the drug varies
with cultural and social contexts have in general stimulated
only lip service from scientists interested in cannabis.
With some exceptions (Comitas 1973) the locus of canna
bis in the natural human grouping is neglected in favor of
soporific concepts such as "the lower class" or the "cul
ture" of a people (Khalifa 1973 Li 1973) My intent in
the pages that follow is to bring a measure of conceptual
rigor to the area of cannabis and social relationships.
This objective is achieved through the use of the methodology
of community studies in the natural history tradition of
social anthropology.
The central concern of the method is with the obser
vation in vivo of the varieties of social and cultural
elements in the context of ongoing human activity. The
1


2
central problem facing the observer is the reduction of the
multiplicity of social facts into a system of priorities of
relevance. These priorities are established by examining
relationships which obtain between social units who live
out their developmental cycles at particular times and in
particular places in customary fashion. The concern of
the method, most simply put, is with the regular and recur
rent structures of human organization. For the community is
the minimal unit of cultural transmission, and it is the
transmission of organizational structures which in turn
provides for successive transmissions and the persistence
of the culture.
Community consists in systems comprising interaction
regularities and cultural behavior in an environmental con
text (Arensberg and Kimball 1965:4). The definition is
minimal for it generalizes several points of technical
refinement that will be developed below.
The emphasis upon interactional regularity calls
attention to the biological basis of human organization.
The law of incest prohibition requiring exogamous groupings
of persons interacting in some predictable manner is the
key and primal survival technique of the species. The
implications of prolonged infancy and late puberty compel
us to view society not as based upon the family unit but
as consisting in organizational structures which relate
several family units. Three generations and two sexes,
then, are fundamental elements of community.


3
The emphasis upon cultural behavior stems directly
from the above. Organizational structures vary and stem
from learning experiences of preceding generations.
Patterns of mate choice, settlement, subsistence, con
sumption, belief, and the like result from the canaliza
tion of choices made by individuals.
The emphasis upon environmental context adds to the
definition the importance of territory and the functional
interdependencies which exist among men and among social
groups by virtue of their shared relationship to a natural
world. Community is a storehouse of adaptive responses to
specific conditions of the natural world, responses which
have temporal and spatial aspects. Community is therefore
the succession of lives through time and over space.
Community provides patterned social relationships which
constitute "conditioning influences from the organization of
one's fellows about the individual" (Arensberg and Kimball
1965:45 )f and canalize choice. The cultivation, distribu
tion, and consumption of cannabis is understood only in
relation to the structure of social relationships which
canalize choice for members of the community. In the chapters
that follow cannabis will be seen to be intimately related
to certain social relationships characteristic of certain
group structures.


CHAPTER I
CANNABIS AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
The Problem
It has been known for some time that cannabis is one
of the most widely used and most ancient hallucinogenic
plants consumed by man (Subcommittee on Alcoholism and
Narcotics 1971:52-53). (There is some debate over whether
cannabis is indeed an hallucinogen but for now we will
accept Schultes 1969 classification which considers the
plant hallucinogenic.) Considerable scientific data has
accumulated since the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report
of IS96, but the report's essential finding that cannabis
is of little danger to the individual consumer or his
society remains unchanged to the present time. As Snyder
(1971:16-17) points out, a comparison of the lethal and
effective doses of two commonly used drugs mass produced
and marketed in the United States and many other countries,
secobarbital (Seconal) and alcohol, with the lethal and
effective doses of cannabis is revealing. This ratio, the
so-called "safety factor" of any drug, is about 10 for both
secobarbital and alcohol and about 40,000 for tetrahydro
cannabinol (THC) or the chemically active intoxicant con
tained in cannabis. While a lethal dose of secobarbital
or alcohol can be produced with 10 times the effective dose,
a lethal dose of cannabis is quite literally beyond the
4


5
range of human experience or imagination.
It would seem, then, that the current controversy
surrounding cannabis is not related to lethal dangers to
an individual resulting from use of the drug. Perfectly
lethal drugs are consumed daily by people who are frightened
of the effects of the relatively harmless cannabis.
The controversy centers instead upon the real, per
ceived or suspected effects of cannabis for the society in
which it is used. The sociologist Eric Goode (1969) has
argued that scientific data regarding cannabis in society
are irrelevant since the controversy is largely a political
and ideological one. But science is often used to alter
political and ideological persuasions. Howard Becker (1963)
demonstrated some time ago that official and popular atti
tudes toward cannabis were changed quite readily by a
massive campaign waged against the drug by the Bureau of
Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs of the United States Govern
ment. The campaign was based on evidence which was pre
sented to the Congress and public wearing the mantle of
"science." For scientists to fail to recognize their roles
in the maintenance of official and popular mythology is
not only irresponsible but an admission that scientists
fail to perceive the manner in which their society functions.
The generation of official and popular mythology is a de
facto condition of modern science.
Since the cannabis controversy centers upon the effects
of cannabis for society the work of sociologists, social


6
psychologists, and anthropologists is particularly relevant.
Anthropologists have nad wide experience in the study of
many cultures where different hallucinogenic plants are
consumed. But much of this investigation is not directly
useful in addressing the problem of the effects of such
substances on society.
Hallucinogens have played and continue to play major
roles in religious ritual in all parts of the world. They
form integral parts of curing, divining, and votive acti
vities from central Siberia to northern India to the coast
of China, from southern Europe to the Turkish plains, from
the Arctic to the tip of South America, from the Mediterra
nean Sea to Cape Hora, from Newfoundland to Vancouver
Island to the mountains of Oaxaca. In some cases the plant
itself is perceived to be a diety: the Soma of the ancient
Aryans or Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric mushroom (Wasson
1963, 1972); the peyote cactus of the Huichol Indians or
Lophophora Williamsii (La Barre 193^, Aberle 1966, Furst
1972, Meyerhoff, 1972, 1973) In other cases the plant is
an instrument of ritualized communication with dieties:
the eboka of the Bwiti cults among the Fang people or
Taberaanthe iboga (Fernandez 1972); the ya.jii of the Tukano
Indians of Colombia or Banisteriopsis caapi (Reichel-Dolma-
toff 1963, 1972); and the deadly nightshade or Atropa
belladonna. Mandrake or Mandrabora. Henbane of Hyoscyamus,
and thorn apple or Datura of the witches of medieval Europe
(Hamer 1973)* In still other cases the hallucinogen takes


7
on curative powers and serves the related purposes of diag
nosis and treatment: the black tobacco of the Warao of
Venezuela (Wilbert 1972, 1973) and the Tenetehara of Brazil
(Wagley and Galvao 194-9) or Nicotiana spp.; the morning-
glory seeds of the Zapotee, Mixtee, Chinanatecs, and Masatecs
of the Oaxaca valley of Mexico or Rivea corymbosa (Schultes
1972, 1969); and the San Pedro cactus or Trichocereus
pachano! among the mestizo farmers of the coast of Peru
(Sharon 1972). This list could continue until some SO
hallucinogenic plants of the New World and some six of
the Old World were included (La Barre 1972:271).
Yet as Furst (1972:xi) observes, "what is new is not
the discovery of natural substances that act powerfully
on the mind, but their fascination for Western man and the
medical, legal, and social consequences." This fascination
and its consequences are indeed new to the West since
hallucinogenic plants have not traditionally been used in
either religious curing, divining, or votive activities
since paleolithic times. Exceptions exist to be sure (Harner
1973). But in general altered states of consciousness in
the West are achieved without the aid of hallucinogens.
One is reminded of the shamanistic trance states of
Moses, Aaron, Ezekiel, Samuel, Peter, Paul and others of
the Hebrew tribes; likewise, the astonishing visions of
the initiates into the Eleusis cults of Greece were probably
unaided by hallucinogens. The raptures suffered by St.
Bernard and later St. Francis and others of the Mendicant


8
Orders of the 12th and 13th centuries are traditionally
interpreted as communication with a diety. The hallucina
tions and voices experienced by Joan of Arc, the 14th cen
tury "Saint Vitus Dance" mania and its accompanying visions,
and the mystical savagery of the Flagellants of the Middle
Ages of Europe and in some parts of Latin America and
Europe today were not induced by hallucinogenic substances.
The prophetic trances and miracles proclaimed by George
Fox and others of the Quakers in the 17th century, the
violent convulsions and trance performances of the "French
prophets" of lSth century England, and the hysterical fits
and spirit-possessions which afflicted those who heard
Wesley preach in England at the same time were similarly
unaided by hallucinogens. Similarly, the gift of "tongues"
which characterized the Shakers of New York, the frenzied
spasms called the "barks," the "jerks," and the "rolls"
which marked the Kentucky revival of lSOO, the millenial
dreams of the Adventists of New England in 1343 > the Beek-
manites of Illinois in 1375, the Wilderness Worshipers of
Georgia and South Carolina in 1339 and 1390, and the hys
terical praying of our contemporary Pentecostal sects of
the Southern United States, Southern California, New York
and the Midwest are each altered states of consciousness
achieved without the use of hallucinogenic plants. Mooney
(1396) called attention to many of these Western parallels
to the trances of the Ghost Dance Religion in his classic
monograph.


9
Clearly what is new to Western man is not the ritualized,
sacred, or divine state of consciousness. Westerners have
witnessed continuing streams of possession, quaking, jerking,
dreaming, and all manner of related trance states for over
two millenia. Moreover, many of these have been incorporated
into Western religious tradition. Westerners seek out and
discover such altered states of consciousness.
That which is sacred has easily been explained in
terms of belief systems, cognitive mappings, and culturally
patterned perception. But here anthropologists usually
have stopped, recognizing along with Fernandez (1972:237-23^)
that reality is a construct which is consensual and not
virtual. Few anthropologists have considered the altered
states of consciousness or hallucinogenic substances that
seem to produce them in the context of what Durkheim (1947:
3^-42) called the profane or secular institutions of society.
Freud and his followers were fascinated with one such
profane altered state of consciousness which is universal to
the species: the dream. Recent research has resulted in
the exciting discovery of the "rapid eye movement" dream
state in which the subject is insensitive to external stim
ulation and in a state of inward concentration, yet not in
a state of normal unconsciousness. This is a purely bio
logical phenomenon with important implications for theories
of schizophrenia, sensory deprivation, and the nature of
perception. Furthermore, it introduces the possibility
that the distinction between the sacred and the profane is


10
really the difference between sensory deprivation and sen
sory experience, and as such is a panhuman phenomenon that
may lead us to postulate a panhuman subconsciousness (La Barre
1972:263).
But that intuitive leap cannot be made just yet. For
the sacred experience, whether this be rooted in sensory
deprivation or not, is universally structured by a cultural
tradition and a defined social grouping. Since Emile Durkheim
(1947), George Herbert Mead (1913 1962) and the more recent
simplifications of Erving Goffman (1961, 1967, 1969), we can
hardly accept the idea that the sacred or the profane states
are either noncommunicable nor unlearned. That is, even
though the biologically determined state of subjectivity
(e.g., the REM state) is universal to all individuals, the
activity which occurs during that state is quite specific to
the canalization of one's expectations and behaviors. Such
states may be natural to all individuals, but they are never
individual experiences.
The Tukano Indian, for example, perceives his hallucin
ogenic experiences to be the products of his ingestion of
Banisteriopsis caapi. hence, in his symbol system, intense,
subjective, and personal contact with the dieties. But his
activities are in fact quite stereotypic, common to all his
fellows, and not shared with other cultures. So stereotypic
are these that the vivid hallucinatory phenomena which he
sees conform readily in terms of color, form, structure,
and meaning to ancient petroglyphs chiseled on the river


11
rocks, to house and ceramic paintings, to traditional designs
painted on barkcloth, and to the hallucinations of his
fellows. Similarly, the Warao Indian who smokes the leaves
of Nicotiana is indeed induced into a trance state, but he
has previously learned the stereotypic journey he will make,
the events which will occur along the way, the tests and pit-
falls he must overcome, and the myth of origin which provides
the meanings for such events from his shaman-initiator.
This journey and its events he reports faithfully after his
long period of fasting (almost to the point of death) and
after the ingestion of huge amounts of Nicotiana. The out
sider or anthropologist who ingests such substances generally
perceives their effects to be only nausea, excitation or
anxiety, and extreme diarrhea (Schultes 1960:70, Reichel-
Dolmatoff 1972:39-90, Fernandez 1972:233).
Anthropologists have demonstrated convincingly that
altered states of consciousness are structured by learned
ritual and myth in the sacred realm. The use of hallucinogens
is controlled and restricted to certain individuals, certain
periods of the life cycle, and certain institutionalized
situations or contexts. Hallucinogens qua hallucinogens
do not produce undesirable states of consciousness which
disrupt normal social life, but in fact contribute to the
continued functioning of sacred symbol systems. But what
of the profane? Anthropologists have not generally investi
gated either the role of altered states of consciousness
or the manner in which these are structured in the realm


12
of the profane.
Durkheim (1947:3^-42) conceived of the difference
between the sacred and profane to consist in ritualized
"interdictions" which protect and isolate the sacred from
the profane. Certain beliefs which designate certain ele
ments as sacred are expressed in ritual behavior which has
as its context a certain social grouping. The belief, the
ritual behavior, and the social group constitute the sacred.
All else is profane. But as Warner (1962:5-34) demonstrated,
sacred functions are not limited to the purely religious
institutions. A political event such as Memorial Day in
the United States is also a sacred event. It involves a
sacred symbol system, ritual behaviors, and certain social
groupings which can together be interpreted as a "cult of
the dead" of the nation-state. Therefore, anthropologists
speak of sacred and profane functions of belief systems,
rituals, and social groupings. These may occur in the
political, religious, economic, or familial institutions
of a society.
My interest is in the nature of the altered state of
consciousness produced by smoking of the plant materials
of cannabis in the secular realm of human activity. For
the cannabis controversy centers upon the use of cannabis
in the secular sphere of social life. Yet the functions
of cannabis and the ways in which it is structured in
profane life will not be discovered by investigating merely
the customs surrounding the use of cannabis. After ini-


13
tiating field work in the community described below, I
soon learned that cannabis was part of, and a minor part
at that, larger and more complex systems of human relation
ships. In attempting to understand cannabis I found myself
studying social group composition, economic dynamics, acti
vities, and beliefs, and exchange relationships which knit
individuals into groups and groups into social structures.
Only when the structure of social life in all its complexity
was understood could the role and function of cannabis be
studied.
In order to examine cannabis in the profane realm,
therefore, the analysis is focused upon human relationships
in a community where cannabis is used by certain groups,
not used by certain other groups, and cultivated and sold
by still other groups. Social relationships in these groups
vary in relation to subcultural traditions which are the
products of adaptations to ecological, geographical, and
historical conditions of the region in which the community
is located. These origins of these social relationships,
the ways in which they are interrelated through systems of
exchange, and their functioning in the full round of local
life and the yearly cycle are the subjects discussed here.
Lvi-Strauss has said:
... as soon as the various aspects of social
lifeeconomic, linguistic, etc.are expressed
s relationships, anthropology will become a
general theory of relationships. Then it will
be possible to analyze societies in terms of
differential features characteristic of the
systems of relationships which define them
(1967:95-96).


14
Such systems of relationships can be studied most readily
in minimal social units. As Lvi-Strauss (i960, 1969)
argues, we can no longer view the family units as minimal,
but rather the minimal unit of society is composed of rela
tionships which obtain among families. Arensberg and Kimball
(1965:4) and Wagley (1968:127) have likewise argued that the
community is the minimal unit of cultural transmission, for
it is in community that the structure of interindividual
relationships characteristic of a society is to be found.
Barth has added:
What we observe is not "customs," but
"cases" of human behavior. . Our
central problem becomes what are the
constraints and incentives that canalize
choice (1966:1).
Phrased another way, the anthropologist must answer the
question: "What is the net of conditioning influences from
the organization of one's fellows about the individual?"
(Arensberg and Kimball 1965:45). The answer to this question
regarding cannabis is the problem addressed in the following
chapters. The constraints and incentives surrounding canna
bis, the net of conditioning influences resulting from social
organization, is the proper focus for anthropological inves-
tigation.
Perhaps when such data are collected and analyzed in
similar fashion by more anthropologists the "marihuana con
troversy" in the United States can be seen for what it
probably is: a clear example of a scapegoat phenomenon
which serves the purpose of obscuring the fundamental social


15
problems of which marihuana use or any other kind of behavior
is a mere expression.
The Setting
The community chosen for investigation of the problem
is located at the base of the western slopes of the Sierra
Nevada de Santa Marta in the department of Magdalena, Colom
bia. In the tradition of natural history (Arensberg and
Kimball 1965:8-12) this community is viewed as a sample or
field in which to examine empirically the relationship be
tween cannabis and human social behavior. The form of
settlement, the distribution of people through space, the
major features of town and countryside, the use of land
and other factors discussed below are each broad expressions
of the kind of community chosen. It is a community which
is representative of other communities by virtue of these
shared features and can therefore be considered a sample.
The setting is the former banana zone of Colombia lo
cated to the south of the city of Santa Marta. While Santa
Marta is Colombia's oldest colonial settlement, the hinter
lands south and west of the city were sparsely populated
until the present century. The United Fruit Company opera
tions in this region sparked the migration of numerous
Colombians and foreign nationals into the zone. Hamlets of
only a score of families were transformed into bustling
centers of primary production and commerce. The town chosen
as the base of operations is one of these, a town that
is located close to Macondo of the internationally famous


16
novel by Gabriel Garca Mrquez (1970).1
Majagua is located about 90 kilometers south of Santa
Marta, the capital city of Magdalena. Majagua first appears
in the historical record between 1874 and 1886 when the
English geographer F. A. Simonds explored the region and
listed it together with several other hamlets (Vergara y
Velasca 1901:82-85). In 1885 the town was transfered into
a new municipality in one of the numerous territorial divi
sions which marked the 19th century history of Magdalena
(AlarcSn 1963:374-375).
The municipio or county in which Majagua is located
will be called here Orejones, a name given to the indigenous
people of the area by the Spanish. The only information we
have about these indigenous inhabitants is the fact that
they wore large earrings "as big as plates" which were put
on their children at an early age (Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:99).
The municipality of Orejones was not created until the 20th
Garca Mrquez was born in the banana zone and writes
about the people as an insider and participant in their
culture. The town of Majagua is identical in most respects
to Macondo as described by Garcia Marquez, yet the perspective
of the social scientist contrasts significantly with that of
the native novelist. For Garca Mrquez was born the son of
a merchant family and his particular perspective on the
historical events which form the structure of the novel is
quite selective. One Hundred Years of Solitude traces the
lives of the Buendia family in the fictitious town of
Macondo from its founding through the United Fruit Company
period, and into the period of decline which represents the
contemporary state of the numerous banana towns of the zone.
The conflict between the merchants of the banana zone and
the United £ruit Company, discussed in Chapter II below,
colors Garca Mrquez's interpretation of events and process
and makes his otherwise brilliant novel less useful in the
present context.


17
century when the banana boom had begun. Majagua became the
seat of the municipality of Orejones in 1915 (Rigoletto 1962).
While the first church was built in 1910 the municipality was
not designated a parish until 1928 (Angarita 1928). Changes
in the census data over the past century reflect the fact that
the town achieved a fairly stable population immediately after
the banana boom and has grown very little since. In contrast,
the rural areas of the municipality have grown steadily due
to the processes of rural colonization of the foothills of
the Sierra and the invasion of the large estates (see Figures
1 and 2).
Majagua was the second largest of the banana-railroad
towns which made up the urban nodes of the zone. Each of
these towns was built along the railroad which connected the
United Fruit Company docks in Santa Marta and the town of
Fundacin at the southern limit of the banana zone. The paved
highway which lies about one kilometer away from each of these
towns was built during the mid-1960's. Formerly, there was
only the railroad and a camino de herradura or mule path
connecting the series of towns and Santa Marta.
The municipality of Orejones contains a number of other
settlements besides those studied. At its western end lie
small fishing villages standing on stilts out of the water of
the Cinaga Grande or Great Swamp, and at its eastern end in
the high reaches of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta live the
Ijca. known locally as the Awawak Indians. Neither of these
populations is part of the community studied in that contacts


18
Population
Year
Town of Majagua
Total municipality
1933
3,398
15,861*
1951
4,336
12,713
1964
5,304
22,202
FIGURE 1
Population Changes
Number of Buildings
Year
Town of Majagua
Total municipality
1933
630
1,411*
1951
764
1,392
1964
711
3,074
FIGURE 2 **
Population Changes
* These figures include the corregimiento or satellite
town of Fundacin which in the census of this year was
still part of the municipality of Orejones. By the
next census period Fundacin had become the seat of
a separate municipality
** Source: Contralorea General de la Repblica 1941,
Departamento Administrativo Nacional de
Estadstica 1959, 1970.


19
among them are rare and no interdependency exists among them
(see Figure 3)
The total land area of the municipality is 2,263 square
kilometers (Comisin de Planificacin 1964:91). Of this
total 1,077 are classified as tierra calida or hot lands at
0 to 1000 meters altitude. It is in this region that the
bulk of the population lives, that part of the population
identified later as the coastal subculture. About 309 square
kilometers are classified as tierra media or warm lands at
1000 to 2000 meters altitude. It is in this region that
the colonization efforts of the highland subculture of the
community are taking place. Around 2&7 square kilometers are
tierra fria or cold lands at 2000 to 3000 meters altitude.
This is the region of the I.jca Indians, where they located
their dispersed farms and the ceremonial center called Ser-
ancua after fleeing the missionaries who came to their original
homelands at the turn of the century. The remaining 590
square kilometers are classified as paramo or lands of the
high plateau just beneath the snow line and including a small
area permanently covered with snow. In these reaches the
Indians graze sheep, cattle, and goats.
The community studied is located, then, in the altitude
range of from sea level to 2000 meters. Toward the lower
altitudes the land is flat and devoted mainly to large estates
and a few nodal population centers. The large estates dominate
the landscape. Towards the upper reaches of the zone the land
is devoted to the dispersed individual family farms of the


CARIBBEAN SEA
FIGURE 3
Map of the Magdalena Region
Source: Comisin de Planificacin, 1964.


21
highland colonists. Both of these geographical and cultural
areas are divided into units called veredas. These are rural
neighborhoods which in the lowlands are named for older es
tates nearby or for administrative divisions made by the
United Fruit Company. In the highlands veredas are named for
certain physical features of the land such as a stream or a
hill. The vereda is a natural unit of classification only
in the highlands where it conforms to the contour of the land,
such as the area between two roads or two streams. In the
lowlands these units are useful only for census surveys and
tax records, for they reflect neither the physical features
of the land nor the human groupings which inhabit it.
The town of Majagua is the governmental, religious,
political, and commercial center of life for many members of
the community. But for some the cities of Barranquilla and
Santa Marta are the important nodal centers which are the
focus of their lives. The products of the estates as well
as the owners of the estates and many workers invariably end
up in the urban centers of the coast. Majagua is a nodal
center for certain groups, but not for all.
In the town are found the following governmental facili
ties: a municipal "palace" in which are the mayor's office
and the treasurer's office, a telephone and telegraph commu
nication center, a jail and its accompanying police station
and barracks, a market building, a town notary, an electric
plant, a water system office, three elementary level schools,
one high school level school, a cotton gin operated by the


22
Instituto de Mercadeo Agropecuario (IEEMA), several experi
mental farms of the Instituto Colombiano de Agricultura (ICA),
a public clinic with 10 beds, a railroad station which has
been closed for 15 years, a personero or municipal officer in
charge of road maintenance, a municipal slaughter house, and
a post office. Many of the government offices occupy build
ings abandoned by the United Fruit Company (warehouses,
clinics, commissaries, etc.) as do some residents of the town.
The town's notary is licensed by the departmental govern
ment. He is descended from one of the founding families of
the town, as are most professionals and government personnel,
worked for the United Fruit Company for 20 years, and today
is a major and powerful figure in the community. He keeps
all official records and thereby knows everything going on
in the municipality. Everyone expects he will hold the post
for life, and that one of his offspring will occupy it after
him.
One of his adult sons is to be found daily in the com
pany of the mayor either in his office, at the home of the
mayor's wife, at the home of the mayor's mistress, or in the
stores and bars of the town drinking with the mayor. This
son has no official government position but is essential to
the functioning of the mayor's office. For he acts as a
buffer and informer between the mayor and the people of the
municipality. His friends live in towns and cities through
out the coastal region. He knows where and through whom to
get something done, and he can handle many of the small daily


23
problems brought to the mayor. He is known locally and
regionally as un hombre de la parranda or a man who enjoys
drinking, singing, telling stories, and dancing. He counts
among his friends several famous song writers of the coast,
several popular bands and orchestras of the coast, and the
famous Colombian novelist Garcia Marquez. Through his wide
ranging contacts he keeps abreast of many things of interest
to the mayor, such as how the problem of squatters is being
handled in another town of the zone, the political ups and
downs of friends, and the way in which the mayor's actions
are received and judged throughout the department of Magda
lena. But most importantly, he is from one of the powerful
Liberal families of the municipality, while the mayor is a
Conservative appointed by a Conservative government in Santa
Marta. The notary's son acts as a mediator between these
old families and the mayor of the opposite political party.
The municipality of Orejones has a single Catholic
priest in the town of Majagua. A smaller satellite town
nearby has a church but no priest is assigned. The priest
in Majagua gives services on Sunday in the satellite town,
but most residents of that town journey to Majagua for
weddings, special masses, baptisms, funerals, confirmations,
and to obtain copies of records kept by the priest which are
needed for other purposes. The priest is a cachaco or high
lander and came to this community only 10 years ago. He is
also a landowner of a small highland finca or farm which is
worked by an employee of his, a good sized herd of cattle,


24
and several milch cows scattered among peasants with land near
to the town who bring a portion of this milk into town each
day for sale to the tiendas or small stores. In addition the
priest is a petty lender of small amounts of cash to the high
land peasants. He charges from 10 to 20# interest on these
loans. Aside from these activities his major functions in
clude record keeping, collection of fees for services rendered,
and the enactment of his role as leader of sacred ritual
events.
Every seven years the bishop from Santa Marta comes to
town during his round of visiting his constituents. The
bishop is given lavish dinners by the town's only religious
cofadia, a religious sodality, drinks with the priest from
the parish house wine closet, and learns of the needs of the
parishoners. Such visits result in improvements in the
Church's property in the town, such as painting the church
and parish house, purchasing new ritual paraphernalia, or
purchasing new vestments for the priest. During the evening
of his last day in town the bishop is given a traditional
serenade by the young people of the town, mostly from the
upper sector families, and he blesses them from his bedroom
window before departing the following day.
The commercial specialists in the community provide a
variety of services for the municipal population. Several
general stores, a drug store, a hardware store, a dry goods
store, several barber shops, two poolrooms, numerous bars,
several garages and gas stations, several houses of prosti-


25
tution, and numerous tiendas or small shops draw the town
and rural populace into the central business district (see
Figure 4). At the center of this district is the intersection
know as the four corners or las cuatro esquinas. In the
evening men of the town gather here to chat and visit with
male friends, to buy refreshments from street vendors and
storekeepers, and to shop. During the day the same area is
occupied by steady streams of females carrying out their
daily shopping. One block away is the market building and
the fresh fruits and vegetables, beef, salted fish, and
cheese available are generally purchased in the morning.
On weekend nights the market area and the four corners are
occupied by males from the countryside who come into town
to shop, drink, and visit with friends.
The services of professionals such as the two physicians,
the dentist, and the town lawyer are available also in the
central business district. In addition, artisans and crafts
men such as tailors, potters, carpenters, bakers, saddle
makers, and appliance repairmen can be found in this busi
ness district and on the side streets nearby. The town's
only bank is located here also, as well as the movie theater,
two large dance salons, and the bottled gas outlet.
The plaza is a block away to the west of the business
area. Here is the Catholic church and the large parish
house. The mayor's house is on the other side of the plaza
together with the homes of many of the upper sector families.
Only a few of these compare with the siz ard furnishings


26
of the parish house. To the west of the plaza is a corn
grinding mill where peasants can sell their corn or have it
ground for a fee. A site called Placita Vieja, the old
plaza, is located a block away from the com grinding mill.
This is the site of the original town of Macondo, the small
hamlet which preceded the present town, originally consisting
of about 20 houses on a small park. A cement monument marks
the spot, although no commemorative plaque is to be found.
The houses are of wood and palm thatch. Here the elite
founding families first settled, and many contemporary upper
sector families trace their origins to one of these run-down
houses. Today Placita Vieja is surrounded by the poor neigh
borhood called 20 d£ Julio, named for the Independence Day
of July 20th. Upper sector families moved to the new plaza
and the neighborhood called Loma Fresca during the boom days
of the banana industry.
Directly behind the church stands the building housing
the offices of the municipal government. On any given day one
can find several groups of men gathered in the street below
the two story structure. They are negotiating sales, pur
chases, or transfers of properties, seeking the mayor's
signature on a document, or resolving various problems in
volving land invaders, stolen property, or the normal con
flicts and altercations which mark life in the community.
The small tienda nearby draws these men throughout the day
as they purchase drinks for one another and discuss their
negotiations. Here lawyer and peasant, day laborer and


27
ICA
Estate
FIGURE 4
Schematic Drawing of the Town of Majagua


28
estate manager, landowner and beggar meet. Everyone knows
everyone else, but interaction occurs only in the compact
little groupings of individuals of similar status. One
finds representatives of the full range of the community's
social groupings reflected in the small interacting groups
at this particular tienda.
The neighborhoods of the town reflect social groupings
through space. Each is laid out in the well known grid
plan of the Spanish nodal center. Only Placita Vieja has
irregularly placed houses, with winding streets, for at this
site houses once stood on extensive garden plots which in
later years were broken up and sold in pieces to the flood
of immigrants into the newly created banana zone. The rest
of the town is arranged in a series of streets running at
right angles to one another. Each of the neighborhoods can
be contrasted in terms of the kinds of dwelling structures
present.
The house in this part of Colombia is not confined
to the dwelling structure. The houses of the town consist
of two areas that a stranger might interpret as two distinct
spaces. These are the dwelling proper and its patio. Among
the wealthier families kitchens are enclosed within the
dwelling in a room, and cooking is done on a bottle gas
stove. But for most of the residents of the town the kit
chen is a table, a ceramic water jug, and a wood or charcoal
cooking fire, all covered by a thatched roof. This is always
located behind or to the side of the dwelling in the patio,


29
and is the scene of a great proportion of familial inter
action. The kitchen, dwelling, garden, fruit trees, herb
pots, flowers, and an outhouse are all surrounded by a fence.
The fenced-in area is the household compound in its entirety.
The fence may be of brick, cement block, bamboo poles, or
scrap tin, but a fence is always present.
It is not the case that certain house types are invar
iably associated with cannabis use, but it is certain that
cannabis users generally live in certain kinds of houses.
Of course nonusers also live in such structures. These are
the bareque or the palm thatched mud and bamboo houses, the
most common house form in the town and the traditional house
form of the Magdalena region. It has a high pitched thatch
palm roof, a dirt floor, few windows if any, and generally
includes a living area, a bedroom for children, and a bedroom
for parents. It sits on a patio surrounded by a bamboo or
hardwood stick fence. This is the house of the lower socil
sector of the coastal subculture and is to be found most fre
quently in the neighborhoods de Ap-ostn. Las Nuevos, El
Prado. La Maru.jita, San Jose, and El Carmen.
Interspersed among the bareques are others of wood with
palm thatched roofs and dirt floors, rowhouses of wood with
tin roofs constructed by the United Fruit Company, and houses
of material. The house of material is built of a mixture of
brick and cement block, often in a way which forms geometrical
patterns that are considered decorative. These houses are
evolutionary products of particularly successful lower sector
families. They are built in stages around old houses of bareque


30
the walls going up while the older house stands within them
and the roof being built alongside the new structure to re
place the thatched roof of the bareque when the moment comes
to demolish the old house. Roofs are preferably of corrugated
zinc. To have such a house is the ambition of many lower
sector families. Cannabis users are just as likely to
achieve that ambition as are nonusers.
The most elegant and desirable type of house by Western
standards is that occupied by the upper social sector fami
lies. It is concrete block. The design includes embellish
ment with an iron grill work over the large windows, a tile
floor, an indoor bathroom, an indoor kitchen, several bed
rooms, a living room, a front porch, and a tile roof. The
patio is still an essential feature, with its flowers, fruit
trees, herb cans, and perhaps a few chairs. In these patios
one may also find a jeep parked, or a truck, a tractor, a
rice harvester, or some combination of these. A tall wall
of cement block studded on the top with bits of broken
bottles and window panes surrounds this kind of dwelling
unit. Few if any cannabis users live in such houses. But
all of those who deal commercially in cannabis and other
contraband merchandise live in such dwellings.
The elegant houses of the upper sector families, with
their Spanish-Moorish flare, their patio full of modern
machinery, and their walls studded with broken glass, are
uniformly located in the barrios El Carmen and Loma Linda
These were the two neighborhoods which first developed during


31
the banana boom, each located on the western side of the
railroad tracks and separated from each other by the central
business district. El Carmen was originally the poorer of
the two, since it was the neighborhood of the working people.
Loma Linda has always been the neighborhood of the elite.
But with the upward mobility induced by the banana boom and
the subsequent departure of the United Fruit Company the neigh
borhood of 121 Carmen came to be a center of upper sector res
idences as well. In contrast, 3 de Agosto. Los Nuevas. El
Prado. La Maru.jita. San Josi, and some scattered dwelling
areas that have not yet coalesced into neighborhoods have
developed during the period from 1930 to the present. Las
Nuevas in particular is a recent addition to the town,
located on the new paved road, and occupied by many prosper
ous highland merchants. The highlanders are the most recent
migrants to the community. While their dwellings are no
different from those of members of the coastal lower social
sector highlanders do possess a distinct subculture. They
neither use cannabis nor distribute it commercially; rather
they constitute the commercial growers of the community.
The distribution of the populace through space, then,
mirrors the growth pattern of the town: the older, wealthier
neighborhoods located on the west side of the railroad tracks,
the new poorer neighborhoods located farther to the west
of these and to the east of the railroad tracks, and the
most recent neighborhoods fronting the new paved road. The
spatial distribution also reflects the social sectors which


32
compose the community: the coastal day laborers, peasants,
artisans, and small shop owners living in the poorer barrios,
the estate managers, estate employees, government employees,
professionals, and landowners in the wealthier neighborhoods,
and the highland peasants in the most recently settled areas.
In a general sense cannabis is related to these divisions.
One finds consumers most often in the newer, poorer town
neighborhoods, commercial distributors in the older, wealthier
neighborhoods, and the commercial cultivators in the newest
areas of colonization in the foothills of the Sierra.
Surrounding the town and stretching for miles to the
west is a system of dirt roads and trails together with an
elaborate irrigation system, each of which links together
the various cattle and rice estates and scattered peasant
hamlets of the lowlands. The tree lined dirt roads and
trails are traversed daily by most of the town's working
occupants as they commute to and from the large estates or
their own small holdings. Scattered peasant farms can be
found, but they are few in number. A migratory rural agri
cultural working class is a distinctive trait of the commu
nity. The migratory laborer is a marked feature of modern
Colombia (Cardona 1971). Recently a study of the coastal
city of Barranquilla revealed that 69$ of the residents in
three tugurios or squatter settlements were migrants to the
city (Usandizaga y Havens 1966:34). And Foster (1971:3-4)
indicates that the proportion is about the same at present
(67$), of which about 23*5$ are from the Magdalena region.


33
Urban migration is thus a prominent feature of community
life, but rural migration is even more characteristic of the
coast (Bernal 1971*$3)* In Magdalena the majority of in
migrants are agricultural laborers with their families (Bernal
1971*^3). The pattern is a regional one with migrants coming
most often from Bolivar, Santander, Atlntico, and the Guajira
in that order (Bernal 1971*72-75) Such a migratory agricul
tural laboring class is a marked feature of Orejones.
The small peasant holding is, therefore, not typical of
this community form. The size of land holdings in Orejones
has been tabulated by the Departamento Administrativo Nacional
de Estadstica (1971*12). Figure 5 shows the range of the
size of land holdings, based upon the concept of a "unit
of exploitation." Such a unit is defined as all land exploited
by a single producer. When I attempted to check these figures
with the records of the catastro municipal or municipal land
register in the town a difference of a little under 500 units
of exploitation (about half of the official total) was en
countered. This is due to the fact that most large land
owners do not pay taxes to local governments, hence their
holdings are not registered in the land register of the
municipality. Likewise, numerous squatters on United Fruit
Company lands prior to the 1960's, land which is now the
property of the government, have neither requested nor
been granted title to the land. The records of the National
Department of Statistics are more accurate than local records
and will be used here.


Size of holding
in hectreas
Less than 1
1 to 2
2 to 3
3 to 4
4 to 5
5 to 10
10 to 20
20 to 30
30 to 40
40 to 50
50 to 100
100 to 200
200 to 500
500 to 1000
1000 to 2500
over 2500
Number of units
of exploitation
20
40
70
83
50
105
98
79
59
79
253
165
71
16
11
0
Total 1,199
FIGURE 5
Size of Land Holding in Orejones


35
A comparison between the number of holdings of between
1 and 50 hectreas or hectares (2.47 acres), a total of 7S3,
and holdings of between 50 and 2,500 hectares, a total of
455 reveals that a small part of the population controls
the vast majority of the land. This is a community form
characterized by the latifundia or the large tract of land
rather than the minifundia or the small plot of land. The
average size land holding is SO hectares, but clearly the
large estate dominates and is considered here the charac
teristic land use pattern.
Above the town in the foothills live the highland immi
grants known as cachacos who utilize the land in quite a
different manner. The highlanders colonized this region
only IS to 20 years ago, and as yet only minimal kinship
ties link them to the population of the lowlands, yet they
are dependent upon the lowland town for a market through
which they sell the produce of their gardens. They live on
dispersed individual family farms of from 50 to 200 hectares.
They form an endogamous, homogeneous, ethnocentric, and suc
cessful element of the community.
The setting of the community, then, is a complex one.
Large estates, lowland towns, and highland peasants constitute
the broad features of Orejones. In order to narrow the
focus, sample surveys were taken of three kinds of settlement
forms. Basic data having to do with household composition,
education, occupation of household head, places of birth,
work histories, age at marriage or mating, age at birth of


36
first child, years of residence in the municipality, etc.,
were collected. One town neighborhood, El Carmen, of mixed
social composition, consisting of 76 households was surveyed.
One rural hamlet of 25 households composed of lowland squatters,
peasants, estate employees, artisans, and day laborers was
surveyed. And one highland vereda of 10 households was
surveyed. These three samples constitute the range of
settlement forms which compose the community.
At a general level, certain similarities and differences
can be observed between the samples. First, the rural coastal
hamlet and the town barrio parallel one another in all impor
tant aspects. The family is generally a nuclear one, or in
some stage of the development of a stem-family. More than
half of the adult aged persons of both sexes live in free
unions rather than married unions. The majority of house
hold heads were born in other departments, other municipalities,
and other towns of the coast. Slightly more female mates of
household heads were born in Orejones or Majagua, but the
majority were born elsewhere. The great majority of families
report filial and affinal relations with families located
all over the north coast of Colombia, an area composed of
five departments. Most household heads have worked solely
in agriculture all of their lives, but about 20# have worked
in cities of the coast. The majority have worked in more
than one municipality sometime during their lives, and most
have worked in several different departments on the eastern
side of the Magdalena river. The vast majority have never


37
completed primary schooling, most having from one to three
years of formal education. High school diplomas are rare.
In the highland sample the household is an extended
one. About half of the adult aged persons live in free
rather than married unions. All household heads were born
in other departments, since they are all colonists from
the interior. Few of these have ever been migratory workers.
Some were sharecroppers in their home municipalities, others
were owners of quite small land holdings. All directly cite
the violencia or the armed peasant uprising which lasted
from 1943 until the mid 1960's as their reason for abandoning
the interior and colonizing the rugged mountains. All but
one of the female mates of household heads were born in the
interior. All households report relatives in their home
municipalities, but only two report relatives on the coast.
Only two family heads have been to primary school, whereas
the majority have no formal schooling. One female mate has
been to primary school. There are no high school diplomas
here and none of the children attends any of the lowland
schools.
The differences between these two subcultural groups
are not restricted to place of origin, household form,
education, occupational status, place of residence, and
kinship ties to nearby settlements. The day laborers,
peasants, and artisans of the coastal hamlets and towns are
petty cultivators, petty distributors, and consumers of
cannabis. The professionals, landowners, and government


38
employees of the town are commercial distributors for the
urban markets of the coast. And the highland peasants are
commercial cultivators of cannabis.
Since a clearly defined using population exists side
by side with a nonusing population, a controlled comparison
of the significant structural differences which obtain
between the two is possible. This comparison is especially
significant when it is recognized that the nonusing popula
tion produces tons of cannabis for the market each year.
This comparison can discriminate with precision those social
relationships with which cannabis use is associated, the
functions which cannabis use serves, and the explanation
why cannabis use has not diffused to the group which produces
cannabis commercially.


CHAPTER II
CULTURAL ORIGINS OF THE COMMUNITY
Diffusion of Cannabis
The introduction of cannabis into Spanish South America
is not well known. Patino (1967, 1969) indicates that hemp
was introduced not once but several times by the Spanish:
experiments were attempted in Peru, Mexico, Chile, and
Colombia, but only Chile developed the capacity to export
hemp fiber to Spain (Patitlo, 1969:395) In Colombia reports
from 1607, 1610, 1632, and 17&9 indicate that repeated intro
ductions failed to produce a hemp industry for the rigging
of the Spanish fleet (Patio 1969:394-395) Silvestre (Ver
gara y Velasca 1901:LX-LXI) in his 1789 description of the
viceroyalty of Santaf (sic) de Bogot indicates that hemp
was introduced in the savana of Bogota, but it failed so
completely that no seed was available for further experimen
tation. He urges the reintroduction of hemp near Santa Marta
or Cartegena and urges that seed be shipped from Spain
(Vergara y Velasca 1901:LII). In Silvestre's opinion hemp
could replace cabuya or the fiber of Fourcroya foetida
(Patifio 1967:30) in Colombia, indicating the most telling
reason for the former's failure in South America. Fique.
pita, or cabuya was collected in tribute from the indigenous
peoples of Colombia by the first Spanish colonists (Reichel-
Dolmatoff 1951:111) As late as the early 1800's cabuya
was a Colombian export (Vergara y Velasca 1901:322). Cabuya
39


40
replaced hemp in such items as sandals, rope and cordage,
sacks, harnesses, and fish nets (Patino 1967:45-43). And
another native fiber, cotton, replaced hemp in even such a
basic item as candle wick, used in huge quantities in the
minds of South America (Patiffo 1967:109). It appears that
native fiber producing plants acted as a barrier to the
diffusion of hemp. As late as the present century experi
ments continue in Colombia (Patio 1969095), but no hemp
industry has ever existed in Colombia compared to that which
existed in North America (Seale, et al. 1952:14).
The use of cannabis as an intoxicant or hallucinogen is
still another question. Linguistic evidence points to West
African slaves brought to Brazil as one possible route of
diffusion of cannabis smoking to the New World (Patio 1969:
405, Walton 193S:24, Arango 1959:313). The adoption of
cannabis smoking by indigenous people of Brazil seems to
confirm the antiquity of this diffusion (Wagley and Galvao
1949:41). Linguistic evidence from Jamaica, as well as a
complex of cultural elements present, indicate East Indian
indentured laborers as another route of diffusion to English
speaking areas of the Caribbean (Rubin and Comitas n.d. page
13). Yet a third diffusion route is the Spanish colonist.
Ardila Rodriguez (1965:43) notes that the plant was cultivated
in Mexico immediately after the first trip of Cortes, and
attributes introduction to one Pedro Cuadrado who accompanied
the conqueror. By 1550 an ordinance was passed in Mexico
which prohibited the cultivation of cannabis, presumably due


41
to its use as an hallucinogen (Ardila Rodriguez 1965:43).
As late as 13S6 and 1393 cannabis mixed with tobacco, sugar,
chili, and mescale was drunk in Mexico (Walton 1933:25).
Early reports from Mexico indicate that cannabis was smoked
by some indigenous peoples but this is unverifiable (Ardila
Rodriguez 1965:43). And recently Williams Garcia (1963)
has reported on the ritual use of cannabis among a contem
porary indigenous people.
Several sources of diffusion, therefore, appear likely
points of origin of cannabis on the north coast of Colombia.
Of these the West African slaves of Brazil appear an unlikely
choice, for there has been little historical contact among
the peoples of northern Brazil and coastal Colombia either
by sea or overland. The Mesoamerican source of diffusion
is also unlikely, since there has been no historical contact
among the peoples of Mexico and coastal Colombia. The cul
tivation of hemp for fiber does not correlate with cannabis
smoking, since cannabis has been exported to Spain since 1545
from Chile and the use of the plant as an hallucinogen is not
reported (Ardila Rodriguez 1965:49) The Brazilian or Meso
american sources seem unlikely also because the complex of
cultural traits associated with cannabis smoking in these
areas, such as linguistic usage, ritual sequences, and ritual
beliefs, are not replicated in Colombia.
Cannabis use in Colombia appears to be a recent innova
tion, dating from the beginning decades of the 20th century.
Cannabis smoking is reported in Central America, both Costa


42
Rica and Panama, in the 1920's and 1930's (Walton 193^:24,
Siler _et al. 1933:269). In each case cannabis use is des
cribed as an innovation introduced by migratory sailors and
workers. Walton (193^:24) discovered that East Indian terms
were applied to cannabis in Costa Rica, indicating the
Antilles as the source of the recent diffusion (Rubin and
Comitas n.d.). Ardila Rodriguez (1965:32) suggests that
the diffusion of cannabis smoking dates from the work on the
Panama Canal and the "intense human interchange" which re
sulted among the circumcaribbean countries. Cannabis smoking
probably came to the coast of Colombia with workers and
sailors from the Antilles where cannabis smoking is relatively
older (Rubin and Comitas n.d.). This suggestion is given
weight by the fact that both Costa Rican and Colombian laws
concerning marihuana date from 1927 and 1923 respectively
(Patino 19695405, Ardila Rodriguez 1965:67-63). Still it
was not until around 1945 that the Colombian press began
reporting clandestine cannabis plantations on the Atlantic
coast and in the Cauca valley (Patiffo 1969:405).
It should be noted parenthetically that cannabis has
always competed with indigenous hallucinogens, narcotics,
and intoxicants used by native peoples of Colombia and
adopted in part by the Spanish colonist. These include
Erythoxylon coca, Banisteriopsis spp., Phyllanthus mexiae,
Opuntia spp., Datura arbrea, Methysticodendron amesianum,
Nicotiana tabacum. and Clibadium surinamense. Of these
only Nicotiana in its various species was adopted by the


43
Spanish, which with coca had the widest distribution and
popularity in the New World. Tobacco was snuffed for head
ache, chewed for toothache, smoked for "cold humors," and
mixed with rum and aguardiente and applied to insect bites
(Patino 1967:290-291). Negro slaves and Spanish masters
are reported to use tobacco for working because it reduced
fatigue (Patifo 1967:295-297) Tobacco was allotted as
part of the rations of workers on a Jesuit hacienda due to
this property of reducing fatigue (Patino 1967:296). Per
haps we have here another barrier to diffusion of cannabis
in South America, namely, native plants which served simi
lar functions in the culture of the conquerors and subject
peoples. The claims made for tobacco in the 16th century
are identical to those made for cannabis in the 20th century.
Since both are smoked in cigarette form it is likely that
here we find the vehicle through which cannbis diffused from
the Antilles to South America. But this was not a case of
stimulus diffusion. It appears that diffusion did not take
place until migratory workers from the Antilles settled on
the coast of South America. Only then did substitution occur.
In Orejones one finds the West Indian houses which are
so distinctive when contrasted with Colombian houses. There
was a considerable influx of West Indian labor when the
United Fruit Company began operations on the coast of Colom
bia in IS96. While it cannot be proven, it seems likely
that migratory workers from the West Indies were the source
of diffusion for cannabis smoking in Colombia. These origins


44
will remain obscure, however, for the West Indians melted into
coastal subculture several generations back. An intensive
search for the origins of cannabis smoking in Colombia, how
ever, is not the objective of this research; rather it is
the group structures and social relationships through which
cannabis diffused, and those through which it did not.
The nature of social relations and group structures on
the north coast of Colombia can be traced back to adaptive
responses of specific social traditions to certain ecological,
geographical, and historical conditions. Changes in these
conditions and social traditions, as well as the in-migration
of distinct social traditions, make the origins of the commu
nity on the north coast complex. They lie in several sep
arate adaptive responses, several social traditions, and the
various distinctive forms of social groupings which perpetuate
these.
The first is the Spanish derived urban oriented hato
and the Indian derived urban oriented roza, the cattle estate
and the subsistence plot, each of which feeds the populace
of urban and rural areas alike. The second lies in the
industrially organized agricultural exploitation under the
monopoly of the United Fruit Company. The third is repre
sented by Andean peasants living on dispersed individual
family farms.


45
The Region
Patiffo (1965:3^4) notes that the nature of agro-pas-
toralism in Colombia has changed little over the colonial,
republican, and contemporary periods. It was not until the
arrival of mechanized agriculture during the 20th century
that any basic changes occurred in the nature of subsistence,
or in the nature of social relationships organized about
subsistence activity. This is particularly true of the
region of Magdalena in which Orejones and Majagua are
located.
The nature of subsistence activity on the north coast
is structured by a basic ecological fact: one crop is
produced each year due to the seasonal alteration between
seven months of rain (April to October) and four months of
drought (November to March) (Patino 1965:16-17, Rosales 1934:
100). It is only in the Andean highlands of Colombia, the
three mountain ranges or cordilleras and their valleys, that
two crops a year are possible without the use of irrigation.
This fact explains much of the reason for the dense coloni
zation of the Andean areas, areas where complex native
societies provided abundant food for the conquerors.
On the coast only in the area of the Sierra Nevada de
Santa Marta were two crops produced annually. This was
the province of the Tairona civilization based upon elaborate
irrigation agriculture and exterminated at the beginning of
the conquest of South America (Patino 1965: 75-76, 51, 93,
107, Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:373^). These systems of


46
irrigation are no longer extant, having suffered extreme
neglect under the conditions of conquest, so that the
region is today less productive than centuries before
(Patifto 1965:107). As Reichel-Dolmatoff (1951:22-23) ob
serves, the densely populated region was won at a high cost
of blood, after which the conquerors lost interest, leaving
the region relatively depopulated and uncolonized until the
present century.
With the deterioration of the Tairona irrigation works
the land use pattern reverted to the capacity for only a
single crop annually. This fact discouraged any dense colo
nization during the following centuries. Cities were founded
at Cartegena, Santa Marta, along the banks of the Magdalena
river, and at the headwaters of that river in the interior.
But these did not spark the colonization of the hinterlands,
which remained refuge areas for palenqueros. escaped Negro
slaves, for army deserters and soldiers of fortune, and for
criminals and ragged remnants of Indian groups (Escalante
1964:117). In contrast, the areas producing two crops
annually, the savana of Santa Fe de Bogota, the Cauca Valley,
the mountains of Pasto, Popayn, and Antioquia, were
steadily colonized over several centuries. The story of
the Nuevo Reino de Granada is generally written about these
latter areas. Those areas which the Spanish leap-frogged
in order to reach the riches of the interior have been con
sistently neglected. The Magdalena region was one of these.
Santa Marta served as the port of entry and retreat for


47
the Spanish conquistadores for a century. Most conquerors
who came to get rich in the New World passed through the city.
Practically none stayed for very long. Of the 200 family
names registered in the 16th century in the old baptismal
and marriage and death records of the Cathedral in Santa
Marta none occur more than once (Alarc5n 1963:64).
Aside from the lure of riches there were other reasons
for the continual flow through the city. Foremost among
these was vulnerability. English and French pirates attacked
and sacked the city of Santa Marta committing "all kinds of
savage acts that reduced the city to ruin" in the following
years: 1544, 1543, 1550, 1553, 1559, 1560, 1563, 1570, 1572,
1530, 1535, 1536, 1596, 1619, 1629, 1630, 1643, 1655, 1669,
1677, 1679, 1630, 1631, 1692, 1694, 1702, 1704, 1712, 1740,
and 1779 (AlarcSn 1963:64). But, in addition, resources were
depleted and the city reduced to ashes a number of times by
Indian attacks and by troop uprisings. It is little wonder
that Viceroy Ezpeleta characterized the people of Santa
Marta as follows:
tienen pies para pisar la riqueza, pero no
tienen manos con que recogerla (Alarcon 1963:9)
they have feet for stepping on riches, but not
hands with which to pick it up.
Despite such conditions the residents of Santa Marta
were not lacking in riches. Many amassed fortunes in gold,
pearls, fibers, and food crops which were exported (mainly
to the Island colonies of the Antilles) together with thou
sands of Indian slaves. But once such wealth was accumulated


the Spaniard generally withdrew to the peaceful colonies of
Santo Domingo, Cuba, and Hispanola. And another wave of
conquerors swept the region. In the process the surrounding
Indian populations were decimated, and the land remained
sparsely colonized.
The hinterlands were exploited, generally, in two ways,
each intimately connected to the cities of the coast. These
were the Spanish-imposed hato or cattle estate and the Indian-
derived roza, huerta, labranza, or chcara, consisting usually
of small plots planted to a mixture of corn, manioc, plantain,
beans, peppers, and other foods consumed by Indians, Negro
slaves, and Spanish conquerors alike. It is in the relation
ship between the hato, the roza, and the city that we find
the basis for the structure of this early society, a structure
which has changed little over 1+ 00 years.
Cities were of two general types: those founded near
native towns whereby the Indian populations could be pillaged
for food and later forced to pay tribute voluntarily under
the threat of pillage, and those founded on communication and
transportation routes as market centers and centers of distri
bution. Examples of the first type were Santa Marta, Rioacha,
Cartegena, Cinaga, and others on the coast. Examples of
the second type were Mompos, Talameque, Tenerife, Salamina,
Honda, and others on the waterways which led inland to the
populous interior provinces. The hato and roza were associated
with each type of city, for each were necessary to the sur
vival of the Spanish settler and the commerce in food, hides,


49
fibers, and precious metals and minerals which grew up every
where even before the Spanish had settled and built homes.
The Estate System
The first cattle and the idea of the hato were intro
duced from the Spanish colonies in the Antilles (Patiffo 1970:
204-205). The wars of extermination fought in the Magdalena
region during the first half of the 16th century appear not
to have seriously hampered the development of the cattle
estate, for during the years between the founding of Santa
Marta in 1525 and the year 1539 the region became known for
the excellence of its cattle industry (Patino 1965:206, 280).
The primary vehicle for this development was the encomienda
which was initiated in the Santa Marta area as early as 1529
(Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:19)- The nature of the encomienda is
well described elsewhere (Hanke 1949, Simpson 1950). It will
suffice to describe it as an extensive amount of land and
labor entrusted to the Spanish settler in exchange for his
services in Christianizing his charges. Its first activities
involved cattle and mining, since grains and vegetables were
obtained through tribute from hostage native towns. The
term hato is used here because it refers to a cattle ranch,
whether this be staffed by Indian slaves, Indian tribute
labor, Negro slaves, free Negroes, or free mestizos. It is
characterized by an urban-dwelling landowner, an administrator,
and laborers (slaves, employees, wage laborers, etc.). While
forms of land aquisition and labor recruitment changed from


50
time to time the structure of life on the hato changed little.
The cattle estate evolved in two forms, each growing out
of New World phenomenon of wild range cattle (PatiTTo 1965s
364, Exquemelin 1951) Cattle were identified as corraleras.
mansas, estravagantes. and montaraces. The first were those
that grazed either within the corral or house compound and
were milked daily. They entered the corral without protest
and were easily moved from place to place by workers on foot.
The mansas were those who required several days of labor to
herd into the corrals, with the aid of workers of the estate
mounted on horseback. The estravagantes were cattle which
roamed wild over the estate, yet carried the brand of the
owner. This meant the animal had been herded into a rodeo
somewhere on the savanas or plains with the aid of mounted
men and hunting dogs, wrestled to the ground with lances
and ropes, and marked as the property of the owner. If
resistance was too great the lances were used to kill the
animal. Last, the montaraces or bravias were truly wild
cattle of the forest which were simply hunted and killed.
They were so wild that lances were used to hold the animal
while a rope was used to tie it to a tree. There it tired
of fighting and could be killed by a man on foot with a
machete (PatifTo 1965:366-367).
The early hato was an operation which consisted pri
marily in the efforts of an administrator to domesticate
the wild cattle. Fences were prohibited by law until the
end of the 19th century, except for crops and corrals


51
(Patiffo 1965:315). Milking was not common enough to prevent
the regression of cattle to a state in which they gave little
milk (Patino 1965:374-375). Wild cattle were hunted for
their hides, tongues, and fat for export all over Colombia
(Patiffo 1965:365), and the jerked beef called tasajo was
shipped from Magdalena up the rivers into the interior by
the end of the 16th century (Patiffo 1970:252).
Such extensive ranching based upon wild cattle yielded
to intensive operations as more and more cattle and people
filled the area. While the extensive operation centered on
the annual rodeo or assembly of wild cattle for selection,
killing, branding, curing, cutting horns, etc., the inten
sive operation sought to milk tame animals. These were kept
in closed corrals near population centers or urban areas
(Patiffo 1965:371). The corral was moved at intervals so as
to change pasture grasses, as the Spanish did not bring the
tradition of cut grass or hay for penned animals, and the
pasture used was naturally occurring until quite recently
(Patiffo 1965:374).
The extensive cattle hatos were located in the isolated
areas where range herds roamed at will. The complaints of
the Indian towns and urban planters throughout the colonial
period bear testimony to the crop damage done by these herds.
The hundreds of pages of legislation forbidding free ranging
cattle from agricultural areas constitute a major monument to
the inefficiency of restrictive legislation (Patino 1965:342).
The area of Magdalena was characterized by both inten-


52
sive and extensive hatos, although the intensive operations
developed relatively late and were located close to the
urban populations. The area around the city of Santa Marta
and the commercial center of Cinaga (through which traffic
has moved out of the hinterlands into the interior via the
river Magdalena for centuries) was the scene of intensive
hatos, the owners of which produced two to three arrobas or
bushels of cheese daily for local urban populations. These
hatos averaged from 200 to 300 cattle in their corrals (Patino
1970:246). The area between the Magdalena river and the
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (the future banana zone) was a
center for extensive hatos (Patino 1970:223). A good example
is that of Rodrigo Bastides, the founder of Santa Marta.
Upon his death it held over 3,000 cattle (Patino 1970:204).
Such a figure is not atypical of the extensive hato, for these
were huge estates. So large were they that figures such as
16,000 head, 12,000 head, and 40,000 head are not uncommon
from colonial times to the present (Patino 1970:223-224).
The Subsistence Horticultural System
From the beginning the Spanish invaders survived
through dependence upon indigenous technologies and forms
of social organization. The invaders were cattlemen. They
depended completely upon the native populations for food,
labor, and material and technological devices (Patino 1965:
437-43^). Famine in Santa Marta came when "the Indian
rebelled" and among residents of that city it was said that


53
"those who do not have Indians cannot be said to be living"
(Patino 1965:33). The cabildo, or city fathers, of Santa
Marta in 1547 petitioned for 12 skilled workers from Spain
to carry out projects for the city, promising that each
worker would be given two Negroes "para que produzcan," or
so that they might produce (Patiffo 1965:465).
The Spanish invader survived due to a complex system
of tribute levied on the Indian peoples, including compul
sory planting laws (Patino 1965:340). Tributes set were
for quite specific amounts: four hanegas or 1.6 bushels
of corn each month, 10 fowl each week (five female and five
male), a set number of fish, eggs, salt, woven mochilas or
carrying bags, sacks of fique fiber or Fourcroya foetida,
sandals of fique, fish nets, etc. depending upon the tech
nology of the group under tribute and the needs of the
Spaniard (Patino 1965:405-403, Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:111).
Under such conditions the native methods of production and
forms of social organization and technologies persisted to
the present (PatifTo 1965:329, 3^1-3#2, 457). Where the
Spanish successfully introduced European crops and techno
logies (e.g. wheat and ox-drawn plows in the highlands) the
Indians learned new technologies, although they continued
to subsist through planting their own traditional rozas.
In general, the Spanish, Indian, and Negro lived off of
native crops in the coastal and lowland areas where European
crops could not diffuse (Patino 1965:331-332).
Dependence upon continuing tributes, however, presup-


54
poses the survival of the Indian peoples whose labor sup
ports the Spanish armies. Most governors of the city of
Santa Marta did not have foresight to recognize this truism,
and continually sacked the Indian towns upon which the city
at first depended. Gradually, these towns, made up of tech
nically free Indians, became centers of peasant horticul-
turalists, and up until the present time continue to provide
food for the city. These are towns such as Bonda, Gira,
Taganga, and Mamatoca (Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:14-15). The
Indians did not survive, and as they died out they were re
placed by Negro slaves and Negro and mestizo peasants. While
slavery was universal from the beginning (preferably utilizing
Indians further away from the urban nodes), the use of Negroes
in horticulture arose only when the native sources were
depleted (Patino 1965:406). In fact, the importation of
untaxed Negro slaves coincides with the extinction of the
Indians and the abolishment of Indian tribute labor (Patino
1965:339).
The tributes were met by the social forms which powered
the roza. These were of two kinds: those located on the
large estates or the gardens of the Europeans, and those
located in small Indian towns. Tribute labor in the form
of communal work parties was utilized on the farm, but this
involved only the males of the Indian population. This form
of work organization was traditional among the Indians of
the coast. The Spanish in fact issued certain ordinances
which permitted the Indians to conduct "sus borracheras con


55
ocasin de las siembras colectivas, con la condici6n de
evitar excesostheir drunken feasts upon occasion of the
collective planting, on the condition that there not be
excess (Patino 1965:392). We read the following description
of this collective work party called _la chagua:
Ellos por hacer menos trabajo en la labranza,
tienen introducido un modo de cambio, que
llaman chagua, de esta suerte, juntanse un
da de la semana los indios de un pueblo 6
parte de ellos, cada cual con su hacha y
machete en la casa del indio que hace la la
branza, y entre todos de desmontan la tierra,
y la dejan apta para la siembra, teniendo
obligacin el dueo de 1^ chagua de darles de
comer y beber en aquel dia, porque para ello
se previene antes con la pesca o monteria, ^
la mujer con las tinajas de chicha. Este da
para ellos es de hidga, y por eso suelen elegir
el festivo, y es necesario que el doctrinero
diga misa temprano, y cuide que la oigan.
Vuelven a la noche y si ha quedado alguna bebida,
forman su baile hasta acabarla. Recogense
despus, y cuando alguno de aquellos hace su
chagua, es obligado a concurrir a ella el indio
que recibi el beneficio (Rosa 1945:261, quoted
in Patiffo 1965:392-393).
They (Indians in the jurisdiction of Santa Marta)
in order to have less work in their fields have
introduced a change of pace, which they call
the chagua, in which the Indians of a town gather
one day of the week, or a part of them, each one
with his axe and machete at the house of the
Indian making the garden, and together they clear
the brush away leaving it ready to plant, while
the owner of the chagua is obligated to give food
and drink that day, necessitating assembling much
food on the part of the owner, and much maize beer
on the part of his woman. This day for them is
a day of rest and they treat it as a fiesta, so
that it is necessary for the priest to say the
mass early, and be careful that they pay attention.
They return at night and if there is any drink
, left, form their dances until they tire. They
retire then, and when one of them must sponsor
a chagua, it is obligatory for the owner of the
last one to participate since he received this
benefit.


56
The male collective work group of this form is gen
erally known to students of the central Andes by the term
minga or minka which comes from Ecuador where the Incas and
later the Spanish each integrated it into their systems of
taxations and tribute work (Patiftb 1965:393). So popular
was this form of social contract with the Spanish that they
attempted to spread it to areas where it was not a customary
form of organization (Patino 1965:342-343). The fact that
the Spanish government attempted to finance hospitals for the
indigent, care of the aged, food and clothing for the poor,
as well as cultivation in the fields and house construction
through such collective work parties is an indication of the
enthusiasm with which they took to the idea (Patifffo 1965s
342-343)* The energy source for such beneficence, we should
remember, was the compulsory labor tax on the indigenous
community.
Labor Recruitment
The form of organization associated with the term roza
therefore is the cooperative work party. Clearing and burning
off the land is the activity of a group of males drawn from
the community who are given food and alcohol while they work.
The males of each household then plant and weed the roza
during the growing season, and the females harvest the pro
duce and carry it to where it is prepared (Patiffo 1965:337).
Collective labor on the estates of the encomenderos and the
cattle barons who followed them followed similar patterns,
although on the encomiendas and cattle estates males com-


57
pleted all tasks except preparation of the produce for con
sumption (Patiffo 1965:409-410). While there is little
direct evidence, it seems likely that females were used as
domestic servants in the houses of the cattle barons. Cer
tainly during later times the female Negro slaves were used
in this fashion (Escalante 1964:129). Current slave raids
into the jungles of the Amazon basin for the purpose of
capturing female Indians to serve as domestics in the houses
of the cattle barons of the Llanos Orientales suggest that
in the colonial epoch women from the Indian towns were drafted
in similar ways.
Indians were preferred to either Negroes or mestizos
for agricultural labor (Patino 1965:402), even though it was
said that Negroes worked harder than Indians (Escalante 1964:
121). The reason lies in Spanish dependence upon native
technologies and forms of organization in agriculture, mining,
and transport (Patino 1965:444-445) Near the end of the 16th
century Negroes became increasingly important. They were
being trained by Indians to operate native bongos or dugout
canoes linking the coast with the interior on the river Mag
dalena at this time (Patino 1965:405, 493). And the city of
Santa Marta came to depend upon the labor of Negroes in sub
sistence horticulture about the same time (Patino 1965:497).
In general, as soon as natives disappeared, Negroes were
rapidly imported (Patino 1965:436).
Negro slavery existed alongside Indian slavery and
tribute as contemporary forms of labor exploitation through
out the colonial period (Escalante 1964:117). The Negro


58
slave was preferred for labor in the mines; the association
of Negroes with sugar plantations is second to the associa
tion with mining in this region (Patino 1965:467, 503,
Escalante 1964:121-123). From the 16th century founding
of Santa Marta and Cartegena until the mid-19th century
when slavery was abolished (1S51) the slave revolt and the
independent escaped slave towns called palenques were con
stant features of the coastal hinterland (Escalante 1964:
114117). Expeditions to subdue these free towns were con
tinuous (and unsuccessful) during this period (Escalante
1964:114-117). Famous palenques were located south of Santa
Marta and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (PatifTo 1965:
515, Escalante 1964:113). But the greatest concentration of
Negroes was on the hato, in the mines, and in subsistence
rozas, "Las haciendas de ganado jr labranza de la Costa
Atlntica. ... jse movan con trabajo esclavo" or the
cattle haciendas and subsistence farming of the Atlantic
coast were powered by slave labor (Escalante 1964:131)*
This was particularly true of the area west of the Sierra
Nevada, where the Negroes, both free and slave, played the
roles of worker and administrator of extensive cattle
ranches (PatilTo 1965:510).
The sugar plantation on the coast of Colombia, as well
as the plantations of cotton, tobacco, cacao, and anil, was
worked by Indian tribute labor (PatiETo 1965:412-419). But
the monocrop plantations were never a prominent feature of
the Atlantic coast (Patino 1965:503, 1969:315). If Indian


59
groups became extinct it was due mostly to the traffic in
Indian slaves for the great 16th century plantations of the
Antilles (Patiffo 1965:413). With extinction of the Indians
the Negro became the worker. In this regard it is important
to consider the role of the free Negro.
Escalante (1964) has emphasized the significance of the
free Negro towns during the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th cen
turies. Once they had become established (some to the point
of signing treaties, see Escalante 1964:115-116) they produced
horticultural crops to be marketed in the coastal cities by
womenof the town carrying baskets on their heads (Escalante
1964:136). This seems to be a significant difference between
the Antilles and the Continent; while the palenque was rarely
found in the former, it was a marked feature of the latter
(Escalante 1964:136). The importance of the free Negro to
the survival of coastal society is emphasized by Patiffo (1965:
497) with the word "indispensable" in reference to subsistence
horticulture.
The census report of Francisco Silvestre (Vergara y
Velasca 1901:LX-LXI) of December, 1739, portrays the situa
tion in terms of the categories the ecclesiastic chose for
his description of the Santa Marta region of the coast:
Total Men
19,641
Total Women
20,301
Whites
4,566
Indians
8,506
Free Negroes and Mixed
22,882
Slave Negroes
3,988
Total Population
39,942


60
The proportion of free Negroes and mixed bloods to slave
Negroes, Whites, and Indians is revealing, even if the totals
are incorrect by as much as several thousand. The free Negro
and mestizo working either as a subsistence horticulturalist
(peasant) or in the cattle ranches constituted two-thirds of
the population, and this 62 years before slavery was abolished.
Additional evidence as to the importance of this sector of
the population is found in General Santander's opposition
to the recruitment of Negroes in the Colombian army during
the war with Peru, since such recruitment would hurt subsis
tence horticulture upon which the army depended (Patino 1965s
493).
The monoculture plantation in the Antilles, Brazil,
and parts of Latin America is writ large in the histories
of these regions. The unbroken continuity of peasant sub
sistence horticulture (Indian, Negro, Mestizo) in forming
the character of these populations is often overlooked.
We should not forget that Spaniard, Negro, Indian and mes
tizo ate corn, beef, manioc, beans, and other subsistence
crops. They did not eat the gold or silver shipped to
Europe or the goods which they got in exchange for sugar.
Forms of Human Organization
In summary, the hato, the roza, and the Spanish city
formed the nexus of coastal society. The plantation was
never characteristic of this region and the mines were soon
exhausted, but the insatiable need for food is constant over
all periods. The forms of human organization that developed


61
in response to this shared need must be considered central
to an analysis of community life on the north coast.
Change in the forms of human organization came more
slowly to the Magdalena region than to other parts of the
coast. In the l880's barbed wire diffused to Colombia from
the United States. By the year 1896 it was declared a revo
lutionizing influence in Colombian cattle production (Patino
1965:322). This was true only of the coastal hinterlands
near Cartegena and not of Santa Marta. A Colombian geographer
writing in I898 compared the two regions, noting that around
Cartegena the cattle were penned with the new wire but that
in the Magdalena region around Santa Marta the traditional
cimarrone cattle continued to roam the forests, savanas, and
hills (Vergara y Velasca 1901:551). The geographer explains
this difference in terms of the maggots produced by a certain
fly in the Cartegena hinterlands, necessitating penning the
animals for cleaning, whereas the hinterlands of Santa Marta
were the area of the jejen or gnat which did not infect the
cattle (Vergara y Velasca 1901:551, 557). But there appears
a more salient explanation.
The site of the present city of Barranquilla was popu
lated since before colonial times, it was not until 1850
that the major growth of the city began, however, sparked
by the completion of a railroad spur linking Barranquilla
with the Atlantic Ocean deep port called Puerto Colombia
(Vergara y Velasca 1901:811). When this happened the old
port city of Santa Marta began to recede in importance.


62
The following chart in millions of pesos compares the export
activity at the customs offices in these three major ports
of the north coast between 1839 and 1891 (from Vergara y
Velasca 1901:814-815):
Barranquilla
Cartegena
Santa Marta
39-40
57-5 8
66-67
79-60
83-84
1891
16
759
2,624
9,955
9,127
13,000
937
1,365
759
1,117
1,117
2,575
124
2,108
1,422
1
23
35
As Vergara y Velasca (1901:811) notes, the fading of the port
of Santa Marta and the rise to importance of Barranquilla
means that the older city had come to export less and depend
more upon local, internal markets. Perhaps this is an indi
cation of declining population as well. Certainly the cattle
industry marked time, if it did not actually fall behind pro
duction levels of former times.
The region of Magdalena and its capital city of Santa
Marta thus became relatively isolated from the major flow
of commerce and growth, it became a truly regional nexus
of hinterland society and regional nodal centers and grew
increasingly isolated and less dependent upon commerce with
other regions. The great barrier of the Magdalena river was
between Santa Marta and Barranquilla, and was crossed by a
ferry at Salamina from the earliest times, but this permitted
no significant expansion or development. It is significant
that Salamina did not grow to sudden prominance when Santa
Marta was eclipsed by Barranquilla. Because of such isolation
the kinds of productive activities described above for the


63
coast of Colombia in the 16th century were observed as late
as the late 19th century in the Magdalena region.
Still another expression of cultural persistence in the
Magdalena region is the rebellions and civil wars which plagued
it for 100 years. A recently published history of Magdalena
(AlarcSn 1963) consists of little more than a list of generals
and battles fought for possession of towns and estates during
the 19th century. The specific issues (federalism, indepen
dence, Masons, Catholocism, conservatism, liberalism, etc.)
are of minor interest in the long run. For whatever the
issue the result was always the same: the territorial repar
tition. These continual repartitions may be interpreted as
evidence of the prolific war activity of the cattle barons
of the 19th century when one examines the list of legislation
effecting partitioning and repartitioning of the hinterlands,
reflecting the rising and falling fortunes of the cattle
barons. The departmental capital was changed several times,
municipio cabeceras were changed with regularity,municipal
ities were carved up in one decade only to be reassembled
the next, and populations living in towns and hamlets found
themselves paying taxes to one government center one year and
another the following year. Such a state of constant wars,
treaties, and more wars mark 19th century Magdalena as an
involuted region and as a region of intense competition among
landowners for control of resources which grew progressively
less productive as time passed. When, after 100 years of
civil war, the Colombian violencia came into existence in


64
the interior, it did not spread to the Magdalena region.
The issues which divide residents of this region are dif
ferent than those which divide the highlanders.
It has already been seen that the cattle estate typically
requires the work of an administrator and a few full-time
employees. All activities involving the cattle are easily
handled by a small number of vaqueros or cowboys. The only
activity requiring the work of numerous hands today is the
constant weeding of pasture grasses. But during the colonial
and republican periods and in some places today, such main
tenance was easily carried out by a few workers and the admin
istrator. The constant plague of the hato is the invasion
of pasture grasses by weeds. The system of weed control which
evolved, the desmontor.a, involved putting an excessive number
of cattle in a pasture area to eat out the incipient weeds.
This was usually done during the dry summer when grasses were
dormant and cattle were forced to eat weeds. Often the acti
vity involved cooperation among neighbors who would pool
their herds in order to desmontar a particular estate for a
few weeks and then move on to another estate (Patino 1965:
374). Today in Magdalena this custom is followed only in
remote areas where labor is scarce, and field hands clean
pasture grasses with machetes elsewhere.
Other activities such as branding, killing, castration,
moving between pastures, cutting horns, etc. were all easily
handled by the administrator and his vaqueros. Near the
cities intensive hatos devoted to milk and cheese production


65
used a number of ordinarios to milk the cattle, but judging
I
from the number of these kinds of employees on dairy farms
today (see Chapter III) there were never very many of them.
In summary, the hato called for only a few workers whose
activities were directed by an administrator. Huge tracts
of land supported a small population throughout the colonial,
republican, and contemporary periods. Workers were granted
plots of land for their own rozas or subsistence plots, just
as slaves were at an earlier time required to grow most of
their own food (Patino 1965:513-514) From the administrator
they drew rations of salt, beef, and tools with which they
worked in both the roza of the owner of the estate and their
own gardens. They were given houses in which they located
their families (Escalante 1964:129, Patiffo 1965:513) and
on many estates Saturdays were free from work and Sundays
were a day for rest and attendance at the mass said in the
estate house (Escalante 1964:130). Cooperation in the form
of la chagua work group occurred on these estates just as
in the scattered towns and hamlets of the hinterland, for the
exigencies of swidden horticulture were everywhere the same.
Little historical evidence exists as to whether or not
the chagua or cooperative work party for clearing and burning
the land was adopted by Negroes and mestizos, but the proba
bility is quite high given the following facts. First, swidden
techniques were unchanged by the Spaniards over the centuries
and are well suited to local ecological conditions. Second,
Negroes and mestizos learned these techniques from indigenous


66
peoples. Third, the organization of horticultural work in
the free Negro towns was similar. The males occupied them
selves with defense of their stronghold and raiding, and most
horticultural duties such as planting and weeding fell to
the women, but clearing and burning off the land continued to
be a function of the male cooperative work group (Escalante
1964tl27) In mixed Indian-Negro-mestizo estates and hamlets,
therefore, it is unlikely that different forms of horticul
tural organization were practiced, since all drew upon a
single technology and learned a single complex of customs
for utilizing that technology.
Cooperative work groups, then, are the distinctive form
of human organization typical of the colonial, republican,
and contemporary periods of coastal society. This is equally
true of the extensive cattle estate and the small peasant
hamlet. The small hamlets called aldeas or caseros contained
no more than a score of families. They were scattered in
between the large cattle estates of the hinterlands. They
numbered about two or three every 100 kilometers in the 19th
century. There were only six of these in the 1870's in the
banana zone when the geographer Simmons surveyed them even
though the zone covered an area of about 100 kilometers by
40 kilometers between the mountains and the swamp (Vergara y
Velasca 1901:82-35). Yet, given the relatively greater rain
fall and abundance of rivers in this region, as compared to
other parts of Magdalena, this must be considered a parti
cularly dense concentration of peasant families. These


67
families were engaged in subsistence horticulture, some
sugar production, aviculture, beekeeping, cottage crafts
such as cheese making, and contraband activities (Angarita
1928). The civil wars of the 19th century took a heavy
toll among these towns and hamlets (Vergara y Velasca 1901:
552). When the Colombian geographer Vergara y Velasca vis
ited the region in the late 1890's he discovered the towns
to be "isolated nuclei" surrounded by expanses of territory
only superficially grazed by cattle. The cattle estate
dominated the landscape.
Vergara y Velasca (1901:792) described the region that
was to become the banana zone as "one of the most repulsive
poles of the country." The reason for such a drastic con
demnation is found in the seasonal shift from drought to
flood. The numerous rivers draining the Sierra Hevada de
Santa Marta on the western side flow into the large fresh
water lagoon called Cinaga Grande. In the lowlands these
rivers become wide (some navigable as late as 1934, Rosales
1934) and the land becomes humid and swampy. In the winter
rainy season the cattle and residents had to nove to higher
ground as the rivers rose and flooded their broad, flat
valleys (Vergara y Velasca 1901:515). This ecological fea
ture and the sparse human population prompted the negative
comment of the Colombian geographer, but he predicted that
the banana industry growing up at the foot of the mountains
would assure the development of the region (Vergara y Velasca
1901:550).


68
The United Fruit Company
The prediction of Vergara y Velasca turned out to be
correct. Beginning in 1896 the United Fruit Company started
developing the lowlands at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.
A French company began operations in the same region in 1905,
but disappeared at the start of the First World War. Names
such as Normandia and Alsacia are still found on plantations
in this area. But it was the Compaa Frutera de Sevilla,
at first called the Compaa Frutera de Magdalena, two local
names for the United Fruit Company, which actually developed
the zone (Kamalaprija 1965:7-8).
The Colombian geographer Rosales (1934:101) observed
that the zona bananera was composed of a group of small towns
strung along the railroad line which connected Santa Marta
and the old aldea of Fundacin. This railroad crossed the
rivers Riofrio, Sevilla, Tucurinca, Aracataca, and Fundacin
which through an elaborate irrigation and drainage system
built by the United Fruit Company has ceased winter flooding
and now irrigated the banana plantations stretching out to
the west of the towns. The railroad went no farther than
Fundacin until 1961, when the government extended it to the
national capital in the interior (James 1969). But as early
as 1868, 1871, and 1872 contracts were granted to enterprising
men on the coast to complete a railroad linking Santa Marta
with the Magdalena river, obviously in the hope of turning
the tide of depression which had engulfed the ancient port
city (Alarcn 1963:399). It was the effort of a Bogot based


69
group of businessmen born in Santa Marta who formed a corpor
ation called the Sociedad Patritica del Magdalena that
actually began work on the proposed line. The group was
incorporated in New York in lSSl, under the name Ferrocarril
de Santa Marta, and then work began. In 1336 the inaugural
trip was made between Santa Marta and Cinaga, and the com
pany was sold to the English firm of Greenwood and Company.
Work continued until the line reached Sevilla, and then
stopped when flash floods wiped out much of the line in 1394.
It remained for the United Fruit Company to finish the line
between Sevilla and FundaciSn (AlarcSn 1963:394-396, Val-
Spinosa 1969:3^). This was not done until the flooding was
controlled by straightening the courses of rivers and installing
miles of canals running between the rivers and draining the
land. French, English, and United States engineers and capi
talists, together with a work force recruited from all over
the coast as well as numerous foreign nationals, built the
irrigation network, installed bridges, completed the rail
road, laid out banana plantations, built houses and work
camps on the plantations and founded towns. The entire
structure of life in the region was dramatically changed
during the first decades of the 20th century.
Church records from 1914 to 1925 give evidence of this
dramatic change. Half of the marriages performed in Orejones
united persons from distant regions of Magdalena, Bolivar,
Atlntico, and the Guajira. By 193& the municipality of
Orejones had sprouted a population of 15,361 persons, about


70
4,500 of them living in the 63O buildings of the town of
Majagua (Contraloria General de la Repblica 1941). This
transformation can be appreciated when it is recalled that
the hamlet of Majagua was no more than a score of people
in the geographical surveys of 1874 and 1898.
The influence of the banana company upon the organiza
tion of life in the region was felt in four ways: (1) the
local elite composed of original settlers, hato owners,
were transformed into a wealthy elite; (2) a middle sector
was created by recruitment from the cities of the coast of
employees of the Company; (3) the traditional social rela
tionships sketched earlier in this chapter among landowners,
administrators and workers were altered; (4) and the nature
of social relationships among laborers themselves was changed.
The landowners operating hatos quickly converted to
bananas. Some of them sold their land and moved to the cities
but many built fortunes selling millions of stalks of bananas
to the Company. They purchased homes in the coastal cities.
They sent sons and daughters to the capital, Europe, and the
United States for education. They held political offices at
the departmental and national levels where they continued to
dominate political life just as when they were cattle barons.
The new middle sector consisted of employees of the
Company: estate managers, clerks, commissary directors,
secretaries, fruit selectors, and labor supervisors. These
received single family dwellings with running water and indoor
plumbing, furniture, mules and horses, credit for shopping


71
at the company store, and a monthly salary. Their sons
and daughters were given scholarships to study at the
Colombian universities. Their illnesses were treated in
hospitals staffed by United States physicians. Several of
these families built fortunes during the banana heyday.
The workers were provided with three rooms of a row
house, running water and indoor plumbing, reduced rates on
the train, hospital services deducted from their pay (2$),
a machete, work clothes and boots, credit for shopping at
the Company store, and a cash wage higher than that paid
today to workers on the coast. At the exchange rate of 1.02
pesos to the dollar in 1925 (Kamalaprija 1965:127-123) the
worker in the banana zone earning 2.00 pesos a day received
US$2.00 (Valdeblanquez 1964:245, El Tiempo December 22, 1928,
page 1). Today the worker makes 20 to 25 pesos a day which
at the exchange rate of 23.00 to the dollar comes to the
equivalent of US$1.05 To this picture should be added the
fact that all former workers for the Company during this
period report that prices for goods available in the commis
saries of the United Fruit Company were cheaper than those
available in the stores of the towns.
It has been seen that during earlier periods the rela
tionship among landowners and their workers is best described
by the phrase patron-client (Foster 1967:216). The landowner
granted usufruct rights to several hectares to his worker
for cultivation, provided living quarters on the estates,
and granted credit at an estate store or commissary. The


72
coming of the banana industry and wage labor destroyed this
relationship. Workers were paid money in return for labor
rather than given usufruct right to land. The company did
continue to provide both housing and credit at estate com
missaries. But the subsistence horticulture tradition which
was always a part of estate life disappeared.
The industrialization of agricultural production naturally
included industrial forms of labor organization. The workers
became quite specialized in striking contrast to their former
roles as unspecialized horticulturalists or cattle ranch
workers. Work groups were task rather than kin based, and
highly specialized. Cortadores cut the stalks of banana,
portadores hauled and loaded the stalks on gondolas pulled by
oxen and then tractors, tractoristas drove them to the sta
tion, tanquepes washed, sealed and bagged the stalks, canal-
eros controlled the water flow to the estates, and a mandador
directed groups of macheteros in planting, cleaning, and
weeding the banana plants. Among the macheteros work was
organized in groups not unlike the traditional form, but
food and drink were not part of the work activity. Rather,
work periods during the weekdays were clearly separated from
leisure periods on the weekends. The Company lavishly spon
sored local festivals on the weekend days, but festival
events were kept distinct from work activities. Saturdays
and Sundays were spent in the towns drinking, eating, playing
billiards, visiting brothels, and fighting game cocks.
The banana plantations were located to the west of the


73
railroad, which ran north and south for 98 kilometers be
tween Santa Marta and Fundacin. Another 50 kilometers of
railroad track ran off the main track to the west. The
banana plantations were strung out along these spurs. On
each spur were located several washing stations or espuelas.
It was here that the bananas were brought, prepared, and
loaded on railroad cars to be taken to the United Fruit Company-
docks in Santa Marta. Steamships left the port weekly for
New York and Liverpool (Rosales 1934:107).
Banana production was precise and well ordered. By
no means was it restricted to the United Fruit plantations.
Some 30,000 hectares were under cultivation at the height of
productivity, and only 10,000 of these were the property of
the Company (Kamalaprija 1965:3, 12, ComisiSn de PlanificaciSn
1964:111). Irrigation, planting, cleaning, and weeding, and
harvesting were identical on both kinds of estates. Even the
custom of issuing script for credit at the estate commissary
or Company store was common to each. Such uniformity was re
quired by the nature of the product and the need to transport
bananas as rapidly as possible to their market in the United
States and England.
The exporter contacted the producer three days before
the steamboat arrived, and the producer informed the exporter
how many railroad cars he would need. The "cut day" then
began, which was not a day at all but 72 hours of intensive
labor on the part of all concerned. The cortador made a cut
in the trunk of the banana tree so that in a short while it
would incline and make the stalk easier to reach. Then the


74
stalk would be cut and the portador would carry it to the
waiting gondola, which then delivered it to the tanquepes
and fruit selectors at the espuela. Other portadors loaded
the sacks containing the fruit on the railroad cars. No over
time or special payments were made to the workers for such in
tensive work periods. After the cut day the mandador and his
macheteros cleaned off the mature trees and planted the new
shoots (Kamalprija 1965:29).
Aside from the coastal subculture other subcultural groups
present in the municipio during the early 20th century included
Middle East immigrants who opened stores, bars, and brothels, a
number of West Indian immigrants who worked as day laborers,
and the North Americans living on the quinta or cluster of manor
houses on the other side of the railroad tracks. A small number
of highlanders from the interior migrated into the banana zone
during this period, most from Antioquia.
The picture painted by Gabriel Garcia Marquez of this
period in Cien Affos de Soledad is for the most part accurate,
if entirely surrealistic in style and tone. Majagua> was in
deed transformed into a boom town. But its transformation
did not correspond exactly with the picture presented in Cien
Anos de Soledad. The major discrepancy is with regard to the
role of the elite founders of Majagua, the landed gentry who
form the central characters of the novel. They were not
simply awestruck bystanders to the banana boom; rather they
were prime movers and beneficiaries of the boom. These elites
became independent banana producers and strong allies of the


75
Boston based corporation. They helped lay out the plantations,
planted the first bananas, founded and built small towns, and
collected millions of pesos for their efforts (La Epoca 1972).
Today their descendents can be located in the Parliament in
Bogot, in the departmental capital of Santa Marta, in Barcelona,
Puerto Rico, Miami, and New York.
The banana strike of 192$ is one of the central events of
the novel, and perhaps the most central event in the history of
the banana zone. Garca Mrquez portrays the elite of the town
as merely passive bystanders during this event. But the facts
reported by the newspapers of the period, historians, and by
workers who participated in the strike provide a different
interpretation. An event analysis, a technique developed by
Kimball and Pearsall (1955), of the strike is relevant here
because the strike was both a formative event and a reflection
of the social structure of the banana zone.
The strike resulted in the massacre of uncounted numbers
of unarmed workers the morning of December 6, 1928 by the
Colombian army. The figure rose to around 1,500 during the
week of terror which followed throughout the zone (Val-Spinosa
1969:4, 69). The priest of one of the banana towns recorded
the following note in Book Number Three of the baptismal re
cords of his church:
Los asesinatos se perpetraban con regularidad
increible, por lo cual los vecinos justamente
alarmados y temiendos por sus vidas, vivian
prevenidos contra todo individuo que no fuera
costefio (Angarita 1928).
Assassinations were perpetrated with incredible
regularity, causing the townspeople who were justly


76
alarmed and fearful for their lives, to live
in complete distrust of any individual who
was not of the coast.
Such a violently harsh manner of ending the strike on the part
of the Colombian government was the product of several factors;
the shaky Colombian economy and its huge indebtedness to the
United States (Val-Spinosa 1969:1015), the growth of the
Socialist Party (founded in 1919) and the insistence by this
party that the newly emerging proletariat organize (Val-Spinosa
1969:18), a move which the Minister of War interpreted as
"communism" (El Tiempo December 8, 9, 10, 1928), and the
attempts of the United Fruit Company to retain monopoly over
all human and nonhuman resources in the banana zone (Val-
Spinosa 1969:34, 38-39, 40-41).
The strike began peacefully as reported by correspondents
of newspapers in Barranquilla and Santa Marta, as well as by
the Governor of Santa Marta, (El Tiempo November 20, 1928, p.
2, November 21, 1928, p. 1, November 22, 1928, p. 9, December
22, 1928, p. 1). When the demands of the workers* petition
were rejected by the manager of the United Fruit Company,
Thomas Bradshaw, and six independent Colombian planters acting
with Bradshaw, there was no violence or work stoppage. The
strike was not called until November 11, the day after a large
cutting order had been issued by the Company (Val-Spinosa 1969;
5051) General Cortes Vargas was ordered to come from Barran-
quilla to become the military commander of the Province of
Santa Marta, after telegrams were sent to the President of
Colombia by Thomas Bradshaw reporting the workers to be in


77
"riot" (Val-Spinosa 1969:51) Corts Vargas arrested around
400 people in the towns of the zone as he made his first tour
of inspection, accusing them of attempting to impede the pro
gress of his train, but still there was no violence (El Tiempo
November 19, 1923, p. 2). The Company manager, Bradshaw, re
set the cut day for December 3, and together with General
Corts Vargas arranged for 25 soldiers to guard the nonstriking
workers at each espuela through the zone (Val-Spinosa 1969:59).
Passports were issued by the army for travel in the zone and
the train was defended with mounted machineguns (El Tiempo
December 4, 1923, p. 7) A rumor which remains unconfirmed
today reached the Governor of Santa Marta that a civilian had
been killed at one of the espuelas in an argument with a sol
dier, and the Governor requested emergency help from the nat
ional government. A state of siege was declared by the Presi
dent's cabinet on December 3, but it was not instituted for
want of a confirmed "incident" which would justify it and
which could be given wide public hearing (Val-Spinosa 1969:60).
This incident came on December 5 when unarmed workers managed
to entice a group of armed soldiers to a dinner and party.
This was a widely broadcast as the "capture" of a squad of
soldiers and a state of siege was officially declared (El
Tiempo December 6, 1928, p. 1). The workers gathered at the
town of Cinaga in the railroad station for a demonstration
on December 5, and early on the morning of December 6 by the
light of cooking fires and lamps they were ordered to disperse.
When they refused, the army fired into the crowd of 4,000 per-


sons with carbines, machineguns, and revolvers (El Tiempo
December 6, 1928, p. 1, Val-Spinosa 1969:60-64, Valdeblanquez
1964:238-243). Then began the mopping up operation under
the direction of General Corts Vargas.
Although telegraph lines connected each town of the
zone with Santa Marta, and Santa Marta with Barranquilla and
Bogot, and although telephones were located in United Fruit
offices in all towns, and although public telephones existed
in each of the larger towns of the zone, no information could
be obtained by the staff reporters of El Tiempo for a week
(El Tiempo December 6, 1928, p. 1, December 7, 1929, p. 1,
December S, 1923, p. 1, December 9, 1923, p. 1, December 10,
1923, p. 1). Telegrams and phone calls sent by newspapers
in the capital to businessmen, landowners, and public officials
in Santa Marta on the morning of December 6 were not delivered
until the 21st of December. Meanwhile, the army reported one
person dead and several injured in the confrontation, all of
whom were alleged to be anarchists, communists, and rebels
(El Tiempo December 6, 1928, p. 1, December 10, 1928, p. 1).
The series of atrocities committed by the Colombian
troops are well recorded (Gaitn 1972). While Corts Vargas
remained in control of the zone until March of 1929, no
Colombian and foreign correspondents were admitted, and no
list of casualties was compiled (Val-Spinosa 1969:69). But
various generals and colonels of the army were quite anxious
to report their achievements, and their telegrams can be read
in the pages of El Tiempo from December 10 until December 17,
1928. In July of 1929 a young firebrand lawyer named Jrge


79
Eliecer Gaitn made the banana zone massacre his vehicle
to national prominence by visiting the banana zone and
collecting massive documentation of the events which had
occurred (El Tiempo, Lecturas Dominicales. No. 317 October
6, 1929 p. 12). These he used in a dramatic denunciation
of the military and the United Fruit Company in the Parliament
for four consecutive days (Gaitn 1972). His considerable
talents as an orator, criminologist, and lawyer, punctuated
with many letters, sworn testimonies, and even pieces of a
child's skull, were devastating (Val-Spinosa 1969:80-81).
The result is tersely described by Val-Spinosa (1969:32-84).
The Liberal Party mounted their first successful challenge
to the hegemony of the aristocratic Conservative Party with
the candidacy of Enrique Olaya Herrera:
During his whirlwind campaign for the presi
dency Olaya Herrera laid a wreath at the tomb
of the martyred strikers at Cinaga. Two weeks
later he was elected Liberal President of
Colombia (Val-Spinosa 1969:84).
Behind the chronicle of actions and reactions which can
be traced through various sources there is another side to
the massacre in the banana zone. This is the composition of
the factions which supported or opposed the strikers, for
this gave the event lasting significance.
As early as November of 1928 it was widely recognized
that the chief support of the day laborers came from the mer
chants of the banana zone (El Tiempo. November 29, 1928, p. 16).
Cash gifts, food, and clothing were donated to the strike
leaders to be distributed to those whom they could recruit to


so
the cause. One of the strike leaders claimed to have re
ceived over 40,000 US dollars in gifts of money and materials
from the independent Colombian merchants of the zone (Val-
Spinosa 1969:52). Those observers who attribute the strike
to the organizing activities of the strike leaders (members
of the Colombian Socialist party who had previously directed
the strike of oil workers in the fields of Barrancabermeja on the
Magdelena river) are unable to explain why it was that the workers
listened and acted as advised by the organizers. Radical acti
vity is only rarely undertaken in the absence of some ally
perceived to be powerful or influential. The merchants of
Barranquilla, Cinaga, and the banana zone recognized that
the 30,000 to 40,000 residents of the banana zone were a vast
market, monopolized by the United Fruit Company commissary and
script system. Here the workers found natural allies. When
the manager of the Company and the group of independent
planters acting with him agreed to all but three of the total
of nine demands presented by the strike leaders, the negotia
tors from the national Office of Labor discovered merchants
and employees of the stores in the banana zone agitating for
prolonging the strike until all the demands were met (El
Tiempo November 29, 1928, p. 16). Among these demands were
points six and seven: the suppression of script, and the
suppression of the commissaries of the United Fruit Company
accompanied by the establishment of freedom of commerce in
the zone (Val-Spinosa 1969:46, Valdeblanquez 1964:245-246).
If the workers became, in part, a vehicle for the desires


81
of the newly arisen commercial class of the north coast, the
United Fruit Company served in like manner as a vehicle for
the desires of the independent planters of Colombian national
ity. Val-Spinosa (1969:3^) argues convincingly that the Col
ombian planters, who controlled and exploited the vast majority
of land cultivated in bananas, were obligated to support the
Company position since they were greatly indebted to the
Company (owing about 4.5 million dollars in total). And as
Val-Spinosa observes, Alberto Catrillon, one of the strike
leaders, and J5rge Eliecer Gaitn
... did not so much blame the Colombian
army for firing on Colombians as for doing
it at the behest of the United Fruit Company
(1969:8).
Yet Val-Spinosa had missed several important points. The
independent producers were quite wealthy, and that wealth
came from their sales to the United Fruit Company. They were
unlikely to act out of feelings of nationalistic solidarity
with the workers, especially since they and their fathers and
grandfathers too exploited the workers in exactly the same
fashion as the Company for several preceding centuries (even
if the profit margin were not as great in comparison).
Secondly, the independent planters included political offi
cials in Santa Marta who refused to do their duty to act
in defense of the workers. Third, the planters uniformly
abandoned the workers to their fate as the zone began filling
up with troops, moving to the cities of the coast as if in
expectation of the slaughter. Fourth, even to the present
time the workers who witnessed these events and who were


82
interviewed by the writer denounce the independent planters
as traitors to Colombia, for it is widely claimed that these
planters hired goon squads to break up demonstrations and
assassinate strikers in their homes. In short, it should
not be forgotten that the millions of stalks of bananas
rotting on the trees during the strike belonged mostly to
Colombian growers who needed them harvested and transported
to the docks before they would be paid. Until we begin to
recognize that societies are made up of subcultural groups
that may share little in common, aside from a symbiotic rela
tionship, we will continually fall prey to the reasoning
which concludes that all Colombians or Americans or members
of some other nation-entity think and act alike.
These two opposing factions of growers and workers help
explain a great deal, but there was still a third. These
were the labor contractors or labor brokers through which the
Company and the private producers contracted for labor.
While there is no published record of the actions of these
persons, former workers on the banana plantations report
that they were unable to obtain work unless they joined the
union. That is, the labor contractor would not include
them in his work group contracted for a specific task if
they remained independent or unallied. This faction by
recruiting for the strike contributed to the growing atmosphere
of confrontation, although the reasons for this action remain
unclear.
The final faction was composed of the full-time employees


of the United Fruit Company, both Colombians and Americans.
Today in the banana zone these persons uniformly condemn the
strikers for chasing the Company (and their prosperity) away
from Colombia. At the time of the strike their sentiments
were no different, since they staged counter-demonstrations
in favor of the Company in Cinaga. Such employees of the
Company were uniformly evacuated from the banana zone when
the shooting started and provided with housing in Cinaga
and Santa Marta. There are no more ardent fans of the United
Fruit Company in Colombia than these once prosperous families.
Although the main actors in the drama were the day lab
orers and the officials of the United Fruit Company, it can
be seen that all who occupied positions in the structure of
the banana zone had much to lose or gain depending upon the
outcome. There were no innocent bystanders, as claimed by
Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is only from the perspective of
the novelist, the political scientist, and the historian
that great world events can be interpreted as the results of
the thoughts or actions of certain individuals acting in
isolation.
Following the massacre and the week of terror the workers
for the Company and the independent producers resumed work
on the plantations. The crop was harvested and transported
to New York and Liverpool. By the following year production
had risen above pre-strike levels (Kamalaprija 1965:127-123).
Production fell briefly in 1931 after the stock market crash,
but resumed and achieved the high of 1930 between 1932 and
1941. Only then did production decline significantly. During


World War II the fleet of ships belonging to the United Fruit
Company ceased to call at Santa Marta. When the Company
returned to Colombia in 1947 in order to resume their operations
they discovered that their plantations had been invaded by
both the wealthy independent growers and landless day laborers.
Rather than leave Colombia the United Fruit Company nego
tiated a new policy with the planters through the government.
Contracts were signed by which the Company considered the
squatters tenants or arrendatarios. The tenants in turn agreed
to sell and the Company agreed to buy all bananas produced,
the tenants paying US $1.00 for each hectare not producing
bananas. The arrangement applied basically to the wealthy
squatters who annexed large tracts. The day laborers who
annexed only a few hectares were ignored. By the year 1949
exports were higher than the high of 1930 (Kamalaprija 1965:
127-12).
But at this time the Company began liquidating its holdings
in Colombia, including the railroad which it gave to the govern
ment upon its return in 1947. The reason lies in a changed
world market, the altered situation of colonies of Western
Europe, and North American activities in the Pacific (Kamala-
prija 1965:&). In 1939 the Company had owned 10,000 hectares
of land producing bananas, whereas by 1953 it held only 3,000.
By 1964 it owned no banana producing land in the zone (Kamala
prija 1965:9).
With the exit of the Company, Colombian federations of
growers sought to save the zone. But none of them located in


the municipality studied. They concentrated to the north
and the banana industry of Majagua and Orejones died. Total
hectares devoted to bananas today number only about 3,000,
and these are located near Santa Marta. Export is mainly to
the Federal Republic of Germany, and the major competitor
for Colombian growers is the United Fruit Company.
In Majagua and Orejones changes occurred rapidly. The
wealthy independent producers evacuated the region, together
with the newly created middle sector employees of the Company
and hundreds of workers. Many families of the upper and
middle sectors were ruined. The workers lost an income that
had provided the impetus for migration into the banana zone.
In the countryside the employee housing and worker rowhouses
stand empty in clusters in the middle of rice estates and
cattle pastures, stripped of their plumbing, doors, windows,
and roofs, concrete skeletons providing a stark reminder of
earlier prosperity against which current poverty looms even
more grisly.
The land use pattern and forms of human organization
introduced by the company have been replaced by traditional
patterns and forms. This reversion has been only partial
however. For while the cattle estate has returned to its
dominance of the landscape, the old form of the patron-client
relationship has not been reasserted. Of 3^,000 hectares
of arable land in the municipality of Orejones only 13,000
are devoted to agriculture and horticulture. About 3,000
hectares are devoted to commercial rice cultivation. About
10,000 hectares are devoted to pan co.jer or staples grown


66
in subsistence gardens such as corn, manioc, and plantains.
The remaining 25,000 hectares are devoted to large cattle
estates (Comisin de Planificacin 1964:99)* Thus, immediately
after the exit of the United Fruit Company the large cattle
estate returned to its former position of dominance in the
region. But the irrigation network brought by the Company
permitted the innovation of commercial rice production. The
forms of social organization related to each of these land
use patterns will be examined in detail in the following
chapter. Here it is important to note only that the forms
of social relationships introduced by the North American mono
poly have persisted only on commercial rice estates. The
large cattle estates continue to be organized along traditional
lines, with a few elementary changes in social relationships
among the personnel. Hence, the older social tradition of the
hato and roza exists today side by side with a newer industrial
social trdition. Both must be examined to understand contempor
ary community life.
The Highlander Migration
A third social tradition was introduced into the commu
nity during the decade of the 1950's. In the years that
followed the banana zone strike the principal actors went on
to other occupations and interests. General Cortes Vargas was
promoted to Director of the National Police. The mayor of
Santa Marta and a major independent banana grower, Juan Campo
Serrano, became a national Senator as did members of the Noguera,
Vives, and other families who were large independent banana


Full Text
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FILES


EXCHANGE RELATIONSHIPS IN A COMMUNITY ON THE
NORTH COAST OF COLOMBIA
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO CANNABIS
By
William L. Partridge
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1974

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Many people have assisted me during my graduate career
through their teaching, counseling, and research activities.
Among these are members of my dissertation committee who
have contributed to the research reported here. -Professor
Solon T. Kimball, committee chairman, provided through his
classes, seminars, and conversations my training in the
methodological and analytical techniques of the natural
history tradition in social anthropology. My views on
the nature of socialization and the replication of social
structures were greatly influenced by Professors Kimball
and G. Alexander Moore. My interests in ritual and symbolic
behavior were stimulated and influenced by Professors
William E. Carter, Richard H. Hiers, Solon Kimball, and
Charles Wagley.
My interest in cannabis and social structure grew
directly out of my Masters essay (Partridge 1973a) and the
discovery that the scientific literature on the social
implications of cannabis was deficient. Through my exper¬
iences during the summer of 1971 in Bogotá, Cali, and
Popayán, Colombia, interviewing professionals regarding
cannabis use, I became interested in the north coast of
Colombia as a research setting.
The research was supported by the National Institute
of Mental Health Predoctoral Research Fellowship number
1F01MH54512-01 CUAN and the supplementary grant number
3F01DA54512-01S1 CUAN. I am indebted to Dr. Bela Maday
i

and Miss Eleanor Carroll for their encouragement.
Shortly after arriving in Colombia, with the assis¬
tance of letters of introduction from William E. Carter,
I met several Colombian anthropologists who assisted me
throughout my stay in Colombia. I was granted sponsor¬
ship for my research in Colombia by the Instituto Colom¬
biana de Antropología in Bogotá. In Barranquilla I was
generously given office space at the Museo de Antropología
of the Universidad del Atlántico. The Colombian anthro¬
pologists who assisted me devoted considerable time to
acquainting me with the culture in which I planned to
work, the geography and history of the north coast of
Colombia, and the range of human populations which give
the north coast its exciting variety. The profound know¬
ledge shared by these professionals was an invaluable aid
in my adjustment to and eventual study of one particular
community located in the region. The Colombian anthro¬
pologists who assisted me must be unnamed here due to the
sensitive nature of the topic.
Both in Bogotá and in Barranquilla I was informed that
the former banana zone of Colombia was an area of intensive
cultivation and traditional consumption of cannabis. The
community chosen for the research setting, called here
Majagua, was selected for two compelling reasons: (1) par¬
ticularly excellent personal contacts existed between
ii

several Colombian anthropologists and several people living
in the community who were willing to assist me; and (2)
the entire cycle of activities relating to cannabis, culti¬
vation, distribution, and consumption, could be studied in
this single location. The proposal originally called for
a community study of a population in which cannabis was
consumed. The situation encountered in the banana zone of
Colombia encouraged me to expand the focus of my investi¬
gation to the entire cycle of activities related to canna¬
bis. The community was chosen only after several weeks
of extensive study of the varieties of human settlements
on the north coast.
Through the generous assistance of a Colombian news¬
paper reporter, who will remain anonymous, I came to know
the town called here Ifejagua. Spending several weeks in
the company of this quite skilled and engaging professional
journalist I came to understand the broad outlines of commu¬
nity life, the neighborhoods of the town and countryside,
the miles upon miles of dusty dirt roads running among the
cattle and rice estates, the legends of the United Fruit
Company days, the stores, bars, poolrooms, and brothels,
the old families of the community, the cockfights and fes¬
tival cycle, the church and government offices, the
influential and the powerless, the landowners, the govern¬
ment employees, the shopkeepers, the beggars, the town
iii

drunks, the peasants, and the contraband runners. My
friend the journalist and I spent hours discussing these
and many more elements of the tremendous range of human
life to which I had been exposed. It was only many months
later that I was able to abstract conclusions about the
nature of this community, for through my experience with
this journalist I was immersed immediately in the full
round of local life. I was not permitted the luxury of
interest in only one element of the community. Instead
I was made aware of the complexity which is Majagua and
its rich texture of human conditions, aspirations, and
abilities.
The contacts mentioned above evolved into further
introductions, hundreds of hours of conversations, and
numerous interviews all of which led to other contacts
and other arenas of community life. I carried a pocket
notebook and pen and wrote notes when possible. At the end
of a day the contents of the notebook were typed up and
copies were sent to Professors Solon Kimball and William
Carter. Each of these generously reviewed my hazy and
incomplete summations of what I was observing and offered
me the benefit of their own insights and experiences.
Out of this dialogue, which continued throughout the period
of study, I came to understand the range and depth of
community life.
Since the work of Malinowski participant observation
has been a proven method of field research in anthropology,
iv

and my particular use of the techniques needs only brief
explication here. Initially I purchased a horse and
traveled throughout the community and to several neighboring
communities, secured housing with a family, obtained a cook,
laundress, and several guides. Friendships developed with
many townspeople and countrymen as I went about learning to
ride, to enjoy the local food and drink, and in the course
of participating in the normal round of social life of the
community. Out of such friendships I requested and was
given personal interviews with those who could provide de¬
tailed information of special interest (e.g. the process
of rice agriculture, subsistence horticulture, festivals
and rituals). Participant observation continued throughout
such situations since interviews were often conducted while
other kinds of activity were in progress. Successive inter¬
views and wide travel throughout the municipality enabled
me to form certain conclusions and test them in a variety
of settings and through numerous personnel.
After many interviews and several months in the commu¬
nity three sample settlement patterns were chosen for inten¬
sive study. These were a neighborhood of the town, a rural
hamlet, and a highland peasant neighborhood. Demographic
information such as age, sex, social status, education,
occupation, household composition, etc. was collected in
each sample. From these sample surveys evolved invitations
to make other, less formal visits to certain households.
Intensive observations proceeded throughout the remainder
v

of my stay in the community in these three samples.
The collection of data regarding cannabis was diffi¬
cult from the beginning, for the topic was a sensitive one
and few individuals in the community did not consider me
an agent of the FBI or CIA. It was not until January of
1973 that I was able to obtain my first concrete informa¬
tion regarding cannabis. Since I chose not to join cannabis
user groups in the community, my first contacts were with
cannabis cultivators. These perceived me to be a wealthy
buyer who intended to transport tons of cannabis to the
United States. After repeated denials, lengthy interviews
on other subjects, months of study of all varieties of
community life, and continuous observation and travel
throughout the municipality, I managed to convince several
informants that I was indeed a scientist and not a cannabis
buyer. One successful interview led to others and soon I
developed good working relationships with commercial growers,
petty growers, petty vendors, consumers, and petty cultiva¬
tors. Once the identities of these individualsvere known
to me, and more importantly their roles in the life of the
community and the full range of activities in which they
engaged themselves, the patterns of the systems of social
relationships governing cannabis became clear. Soon it
became apparent that everyone in the town and municipality
but the anthropologist had known all along who were the
consumers, distributors, and cultivators of cannabis.
Their initial efforts to hide such knowledge had been a
vi

natural reaction to a foreigner poking his nose into local
affairs. Once the ice was broken and my informants under¬
stood that I understood the local situation, then the data
flowed quite easily, and most tension surrounding my in¬
quiries was mitigated. Still, upon leaving the community
in October of 1973 one of my best informants and friends,
an extremely intelligent and able man, expressed his amaze¬
ment at the fact that I had been able to keep secret from
everyone how it was that I was going to make a profit
through cannabis sales. He informed me that I must be
extremely intelligent to have hidden so successfully my
contracts with his fellows.
Upon nearing completion of my period of study, several
weeks were devoted to research in the national Library in
Bogotá where documentary evidence was obtained relating to
certain historical and geographical conditions which obtain
on the north coast of Colombia. Census materials were col¬
lected from the offices of the Departamento Administrativo
Nacional de Estadística in Bogotá and Barranquilla.
During the writing of the dissertation I have benefitted
from the close cooperation of my committee, especially from
repeated reviews of the manuscript and constructive sugges¬
tions offered by Dr. Kimball and Dr. Carter. Dr. Charles
Wagley brought to my attention several theoretical issues
in the area of economics and development in the Third
World to which the data are relevant. While I have not
adequately responded to all of the many suggestions and
vii

insights offered by members of the committee, many of these
have been incorporated in the pages that follow. The
intellectual atmosphere generated through my interaction
with members of the committee provided the challenges which
led to the completion of the dissertation. Their thoughtful
help is very much appreciated.
A great debt is owed to the people of the community
in which I studied. I was graciously hosted by numerous
families of the town and countryside who must remain unnamed
here and in the text. Many informants devoted time they would
normally have spent engaged in other activities in order
to answer my questions and grant lengthy interviews. Names
which occur in the text are fictitious. The notes written
at the time of interviews with cannabis users, merchandisers,
and growers were coded and edited in such a way as to make
impossible the identification of informants. Only a single
copy of each interview was made and these were kept locked
in a trunk, so it is unlikely that the data gathered will
serve any other purpose than that of scientific investigation.
The translations of Spanish documents which are quoted
in the text are my own.
viii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Acknowledgements ... ......... i
Table of Contents *x
List of Figures x
Abstract x*
Introduction ..... . 1
Chapter I Cannabis and Social Relationships .... 4
The Problem 4
The Setting 15
Chapter II Cultural Origins of the Community .... 39
Diffusion of Cannabis 39
The Region 45
The Estate System 49
The Subsistence Horticulture System . . 52
Labor Recruitment 56
Forms of Human Organization 60
The United Fruit Company 68
The Highlander Migration 86
Chapter III Production, Distribution, Consumption . . 90
Production Systems 90
Production of Cannabis 132
Systems of Distribution 13&
Distribution of Cannabis 148
Systems of Consumption 154
Consumption of Cannabis 163
Cannabis and Social Structure 174
Chapter IV Life Cycles and the Replication of
Structure 1^7
The Coastal Lower Sector I89
The Highland Lower Sector 219
Cannabis and Profane Ritual 235
Chapter V Comparisons and Conclusions 243
A Controlled Comparison 243
Conclusions 255
Sanctions and Policy Governing Cannabis. 257
References Cited ..... .... 264
Biographical Sketch .. 279
ix

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1 Population Changes .... 18
Figure 2 Population Changes 18
Figure 3 Map of the Magdalena Region ....... 20
Figure 4 Schematic Drawing of the Town of Majagua 27
Figure 5 Size of Land Holding in Orejones 34
Figure 6 Production Schedule of the Rice Estate . . 106
Figure 7 Daily Meal Schedule of Consumption Units
with No Patterned Variability 156
Figure 8 Daily Meal Schedule of Consumption Units
with Seasonal Variability 158
Figure 9 Daily Meal Schedule of Consumption Units
With Production Schedule Variability . . . 161
Figure 10 Retail Prices of Items Consumed Daily . . 162
Figure 11 Reciprocal Relations Between Town, Estate
Hamlet, and Vereda 17#
Figure 12 Cannabis Networks in the Traditional and
Market-Induced Systems . 184
x

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
EXCHANGE RELATIONSHIPS IN A COMMUNITY ON THE
NORTH COAST OF COLOMBIA
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO CANNABIS
By
William L. Partridge
June, 1974-
Chairman: Solon T. Kimball
Major Department: Anthropology
Social group structures and social relationships which
power systems of production, distribution, and consumption
in a community on the north coast of Colombia were studied
between July of 1972 and October of 1973- The origins of
the community are traced and certain subcultural social
traditions are found to be adaptations to the ecological,
historical, and geographical conditions of the north coast
region. These subcultures are found to be interdependent
through certain exchange relationships, yet also are found
to have clearly identifiable and distinct structures, forms
of productive activity, distributive systems, and systems
of consumption. Social group structures and social relation¬
ships characteristic of each subculture are examined with
special reference to systems of cultivation, distribution
and consumption of cannabis. Two systems of cultivation
xi

and two systems of distribution are described which corres¬
pond to the distinctive subcultural traditions present in
the community. Cannabis consumption is found to be charac¬
teristic of only one of these subcultures. The analysis
of cannabis consumption is focused upon the profane sphere
of everyday work habits, secular patterns of interaction,
and life cycles typical of the coastal subculture. A con¬
trolled comparison is made between the coastal and the high¬
land subcultures and cannabis is found to be instrumentally
and expressively related to certain social groupings and
social relationships present only in the coastal subcultural
tradition. It is concluded that cannabis is one of several
items of reciprocal exchange which functions to symbolize
interdependency relationships among laborers, peasants,
and artisans of the coastal subculture. In contrast, canna¬
bis consumption does not diffuse to the highland subculture
where different kinds of social group structures and social
relationships are found. It is suggested that cannabis
diffuses only to those social groups structurally predisposed
to accept and value the ritual which surrounds it.
xii

INTRODUCTION
The research reported here concerns cannabis and human
social groupings. It is not concerned with cannabis qua
cannabis, but with the locus of cannabis in society. As
Hollister (1971s2S) points out, increasing numbers of re¬
searchers have turned to questions involving cannabis but
this has increased our understanding of the social impli¬
cations of cannabis very little. The reason is that
scientists continue to focus upon the psychological and
physiological effects of the drug and to ignore the social
dimensions. The observations of Wallace (1959), Becker
(1963), and others that the significance of the drug varies
with cultural and social contexts have in general stimulated
only lip service from scientists interested in cannabis.
With some exceptions (Comitas 1973) the locus of canna¬
bis in the natural human grouping is neglected in favor of
soporific concepts such as "the lower class" or the "cul¬
ture" of a people (Khalifa 1973» Li 1973)» My intent in
the pages that follow is to bring a measure of conceptual
rigor to the area of cannabis and social relationships.
This objective is achieved through the use of the methodology
of community studies in the natural history tradition of
social anthropology.
The central concern of the method is with the obser¬
vation in vivo of the varieties of social and cultural
elements in the context of ongoing human activity. The
1

2
central problem facing the observer is the reduction of the
multiplicity of social facts into a system of priorities of
relevance. These priorities are established by examining
relationships which obtain between social units who live
out their developmental cycles at particular times and in
particular places in customary fashion. The concern of
the method, most simply put, is with the regular and recur¬
rent structures of human organization. For the community is
the minimal unit of cultural transmission, and it is the
transmission of organizational structures which in turn
provides for successive transmissions and the persistence
of the culture.
Community consists in systems comprising interaction
regularities and cultural behavior in an environmental con¬
text (Arensberg and Kimball 1965:4). The definition is
minimal for it generalizes several points of technical
refinement that will be developed below.
The emphasis upon interactional regularity calls
attention to the biological basis of human organization.
The law of incest prohibition requiring exogamous groupings
of persons interacting in some predictable manner is the
key and primal survival technique of the species. The
implications of prolonged infancy and late puberty compel
us to view society not as based upon the family unit but
as consisting in organizational structures which relate
several family units. Three generations and two sexes,
then, are fundamental elements of community.

3
The emphasis upon cultural behavior stems directly
from the above. Organizational structures vary and stem
from learning experiences of preceding generations.
Patterns of mate choice, settlement, subsistence, con¬
sumption, belief, and the like result from the canaliza¬
tion of choices made by individuals.
The emphasis upon environmental context adds to the
definition the importance of territory and the functional
interdependencies which exist among men and among social
groups by virtue of their shared relationship to a natural
world. Community is a storehouse of adaptive responses to
specific conditions of the natural world, responses which
have temporal and spatial aspects. Community is therefore
the succession of lives through time and over space.
Community provides patterned social relationships which
constitute "conditioning influences from the organization of
one's fellows about the individual" (Arensberg and Kimball
1965:45 )f and canalize choice. The cultivation, distribu¬
tion, and consumption of cannabis is understood only in
relation to the structure of social relationships which
canalize choice for members of the community. In the chapters
that follow cannabis will be seen to be intimately related
to certain social relationships characteristic of certain
group structures.

CHAPTER I
CANNABIS AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
The Problem
It has been known for some time that cannabis is one
of the most widely used and most ancient hallucinogenic
plants consumed by man (Subcommittee on Alcoholism and
Narcotics 1971:52-53). (There is some debate over whether
cannabis is indeed an hallucinogen but for now we will
accept Schultes 1969 classification which considers the
plant hallucinogenic.) Considerable scientific data has
accumulated since the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report
of IS96, but the report's essential finding that cannabis
is of little danger to the individual consumer or his
society remains unchanged to the present time. As Snyder
(1971:16-17) points out, a comparison of the lethal and
effective doses of two commonly used drugs mass produced
and marketed in the United States and many other countries,
secobarbital (Seconal) and alcohol, with the lethal and
effective doses of cannabis is revealing. This ratio, the
so-called "safety factor" of any drug, is about 10 for both
secobarbital and alcohol and about 40,000 for tetrahydro¬
cannabinol (THC) or the chemically active intoxicant con¬
tained in cannabis. While a lethal dose of secobarbital
or alcohol can be produced with 10 times the effective dose,
a lethal dose of cannabis is quite literally beyond the
4

5
range of human experience or imagination.
It would seem, then, that the current controversy
surrounding cannabis is not related to lethal dangers to
an individual resulting from use of the drug. Perfectly
lethal drugs are consumed daily by people who are frightened
of the effects of the relatively harmless cannabis.
The controversy centers instead upon the real, per¬
ceived or suspected effects of cannabis for the society in
which it is used. The sociologist Eric Goode (1969) has
argued that scientific data regarding cannabis in society
are irrelevant since the controversy is largely a political
and ideological one. But science is often used to alter
political and ideological persuasions. Howard Becker (1963)
demonstrated some time ago that official and popular atti¬
tudes toward cannabis were changed quite readily by a
massive campaign waged against the drug by the Bureau of
Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs of the United States Govern¬
ment. The campaign was based on evidence which was pre¬
sented to the Congress and public wearing the mantle of
"science." For scientists to fail to recognize their roles
in the maintenance of official and popular mythology is
not only irresponsible but an admission that scientists
fail to perceive the manner in which their society functions.
The generation of official and popular mythology is a de
facto condition of modern science.
Since the cannabis controversy centers upon the effects
of cannabis for society the work of sociologists, social

6
psychologists, and anthropologists is particularly relevant.
Anthropologists have nad wide experience in the study of
many cultures where different hallucinogenic plants are
consumed. But much of this investigation is not directly
useful in addressing the problem of the effects of such
substances on society.
Hallucinogens have played and continue to play major
roles in religious ritual in all parts of the world. They
form integral parts of curing, divining, and votive acti¬
vities from central Siberia to northern India to the coast
of China, from southern Europe to the Turkish plains, from
the Arctic to the tip of South America, from the Mediterra¬
nean Sea to Cape Hora, from Newfoundland to Vancouver
Island to the mountains of Oaxaca. In some cases the plant
itself is perceived to be a diety: the Soma of the ancient
Aryans or Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric mushroom (Wasson
1963, 1972); the peyote cactus of the Huichol Indians or
Lophophora Williamsii (La Barre 193^, Aberle 1966, Furst
1972, Meyerhoff, 1972, 1973)» In other cases the plant is
an instrument of ritualized communication with dieties:
the eboka of the Bwiti cults among the Fang people or
Taberaanthe iboga (Fernandez 1972); the ya.jii of the Tukano
Indians of Colombia or Banisteriopsis caapi (Reichel-Dolma-
toff 1963, 1972); and the deadly nightshade or Atropa
belladonna. Mandrake or Mandrabora. Henbane of Hyoscyamus,
and thorn apple or Datura of the witches of medieval Europe
(Hamer 1973)* In still other cases the hallucinogen takes

7
on curative powers and serves the related purposes of diag¬
nosis and treatment: the black tobacco of the Warao of
Venezuela (Wilbert 1972, 1973) and the Tenetehara of Brazil
(Wagley and Galvao 194-9) or Nicotiana spp.; the morning-
glory seeds of the Zapotee, Mixtee, Chinanatecs, and Masatecs
of the Oaxaca valley of Mexico or Rivea corymbosa (Schultes
1972, 1969); and the San Pedro cactus or Trichocereus
pachano! among the mestizo farmers of the coast of Peru
(Sharon 1972). This list could continue until some SO
hallucinogenic plants of the New World and some six of
the Old World were included (La Barre 1972:271).
Yet as Furst (1972:xi) observes, "what is new is not
the discovery of natural substances that act powerfully
on the mind, but their fascination for Western man and the
medical, legal, and social consequences." This fascination
and its consequences are indeed new to the West since
hallucinogenic plants have not traditionally been used in
either religious curing, divining, or votive activities
since paleolithic times. Exceptions exist to be sure (Harner
1973). But in general altered states of consciousness in
the West are achieved without the aid of hallucinogens.
One is reminded of the shamanistic trance states of
Moses, Aaron, Ezekiel, Samuel, Peter, Paul and others of
the Hebrew tribes; likewise, the astonishing visions of
the initiates into the Eleusis cults of Greece were probably
unaided by hallucinogens. The raptures suffered by St.
Bernard and later St. Francis and others of the Mendicant

8
Orders of the 12th and 13th centuries are traditionally
interpreted as communication with a diety. The hallucina¬
tions and voices experienced by Joan of Arc, the 14th cen¬
tury "Saint Vitus Dance" mania and its accompanying visions,
and the mystical savagery of the Flagellants of the Middle
Ages of Europe and in some parts of Latin America and
Europe today were not induced by hallucinogenic substances.
The prophetic trances and miracles proclaimed by George
Fox and others of the Quakers in the 17th century, the
violent convulsions and trance performances of the "French
prophets" of 18th century England, and the hysterical fits
and spirit-possessions which afflicted those who heard
Wesley preach in England at the same time were similarly
unaided by hallucinogens. Similarly, the gift of "tongues"
which characterized the Shakers of New York, the frenzied
spasms called the "barks," the "jerks," and the "rolls"
which marked the Kentucky revival of 1800, the millenial
dreams of the Adventists of New England in 1843 > the Beek-
manites of Illinois in 1875, the Wilderness Worshipers of
Georgia and South Carolina in 1889 and 1390, and the hys¬
terical praying of our contemporary Pentecostal sects of
the Southern United States, Southern California, New York
and the Midwest are each altered states of consciousness
achieved without the use of hallucinogenic plants. Mooney
(1896) called attention to many of these Western parallels
to the trances of the Ghost Dance Religion in his classic
monograph.

9
Clearly what is new to Western man is not the ritualized,
sacred, or divine state of consciousness. Westerners have
witnessed continuing streams of possession, quaking, jerking,
dreaming, and all manner of related trance states for over
two millenia. Moreover, many of these have been incorporated
into Western religious tradition. Westerners seek out and
discover such altered states of consciousness.
That which is sacred has easily been explained in
terms of belief systems, cognitive mappings, and culturally
patterned perception. But here anthropologists usually
have stopped, recognizing along with Fernandez (1972:237-23^)
that reality is a construct which is consensual and not
virtual. Few anthropologists have considered the altered
states of consciousness or hallucinogenic substances that
seem to produce them in the context of what Durkheim (1947:
3#-42) called the profane or secular institutions of society.
Freud and his followers were fascinated with one such
profane altered state of consciousness which is universal to
the species: the dream. Recent research has resulted in
the exciting discovery of the "rapid eye movement" dream
state in which the subject is insensitive to external stim¬
ulation and in a state of inward concentration, yet not in
a state of normal unconsciousness. This is a purely bio¬
logical phenomenon with important implications for theories
of schizophrenia, sensory deprivation, and the nature of
perception. Furthermore, it introduces the possibility
that the distinction between the sacred and the profane is

10
really the difference between sensory deprivation and sen¬
sory experience, and as such is a panhuman phenomenon that
may lead us to postulate a panhuman subconsciousness (La Barre
1972:263).
But that intuitive leap cannot be made just yet. For
the sacred experience, whether this be rooted in sensory
deprivation or not, is universally structured by a cultural
tradition and a defined social grouping. Since Emile Durkheim
(1947), George Herbert Mead (1913» 1962) and the more recent
simplifications of Erving Goffman (1961, 1967, 1969), we can
hardly accept the idea that the sacred or the profane states
are either noncommunicable nor unlearned. That is, even
though the biologically determined state of subjectivity
(e.g., the REM state) is universal to all individuals, the
activity which occurs during that state is quite specific to
the canalization of one's expectations and behaviors. Such
states may be natural to all individuals, but they are never
individual experiences.
The Tukano Indian, for example, perceives his hallucin¬
ogenic experiences to be the products of his ingestion of
Banisteriopsis caapi. hence, in his symbol system, intense,
subjective, and personal contact with the dieties. But his
activities are in fact quite stereotypic, common to all his
fellows, and not shared with other cultures. So stereotypic
are these that the vivid hallucinatory phenomena which he
sees conform readily in terms of color, form, structure,
and meaning to ancient petroglyphs chiseled on the river

11
rocks, to house and ceramic paintings, to traditional designs
painted on barkcloth, and to the hallucinations of his
fellows. Similarly, the Warao Indian who smokes the leaves
of Nicotiana is indeed induced into a trance state, but he
has previously learned the stereotypic journey he will make,
the events which will occur along the way, the tests and pit-
falls he must overcome, and the myth of origin which provides
the meanings for such events from his shaman-initiator.
This journey and its events he reports faithfully after his
long period of fasting (almost to the point of death) and
after the ingestion of huge amounts of Nicotiana. The out¬
sider or anthropologist who ingests such substances generally
perceives their effects to be only nausea, excitation or
anxiety, and extreme diarrhea (Schultes 1960:70, Reichel-
Dolmatoff 1972:39-90, Fernandez 1972:233).
Anthropologists have demonstrated convincingly that
altered states of consciousness are structured by learned
ritual and myth in the sacred realm. The use of hallucinogens
is controlled and restricted to certain individuals, certain
periods of the life cycle, and certain institutionalized
situations or contexts. Hallucinogens qua hallucinogens
do not produce undesirable states of consciousness which
disrupt normal social life, but in fact contribute to the
continued functioning of sacred symbol systems. But what
of the profane? Anthropologists have not generally investi¬
gated either the role of altered states of consciousness
or the manner in which these are structured in the realm

12
of the profane.
Durkheim (1947:3^-42) conceived of the difference
between the sacred and profane to consist in ritualized
"interdictions" which protect and isolate the sacred from
the profane. Certain beliefs which designate certain ele¬
ments as sacred are expressed in ritual behavior which has
as its context a certain social grouping. The belief, the
ritual behavior, and the social group constitute the sacred.
All else is profane. But as Warner (1962:5-34) demonstrated,
sacred functions are not limited to the purely religious
institutions. A political event such as Memorial Day in
the United States is also a sacred event. It involves a
sacred symbol system, ritual behaviors, and certain social
groupings which can together be interpreted as a "cult of
the dead" of the nation-state. Therefore, anthropologists
speak of sacred and profane functions of belief systems,
rituals, and social groupings. These may occur in the
political, religious, economic, or familial institutions
of a society.
My interest is in the nature of the altered state of
consciousness produced by smoking of the plant materials
of cannabis in the secular realm of human activity. For
the cannabis controversy centers upon the use of cannabis
in the secular sphere of social life. Yet the functions
of cannabis and the ways in which it is structured in
profane life will not be discovered by investigating merely
the customs surrounding the use of cannabis. After ini-

13
tiating field work in the community described below, I
soon learned that cannabis was part of, and a minor part
at that, larger and more complex systems of human relation¬
ships. In attempting to understand cannabis I found myself
studying social group composition, economic dynamics, acti¬
vities, and beliefs, and exchange relationships which knit
individuals into groups and groups into social structures.
Only when the structure of social life in all its complexity
was understood could the role and function of cannabis be
studied.
In order to examine cannabis in the profane realm,
therefore, the analysis is focused upon human relationships
in a community where cannabis is used by certain groups,
not used by certain other groups, and cultivated and sold
by still other groups. Social relationships in these groups
vary in relation to subcultural traditions which are the
products of adaptations to ecological, geographical, and
historical conditions of the region in which the community
is located. These origins of these social relationships,
the ways in which they are interrelated through systems of
exchange, and their functioning in the full round of local
life and the yearly cycle are the subjects discussed here.
Lévi-Strauss has said:
... as soon as the various aspects of social
life—economic, linguistic, etc.—are expressed
ás relationships, anthropology will become a
general theory of relationships. Then it will
be possible to analyze societies in terms of
differential features characteristic of the
systems of relationships which define them
(1967:95-96).

14
Such systems of relationships can be studied most readily
in minimal social units. As Lévi-Strauss (i960, 1969)
argues, we can no longer view the family units as minimal,
but rather the minimal unit of society is composed of rela¬
tionships which obtain among families. Arensberg and Kimball
(1965:4) and Wagley (1968:127) have likewise argued that the
community is the minimal unit of cultural transmission, for
it is in community that the structure of interindividual
relationships characteristic of a society is to be found.
Barth has added:
What we observe is not "customs," but
"cases" of human behavior. . . . Our
central problem becomes what are the
constraints and incentives that canalize
choice (1966:1).
Phrased another way, the anthropologist must answer the
question: "What is the net of conditioning influences from
the organization of one's fellows about the individual?"
(Arensberg and Kimball 1965:45). The answer to this question
regarding cannabis is the problem addressed in the following
chapters. The constraints and incentives surrounding canna¬
bis, the net of conditioning influences resulting from social
organization, is the proper focus for anthropological inves-
tigation.
Perhaps when such data are collected and analyzed in
similar fashion by more anthropologists the "marihuana con¬
troversy" in the United States can be seen for what it
probably is: a clear example of a scapegoat phenomenon
which serves the purpose of obscuring the fundamental social

15
problems of which marihuana use or any other kind of behavior
is a mere expression.
The Setting
The community chosen for investigation of the problem
is located at the base of the western slopes of the Sierra
Nevada de Santa Marta in the department of Magdalena, Colom¬
bia. In the tradition of natural history (Arensberg and
Kimball 1965:8-12) this community is viewed as a sample or
field in which to examine empirically the relationship be¬
tween cannabis and human social behavior. The form of
settlement, the distribution of people through space, the
major features of town and countryside, the use of land
and other factors discussed below are each broad expressions
of the kind of community chosen. It is a community which
is representative of other communities by virtue of these
shared features and can therefore be considered a sample.
The setting is the former banana zone of Colombia lo¬
cated to the south of the city of Santa Marta. While Santa
Marta is Colombia's oldest colonial settlement, the hinter¬
lands south and west of the city were sparsely populated
until the present century. The United Fruit Company opera¬
tions in this region sparked the migration of numerous
Colombians and foreign nationals into the zone. Hamlets of
only a score of families were transformed into bustling
centers of primary production and commerce. The town chosen
as the base of operations is one of these, a town that
is located close to Macondo of the internationally famous

16
novel by Gabriel García Márquez (1970).1
Majagua is located about 90 kilometers south of Santa
Marta, the capital city of Magdalena. Majagua first appears
in the historical record between 1874 and 1886 when the
English geographer F. A. Simonds explored the region and
listed it together with several other hamlets (Vergara y
Velasca 1901:82-85). In 1885 the town was transfered into
a new municipality in one of the numerous territorial divi¬
sions which marked the 19th century history of Magdalena
(AlarcSn 1963:374-375).
The municipio or county in which Majagua is located
will be called here Orejones, a name given to the indigenous
people of the area by the Spanish. The only information we
have about these indigenous inhabitants is the fact that
they wore large earrings "as big as plates" which were put
on their children at an early age (Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:99).
The municipality of Orejones was not created until the 20th
García Márquez was born in the banana zone and writes
about the people as an insider and participant in their
culture. The town of Majagua is identical in most respects
to Macondo as described by Garcia Marquez, yet the perspective
of the social scientist contrasts significantly with that of
the native novelist. For García Márquez was born the son of
a merchant family and his particular perspective on the
historical events which form the structure of the novel is
quite selective. One Hundred Years of Solitude traces the
lives of the Buendia family in the fictitious town of
Macondo from its founding through the United Fruit Company
period, and into the period of decline which represents the
contemporary state of the numerous banana towns of the zone.
The conflict between the merchants of the banana zone and
the United £ruit Company, discussed in Chapter II below,
colors García Márquez's interpretation of events and process
and makes his otherwise brilliant novel less useful in the
present context.

17
century when the banana boom had begun. Majagua became the
seat of the municipality of Orejones in 1915 (Rigoletto 1962).
While the first church was built in 1910 the municipality was
not designated a parish until 1928 (Angarita 1928). Changes
in the census data over the past century reflect the fact that
the town achieved a fairly stable population immediately after
the banana boom and has grown very little since. In contrast,
the rural areas of the municipality have grown steadily due
to the processes of rural colonization of the foothills of
the Sierra and the invasion of the large estates (see Figures
1 and 2).
Majagua was the second largest of the banana-railroad
towns which made up the urban nodes of the zone. Each of
these towns was built along the railroad which connected the
United Fruit Company docks in Santa Marta and the town of
Fundación at the southern limit of the banana zone. The paved
highway which lies about one kilometer away from each of these
towns was built during the mid-1960's. Formerly, there was
only the railroad and a camino de herradura or mule path
connecting the series of towns and Santa Marta.
The municipality of Orejones contains a number of other
settlements besides those studied. At its western end lie
small fishing villages standing on stilts out of the water of
the Ciónaga Grande or Great Swamp, and at its eastern end in
the high reaches of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta live the
Ijca. known locally as the Awawak Indians. Neither of these
populations is part of the community studied in that contacts

18
Population
Year
Town of Majagua
Total municipality
1933
3,398
15,861*
1951
4,336
12,713
1964
5,304
22,202
FIGURE 1
Population Changes
Number of Buildings
Year
Town of Majagua
Total municipality
1933
630
1,411*
1951
764
1,392
1964
711
3,074
FIGURE 2 **
Population Changes
* These figures include the corregimiento or satellite
town of Fundación which in the census of this year was
still part of the municipality of Orejones. By the
next census period Fundación had become the seat of
a separate municipality
** Source: Contralorea General de la República 1941,
Departamento Administrativo Nacional de
Estadística 1959, 1970.

19
among them are rare and no interdependency exists among them
(see Figure 3)«
The total land area of the municipality is 2,263 square
kilometers (Comisión de Planificación 1964:91). Of this
total 1,077 are classified as tierra calida or hot lands at
0 to 1000 meters altitude. It is in this region that the
bulk of the population lives, that part of the population
identified later as the coastal subculture. About 309 square
kilometers are classified as tierra media or warm lands at
1000 to 2000 meters altitude. It is in this region that
the colonization efforts of the highland subculture of the
community are taking place. Around 2&7 square kilometers are
tierra fria or cold lands at 2000 to 3000 meters altitude.
This is the region of the I.jca Indians, where they located
their dispersed farms and the ceremonial center called Ser-
ancua after fleeing the missionaries who came to their original
homelands at the turn of the century. The remaining 590
square kilometers are classified as paramo or lands of the
high plateau just beneath the snow line and including a small
area permanently covered with snow. In these reaches the
Indians graze sheep, cattle, and goats.
The community studied is located, then, in the altitude
range of from sea level to 2000 meters. Toward the lower
altitudes the land is flat and devoted mainly to large estates
and a few nodal population centers. The large estates dominate
the landscape. Towards the upper reaches of the zone the land
is devoted to the dispersed individual family farms of the

CARIBBEAN SEA
FIGURE 3
Map of the Magdalena Region
Source: Comisión de Planificación, 1964.

21
highland colonists. Both of these geographical and cultural
areas are divided into units called veredas. These are rural
neighborhoods which in the lowlands are named for older es¬
tates nearby or for administrative divisions made by the
United Fruit Company. In the highlands veredas are named for
certain physical features of the land such as a stream or a
hill. The vereda is a natural unit of classification only
in the highlands where it conforms to the contour of the land,
such as the area between two roads or two streams. In the
lowlands these units are useful only for census surveys and
tax records, for they reflect neither the physical features
of the land nor the human groupings which inhabit it.
The town of Majagua is the governmental, religious,
political, and commercial center of life for many members of
the community. But for some the cities of Barranquilla and
Santa Marta are the important nodal centers which are the
focus of their lives. The products of the estates as well
as the owners of the estates and many workers invariably end
up in the urban centers of the coast. Majagua is a nodal
center for certain groups, but not for all.
In the town are found the following governmental facili¬
ties: a municipal "palace" in which are the mayor's office
and the treasurer's office, a telephone and telegraph commu¬
nication center, a jail and its accompanying police station
and barracks, a market building, a town notary, an electric
plant, a water system office, three elementary level schools,
one high school level school, a cotton gin operated by the

22
Instituto de Mercadeo Agropecuario (IEEMA), several experi¬
mental farms of the Instituto Colombiano de Agricultura (ICA),
a public clinic with 10 beds, a railroad station which has
been closed for 15 years, a personero or municipal officer in
charge of road maintenance, a municipal slaughter house, and
a post office. Many of the government offices occupy build¬
ings abandoned by the United Fruit Company (warehouses,
clinics, commissaries, etc.) as do some residents of the town.
The town's notary is licensed by the departmental govern¬
ment. He is descended from one of the founding families of
the town, as are most professionals and government personnel,
worked for the United Fruit Company for 20 years, and today
is a major and powerful figure in the community. He keeps
all official records and thereby knows everything going on
in the municipality. Everyone expects he will hold the post
for life, and that one of his offspring will occupy it after
him.
One of his adult sons is to be found daily in the com¬
pany of the mayor either in his office, at the home of the
mayor's wife, at the home of the mayor's mistress, or in the
stores and bars of the town drinking with the mayor. This
son has no official government position but is essential to
the functioning of the mayor's office. For he acts as a
buffer and informer between the mayor and the people of the
municipality. His friends live in towns and cities through¬
out the coastal region. He knows where and through whom to
get something done, and he can handle many of the small daily

23
problems brought to the mayor. He is known locally and
regionally as un hombre de la parranda or a man who enjoys
drinking, singing, telling stories, and dancing. He counts
among his friends several famous song writers of the coast,
several popular bands and orchestras of the coast, and the
famous Colombian novelist Garcia Marquez. Through his wide
ranging contacts he keeps abreast of many things of interest
to the mayor, such as how the problem of squatters is being
handled in another town of the zone, the political ups and
downs of friends, and the way in which the mayor's actions
are received and judged throughout the department of Magda¬
lena. But most importantly, he is from one of the powerful
Liberal families of the municipality, while the mayor is a
Conservative appointed by a Conservative government in Santa
Marta. The notary's son acts as a mediator between these
old families and the mayor of the opposite political party.
The municipality of Orejones has a single Catholic
priest in the town of Majagua. A smaller satellite town
nearby has a church but no priest is assigned. The priest
in Majagua gives services on Sunday in the satellite town,
but most residents of that town journey to Majagua for
weddings, special masses, baptisms, funerals, confirmations,
and to obtain copies of records kept by the priest which are
needed for other purposes. The priest is a cachaco or high¬
lander and came to this community only 10 years ago. He is
also a landowner of a small highland finca or farm which is
worked by an employee of his, a good sized herd of cattle,

24
and several milch cows scattered among peasants with land near
to the town who bring a portion of this milk into town each
day for sale to the tiendas or small stores. In addition the
priest is a petty lender of small amounts of cash to the high¬
land peasants. He charges from 10 to 20$ interest on these
loans. Aside from these activities his major functions in¬
clude record keeping, collection of fees for services rendered,
and the enactment of his role as leader of sacred ritual
events.
Every seven years the bishop from Santa Marta comes to
town during his round of visiting his constituents. The
bishop is given lavish dinners by the town's only religious
cofadia, a religious sodality, drinks with the priest from
the parish house wine closet, and learns of the needs of the
parishoners. Such visits result in improvements in the
Church's property in the town, such as painting the church
and parish house, purchasing new ritual paraphernalia, or
purchasing new vestments for the priest. During the evening
of his last day in town the bishop is given a traditional
serenade by the young people of the town, mostly from the
upper sector families, and he blesses them from his bedroom
window before departing the following day.
The commercial specialists in the community provide a
variety of services for the municipal population. Several
general stores, a drug store, a hardware store, a dry goods
store, several barber shops, two poolrooms, numerous bars,
several garages and gas stations, several houses of prosti-

25
tution, and numerous tiendas or small shops draw the town
and rural populace into the central business district (see
Figure 4). At the center of this district is the intersection
know as the four corners or las cuatro esquinas. In the
evening men of the town gather here to chat and visit with
male friends, to buy refreshments from street vendors and
storekeepers, and to shop. During the day the same area is
occupied by steady streams of females carrying out their
daily shopping. One block away is the market building and
the fresh fruits and vegetables, beef, salted fish, and
cheese available are generally purchased in the morning.
On weekend nights the market area and the four corners are
occupied by males from the countryside who come into town
to shop, drink, and visit with friends.
The services of professionals such as the two physicians,
the dentist, and the town lawyer are available also in the
central business district. In addition, artisans and crafts¬
men such as tailors, potters, carpenters, bakers, saddle
makers, and appliance repairmen can be found in this busi¬
ness district and on the side streets nearby. The town's
only bank is located here also, as well as the movie theater,
two large dance salons, and the bottled gas outlet.
The plaza is a block away to the west of the business
area. Here is the Catholic church and the large parish
house. The mayor's house is on the other side of the plaza
together with the homes of many of the upper sector families.
Only a few of these compare with the siz“ ard furnishings

26
of the parish house. To the west of the plaza is a corn
grinding mill where peasants can sell their corn or have it
ground for a fee. A site called Placita Vieja, the old
plaza, is located a block away from the com grinding mill.
This is the site of the original town of Macondo, the small
hamlet which preceded the present town, originally consisting
of about 20 houses on a small park. A cement monument marks
the spot, although no commemorative plaque is to be found.
The houses are of wood and palm thatch. Here the elite
founding families first settled, and many contemporary upper
sector families trace their origins to one of these run-down
houses. Today Placita Vieja is surrounded by the poor neigh¬
borhood called 20 d£ Julio, named for the Independence Day
of July 20th. Upper sector families moved to the new plaza
and the neighborhood called Loma Fresca during the boom days
of the banana industry.
Directly behind the church stands the building housing
the offices of the municipal government. On any given day one
can find several groups of men gathered in the street below
the two story structure. They are negotiating sales, pur¬
chases, or transfers of properties, seeking the mayor's
signature on a document, or resolving various problems in¬
volving land invaders, stolen property, or the normal con¬
flicts and altercations which mark life in the community.
The small tienda nearby draws these men throughout the day
as they purchase drinks for one another and discuss their
negotiations. Here lawyer and peasant, day laborer and

27
ICA
Estate
FIGURE 4
Schematic Drawing of the Town of Majagua

28
estate manager, landowner and beggar meet. Everyone knows
everyone else, but interaction occurs only in the compact
little groupings of individuals of similar status. One
finds representatives of the full range of the community's
social groupings reflected in the small interacting groups
at this particular tienda.
The neighborhoods of the town reflect social groupings
through space. Each is laid out in the well known grid
plan of the Spanish nodal center. Only Placita Vieja has
irregularly placed houses, with winding streets, for at this
site houses once stood on extensive garden plots which in
later years were broken up and sold in pieces to the flood
of immigrants into the newly created banana zone. The rest
of the town is arranged in a series of streets running at
right angles to one another. Each of the neighborhoods can
be contrasted in terms of the kinds of dwelling structures
present.
The house in this part of Colombia is not confined
to the dwelling structure. The houses of the town consist
of two areas that a stranger might interpret as two distinct
spaces. These are the dwelling proper and its patio. Among
the wealthier families kitchens are enclosed within the
dwelling in a room, and cooking is done on a bottle gas
stove. But for most of the residents of the town the kit¬
chen is a table, a ceramic water jug, and a wood or charcoal
cooking fire, all covered by a thatched roof. This is always
located behind or to the side of the dwelling in the patio,

29
and is the scene of a great proportion of familial inter¬
action. The kitchen, dwelling, garden, fruit trees, herb
pots, flowers, and an outhouse are all surrounded by a fence.
The fenced-in area is the household compound in its entirety.
The fence may be of brick, cement block, bamboo poles, or
scrap tin, but a fence is always present.
It is not the case that certain house types are invar¬
iably associated with cannabis use, but it is certain that
cannabis users generally live in certain kinds of houses.
Of course nonusers also live in such structures. These are
the bareque or the palm thatched mud and bamboo houses, the
most common house form in the town and the traditional house
form of the Magdalena region. It has a high pitched thatch
palm roof, a dirt floor, few windows if any, and generally
includes a living area, a bedroom for children, and a bedroom
for parents. It sits on a patio surrounded by a bamboo or
hardwood stick fence. This is the house of the lower sociál
sector of the coastal subculture and is to be found most fre¬
quently in the neighborhoods de Ap-ostn. Las Nuevos, El
Prado. La Maru.jita, San Jose, and El Carmen.
Interspersed among the bareques are others of wood with
palm thatched roofs and dirt floors, rowhouses of wood with
tin roofs constructed by the United Fruit Company, and houses
of material. The house of material is built of a mixture of
brick and cement block, often in a way which forms geometrical
patterns that are considered decorative. These houses are
evolutionary products of particularly successful lower sector
families. They are built in stages around old houses of bareque

30
the walls going up while the older house stands within them
and the roof being built alongside the new structure to re¬
place the thatched roof of the bareque when the moment comes
to demolish the old house. Roofs are preferably of corrugated
zinc. To have such a house is the ambition of many lower
sector families. Cannabis users are just as likely to
achieve that ambition as are nonusers.
The most elegant and desirable type of house by Western
standards is that occupied by the upper social sector fami¬
lies. It is concrete block. The design includes embellish¬
ment with an iron grill work over the large windows, a tile
floor, an indoor bathroom, an indoor kitchen, several bed¬
rooms, a living room, a front porch, and a tile roof. The
patio is still an essential feature, with its flowers, fruit
trees, herb cans, and perhaps a few chairs. In these patios
one may also find a jeep parked, or a truck, a tractor, a
rice harvester, or some combination of these. A tall wall
of cement block studded on the top with bits of broken
bottles and window panes surrounds this kind of dwelling
unit. Few if any cannabis users live in such houses. But
all of those who deal commercially in cannabis and other
contraband merchandise live in such dwellings.
The elegant houses of the upper sector families, with
their Spanish-Moorish flare, their patio full of modern
machinery, and their walls studded with broken glass, are
uniformly located in the barrios El Carmen and Loma Linda
These were the two neighborhoods which first developed during

31
the banana boom, each located on the western side of the
railroad tracks and separated from each other by the central
business district. El Carmen was originally the poorer of
the two, since it was the neighborhood of the working people.
Loma Linda has always been the neighborhood of the elite.
But with the upward mobility induced by the banana boom and
the subsequent departure of the United Fruit Company the neigh¬
borhood of 121 Carmen came to be a center of upper sector res¬
idences as well. In contrast, 3 de Agosto. Los Nuevas. El
Prado. La Maru.jita. San José, and some scattered dwelling
areas that have not yet coalesced into neighborhoods have
developed during the period from 1930 to the present. Las
Nuevas in particular is a recent addition to the town,
located on the new paved road, and occupied by many prosper¬
ous highland merchants. The highlanders are the most recent
migrants to the community. While their dwellings are no
different from those of members of the coastal lower social
sector highlanders do possess a distinct subculture. They
neither use cannabis nor distribute it commercially; rather
they constitute the commercial growers of the community.
The distribution of the populace through space, then,
mirrors the growth pattern of the town: the older, wealthier
neighborhoods located on the west side of the railroad tracks,
the new poorer neighborhoods located farther to the west
of these and to the east of the railroad tracks, and the
most recent neighborhoods fronting the new paved road. The
spatial distribution also reflects the social sectors which

32
compose the community: the coastal day laborers, peasants,
artisans, and small shop owners living in the poorer barrios,
the estate managers, estate employees, government employees,
professionals, and landowners in the wealthier neighborhoods,
and the highland peasants in the most recently settled areas.
In a general sense cannabis is related to these divisions.
One finds consumers most often in the newer, poorer town
neighborhoods, commercial distributors in the older, wealthier
neighborhoods, and the commercial cultivators in the newest
areas of colonization in the foothills of the Sierra.
Surrounding the town and stretching for miles to the
west is a system of dirt roads and trails together with an
elaborate irrigation system, each of which links together
the various cattle and rice estates and scattered peasant
hamlets of the lowlands. The tree lined dirt roads and
trails are traversed daily by most of the town's working
occupants as they commute to and from the large estates or
their own small holdings. Scattered peasant farms can be
found, but they are few in number. A migratory rural agri¬
cultural working class is a distinctive trait of the commu¬
nity. The migratory laborer is a marked feature of modern
Colombia (Cardona 1971). Recently a study of the coastal
city of Barranquilla revealed that 69$ of the residents in
three tugurios or squatter settlements were migrants to the
city (Usandizaga y Havens 1966:34). And Foster (1971:3-4)
indicates that the proportion is about the same at present
(67$), of which about 23*5$ are from the Magdalena region.

33
Urban migration is thus a prominent feature of community
life, but rural migration is even more characteristic of the
coast (Bernal 1971*$3)* In Magdalena the majority of in¬
migrants are agricultural laborers with their families (Bernal
1971*^3). The pattern is a regional one with migrants coming
most often from Bolivar, Santander, Atlántico, and the Guajira
in that order (Bernal 1971*72-75)• Such a migratory agricul¬
tural laboring class is a marked feature of Orejones.
The small peasant holding is, therefore, not typical of
this community form. The size of land holdings in Orejones
has been tabulated by the Departamento Administrativo Nacional
de Estadística (1971*12). Figure 5 shows the range of the
size of land holdings, based upon the concept of a "unit
of exploitation." Such a unit is defined as all land exploited
by a single producer. When I attempted to check these figures
with the records of the catastro municipal or municipal land
register in the town a difference of a little under 500 units
of exploitation (about half of the official total) was en¬
countered. This is due to the fact that most large land
owners do not pay taxes to local governments, hence their
holdings are not registered in the land register of the
municipality. Likewise, numerous squatters on United Fruit
Company lands prior to the 1960's, land which is now the
property of the government, have neither requested nor
been granted title to the land. The records of the National
Department of Statistics are more accurate than local records
and will be used here.

Size of holding
in hectáreas
Less than 1
1 to 2
2 to 3
3 to 4
4 to 5
5 to 10
10 to 20
20 to 30
30 to 40
40 to 50
50 to 100
100 to 200
200 to 500
500 to 1000
1000 to 2500
over 2500
Number of units
of exploitation
20
40
70
83
50
105
98
79
59
79
253
165
71
16
11
0
Total 1,199
FIGURE 5
Size of Land Holding in Orejones

35
A comparison between the number of holdings of between
1 and 50 hectáreas or hectares (2.47 acres), a total of 7&3,
and holdings of between 50 and 2,500 hectares, a total of
455» reveals that a small part of the population controls
the vast majority of the land. This is a community form
characterized by the latifundia or the large tract of land
rather than the minifundia or the small plot of land. The
average size land holding is SO hectares, but clearly the
large estate dominates and is considered here the charac¬
teristic land use pattern.
Above the town in the foothills live the highland immi¬
grants known as cachacos who utilize the land in quite a
different manner. The highlanders colonized this region
only IS to 20 years ago, and as yet only minimal kinship
ties link them to the population of the lowlands, yet they
are dependent upon the lowland town for a market through
which they sell the produce of their gardens. They live on
dispersed individual family farms of from 50 to 200 hectares.
They form an endogamous, homogeneous, ethnocentric, and suc¬
cessful element of the community.
The setting of the community, then, is a complex one.
Large estates, lowland towns, and highland peasants constitute
the broad features of Orejones. In order to narrow the
focus, sample surveys were taken of three kinds of settlement
forms. Basic data having to do with household composition,
education, occupation of household head, places of birth,
work histories, age at marriage or mating, age at birth of

36
first child, years of residence in the municipality, etc.,
were collected. One town neighborhood, El Carmen, of mixed
social composition, consisting of 76 households was surveyed.
One rural hamlet of 25 households composed of lowland squatters,
peasants, estate employees, artisans, and day laborers was
surveyed. And one highland vereda of 10 households was
surveyed. These three samples constitute the range of
settlement forms which compose the community.
At a general level, certain similarities and differences
can be observed between the samples. First, the rural coastal
hamlet and the town barrio parallel one another in all impor¬
tant aspects. The family is generally a nuclear one, or in
some stage of the development of a stem-family. More than
half of the adult aged persons of both sexes live in free
unions rather than married unions. The majority of house¬
hold heads were born in other departments, other municipalities,
and other towns of the coast. Slightly more female mates of
household heads were born in Orejones or Majagua, but the
majority were born elsewhere. The great majority of families
report filial and affinal relations with families located
all over the north coast of Colombia, an area composed of
five departments. Most household heads have worked solely
in agriculture all of their lives, but about 20# have worked
in cities of the coast. The majority have worked in more
than one municipality sometime during their lives, and most
have worked in several different departments on the eastern
side of the Magdalena river. The vast majority have never

37
completed primary schooling, most having from one to three
years of formal education. High school diplomas are rare.
In the highland sample the household is an extended
one. About half of the adult aged persons live in free
rather than married unions. All household heads were born
in other departments, since they are all colonists from
the interior. Few of these have ever been migratory workers.
Some were sharecroppers in their home municipalities, others
were owners of quite small land holdings. All directly cite
the violencia or the armed peasant uprising which lasted
from 1943 until the mid 1960's as their reason for abandoning
the interior and colonizing the rugged mountains. All but
one of the female mates of household heads were born in the
interior. All households report relatives in their home
municipalities, but only two report relatives on the coast.
Only two family heads have been to primary school, whereas
the majority have no formal schooling. One female mate has
been to primary school. There are no high school diplomas
here and none of the children attends any of the lowland
schools.
The differences between these two subcultural groups
are not restricted to place of origin, household form,
education, occupational status, place of residence, and
kinship ties to nearby settlements. The day laborers,
peasants, and artisans of the coastal hamlets and towns are
petty cultivators, petty distributors, and consumers of
cannabis. The professionals, landowners, and government

38
employees of the town are commercial distributors for the
urban markets of the coast. And the highland peasants are
commercial cultivators of cannabis.
Since a clearly defined using population exists side
by side with a nonusing population, a controlled comparison
of the significant structural differences which obtain
between the two is possible. This comparison is especially
significant when it is recognized that the nonusing popula¬
tion produces tons of cannabis for the market each year.
This comparison can discriminate with precision those social
relationships with which cannabis use is associated, the
functions which cannabis use serves, and the explanation
why cannabis use has not diffused to the group which produces
cannabis commercially.

CHAPTER II
CULTURAL ORIGINS OF THE COMMUNITY
Diffusion of Cannabis
The introduction of cannabis into Spanish South America
is not well known. Patino (1967, 1969) indicates that hemp
was introduced not once but several times by the Spanish:
experiments were attempted in Peru, Mexico, Chile, and
Colombia, but only Chile developed the capacity to export
hemp fiber to Spain (Patitlo, 1969:395)» In Colombia reports
from 1607, 1610, 1632, and 17&9 indicate that repeated intro¬
ductions failed to produce a hemp industry for the rigging
of the Spanish fleet (Patiño 1969:394-395)» Silvestre (Ver¬
gara y Velasca 1901:LX-LXI) in his 1789 description of the
viceroyalty of Santafá (sic) de Bogotá indicates that hemp
was introduced in the savana of Bogota, but it failed so
completely that no seed was available for further experimen¬
tation. He urges the reintroduction of hemp near Santa Marta
or Cartegena and urges that seed be shipped from Spain
(Vergara y Velasca 1901:LII). In Silvestre's opinion hemp
could replace cabuya or the fiber of Fourcroya foetida
(Patifio 1967:30) in Colombia, indicating the most telling
reason for the former's failure in South America. Fique.
pita, or cabuya was collected in tribute from the indigenous
peoples of Colombia by the first Spanish colonists (Reichel-
Dolmatoff 1951:111)» As late as the early 1800's cabuya
was a Colombian export (Vergara y Velasca 1901:322). Cabuya
39

40
replaced hemp in such items as sandals, rope and cordage,
sacks, harnesses, and fish nets (Patino 1967:45-43). And
another native fiber, cotton, replaced hemp in even such a
basic item as candle wick, used in huge quantities in the
minds of South America (Patiffo 1967:109). It appears that
native fiber producing plants acted as a barrier to the
diffusion of hemp. As late as the present century experi¬
ments continue in Colombia (Patiño 1969095), but no hemp
industry has ever existed in Colombia compared to that which
existed in North America (Seale, et al. 1952:14).
The use of cannabis as an intoxicant or hallucinogen is
still another question. Linguistic evidence points to West
African slaves brought to Brazil as one possible route of
diffusion of cannabis smoking to the New World (Patiño 1969:
405, Walton 193S:24, Aranúgo 1959:313). The adoption of
cannabis smoking by indigenous people of Brazil seems to
confirm the antiquity of this diffusion (Wagley and Galvao
1949:41). Linguistic evidence from Jamaica, as well as a
complex of cultural elements present, indicate East Indian
indentured laborers as another route of diffusion to English
speaking areas of the Caribbean (Rubin and Comitas n.d. page
13). Yet a third diffusion route is the Spanish colonist.
Ardila Rodriguez (1965:43) notes that the plant was cultivated
in Mexico immediately after the first trip of Cortes, and
attributes introduction to one Pedro Cuadrado who accompanied
the conqueror. By 1550 an ordinance was passed in Mexico
which prohibited the cultivation of cannabis, presumably due

41
to its use as an hallucinogen (Ardila Rodriguez 1965:43).
As late as 13S6 and 1393 cannabis mixed with tobacco, sugar,
chili, and mescale was drunk in Mexico (Walton 1933:25).
Early reports from Mexico indicate that cannabis was smoked
by some indigenous peoples but this is unverifiable (Ardila
Rodriguez 1965:43). And recently Williams Garcia (1963)
has reported on the ritual use of cannabis among a contem¬
porary indigenous people.
Several sources of diffusion, therefore, appear likely
points of origin of cannabis on the north coast of Colombia.
Of these the West African slaves of Brazil appear an unlikely
choice, for there has been little historical contact among
the peoples of northern Brazil and coastal Colombia either
by sea or overland. The Mesoamerican source of diffusion
is also unlikely, since there has been no historical contact
among the peoples of Mexico and coastal Colombia. The cul¬
tivation of hemp for fiber does not correlate with cannabis
smoking, since cannabis has been exported to Spain since 1545
from Chile and the use of the plant as an hallucinogen is not
reported (Ardila Rodriguez 1965:49)» The Brazilian or Meso¬
american sources seem unlikely also because the complex of
cultural traits associated with cannabis smoking in these
areas, such as linguistic usage, ritual sequences, and ritual
beliefs, are not replicated in Colombia.
Cannabis use in Colombia appears to be a recent innova¬
tion, dating from the beginning decades of the 20th century.
Cannabis smoking is reported in Central America, both Costa

42
Rica and Panama, in the 1920's and 1930's (Walton 193^:24,
Siler _et al. 1933:269). In each case cannabis use is des¬
cribed as an innovation introduced by migratory sailors and
workers. Walton (193^:24) discovered that East Indian terms
were applied to cannabis in Costa Rica, indicating the
Antilles as the source of the recent diffusion (Rubin and
Comitas n.d.). Ardila Rodriguez (1965:32) suggests that
the diffusion of cannabis smoking dates from the work on the
Panama Canal and the "intense human interchange" which re¬
sulted among the circumcaribbean countries. Cannabis smoking
probably came to the coast of Colombia with workers and
sailors from the Antilles where cannabis smoking is relatively
older (Rubin and Comitas n.d.). This suggestion is given
weight by the fact that both Costa Rican and Colombian laws
concerning marihuana date from 1927 and 1923 respectively
(Patino 1969:405, Ardila Rodriguez 1965:67-63). Still it
was not until around 1945 that the Colombian press began
reporting clandestine cannabis plantations on the Atlantic
coast and in the Cauca valley (Patiffo 1969:405).
It should be noted parenthetically that cannabis has
always competed with indigenous hallucinogens, narcotics,
and intoxicants used by native peoples of Colombia and
adopted in part by the Spanish colonist. These include
Erythoxylon coca, Banisteriopsis spp., Phyllanthus mexiae,
Opuntia spp., Datura arbórea, Methysticodendron amesianum,
Nicotiana tabacum. and Clibadium surinamense. Of these
only Nicotiana in its various species was adopted by the

43
Spanish, which with coca had the widest distribution and
popularity in the New World. Tobacco was snuffed for head¬
ache, chewed for toothache, smoked for "cold humors," and
mixed with rum and aguardiente and applied to insect bites
(Patino 1967:290—291). Negro slaves and Spanish masters
are reported to use tobacco for working because it reduced
fatigue (Patifío 1967:295-297)» Tobacco was allotted as
part of the rations of workers on a Jesuit hacienda due to
this property of reducing fatigue (Patino 1967:296). Per¬
haps we have here another barrier to diffusion of cannabis
in South America, namely, native plants which served simi¬
lar functions in the culture of the conquerors and subject
peoples. The claims made for tobacco in the 16th century
are identical to those made for cannabis in the 20th century.
Since both are smoked in cigarette form it is likely that
here we find the vehicle through which cannbis diffused from
the Antilles to South America. But this was not a case of
stimulus diffusion. It appears that diffusion did not take
place until migratory workers from the Antilles settled on
the coast of South America. Only then did substitution occur.
In Orejones one finds the West Indian houses which are
so distinctive when contrasted with Colombian houses. There
was a considerable influx of West Indian labor when the
United Fruit Company began operations on the coast of Colom¬
bia in IS96. While it cannot be proven, it seems likely
that migratory workers from the West Indies were the source
of diffusion for cannabis smoking in Colombia. These origins

44
will remain obscure, however, for the West Indians melted into
coastal subculture several generations back. An intensive
search for the origins of cannabis smoking in Colombia, how¬
ever, is not the objective of this research; rather it is
the group structures and social relationships through which
cannabis diffused, and those through which it did not.
The nature of social relations and group structures on
the north coast of Colombia can be traced back to adaptive
responses of specific social traditions to certain ecological,
geographical, and historical conditions. Changes in these
conditions and social traditions, as well as the in-migration
of distinct social traditions, make the origins of the commu¬
nity on the north coast complex. They lie in several sep¬
arate adaptive responses, several social traditions, and the
various distinctive forms of social groupings which perpetuate
these.
The first is the Spanish derived urban oriented hato
and the Indian derived urban oriented roza, the cattle estate
and the subsistence plot, each of which feeds the populace
of urban and rural areas alike. The second lies in the
industrially organized agricultural exploitation under the
monopoly of the United Fruit Company. The third is repre¬
sented by Andean peasants living on dispersed individual
family farms.

45
The Region
Patiffo (1965:3^4) notes that the nature of agro-pas-
toralism in Colombia has changed little over the colonial,
republican, and contemporary periods. It was not until the
arrival of mechanized agriculture during the 20th century
that any basic changes occurred in the nature of subsistence,
or in the nature of social relationships organized about
subsistence activity. This is particularly true of the
region of Magdalena in which Orejones and Majagua are
located.
The nature of subsistence activity on the north coast
is structured by a basic ecological fact: one crop is
produced each year due to the seasonal alteration between
seven months of rain (April to October) and four months of
drought (November to March) (Patino 1965:16-17, Rosales 1934:
100). It is only in the Andean highlands of Colombia, the
three mountain ranges or cordilleras and their valleys, that
two crops a year are possible without the use of irrigation.
This fact explains much of the reason for the dense coloni¬
zation of the Andean areas, areas where complex native
societies provided abundant food for the conquerors.
On the coast only in the area of the Sierra Nevada de
Santa Marta were two crops produced annually. This was
the province of the Tairona civilization based upon elaborate
irrigation agriculture and exterminated at the beginning of
the conquest of South America (Patino 1965: 75-76, 51, 93,
107, Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:37—3^). These systems of

46
irrigation are no longer extant, having suffered extreme
neglect under the conditions of conquest, so that the
region is today less productive than centuries before
(Patifto 1965:107). As Reichel-Dolmatoff (1951:22-23) ob¬
serves, the densely populated region was won at a high cost
of blood, after which the conquerors lost interest, leaving
the region relatively depopulated and uncolonized until the
present century.
With the deterioration of the Tairona irrigation works
the land use pattern reverted to the capacity for only a
single crop annually. This fact discouraged any dense colo¬
nization during the following centuries. Cities were founded
at Cartegena, Santa Marta, along the banks of the Magdalena
river, and at the headwaters of that river in the interior.
But these did not spark the colonization of the hinterlands,
which remained refuge areas for palenqueros. escaped Negro
slaves, for army deserters and soldiers of fortune, and for
criminals and ragged remnants of Indian groups (Escalante
1964:117). In contrast, the areas producing two crops
annually, the savana of Santa Fe de Bogota, the Cauca Valley,
the mountains of Pasto, Popayán, and Antioquia, were
steadily colonized over several centuries. The story of
the Nuevo Reino de Granada is generally written about these
latter areas. Those areas which the Spanish leap-frogged
in order to reach the riches of the interior have been con¬
sistently neglected. The Magdalena region was one of these.
Santa Marta served as the port of entry and retreat for

47
the Spanish conquistadores for a century. Most conquerors
who came to get rich in the New World passed through the city.
Practically none stayed for very long. Of the 200 family
names registered in the 16th century in the old baptismal
and marriage and death records of the Cathedral in Santa
Marta none occur more than once (Alarc5n 1963:64).
Aside from the lure of riches there were other reasons
for the continual flow through the city. Foremost among
these was vulnerability. English and French pirates attacked
and sacked the city of Santa Marta committing "all kinds of
savage acts that reduced the city to ruin" in the following
years: 1544, 1543, 1550, 1553, 1559, 1560, 1563, 1570, 1572,
1530, 1535, 1536, 1596, 1619, 1629, 1630, 1643, 1655, 1669,
1677, 1679, 1630, 1631, 1692, 1694, 1702, 1704, 1712, 1740,
and 1779 (AlarcSn 1963:64). But, in addition, resources were
depleted and the city reduced to ashes a number of times by
Indian attacks and by troop uprisings. It is little wonder
that Viceroy Ezpeleta characterized the people of Santa
Marta as follows:
tienen pies para pisar la riqueza, pero no
tienen manos con que recogerla (Alarcon 1963:9)
they have feet for stepping on riches, but not
hands with which to pick it up.
Despite such conditions the residents of Santa Marta
were not lacking in riches. Many amassed fortunes in gold,
pearls, fibers, and food crops which were exported (mainly
to the Island colonies of the Antilles) together with thou¬
sands of Indian slaves. But once such wealth was accumulated

the Spaniard generally withdrew to the peaceful colonies of
Santo Domingo, Cuba, and Hispanola. And another wave of
conquerors swept the region. In the process the surrounding
Indian populations were decimated, and the land remained
sparsely colonized.
The hinterlands were exploited, generally, in two ways,
each intimately connected to the cities of the coast. These
were the Spanish-imposed hato or cattle estate and the Indian-
derived roza, huerta, labranza, or chácara, consisting usually
of small plots planted to a mixture of corn, manioc, plantain,
beans, peppers, and other foods consumed by Indians, Negro
slaves, and Spanish conquerors alike. It is in the relation¬
ship between the hato, the roza, and the city that we find
the basis for the structure of this early society, a structure
which has changed little over 400 years.
Cities were of two general types: those founded near
native towns whereby the Indian populations could be pillaged
for food and later forced to pay tribute voluntarily under
the threat of pillage, and those founded on communication and
transportation routes as market centers and centers of distri¬
bution. Examples of the first type were Santa Marta, Rioacha,
Cartegena, Ciánaga, and others on the coast. Examples of
the second type were Mompos, Talameque, Tenerife, Salamina,
Honda, and others on the waterways which led inland to the
populous interior provinces. The hato and roza were associated
with each type of city, for each were necessary to the sur¬
vival of the Spanish settler and the commerce in food, hides,

49
fibers, and precious metals and minerals which grew up every¬
where even before the Spanish had settled and built homes.
The Estate System
The first cattle and the idea of the hato were intro¬
duced from the Spanish colonies in the Antilles (Patiffo 1970:
204-205). The wars of extermination fought in the Magdalena
region during the first half of the 16th century appear not
to have seriously hampered the development of the cattle
estate, for during the years between the founding of Santa
Marta in 1525 and the year 1539 the region became known for
the excellence of its cattle industry (Patino 1965:206, 280).
The primary vehicle for this development was the encomienda
which was initiated in the Santa Marta area as early as 1529
(Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:19)- The nature of the encomienda is
well described elsewhere (Hanke 1949, Simpson 1950). It will
suffice to describe it as an extensive amount of land and
labor entrusted to the Spanish settler in exchange for his
services in Christianizing his charges. Its first activities
involved cattle and mining, since grains and vegetables were
obtained through tribute from hostage native towns. The
term hato is used here because it refers to a cattle ranch,
whether this be staffed by Indian slaves, Indian tribute
labor, Negro slaves, free Negroes, or free mestizos. It is
characterized by an urban-dwelling landowner, an administrator,
and laborers (slaves, employees, wage laborers, etc.). While
forms of land aquisition and labor recruitment changed from

50
time to time the structure of life on the hato changed little.
The cattle estate evolved in two forms, each growing out
of New World phenomenon of wild range cattle (Patiffo 1965s
364, Exquemelin 1951)» Cattle were identified as corraleras.
mansas, estravagantes. and montaraces. The first were those
that grazed either within the corral or house compound and
were milked daily. They entered the corral without protest
and were easily moved from place to place by workers on foot.
The mansas were those who required several days of labor to
herd into the corrals, with the aid of workers of the estate
mounted on horseback. The estravagantes were cattle which
roamed wild over the estate, yet carried the brand of the
owner. This meant the animal had been herded into a rodeo
somewhere on the savanas or plains with the aid of mounted
men and hunting dogs, wrestled to the ground with lances
and ropes, and marked as the property of the owner. If
resistance was too great the lances were used to kill the
animal. Last, the montaraces or bravias were truly wild
cattle of the forest which were simply hunted and killed.
They were so wild that lances were used to hold the animal
while a rope was used to tie it to a tree. There it tired
of fighting and could be killed by a man on foot with a
machete (Patifib 1965:366-367).
The early hato was an operation which consisted pri¬
marily in the efforts of an administrator to domesticate
the wild cattle. Fences were prohibited by law until the
end of the 19th century, except for crops and corrals

51
(Patiffo 1965:315). Milking was not common enough to prevent
the regression of cattle to a state in which they gave little
milk (Patino 1965:374-375). Wild cattle were hunted for
their hides, tongues, and fat for export all over Colombia
(Patiffo 1965:365), and the jerked beef called tasajo was
shipped from Magdalena up the rivers into the interior by
the end of the 16th century (Patiffo 1970:252).
Such extensive ranching based upon wild cattle yielded
to intensive operations as more and more cattle and people
filled the area. While the extensive operation centered on
the annual rodeo or assembly of wild cattle for selection,
killing, branding, curing, cutting horns, etc., the inten¬
sive operation sought to milk tame animals. These were kept
in closed corrals near population centers or urban areas
(Patiffo 1965:371). The corral was moved at intervals so as
to change pasture grasses, as the Spanish did not bring the
tradition of cut grass or hay for penned animals, and the
pasture used was naturally occurring until quite recently
(Patiffo 1965:374).
The extensive cattle hatos were located in the isolated
areas where range herds roamed at will. The complaints of
the Indian towns and urban planters throughout the colonial
period bear testimony to the crop damage done by these herds.
The hundreds of pages of legislation forbidding free ranging
cattle from agricultural areas constitute a major monument to
the inefficiency of restrictive legislation (Patino 1965:342).
The area of Magdalena was characterized by both inten-

52
sive and extensive hatos, although the intensive operations
developed relatively late and were located close to the
urban populations. The area around the city of Santa Marta
and the commercial center of Ciénaga (through which traffic
has moved out of the hinterlands into the interior via the
river Magdalena for centuries) was the scene of intensive
hatos, the owners of which produced two to three arrobas or
bushels of cheese daily for local urban populations. These
hatos averaged from 200 to 300 cattle in their corrals (Patino
1970:246). The area between the Magdalena river and the
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (the future banana zone) was a
center for extensive hatos (Patino 1970:223). A good example
is that of Rodrigo Bastides, the founder of Santa Marta.
Upon his death it held over 3,000 cattle (Patino 1970:204).
Such a figure is not atypical of the extensive hato, for these
were huge estates. So large were they that figures such as
16,000 head, 12,000 head, and 40,000 head are not uncommon
from colonial times to the present (Patino 1970:223-224).
The Subsistence Horticultural System
From the beginning the Spanish invaders survived
through dependence upon indigenous technologies and forms
of social organization. The invaders were cattlemen. They
depended completely upon the native populations for food,
labor, and material and technological devices (Patino 1965:
437-43^). Famine in Santa Marta came when "the Indian
rebelled" and among residents of that city it was said that

53
"those who do not have Indians cannot be said to be living"
(Patino 1965:38). The cabildo, or city fathers, of Santa
Marta in 1547 petitioned for 12 skilled workers from Spain
to carry out projects for the city, promising that each
worker would be given two Negroes "para que produzcan," or
so that they might produce (Patiffo 1965:465).
The Spanish invader survived due to a complex system
of tribute levied on the Indian peoples, including compul¬
sory planting laws (Patino 1965:340). Tributes set were
for quite specific amounts: four hanegas or 1.6 bushels
of corn each month, 10 fowl each week (five female and five
male), a set number of fish, eggs, salt, woven mochilas or
carrying bags, sacks of fique fiber or Fourcroya foetida,
sandals of fique, fish nets, etc. depending upon the tech¬
nology of the group under tribute and the needs of the
Spaniard (Patino 1965:405-408, Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:111).
Under such conditions the native methods of production and
forms of social organization and technologies persisted to
the present (PatifTo 1965:329, 3^1-3^2, 457). Where the
Spanish successfully introduced European crops and techno¬
logies (e.g. wheat and ox-drawn plows in the highlands) the
Indians learned new technologies, although they continued
to subsist through planting their own traditional rozas.
In general, the Spanish, Indian, and Negro lived off of
native crops in the coastal and lowland areas where European
crops could not diffuse (Patino 1965:331-332).
Dependence upon continuing tributes, however, presup-

54
poses the survival of the Indian peoples whose labor sup¬
ports the Spanish armies. Most governors of the city of
Santa Marta did not have foresight to recognize this truism,
and continually sacked the Indian towns upon which the city
at first depended. Gradually, these towns, made up of tech¬
nically free Indians, became centers of peasant horticul-
turalists, and up until the present time continue to provide
food for the city. These are towns such as Bonda, Gira,
Taganga, and Mamatoca (Reichel-Dolmatoff 1951:14-15). The
Indians did not survive, and as they died out they were re¬
placed by Negro slaves and Negro and mestizo peasants. While
slavery was universal from the beginning (preferably utilizing
Indians further away from the urban nodes), the use of Negroes
in horticulture arose only when the native sources were
depleted (Patino 1965:406). In fact, the importation of
untaxed Negro slaves coincides with the extinction of the
Indians and the abolishment of Indian tribute labor (Patino
1965:339).
The tributes were met by the social forms which powered
the roza. These were of two kinds: those located on the
large estates or the gardens of the Europeans, and those
located in small Indian towns. Tribute labor in the form
of communal work parties was utilized on the farm, but this
involved only the males of the Indian population. This form
of work organization was traditional among the Indians of
the coast. The Spanish in fact issued certain ordinances
which permitted the Indians to conduct "sus borracheras con

55
ocasión de las siembras colectivas, con la condici6n de
evitar excesostheir drunken feasts upon occasion of the
collective planting, on the condition that there not be
excess (Patino 1965:392). We read the following description
of this collective work party called _la chagua:
Ellos por hacer menos trabajo en la labranza,
tienen introducido un modo de cambio, que
llaman chagua, de esta suerte, juntanse un
día de la semana los indios de un pueblo 6
parte de ellos, cada cual con su hacha y
machete en la casa del indio que hace la la¬
branza, y entre todos de desmontan la tierra,
y la dejan apta para la siembra, teniendo
obligación el dueño de 1^ chagua de darles de
comer y beber en aquel dia, porque para ello
se previene antes con la pesca o monteria, ^
la mujer con las tinajas de chicha. Este día
para ellos es de hidga, y por eso suelen elegir
el festivo, y es necesario que el doctrinero
diga misa temprano, y cuide que la oigan.
Vuelven a la noche y si ha quedado alguna bebida,
forman su baile hasta acabarla. Recogense
después, y cuando alguno de aquellos hace su
chagua, es obligado a concurrir a ella el indio
que recibió el beneficio (Rosa 1945:261, quoted
in Patiffo 1965:392-393).
They (Indians in the jurisdiction of Santa Marta)
in order to have less work in their fields have
introduced a change of pace, which they call
the chagua, in which the Indians of a town gather
one day of the week, or a part of them, each one
with his axe and machete at the house of the
Indian making the garden, and together they clear
the brush away leaving it ready to plant, while
the owner of the chagua is obligated to give food
and drink that day, necessitating assembling much
food on the part of the owner, and much maize beer
on the part of his woman. This day for them is
a day of rest and they treat it as a fiesta, so
that it is necessary for the priest to say the
mass early, and be careful that they pay attention.
They return at night and if there is any drink
, „ left, form their dances until they tire. They
retire then, and when one of them must sponsor
a chagua, it is obligatory for the owner of the
last one to participate since he received this
benefit.

56
The male collective work group of this form is gen¬
erally known to students of the central Andes by the term
minga or minka which comes from Ecuador where the Incas and
later the Spanish each integrated it into their systems of
taxations and tribute work (Patiftb 1965:393). So popular
was this form of social contract with the Spanish that they
attempted to spread it to areas where it was not a customary
form of organization (Patino 1965:342-343). The fact that
the Spanish government attempted to finance hospitals for the
indigent, care of the aged, food and clothing for the poor,
as well as cultivation in the fields and house construction
through such collective work parties is an indication of the
enthusiasm with which they took to the idea (Patifffo 1965s
342-343)* The energy source for such beneficence, we should
remember, was the compulsory labor tax on the indigenous
community.
Labor Recruitment
The form of organization associated with the term roza
therefore is the cooperative work party. Clearing and burning
off the land is the activity of a group of males drawn from
the community who are given food and alcohol while they work.
The males of each household then plant and weed the roza
during the growing season, and the females harvest the pro¬
duce and carry it to where it is prepared (Patiffo 1965:337).
Collective labor on the estates of the encomenderos and the
cattle barons who followed them followed similar patterns,
although on the encomiendas and cattle estates males com-

57
pleted all tasks except preparation of the produce for con¬
sumption (Patiffo 1965:409-410). While there is little
direct evidence, it seems likely that females were used as
domestic servants in the houses of the cattle barons. Cer¬
tainly during later times the female Negro slaves were used
in this fashion (Escalante 1964:129). Current slave raids
into the jungles of the Amazon basin for the purpose of
capturing female Indians to serve as domestics in the houses
of the cattle barons of the Llanos Orientales suggest that
in the colonial epoch women from the Indian towns were drafted
in similar ways.
Indians were preferred to either Negroes or mestizos
for agricultural labor (Patino 1965:402), even though it was
said that Negroes worked harder than Indians (Escalante 1964:
121). The reason lies in Spanish dependence upon native
technologies and forms of organization in agriculture, mining,
and transport (Patino 1965:444-445)» Near the end of the 16th
century Negroes became increasingly important. They were
being trained by Indians to operate native bongos or dugout
canoes linking the coast with the interior on the river Mag¬
dalena at this time (Patino 1965:405, 493). And the city of
Santa Marta came to depend upon the labor of Negroes in sub¬
sistence horticulture about the same time (Patino 1965:497).
In general, as soon as natives disappeared, Negroes were
rapidly imported (Patiffo 1965:436).
Negro slavery existed alongside Indian slavery and
tribute as contemporary forms of labor exploitation through¬
out the colonial period (Escalante 1964:117). The Negro

58
slave was preferred for labor in the mines; the association
of Negroes with sugar plantations is second to the associa¬
tion with mining in this region (Patino 1965:467, 503,
Escalante 1964:121-123)• From the 16th century founding
of Santa Marta and Cartegena until the mid-19th century
when slavery was abolished (1S51) the slave revolt and the
independent escaped slave towns called palenques were con¬
stant features of the coastal hinterland (Escalante 1964:
114—117)- Expeditions to subdue these free towns were con¬
tinuous (and unsuccessful) during this period (Escalante
1964:114-117)» Famous palenques were located south of Santa
Marta and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (PatifTo 1965:
515, Escalante 1964:113). But the greatest concentration of
Negroes was on the hato, in the mines, and in subsistence
rozas. "Las haciendas de ganado jr labranza de la Costa
Atlántica. ... se movían con trabajo esclavo" or the
cattle haciendas and subsistence farming of the Atlantic
coast were powered by slave labor (Escalante 1964:131)»
This was particularly true of the area west of the Sierra
Nevada, where the Negroes, both free and slave, played the
roles of worker and administrator of extensive cattle
ranches (Patilfo 1965:510).
The sugar plantation on the coast of Colombia, as well
as the plantations of cotton, tobacco, cacao, and anil, was
worked by Indian tribute labor (PatiETo 1965:412-419). But
the monocrop plantations were never a prominent feature of
the Atlantic coast (Patino 1965:503, 1969:315). If Indian

59
groups became extinct it was due mostly to the traffic in
Indian slaves for the great 16th century plantations of the
Antilles (Patiffo 1965:413). With extinction of the Indians
the Negro became the worker. In this regard it is important
to consider the role of the free Negro.
Escalante (1964) has emphasized the significance of the
free Negro towns during the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th cen¬
turies. Once they had become established (some to the point
of signing treaties, see Escalante 1964:115-116) they produced
horticultural crops to be marketed in the coastal cities by
womenof the town carrying baskets on their heads (Escalante
1964:136). This seems to be a significant difference between
the Antilles and the Continent; while the palenque was rarely
found in the former, it was a marked feature of the latter
(Escalante 1964:136). The importance of the free Negro to
the survival of coastal society is emphasized by Patiffo (1965:
497) with the word "indispensable" in reference to subsistence
horticulture.
The census report of Francisco Silvestre (Vergara y
Velasca 1901:LX-LXI) of December, 1739, portrays the situa¬
tion in terms of the categories the ecclesiastic chose for
his description of the Santa Marta region of the coast:
Total Men
19,641
Total Women
20,301
Whites
4,566
Indians
8,506
Free Negroes and Mixed
22,882
Slave Negroes
3,988
Total Population
39,942

60
The proportion of free Negroes and mixed bloods to slave
Negroes, Whites, and Indians is revealing, even if the totals
are incorrect by as much as several thousand. The free Negro
and mestizo working either as a subsistence horticulturalist
(peasant) or in the cattle ranches constituted two-thirds of
the population, and this 62 years before slavery was abolished.
Additional evidence as to the importance of this sector of
the population is found in General Santander's opposition
to the recruitment of Negroes in the Colombian army during
the war with Peru, since such recruitment would hurt subsis¬
tence horticulture upon which the army depended (Patino 1965s
493).
The monoculture plantation in the Antilles, Brazil,
and parts of Latin America is writ large in the histories
of these regions. The unbroken continuity of peasant sub¬
sistence horticulture (Indian, Negro, Mestizo) in forming
the character of these populations is often overlooked.
We should not forget that Spaniard, Negro, Indian and mes¬
tizo ate corn, beef, manioc, beans, and other subsistence
crops. They did not eat the gold or silver shipped to
Europe or the goods which they got in exchange for sugar.
Forms of Human Organization
In summary, the hato, the roza, and the Spanish city
formed the nexus of coastal society. The plantation was
never characteristic of this region and the mines were soon
exhausted, but the insatiable need for food is constant over
all periods. The forms of human organization that developed

61
in response to this shared need must be considered central
to an analysis of community life on the north coast.
Change in the forms of human organization came more
slowly to the Magdalena region than to other parts of the
coast. In the l880's barbed wire diffused to Colombia from
the United States. By the year 1896 it was declared a revo¬
lutionizing influence in Colombian cattle production (Patino
1965:322). This was true only of the coastal hinterlands
near Cartegena and not of Santa Marta. A Colombian geographer
writing in I898 compared the two regions, noting that around
Cartegena the cattle were penned with the new wire but that
in the Magdalena region around Santa Marta the traditional
cimarrone cattle continued to roam the forests, savanas, and
hills (Vergara y Velasca 1901:551). The geographer explains
this difference in terms of the maggots produced by a certain
fly in the Cartegena hinterlands, necessitating penning the
animals for cleaning, whereas the hinterlands of Santa Marta
were the area of the je jen or gnat which did not infect the
cattle (Vergara y Velasca 1901:551, 557). But there appears
a more salient explanation.
The site of the present city of Barranquilla was popu¬
lated since before colonial times, it was not until 1850
that the major growth of the city began, however, sparked
by the completion of a railroad spur linking Barranquilla
with the Atlantic Ocean deep port called Puerto Colombia
(Vergara y Velasca 1901:811). When this happened the old
port city of Santa Marta began to recede in importance.

62
The following chart in millions of pesos compares the export
activity at the customs offices in these three major ports
of the north coast between 1839 and 1891 (from Vergara y
Velasca 1901:814-815):
Barranquilla
Cartegena
Santa Marta
39-40
57-5 8
66-67
79-60
83-84
1891
1«6
759
2,624
9,955
9,127
13,000
937
1,365
759
1,117
1,117
2,575
124
2,108
1,422
1
23
35
As Vergara y Velasca (1901:811) notes, the fading of the port
of Santa Marta and the rise to importance of Barranquilla
means that the older city had come to export less and depend
more upon local, internal markets. Perhaps this is an indi¬
cation of declining population as well. Certainly the cattle
industry marked time, if it did not actually fall behind pro¬
duction levels of former times.
The region of Magdalena and its capital city of Santa
Marta thus became relatively isolated from the major flow
of commerce and growth, it became a truly regional nexus
of hinterland society and regional nodal centers and grew
increasingly isolated and less dependent upon commerce with
other regions. The great barrier of the Magdalena river was
between Santa Marta and Barranquilla, and was crossed by a
ferry at Salamina from the earliest times, but this permitted
no significant expansion or development. It is significant
that Salamina did not grow to sudden prominance when Santa
Marta was eclipsed by Barranquilla. Because of such isolation
the kinds of productive activities described above for the

63
coast of Colombia in the 16th century were observed as late
as the late 19th century in the Magdalena region.
Still another expression of cultural persistence in the
Magdalena region is the rebellions and civil wars which plagued
it for 100 years. A recently published history of Magdalena
(AlarcSn 1963) consists of little more than a list of generals
and battles fought for possession of towns and estates during
the 19th century. The specific issues (federalism, indepen¬
dence, Masons, Catholocism, conservatism, liberalism, etc.)
are of minor interest in the long run. For whatever the
issue the result was always the same: the territorial repar¬
tition. These continual repartitions may be interpreted as
evidence of the prolific war activity of the cattle barons
of the 19th century when one examines the list of legislation
effecting partitioning and repartitioning of the hinterlands,
reflecting the rising and falling fortunes of the cattle
barons. The departmental capital was changed several times,
municipio cabeceras were changed with regularity,municipal¬
ities were carved up in one decade only to be reassembled
the next, and populations living in towns and hamlets found
themselves paying taxes to one government center one year and
another the following year. Such a state of constant wars,
treaties, and more wars mark 19th century Magdalena as an
involuted region and as a region of intense competition among
landowners for control of resources which grew progressively
less productive as time passed. When, after 100 years of
civil war, the Colombian violencia came into existence in

64
the interior, it did not spread to the Magdalena region.
The issues which divide residents of this region are dif¬
ferent than those which divide the highlanders.
It has already been seen that the cattle estate typically
requires the work of an administrator and a few full-time
employees. All activities involving the cattle are easily
handled by a small number of vaqueros or cowboys. The only
activity requiring the work of numerous hands today is the
constant weeding of pasture grasses. But during the colonial
and republican periods and in some places today, such main¬
tenance was easily carried out by a few workers and the admin¬
istrator. The constant plague of the hato is the invasion
of pasture grasses by weeds. The system of weed control which
evolved, the desmontor.a, involved putting an excessive number
of cattle in a pasture area to eat out the incipient weeds.
This was usually done during the dry summer when grasses were
dormant and cattle were forced to eat weeds. Often the acti¬
vity involved cooperation among neighbors who would pool
their herds in order to desmontar a particular estate for a
few weeks and then move on to another estate (Patino 1965:
374). Today in Magdalena this custom is followed only in
remote areas where labor is scarce, and field hands clean
pasture grasses with machetes elsewhere.
Other activities such as branding, killing, castration,
moving between pastures, cutting horns, etc. were all easily
handled by the administrator and his vaqueros. Near the
cities intensive hatos devoted to milk and cheese production

65
used a number of ordinarios to milk the cattle, but judging
I
from the number of these kinds of employees on dairy farms
today (see Chapter III) there were never very many of them.
In summary, the hato called for only a few workers whose
activities were directed by an administrator. Huge tracts
of land supported a small population throughout the colonial,
republican, and contemporary periods. Workers were granted
plots of land for their own rozas or subsistence plots, just
as slaves were at an earlier time required to grow most of
their own food (Patino 1965:513-514)» From the administrator
they drew rations of salt, beef, and tools with which they
worked in both the roza of the owner of the estate and their
own gardens. They were given houses in which they located
their families (Escalante 1964:129, Patifib 1965:513)» and
on many estates Saturdays were free from work and Sundays
were a day for rest and attendance at the mass said in the
estate house (Escalante 1964:130). Cooperation in the form
of la chagua work group occurred on these estates just as
in the scattered towns and hamlets of the hinterland, for the
exigencies of swidden horticulture were everywhere the same.
Little historical evidence exists as to whether or not
the chagua or cooperative work party for clearing and burning
the land was adopted by Negroes and mestizos, but the proba¬
bility is quite high given the following facts. First, swidden
techniques were unchanged by the Spaniards over the centuries
and are well suited to local ecological conditions. Second,
Negroes and mestizos learned these techniques from indigenous

66
peoples. Third, the organization of horticultural work in
the free Negro towns was similar. The males occupied them¬
selves with defense of their stronghold and raiding, and most
horticultural duties such as planting and weeding fell to
the women, but clearing and burning off the land continued to
be a function of the male cooperative work group (Escalante
1964tl27)• In mixed Indian-Negro-mestizo estates and hamlets,
therefore, it is unlikely that different forms of horticul¬
tural organization were practiced, since all drew upon a
single technology and learned a single complex of customs
for utilizing that technology.
Cooperative work groups, then, are the distinctive form
of human organization typical of the colonial, republican,
and contemporary periods of coastal society. This is equally
true of the extensive cattle estate and the small peasant
hamlet. The small hamlets called aldeas or caseríos contained
no more than a score of families. They were scattered in
between the large cattle estates of the hinterlands. They
numbered about two or three every 100 kilometers in the 19th
century. There were only six of these in the 1870's in the
banana zone when the geographer Simmons surveyed them even
though the zone covered an area of about 100 kilometers by
40 kilometers between the mountains and the swamp (Vergara y
Velasca 1901:82-35). Yet, given the relatively greater rain¬
fall and abundance of rivers in this region, as compared to
other parts of Magdalena, this must be considered a parti¬
cularly dense concentration of peasant families. These

67
families were engaged in subsistence horticulture, some
sugar production, aviculture, beekeeping, cottage crafts
such as cheese making, and contraband activities (Angarita
1928). The civil wars of the 19th century took a heavy
toll among these towns and hamlets (Vergara y Velasca 1901:
552). When the Colombian geographer Vergara y Velasca vis¬
ited the region in the late 1890's he discovered the towns
to be "isolated nuclei" surrounded by expanses of territory
only superficially grazed by cattle. The cattle estate
dominated the landscape.
Vergara y Velasca (1901:792) described the region that
was to become the banana zone as "one of the most repulsive
poles of the country." The reason for such a drastic con¬
demnation is found in the seasonal shift from drought to
flood. The numerous rivers draining the Sierra Hevada de
Santa Marta on the western side flow into the large fresh
water lagoon called Ciénaga Grande. In the lowlands these
rivers become wide (some navigable as late as 1934, Rosales
1934) and the land becomes humid and swampy. In the winter
rainy season the cattle and residents had to aove to higher
ground as the rivers rose and flooded their broad, flat
valleys (Vergara y Velasca 1901:515). This ecological fea¬
ture and the sparse human population prompted the negative
comment of the Colombian geographer, but he predicted that
the banana industry growing up at the foot of the mountains
would assure the development of the region (Vergara y Velasca
1901:550).

68
The United Fruit Company
The prediction of Vergara y Velasca turned out to be
correct. Beginning in 1896 the United Fruit Company started
developing the lowlands at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.
A French company began operations in the same region in 1905,
but disappeared at the start of the First World War. Names
such as Normandia and Alsacia are still found on plantations
in this area. But it was the Compañía Frutera de Sevilla,
at first called the Compañía Frutera de Magdalena, two local
names for the United Fruit Company, which actually developed
the zone (Kamalaprija 1965:7-8).
The Colombian geographer Rosales (1934:101) observed
that the zona bananera was composed of a group of small towns
strung along the railroad line which connected Santa Marta
and the old aldea of Fundación. This railroad crossed the
rivers Riofrio, Sevilla, Tucurinca, Aracataca, and Fundación
which through an elaborate irrigation and drainage system
built by the United Fruit Company has ceased winter flooding
and now irrigated the banana plantations stretching out to
the west of the towns. The railroad went no farther than
Fundación until 1961, when the government extended it to the
national capital in the interior (James 1969). But as early
as 1868, 1871, and 1872 contracts were granted to enterprising
men on the coast to complete a railroad linking Santa Marta
with the Magdalena river, obviously in the hope of turning
the tide of depression which had engulfed the ancient port
city (AlarcÓn 1963:399). It was the effort of a Bogotá based

69
group of businessmen born in Santa Marta who formed a corpor¬
ation called the Sociedad Patriótica del Magdalena that
actually began work on the proposed line. The group was
incorporated in New York in lSSl, under the name Ferrocarril
de Santa Marta, and then work began. In 1336 the inaugural
trip was made between Santa Marta and Ciénaga, and the com¬
pany was sold to the English firm of Greenwood and Company.
Work continued until the line reached Sevilla, and then
stopped when flash floods wiped out much of the line in 1394.
It remained for the United Fruit Company to finish the line
between Sevilla and FundaciSn (AlarcSn 1963:394-396, Val-
Spinosa 1969:3^). This was not done until the flooding was
controlled by straightening the courses of rivers and installing
miles of canals running between the rivers and draining the
land. French, English, and United States engineers and capi¬
talists, together with a work force recruited from all over
the coast as well as numerous foreign nationals, built the
irrigation network, installed bridges, completed the rail¬
road, laid out banana plantations, built houses and work
camps on the plantations and founded towns. The entire
structure of life in the region was dramatically changed
during the first decades of the 20th century.
Church records from 1914 to 1925 give evidence of this
dramatic change. Half of the marriages performed in Orejones
united persons from distant regions of Magdalena, Bolivar,
Atlántico, and the Guajira. By 193& the municipality of
Orejones had sprouted a population of 15,361 persons, about

70
4,500 of them living in the 63O buildings of the town of
Majagua (Contraloria General de la República 1941). This
transformation can be appreciated when it is recalled that
the hamlet of Majagua was no more than a score of people
in the geographical surveys of 1874 and 1898.
The influence of the banana company upon the organiza¬
tion of life in the region was felt in four ways: (1) the
local elite composed of original settlers, hato owners,
were transformed into a wealthy elite; (2) a middle sector
was created by recruitment from the cities of the coast of
employees of the Company; (3) the traditional social rela¬
tionships sketched earlier in this chapter among landowners,
administrators and workers were altered; (4) and the nature
of social relationships among laborers themselves was changed.
The landowners operating hatos quickly converted to
bananas. Some of them sold their land and moved to the cities
but many built fortunes selling millions of stalks of bananas
to the Company. They purchased homes in the coastal cities.
They sent sons and daughters to the capital, Europe, and the
United States for education. They held political offices at
the departmental and national levels where they continued to
dominate political life just as when they were cattle barons.
The new middle sector consisted of employees of the
Company: estate managers, clerks, commissary directors,
secretaries, fruit selectors, and labor supervisors. These
received single family dwellings with running water and indoor
plumbing, furniture, mules and horses, credit for shopping

71
at the company store, and a monthly salary. Their sons
and daughters were given scholarships to study at the
Colombian universities. Their illnesses were treated in
hospitals staffed by United States physicians. Several of
these families built fortunes during the banana heyday.
The workers were provided with three rooms of a row
house, running water and indoor plumbing, reduced rates on
the train, hospital services deducted from their pay (2$),
a machete, work clothes and boots, credit for shopping at
the Company store, and a cash wage higher than that paid
today to workers on the coast. At the exchange rate of 1.02
pesos to the dollar in 1925 (Kamalaprija 1965:127-123) the
worker in the banana zone earning 2.00 pesos a day received
US$2.00 (Valdeblanquez 1964:245, El Tiempo December 22, 1928,
page 1). Today the worker makes 20 to 25 pesos a day which
at the exchange rate of 23.00 to the dollar comes to the
equivalent of US$1.05» To this picture should be added the
fact that all former workers for the Company during this
period report that prices for goods available in the commis¬
saries of the United Fruit Company were cheaper than those
available in the stores of the towns.
It has been seen that during earlier periods the rela¬
tionship among landowners and their workers is best described
by the phrase patron-client (Foster 1967:216). The landowner
granted usufruct rights to several hectares to his worker
for cultivation, provided living quarters on the estates,
and granted credit at an estate store or commissary. The

72
coming of the banana industry and wage labor destroyed this
relationship. Workers were paid money in return for labor
rather than given usufruct right to land. The company did
continue to provide both housing and credit at estate com¬
missaries. But the subsistence horticulture tradition which
was always a part of estate life disappeared.
The industrialization of agricultural production naturally
included industrial forms of labor organization. The workers
became quite specialized in striking contrast to their former
roles as unspecialized horticulturalists or cattle ranch
workers. Work groups were task rather than kin based, and
highly specialized. Cortadores cut the stalks of banana,
portadores hauled and loaded the stalks on gondolas pulled by
oxen and then tractors, tractoristas drove them to the sta¬
tion, tanquepes washed, sealed and bagged the stalks, canal-
eros controlled the water flow to the estates, and a mandador
directed groups of macheteros in planting, cleaning, and
weeding the banana plants. Among the macheteros work was
organized in groups not unlike the traditional form, but
food and drink were not part of the work activity. Rather,
work periods during the weekdays were clearly separated from
leisure periods on the weekends. The Company lavishly spon¬
sored local festivals on the weekend days, but festival
events were kept distinct from work activities. Saturdays
and Sundays were spent in the towns drinking, eating, playing
billiards, visiting brothels, and fighting game cocks.
The banana plantations were located to the west of the

73
railroad, which ran north and south for 98 kilometers be¬
tween Santa Marta and Fundación. Another 50 kilometers of
railroad track ran off the main track to the west. The
banana plantations were strung out along these spurs. On
each spur were located several washing stations or espuelas.
It was here that the bananas were brought, prepared, and
loaded on railroad cars to be taken to the United Fruit Company
docks in Santa Marta. Steamships left the port weekly for
New York and Liverpool (Rosales 1934:107).
Banana production was precise and well ordered. By
no means was it restricted to the United Fruit plantations.
Some 30,000 hectares were under cultivation at the height of
productivity, and only 10,000 of these were the property of
the Company (Kamalaprija 1965:B, 12, ComisiSn de PlanificaciSn
1964:111). Irrigation, planting, cleaning, and weeding, and
harvesting were identical on both kinds of estates. Even the
custom of issuing script for credit at the estate commissary
or Company store was common to each. Such uniformity was re¬
quired by the nature of the product and the need to transport
bananas as rapidly as possible to their market in the United
States and England.
The exporter contacted the producer three days before
the steamboat arrived, and the producer informed the exporter
how many railroad cars he would need. The "cut day" then
began, which was not a day at all but 72 hours of intensive
labor on the part of all concerned. The cortador made a cut
in the trunk of the banana tree so that in a short while it
would incline and make the stalk easier to reach. Then the

74
stalk would be cut and the portador would carry it to the
waiting gondola, which then delivered it to the tanquepes
and fruit selectors at the espuela. Other portadors loaded
the sacks containing the fruit on the railroad cars. No over¬
time or special payments were made to the workers for such in¬
tensive work periods. After the cut day the mandador and his
macheteros cleaned off the mature trees and planted the new
shoots (Kamalprija 1965:29).
Aside from the coastal subculture other subcultural groups
present in the municipio during the early 20th century included
Middle East immigrants who opened stores, bars, and brothels, a
number of West Indian immigrants who worked as day laborers,
and the North Americans living on the quinta or cluster of manor
houses on the other side of the railroad tracks. A small number
of highlanders from the interior migrated into the banana zone
during this period, most from Antioquia.
The picture painted by Gabriel Garcia Marquez of this
period in Cien Afíos de Soledad is for the most part accurate,
if entirely surrealistic in style and tone. Majagua> was in¬
deed transformed into a boom town. But its transformation
did not correspond exactly with the picture presented in Cien
Anos de Soledad. The major discrepancy is with regard to the
role of the elite founders of Majagua, the landed gentry who
form the central characters of the novel. They were not
simply awestruck bystanders to the banana boom; rather they
were prime movers and beneficiaries of the boom. These elites
became independent banana producers and strong allies of the

75
Boston based corporation. They helped lay out the plantations,
planted the first bananas, founded and built small towns, and
collected millions of pesos for their efforts (La Epoca 1972).
Today their descendents can be located in the Parliament in
Bogotá, in the departmental capital of Santa Marta, in Barcelona,
Puerto Rico, Miami, and New York.
The banana strike of 1923 is one of the central events of
the novel, and perhaps the most central event in the history of
the banana zone. García Márquez portrays the elite of the town
as merely passive bystanders during this event. But the facts
reported by the newspapers of the period, historians, and by
workers who participated in the strike provide a different
interpretation. An event analysis, a technique developed by
Kimball and Pearsall (1955), of the strike is relevant here
because the strike was both a formative event and a reflection
of the social structure of the banana zone.
The strike resulted in the massacre of uncounted numbers
of unarmed workers the morning of December 6, 1928 by the
Colombian army. The figure rose to around 1,500 during the
week of terror which followed throughout the zone (Val-Spinosa
1969:4, 69). The priest of one of the banana towns recorded
the following note in Book Number Three of the baptismal re¬
cords of his church:
Los asesinatos se perpetraban con regularidad
increible, por lo cual los vecinos justamente
alarmados y temiendos por sus vidas, vivian
prevenidos contra todo individuo que no fuera
costefiío (Angarita 1928).
Assassinations were perpetrated with incredible
regularity, causing the townspeople who were justly

76
alarmed and fearful for their lives, to live
in complete distrust of any individual who
was not of the coast.
Such a violently harsh manner of ending the strike on the part
of the Colombian government was the product of several factors;
the shaky Colombian economy and its huge indebtedness to the
United States (Val-Spinosa 1969:10—15), the growth of the
Socialist Party (founded in 1919) and the insistence by this
party that the newly emerging proletariat organize (Val-Spinosa
1969:18), a move which the Minister of War interpreted as
"communism" (El Tiempo December 8, 9, 10, 1928), and the
attempts of the United Fruit Company to retain monopoly over
all human and nonhuman resources in the banana zone (Val-
Spinosa 1969:34, 38-39, 40-41).
The strike began peacefully as reported by correspondents
of newspapers in Barranquilla and Santa Marta, as well as by
the Governor of Santa Marta, (El Tiempo November 20, 1928, p.
2, November 21, 1928, p. 1, November 22, 1928, p. 9, December
22, 1928, p. 1). When the demands of the workers* petition
were rejected by the manager of the United Fruit Company,
Thomas Bradshaw, and six independent Colombian planters acting
with Bradshaw, there was no violence or work stoppage. The
strike was not called until November 11, the day after a large
cutting order had been issued by the Company (Val-Spinosa 1969;
50—51)• General Cortes Vargas was ordered to come from Barran-
quilla to become the military commander of the Province of
Santa Marta, after telegrams were sent to the President of
Colombia by Thomas Bradshaw reporting the workers to be in

77
"riot" (Val-Spinosa 1969:51)» Cortés Vargas arrested around
400 people in the towns of the zone as he made his first tour
of inspection, accusing them of attempting to impede the pro¬
gress of his train, but still there was no violence (El Tiempo
November 19, 1923, p. 2). The Company manager, Bradshaw, re¬
set the cut day for December 3, and together with General
Cortés Vargas arranged for 25 soldiers to guard the nonstriking
workers at each espuela through the zone (Val-Spinosa 1969:59).
Passports were issued by the army for travel in the zone and
the train was defended with mounted machineguns (El Tiempo
December 4, 1923, p. 7)» A rumor which remains unconfirmed
today reached the Governor of Santa Marta that a civilian had
been killed at one of the espuelas in an argument with a sol¬
dier, and the Governor requested emergency help from the nat¬
ional government. A state of siege was declared by the Presi¬
dent's cabinet on December 3, but it was not instituted for
want of a confirmed "incident" which would justify it and
which could be given wide public hearing (Val-Spinosa 1969:60).
This incident came on December 5 when unarmed workers managed
to entice a group of armed soldiers to a dinner and party.
This was a widely broadcast as the "capture" of a squad of
soldiers and a state of siege was officially declared (El
Tiempo December 6, 1928, p. 1). The workers gathered at the
town of Ciénaga in the railroad station for a demonstration
on December 5, and early on the morning of December 6 by the
light of cooking fires and lamps they were ordered to disperse.
When they refused, the army fired into the crowd of 4,000 per-

sons with carbines, machineguns, and revolvers (El Tiempo
December 6, 1928, p. 1, Val-Spinosa 1969:60-64, Valdeblanquez
1964:238-243). Then began the mopping up operation under
the direction of General Cortés Vargas.
Although telegraph lines connected each town of the
zone with Santa Marta, and Santa Marta with Barranquilla and
Bogotá, and although telephones were located in United Fruit
offices in all towns, and although public telephones existed
in each of the larger towns of the zone, no information could
be obtained by the staff reporters of El Tiempo for a week
(El Tiempo December 6, 1928, p. 1, December 7, 1929, p. 1,
December S, 1923, p. 1, December 9, 1923, p. 1, December 10,
1923, p. 1). Telegrams and phone calls sent by newspapers
in the capital to businessmen, landowners, and public officials
in Santa Marta on the morning of December 6 were not delivered
until the 21st of December. Meanwhile, the army reported one
person dead and several injured in the confrontation, all of
whom were alleged to be anarchists, communists, and rebels
(El Tiempo December 6, 1923, p. 1, December 10, 1928, p. 1).
The series of atrocities committed by the Colombian
troops are well recorded (Gaitán 1972). While Cortés Vargas
remained in control of the zone until March of 1929, no
Colombian and foreign correspondents were admitted, and no
list of casualties was compiled (Val-Spinosa 1969:69). But
various generals and colonels of the army were quite anxious
to report their achievements, and their telegrams can be read
in the pages of El Tiempo from December 10 until December 17,
1928. In July of 1929 a young firebrand lawyer named J6rge

79
Eliecer Gaitán made the banana zone massacre his vehicle
to national prominence by visiting the banana zone and
collecting massive documentation of the events which had
occurred (El Tiempo, Lecturas Dominicales. No. 317» October
6, 1929» p. 12). These he used in a dramatic denunciation
of the military and the United Fruit Company in the Parliament
for four consecutive days (Gaitán 1972). His considerable
talents as an orator, criminologist, and lawyer, punctuated
with many letters, sworn testimonies, and even pieces of a
child's skull, were devastating (Val-Spinosa 1969:80-81).
The result is tersely described by Val-Spinosa (1969:32-84).
The Liberal Party mounted their first successful challenge
to the hegemony of the aristocratic Conservative Party with
the candidacy of Enrique Olaya Herrera:
During his whirlwind campaign for the presi¬
dency Olaya Herrera laid a wreath at the tomb
of the martyred strikers at Ciénaga. Two weeks
later he was elected Liberal President of
Colombia (Val-Spinosa 1969:84).
Behind the chronicle of actions and reactions which can
be traced through various sources there is another side to
the massacre in the banana zone. This is the composition of
the factions which supported or opposed the strikers, for
this gave the event lasting significance.
As early as November of 1928 it was widely recognized
that the chief support of the day laborers came from the mer¬
chants of the banana zone (El Tiempo. November 29, 1928, p. 16).
Cash gifts, food, and clothing were donated to the strike
leaders to be distributed to those whom they could recruit to

so
the cause. One of the strike leaders claimed to have re¬
ceived over 40,000 US dollars in gifts of money and materials
from the independent Colombian merchants of the zone (Val-
Spinosa 1969:52). Those observers who attribute the strike
to the organizing activities of the strike leaders (members
of the Colombian Socialist party who had previously directed
the strike of oil workers in the fields of Barrancabermeja on the
Magdelena river) are unable to explain why it was that the workers
listened and acted as advised by the organizers. Radical acti¬
vity is only rarely undertaken in the absence of some ally
perceived to be powerful or influential. The merchants of
Barranquilla, Ciénaga, and the banana zone recognized that
the 30,000 to 40,000 residents of the banana zone were a vast
market, monopolized by the United Fruit Company commissary and
script system. Here the workers found natural allies. When
the manager of the Company and the group of independent
planters acting with him agreed to all but three of the total
of nine demands presented by the strike leaders, the negotia¬
tors from the national Office of Labor discovered merchants
and employees of the stores in the banana zone agitating for
prolonging the strike until all the demands were met (El
Tiempo November 29, 1928, p. 16). Among these demands were
points six and seven: the suppression of script, and the
suppression of the commissaries of the United Fruit Company
accompanied by the establishment of freedom of commerce in
the zone (Val-Spinosa 1969:46, Valdeblanquez 1964:245-246).
If the workers became, in part, a vehicle for the desires

81
of the newly arisen commercial class of the north coast, the
United Fruit Company served in like manner as a vehicle for
the desires of the independent planters of Colombian national¬
ity. Val-Spinosa (1969:3^) argues convincingly that the Col¬
ombian planters, who controlled and exploited the vast majority
of land cultivated in bananas, were obligated to support the
Company position since they were greatly indebted to the
Company (owing about 4.5 million dollars in total). And as
Val-Spinosa observes, Alberto Catrillon, one of the strike
leaders, and J5rge Eliecer Gaitán
... did not so much blame the Colombian
army for firing on Colombians as for doing
it at the behest of the United Fruit Company
(1969:8).
Yet Val-Spinosa had missed several important points. The
independent producers were quite wealthy, and that wealth
came from their sales to the United Fruit Company. They were
unlikely to act out of feelings of nationalistic solidarity
with the workers, especially since they and their fathers and
grandfathers too exploited the workers in exactly the same
fashion as the Company for several preceding centuries (even
if the profit margin were not as great in comparison).
Secondly, the independent planters included political offi¬
cials in Santa Marta who refused to do their duty to act
in defense of the workers. Third, the planters uniformly
abandoned the workers to their fate as the zone began filling
up with troops, moving to the cities of the coast as if in
expectation of the slaughter. Fourth, even to the present
time the workers who witnessed these events and who were

82
interviewed by the writer denounce the independent planters
as traitors to Colombia, for it is widely claimed that these
planters hired goon squads to break up demonstrations and
assassinate strikers in their homes. In short, it should
not be forgotten that the millions of stalks of bananas
rotting on the trees during the strike belonged mostly to
Colombian growers who needed them harvested and transported
to the docks before they would be paid. Until we begin to
recognize that societies are made up of subcultural groups
that may share little in common, aside from a symbiotic rela¬
tionship, we will continually fall prey to the reasoning
which concludes that all Colombians or Americans or members
of some other nation-entity think and act alike.
These two opposing factions of growers and workers help
explain a great deal, but there was still a third. These
were the labor contractors or labor brokers through which the
Company and the private producers contracted for labor.
While there is no published record of the actions of these
persons, former workers on the banana plantations report
that they were unable to obtain work unless they joined the
union. That is, the labor contractor would not include
them in his work group contracted for a specific task if
they remained independent or unallied. This faction by
recruiting for the strike contributed to the growing atmosphere
of confrontation, although the reasons for this action remain
unclear.
The final faction was composed of the full-time employees

of the United Fruit Company, both Colombians and Americans.
Today in the banana zone these persons uniformly condemn the
strikers for chasing the Company (and their prosperity) away
from Colombia. At the time of the strike their sentiments
were no different, since they staged counter-demonstrations
in favor of the Company in Ciénaga. Such employees of the
Company were uniformly evacuated from the banana zone when
the shooting started and provided with housing in Ciénaga
and Santa Marta. There are no more ardent fans of the United
Fruit Company in Colombia than these once prosperous families.
Although the main actors in the drama were the day lab¬
orers and the officials of the United Fruit Company, it can
be seen that all who occupied positions in the structure of
the banana zone had much to lose or gain depending upon the
outcome. There were no innocent bystanders, as claimed by
Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is only from the perspective of
the novelist, the political scientist, and the historian
that great world events can be interpreted as the results of
the thoughts or actions of certain individuals acting in
isolation.
Following the massacre and the week of terror the workers
for the Company and the independent producers resumed work
on the plantations. The crop was harvested and transported
to New York and Liverpool. By the following year production
had risen above pre-strike levels (Kamalaprija 1965:127-123).
Production fell briefly in 1931 after the stock market crash,
but resumed and achieved the high of 1930 between 1932 and
1941. Only then did production decline significantly. During

World War II the fleet of ships belonging to the United Fruit
Company ceased to call at Santa Marta. When the Company
returned to Colombia in 1947 in order to resume their operations
they discovered that their plantations had been invaded by
both the wealthy independent growers and landless day laborers.
Rather than leave Colombia the United Fruit Company nego¬
tiated a new policy with the planters through the government.
Contracts were signed by which the Company considered the
squatters tenants or arrendatarios. The tenants in turn agreed
to sell and the Company agreed to buy all bananas produced,
the tenants paying US $1.00 for each hectare not producing
bananas. The arrangement applied basically to the wealthy
squatters who annexed large tracts. The day laborers who
annexed only a few hectares were ignored. By the year 1949
exports were higher than the high of 1930 (Kamalaprija 1965:
127-12Ó).
But at this time the Company began liquidating its holdings
in Colombia, including the railroad which it gave to the govern¬
ment upon its return in 1947. The reason lies in a changed
world market, the altered situation of colonies of Western
Europe, and North American activities in the Pacific (Kamala-
prija 1965:&). In 1939 the Company had owned 10,000 hectares
of land producing bananas, whereas by 1953 it held only 3,000.
By 1964 it owned no banana producing land in the zone (Kamala¬
prija 1965:9).
With the exit of the Company, Colombian federations of
growers sought to save the zone. But none of them located in

the municipality studied. They concentrated to the north
and the banana industry of Majagua and Orejones died. Total
hectares devoted to bananas today number only about 3,000,
and these are located near Santa Marta. Export is mainly to
the Federal Republic of Germany, and the major competitor
for Colombian growers is the United Fruit Company.
In Majagua and Orejones changes occurred rapidly. The
wealthy independent producers evacuated the region, together
with the newly created middle sector employees of the Company
and hundreds of workers. Many families of the upper and
middle sectors were ruined. The workers lost an income that
had provided the impetus for migration into the banana zone.
In the countryside the employee housing and worker rowhouses
stand empty in clusters in the middle of rice estates and
cattle pastures, stripped of their plumbing, doors, windows,
and roofs, concrete skeletons providing a stark reminder of
earlier prosperity against which current poverty looms even
more grisly.
The land use pattern and forms of human organization
introduced by the company have been replaced by traditional
patterns and forms. This reversion has been only partial
however. For while the cattle estate has returned to its
dominance of the landscape, the old form of the patron-client
relationship has not been reasserted. Of 3^,000 hectares
of arable land in the municipality of Orejones only 13,000
are devoted to agriculture and horticulture. About 3,000
hectares are devoted to commercial rice cultivation. About
10,000 hectares are devoted to pan co.jer or staples grown

66
in subsistence gardens such as corn, manioc, and plantains.
The remaining 25,000 hectares are devoted to large cattle
estates (Comisión de Planificación 1964:99)* Thus, immediately
after the exit of the United Fruit Company the large cattle
estate returned to its former position of dominance in the
region. But the irrigation network brought by the Company
permitted the innovation of commercial rice production. The
forms of social organization related to each of these land
use patterns will be examined in detail in the following
chapter. Here it is important to note only that the forms
of social relationships introduced by the North American mono¬
poly have persisted only on commercial rice estates. The
large cattle estates continue to be organized along traditional
lines, with a few elementary changes in social relationships
among the personnel. Hence, the older social tradition of the
hato and roza exists today side by side with a newer industrial
social trádition. Both must be examined to understand contempor¬
ary community life.
The Highlander Migration
A third social tradition was introduced into the commu¬
nity during the decade of the 1950's. In the years that
followed the banana zone strike the principal actors went on
to other occupations and interests. General Cortes Vargas was
promoted to Director of the National Police. The mayor of
Santa Marta and a major independent banana grower, Juan Campo
Serrano, became a national Senator as did members of the Noguera,
Vives, and other families who were large independent banana

S7
growers. The labor leaders, Alberto Castrillon and Raúl
Eduardo Mahecha, went to jail and were later released along
with 54 other prisoners convicted at the time by the military
and civil Jefe of the zone. Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, the young
lawyer who came to the banana zone to investigate the tragedy,
went on to become the most tangible symbol of the emergence
of the working classes in Colombia. In 194$ he was assassi¬
nated in the capital city. By then he had spoken to crowds
of thousands, while running for the presidency, and inspired
many Colombians with the sense of volcanic outrage and messianic
promise with which he had stirred the Parliament of 1929 over
the banana zone massacre. His violent death moved the normally
inarticulate working people to a monumental expression of anger
and fear, the bogotazo. or several days of rioting, burning,
and looting. This was followed by several days of armed
battles with the police and army tanks sent to subdue them.
Stunned by such a vociferous and costly demonstration, Presi-
derlt Gomez launched the repression of the Liberal Party which
ultimately resulted in the Colombian phenomenon known as la
violencia. The violencia lasted from that day in 194S when
GaitSn fell to the sidewalk until the late 1960's when the
death toll declined sufficiently to call it simply murder and
banditry on the part of the "revolutionaries" or over zealous
army regulars. It was, in Hobsbawn's words (quoted in Dix
1967:361), the "greatest armed mobilization of peasants in
the recent history of the western hemisphere, with the possible
exception of some periods during the Mexican revolution."

The north coast of Colombia did not suffer directly from
the violencia. Its greatest impact on the region was the
fact that between 1950 and 1953» hundreds of families of
Andean peasants migrated into the foothills of the Sierra
fleeing the spreading mania in the interior.
They came from Santander, Norte de Santander, and Cundina-
marca, areas ecologically quite similar to the one they colo¬
nized in Magdalena. These families directly cite la violencia
as their motive for moving. They brought children, aged
parents, siblings, and other relatives and staked out 50 to
200 hectares of land in the low altitude river valleys at about
500 to 1,000 meters. With them came shopkeepers from small
towns in the interior, buying up stores, bars, and brothels
from disillusioned members of the coastal subculture. The
coastal label for these migrants is cachacos, meaning simply
a person from the interior, but it is used in a perjorative
manner. The cachacos have been received in by coastal people
with little enthusiasm. During the banana industry days a
group of highlanders from Antioquia migrated to the zone in
search of work. According to coastal informants and one old
cachaco man these migrants had killed several coastal people
in razor fights. The coastal people one night in 1914 had
dispatched with machetes the majority of the immigrant group.
No other cachacos came to the municipality until the army in
1923. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian novelist born in the
banana zone, describes the coastal memory of the highland
army:

69
Then he went out into the street and saw
them. There were three regiments. . .
Their snorting of a many-headed dragon
filled the glow of noon with a pestilential
vapor. They were short, stocky, and brute-
like. They perspired with the sweat of a
horse and had the smell of suntanned hide
and the taciturn and impenetrable perserverance
of men from the uplands. Although it took
them over an hour to pass by, one might have
thought that they were only a few squads
marching in a circle, because they were all
identical, sons of the same bitch. . .
(1970:280).
The highland migrants are still perceived as violent and
dangerous. The basic reason the highlanders' migration of
the 1950's met with success seems to be the fact that the
migrants chose to colonize land high above the lowland
Macondo and thus did not compete for the same jobs and women.
The highlanders were able to establish themselves in
the community through the migration of highland shopkeepers
to the town. The interdependent relationship among these
highland peasants and shopkeepers of the community constitutes
quite a distinct social tradition. This tradition and the
others discussed in this chapter each have distinctive forms
of social groupings by which they are set off one from
another. The nature of these different social groupings,
the ways in which they weave themselves into contemporary
community life through systems of production, distribution
and consumption, and their relation to cannabis are the
subjects of the next chapter.

CHAPTER III
PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, AND CONSUMPTION
The forms of group organization present in the commu¬
nity which are related to some aspect of the cannabis cycle
are each associated with distinctive systems of production,
distribution, and consumption. Each of these systems has
distinctive features which enable us to treat them as separ¬
ate units, but each is interdependent with other units.
The forms of group organization and the social relationships
associated with cannabis are best described in terms of
their structures and functions in ongoing systems of produc¬
tion, distribution, and consumption typical of community
life.
Systems of Production
The type of basic production units in Orejones can be
classified by product, form of land use, and form of char¬
acteristic social groups and social relationships. There
are four: (1) the estate system, (2) the INCORA (Instituto
Colombiana de la Reforma Agraria) parcela or peasant cooper¬
ative, (3) the highland and coastal peasant farm or subsis¬
tence level agro-pastoral unit, and (4) the highland and
coastal shopkeeper's farm or small scale pastoral unit.
Each can be broken down into subtypes on the basis of
subcultural variation and specific structural characteristics
90

91
Estate System: Cattle Estates
More than 25,000 hectares of arable land are devoted
to cattle and cattle products production (Comisión de Plani¬
ficación 1964:99)- The cattle estate has replaced the
banana plantation as the dominant land use form since the
exit of the United Fruit Company. With the completion of
the bridge crossing the Magdalena River (the first on the
coast) this tendency can only increase, since the major
market for beef, milk, and cheese produced in Magdalena
is the city of Barranquilla on the other side of the river.
The importance of the cattle estates has little direct
impact on the lives of the townspeople. An analogous situ¬
ation has been described elsewhere in reference to the
monocrop plantations (Wagley I960, Wolf 1959)- Patiffo
(1970:17) sums up this situation succinctly: "donde hay
ganado no hay gente" or where there are cattle there are no
people. The reason is that the classic Spanish hato, dis¬
cussed in Chapter II, requires few workers. One traditional
operation studied involves an area of 500 hectares and
some 2,000 head of cattle and requires the full-time work
of the following personnel:
1 capataz (administrator)
3 vaqueros (cowboys)
7 ordinarios (milkers)
1 maestra (school teacher)
All activities involving the cattle are easily handled by
15 workers and one administrator. In addition, groups of
between 10 and 15 day laborers are hired to clean irrigation
ditches, to cut and burn off weeds out of the pastures, and

92
to germinate and hand-plant new pasture grasses. Such
workers are called contratistas. since they are hired by
the job, for a specific task over a specific period of time,
and then released. Additional part time personnel involved
include a veterinarian, employees of the Banco Ganadero or
Cattle Bank which provides loans for capital investment,
and service personnel such as the army and police who,
through the local mayor, respond to calls for assistance
from landowners when landless day laborers attempt to invade
and colonize parts of the large estates.
The landowners are uniformly drawn from an urban-dwelling
coastal upper sector. Many are old families on the coast with
traditionally great influence over the human and nonhuman
resources of the banana zone. Of these some are invaders of
United Fruit Company lands during World War II, the arrenda¬
tarios discussed in the previous chapter (II) whose defunct
contracts with the Company serve as title to INCORA lands
today. These are most susceptible to invasion by the poor
since they are technically tenants on government land and do
not have titles. Other cattle ranchers are drawn from the
now defunct middle sector of the banana zone heyday who made
a great deal of money as Company employees.
The estate administrators are drawn from two sources:
a few professionals from the Cauca Valley and the Eastern
Plains (areas of extensive cattle production) who are re¬
cruited because of their expertise, and offspring of the now
defunct middle sector of the banana heyday. In the case of

93
the latter, friendships and family ties, including filial
relationships, affinal relationships, and ritual coparenthood,
dating from the banana days, place the administrator and the
landowner in frequent social interaction outside the context
of the estate production unit.
Employees on the cattle estate are recruited from among
the landless poor. While their origins are the same as those
of the contratistas or day laborers, discussed below, they
form a group apart in that they have become specialists in
cattle ranching through attaching themselves to an administra¬
tor as apprentices. The administrator recruits this group of
specialists. The administrator, cowboys, and milkers are a
permanent group whose members live together on the estate,
drink together during work and in town, work together on a
daily basis, and whose spouses and families live in close
proximity most of their lives. Each family on the estate
cultivates its own kitchen garden.
The contratista is a member of the landless poor of the town
as well. He is an unspecialized manual laborer. In the
countryside he works in agricultural tasks. In the city,
to which he is a frequent migrant and return migrant, he
works in all manner of unskilled manual tasks. He is re¬
cruited by a figure whose special role and importance to the
functioning of the estate demands brief elaboration. This
figure will be called a "labor broker." He is always an
older manual laborer, generally between 40 and 50 years of
age, who has been a day laborer all of his life. He is the

94
one upon whom the administrator of an estate depends for
recruiting a group of workers necessary for a particular
task. The labor broker and his contratistas constitute
a distinct group on the estate. They live in the town,
commute to the estates together, work together, smoke canna¬
bis together, drink alcohol together, stand as godparents
to each other’s children, and exchange invitations for visits.
The worker depends upon the labor broker for a guarantee of
work opportunities. The workers call such a man "el hombre
que indica" the man who directs. Clearly he is a critical
figure in their lives.
The traditional yearly cycle on the cattle estate which
articulates these kinds of personnel is structured by the
ecological circumstances of the coast. During the summer
from November to March the land lies parched and brown under
the searing Caribbean sun. The rains come in April and the
grass seeds which have lain dormant since November sprout.
When the grass is about two feet in height around 100 cattle
are put in a potrero, or cattle pasture, of 300 hectares.
Most cattle operations have a high ratio of land to cattle;
the average for the municipality as a whole is about three
hectares per head of cattle (Comisión de Planificación 196¿*.:99).
In July, when the grass seeds once again, the cattle are
briefly taken out of the potrero until the new shoots mature
and then are put back in again. In November when the grass
seeds again the cattle are removed, but now they are placed
back in the pasture as soon as the seeds fall. The seed lies

95
dormant during the dry summer, and the cattle feed off
the parched stubble which remains.
Traditional estates which have plenty of bufel grass, a
drought resistant variety, do not suffer large losses over
the summer. But those with pará or guinea may suffer up to
a 40£ loss among their calves and yearling, according to the
veterinarians and administrators interviewed. In these con¬
ditions Patiffo's (1970:266-269) characterization of the cattle
industry in Colombia as belonging to two distinct periods,
pre-Cebu and post-Cebfi. the strain of hearty drought resis¬
tant Indian cattle introduced at the beginning of this century,
is understandable.
The daily cycle of the cowboys and milkers on the estate
mainly involves separating out the cows with calves and
attending to the daily milking. During the rainy season from
four to six liters of milk will be taken from a cow. Of this
a liter is given each employee for his family’s consumption.
During the dry season less milk is taken for human consump¬
tion and more is left for the calf. Yearlings, bulls, and
heifers without calves are placed in other areas and for the
most part given minimal attention. In October castration of
the yearlings and branding for all calves takes place in an
operation of several days length. Employees have a large
amount of time free for cultivation of their kitchen gardens
and entreprenurial activities.
A central activity of the administrator and employees
is protection of the estate lands, inspecting to make sure

96
squatters do not attempt an invasion. A month does not go by-
in Orejones when there is no attempt to invade portions of
some large estate by a group of landless poor. Estate adminis¬
trators and employees are generally armed with pistols and
attempt to discourage colonos. When this does not work, the
administrator calls for the intervention of the police or army
by petitioning the mayor of the town. The police or army
personnel burn down the mejoras or make-shift houses and culti-
gens put in by the squatters and run them off or arrest them,
depending upon their tenacity.
The more modem cattle estates are less subject to such
invasions. The modem system demands that pastures be irrigated
in order for the cattle to be rotated through a series of
small potreros. The single large pasture of 300 hectares of
the traditional system may be broken into 30 small sections
of 10 hectares, for example. Some 30 head of cattle are
grazed intensively each section. Every two weeks the cattle
are moved to a new 10 hectare section. In this manner the
animals always have fresh pasture. Irrigation makes possible
the use of cultivated pastures such as anglinton, guinea,
bangola. and para, the first two of which are considered the
best grass for beef and milch cows. The threat of loss
through starvation over the summer is reduced. This is a
fact appreciated by all cattle estate owners. But to date
few landowners have taken advantage of the potential benefits
of the modern system. The few who have have seen a measurable
increase in productivity. Under the old system, some six

97
years were needed for maturation, and cattle marketed in
Barranquilla weighed about 500 kilos. The modern system
requires only three to four years to produce an animal
weighing 450 kilos.
With these results widely broadcast in the municipality
by the veterinarian and the administrators, one wonders why
more landowners do not change to the modern system. The
answer lies in the increased labor costs which accompany the
rotation system, and this dilemma illustrates the relationship
between the employees, administrators, and day laborers on
the two kinds of cattle estates. Manual work in the form of
cleaning pasture of weeds, preparing pasture for planting,
cultivating pasture grasses, and cleaning the irrigation
canals is doubled in the more modern system. Of course fre¬
quent transfer of cattle from one pasture to another also
demands increased labor. So both a greater number of employees
and a greater number of day laborers are needed for the modem
cattle estate.
Given the nature of patron-client relationships among
landowners and their workers, the expansion of the number of
employees is possible. What the landowner has most of is
land. He can easily hire more permanent employees and lend
several more hectares to be planted in kitchen crops. The
cash wages paid full-time employees are small: an ordinario
or milker makes only seven pesos a day and cowboys receive
only 10 to 15 pesos a day. But they also receive housing and
usufruct rights to a garden plot as well as credit at the

9S
estate store, which is usually run by the estate administra¬
tor at a personal profit. Thus, the increased costs of
moving cattle, branding, castration, vaccination, and the
activities of the employees are not prohibitive.
What is more difficult is to increase reliance on contra¬
tistas . In the traditional system such reliance is minimal
in that irrigation is not a feature of traditional cattle
estates. At the most, groups of contratistas are employed to
weed pastures. But in the modern system the maintenance of
pastures and the irrigation system demands more extensive use
of wage laborers. On an extensive operation this could mean
the full-time use of 20 contratistas. Clearly this amounts to
a considerable increase in the cash investment needed as com¬
pared to the traditional system. On some intensive estates
studied a second administrator is hired to direct the mainten¬
ance operations involving the pasture and irrigation. He is
called a mandador, and his presence indicates the significance
the day laborers assume in the modern system.
As one veterinarian pointed out, the cattle estate has
not traditionally been a large capital investment for the
landowner. In fact> it is generally treated as a source of
reserve capital to finance other operations. Cattle are sold
as the need for capital arises in the city. This would ex¬
plain the seeming lack of interest estate owners have in
their operations: vists of four to five times a year are
the norm for the owner.
This contrast between the traditional and modern cattle

99
estate dramatizes the nature of wage labor in the Magdalena
region. Work opportunities are scarce since the exit of the
United Fruit Company. Consequently wage levels are low, and
the labor market is flooded. Day laborers are uniformly paid
between 20 and 25 pesos for a full day's work in the fields.
They are paid by an estate administrator for their work, but
are recruited through the labor broker who in turn makes
contracts with the administrator. This can be a relatively
inefficient operation in that several days may be needed to
secure the number of workers needed. This seems paradoxical
until it is recognized that labor contractors make contracts
throughout the region, and their crews may be engaged when
called upon by the estate administrator. For the administrator
to seek labor directly is a time consuming activity. Adminis¬
trators prefer to deal with the labor broker in the stores,
bars, and cockring of the town. The situation of scarce work
opportunities and low wages, the constant threat of starvation
during the summer drought season, and the measurable benefits
of the modern estate system are each factors which would seem
to guarantee the transition to the modern system. The reasons
why such a transition is unattractive to the personnel of
the cattle estate can best be illustrated by an example.
Don Ramon is the owner of a large traditional cattle
estate. He is selling his estate and going to work for a
corporation marketing Italian pharmaceuticals in Colombia.
He explains that for several years he has not been able to
make a go of his cattle operation. His land is only partly

100
irrigated, and summer losses have been particularly bad
since the coast has been gripped in the worst summer drought
in a century. When asked why he must sell he explains that
the problem lies with the day laborers. This, he states, is
the fault of the United Fruit Company. The Company came to
Colombia and paid the workers a cash wage for each job per¬
formed on the banana plantations. The workers were spoiled
by this, since the wages were good, and now they want cash.
"Good workers" can no longer be found. Don Ramon cites Jos?
Mejia as an example of a "good worker" who also happens to
be a client and compadre of his. Don Ramón gives to Jos?
land to farm, housing, and credit all of which Don Ram?n has
plenty. Jos? lives on the estate and is always available
when a task needs to be performed. Keeping such workers
available by paying them cash Don Ramón perceives to be pro¬
hibitive .
Jos? Mejia views the relationship as beneficial as well.
It is formalized through compadrazgo ties. He receives credit
at the stores in town, a plot of two hectares to plant, 10
pesos a day and small gifts of alcohol, food, and clothing
from his patrón. He also has a limited degree of insurance
against hunger during times of illness or life crisis events
since Don Ramón will advance him small loans. Don Ramón re¬
quires him to direct the daily milking of the cows, transport
the milk to town to be marketed, repair fences and gate
damage, and assist in chasing off squatters when they appear.
The rest of the time Jos? can work for himself. Skills he

101
may have in animal husbandry, horse trading, agriculture,
cottage crafts, etc. can be used to increase his personal
income. And such free time is not rare among estate employees
and administrators on traditional estates. It is from this
group that the thriving bar business in town, the cock
fighting circuit, and the numerous brothels are kept in
operation. Each of these arenas is the scene of small scale
entreprenurial efforts on the part of persons who have skills
to market. Day laborers of course have no time for such
activities and rarely have enough money left from their small
cash wage to invest.
José is a consummate horse and mule trader. His arena
of negotiation is composed of several bars and pool halls in
town where he buys, trades, and sells animals. His reputa¬
tion extends up into the Sierra and to neighboring towns, and
peasants frequently are found drinking in the bars with José
discussing the probability of finding a good mule for 6,000
pesos.
Lucho is another example. He is an employee of the
estate owner Ramiro Bedoya who lives in Santa Marta. His
reputation as a gallero or expert on the raising and training
of fighting cocks extends to the cities of Barranquilla,
Santa Marta, Ciénaga, and the several small towns on the
circuit. Each weekend Lucho can be found on one of the
local buses traveling to a cock fight, two or three of his
cocks slung in shoulder bags or carried in his hands. At
a given fight he may enter only one of his cocks and sell

102
others he has brought for 600 to 1,000 pesos. Lucho has
spent years developing such a reputation and his cocks are
known to be well selected and trained. Fellow estate em¬
ployees as well as landowners who fight cocks are eager to
purchase one of his birds including the man for whom he works.
Both patron and cliente value such a relationship as
that of Don Ramén and José Mejia. The labor broker who
supplies José with crews of day laborers also values this
traditional manner of recruiting and organizing personnel
on the estate. Since it is the labor broker who provides
work opportunities for his fellows he is placed in a position
of power and influence. He also drifts through the stores
and bars of the town in order to keep abreast of changing
work opportunities and lubricate the social relationships
upon which his position depends. He does not have the money
to raise fighting cocks or purchase mules or horses, but he
nonetheless will be present at the cock fights and in the
bars. He will drink in the stores, bars, and cockrihg with
the estate employees and managers making commitments as
needed to his patrones.
In contrast, the intensive modern cattle operation re¬
quires the use of more personnel. More permanent employees
are needed to handle increased cattle care activities. More
day laborers are needed for the maintenance of pasture and
irrigation systems. Contracts can no longer be made on a
day to day basis with the labor broker; the crews of day
laborers must become full-time workers. The administrator

103
and landowner must devote increased energies to organizing
work activity, record keeping, and making sure days paid
are days devoted to work. Less time is available to all
personnel for entreprenurial activities. For these reasons,
over and above the increased cash investment, the transition
to the more modern cattle estate system is not widespread.
Estate System: Rice Estate
k'
Rice estates are more important to the life of Macondo
than the large cattle estates since they require the labor of
more people who reside in the town. Many owners of rice
estates are former banana growers, like cattle estate owners.
And many are tenants on INCORA land and, thus, like their
cattle estate counterparts quite vulnerable to invasions by
squatters. A solution to this dilemma that is both economi¬
cally feasible and politically wise is rice agriculture.
Much like the "Sugar Plan" of the Cauca Valley cattle ran¬
chers (Blasier 1966), rice agriculture can stave off the
pressure for partitioning the large estates into smaller
peasant holdings. Cattle are less risky economically, but
rice brings a higher return on one’s investment and relief
from the pressure of colonists.
The rice estate is also administered by an administrator,
but the rice estate owner is more likely to take an active
part in the day to day operation of the estate. Frequently
the estate owner resides in the town or rural areas of the
municipality. The capataz is more a chief of employees
rather than administrator of the entire operation. Extra-

104
ordinary care must be taken to assure that the water supply
is adequate and delivered to the fields efficiently. Weed
control is an important and recurring problem. And since all
rice estates in the lowlands are mechanized the capital re¬
quired for modern machinery encourages the owner of these to
oversee personally his investment. Therefore, it is not
unusual to encounter the owner of a rice estate taking an
active part in productive activity in both town and countryside.
The administrator and the estate employees, unlike
workers on cattle estates, are both drawn from the old upper
sector and now defunct middle sector of the banana industry
days. They and the landowner form a single interaction unit
linked by ties of ritual, affinal, and filial kinship ties.
The administrator, employees, and owner of the rice estate
may all be found drinking together in the bars and on the
estate, betting at cock fights together, and exchanging visits
to each other's homes. Few personnel live on the rice estate.
A night watchman is hired to protect the land from invasion.
The watchman, administrator, employees and owner are all
armed so as to discourage squatters.
The employees operate all of the machinery needed in
the day to day operation of the estate: tractors plow,
harrow, and plant, harvesters reap and bag the crop, and
trucks carry the sacks to the market. Employees are usually
sent by landowners to the cities of the coast for training
courses given by retail firms in the correct operation,
maintenance, and repair of the equipment. The landowner's

105
investment in the training of young men from a compadre's
family or the training of a nephew is not entirely a matter
of economics. It is also an expression of the particular
world view and concomittant notions of group solidarity
typical of the upper sector of the town from which owner,
administrator, and employee come.
The mechanization of rice agriculture in the former
banana zone introduces certain organizational features which
directly affect the crop cycle. The harvester is an expen¬
sive piece of farm equipment which not all rice producers
can afford to purchase. Those who can rent their machines
to the less affluent producers, but in order to make machines
available when the crop is ripe the planting and harvesting
must be precisely scheduled and coordinated. This is accom¬
plished by the owners of harvesters who specify to their
clients when the harvester will be in their locale and the
dates when the machine will be available for rent. The pro¬
duction of rice, therefore, is scheduled so that the crops
ripen in succession over a three month period. This seems to
occur from south to north in the banana zone. Rice is planted
from January through March across the zone. This is called
the primér semestre, first semester, and runs until the
crops are ripe in June, July, and August when harvesters
comb the land. Rice is planted again between July and
September. This begins the segundo semestre, a time period
that runs until the harvest in November, December, and
January. (See Figure 6).

April
May-
Harvest 2
Planting
1
FIGURE 6
Production Schedule of the Rice Estate

107
Machines such as tractors are present on most estates
and are operated by employees of that estate. But harvesters
are operated by an employee of the owner of the machine.
Both machine and operator are rented, so that certain
employees of the banana zone travel its length and breadth
specializing in harvest activity during June, July, and
August and again during November, December, and January.
During other periods they are engaged in fumigation for
weeds, water control, and other activities on their home
estates.
A rice operation of 100 hectares will require the manual
labor of about 10 to 15 contratistas or day laborers working
with machetes and shovels to clean irrigation canals, dig
ditches for bringing water from the canals to the crop,
and adjust ditches until the flow of water is adequate.
This activity lasts for a period of from three to four weeks
during planting. Five months later the day laborers will
again be needed, but now only about four, for picking up the
sacks of rice discharged by the rice harvester and loading
them on the trucks. This task lasts only a week to 10 days.
Day laborers are recruited for these activities by a
labor broker, the hombre que indica, who also recruits for
work of a similar character on the cattle estates. The
estate administrator will schedule his contracts with the
labor brokers so as to have 10 to 15 workers ready to build
and adjust the irrigation ditches for the planted crop.
This is a particularly precise operation, since the rain

may cause the rice seeds to sprout, and the seed may be
lost if water is not brought to the field at the correct
time. Moreover, precision is necessary if the producer is
to meet his schedule set by the availability of the harvester.
A labor broker remains useful to the administrator only if he
can guarantee the requisite number of workers on the dates
needed. For whatever precision his operation is able to
attain, the estate administrator looks to the hombre que indica.
Wage laborers are paid 20 to 25 pesos a day though only
when there is work. Perhaps the most concrete expression of
this problem is the use of children and women of the house¬
hold of the day laborer as gleaners. Whatever rice they
find in the harvested fields they are permitted to keep.
The months of September, October, November, and December
are difficult times for most day laborers of the community.
During the long dry summer the workers may search the length
and breadth of the zone and find little work. The period of
March to June offers a few more work opportunities. These
are the times when there is no work on the rice estates,
during the harvest or during the growing period. From March
to June some day laborers are fortunate enough to find work
on the cattle estate planting pasture grass, cleaning and
burning off weeds from fields, or cleaning an irrigation net¬
work, for this is the beginning of the rainy season and the
planting season on cattle estates. Other laborers may pick
up seasonal work at the Planta Desmotadora or cotton gin
operated by the government body called the Instituto de

109
Mercadeo Agropecuario (IDEMA). The cotton gin, built in
Birmingham, Alabama, operates during the months of January,
February, and March and processes tons of cotton from the
southern side of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. No cotton
is produced in Orejones. It is sent to Orejones in large
trucks from Codazzi, Copey, and Valledupar to be processed
in the local plant.
Few work opportunities exist from September to December.
During this period the lucky day laborer will obtain work
of a nonessential character on some estates, such as clearing
and burning brush from the side of a road, clearing and
burning off weeds from an area not under cultivation, or
painting, mending, and a host of other odd jobs. Of course
the fortunate day laborers are generally the older labor
brokersj A number of cases were observed in which estate
managers provided "busy" work for their labor contractors over
these summer months. Once, when the question was put to an
estate administrator as to why a group of two laborers were
being paid to clear and burn brush from the side of a paved
public road, an operation generally left to the government
Departamento de Obras Publicas if it is done at all, the
administrator replied that "it looks better to me." A month
later the same two workers were cleaning the administrator's
small garden, a task easily performed in a few days by the
administrator himself since less than a hectare was planted
in table crops. But these workers spent two weeks in the
patch and were paid a full day's wage of 25 pesos for each

110
of 14 days. The laborers were labor brokers for this admin¬
istrator and were given work in order to continue the patron-
client relationship through the dry spell from September to
December. In another case the administrator of an estate
simply made a gift of several sacks of corn to his labor
broker in order to preserve their relationship.
For many day laborers the long summer is a time for
making charcoal. There are no specialists in charcoal making
in the municipality. Various day laborers and peasants
engage in this activity when they have no other means of
getting money. For making charcoal is an arduous task and
the return on one’s labor investment is small. Wood must be
cut for several weeks, then it must be dried for several more.
It must be stacked in a huge bonfire and covered with a layer
of clay, then ignited with a long torch poked in through an
opening. The dirt covering must be adjusted and watched to
make sure the vegetable matter is not entirely consumed by
the flame. This involves several more days of work. Then
the fire must be extinguished, the charcoal dried, the sacks
stuffed with charcoal, and the sacks loaded on a burro and
sold door to door in town. A month of labor may produce five
sacks of charcoal. These bring 25 pesos each in the town,
or the equivalent of five days of work during the work season
on the estates. No one likes to make charcoal, and no one
can live on the proceeds earned.
The social relationships which mediate rice agriculture
have been implied in the discussion above. The landowner

Ill
stands in a relationship of patron to client with his full¬
time employees. But on the rice estate this does not include
some traditional elements of the patron-client relationship,
namely, usufruct right to land for planting and housing on
the estate. Employees reside in the town. The patron pro¬
vides credit references, including his signature as fiador or
cosigner of an account, for his administrator and employees.
After several months the employee will be granted his own
credit if he demonstrates the ability to make regular payments.
In addition the employer provides training in farm machinery-
operation. And a cash wage of 25 pesos is paid the client.
While this is not more than the wage paid a day laborer, the
employee enjoys steady employment, credit, and the status of
a maquinista or technician. Some are able to specialize in
machine repair and set up a garage in one of the lowland towns.
Finally, filial, affinal, and ritual kinship ties unite the
landowner, administrator, and employees.
The day laborer stands in a relationship of client to
patron with the labor broker. Neither have a formal position
in the estate system, but both are essential to agricultural
activity on the estate. Security in job placement lies in
the maintenance of ties which unite the labor broker and
the day laborer, for each is dependent upon the other.
Cannabis smoking, tobacco smoking, and alcohol drinking each
play important roles in the maintenance of this relationship,
as well as in the replication of the labor units or work
crews upon which the estate depends.
A number of service relationships are maintained by the

112
landowner and estate administrator. These are interface
relationships between the production unit and service units.
One service unit is INCORA which provides the water used in
rice cultivation. A fee of 58 pesos per hectare must be paid
INCORA for rights of access to water, whether or not the canal
passing through the estate is used. Depending upon the crop
a fee must be paid for cubic meters of water diverted into
the fields. Sluice gates are set in positions regulated by
INCORA employees and these are padlocked. The rate for bananas,
for example, is only 0.05 centavos per cubic meter. The
government thus promotes the rehabilitation of the banana
zone by making water cheap to banana producers, while ignoring
the fact that the losses suffered currently are due to the
world market and not the Colombian producer. All other crops
are charged 0.94 centavos per cubic meter. The estate admin¬
istrator or owner must sit down with an INCORA employee be¬
fore the planting begins and agree upon the amount of water
to be used and the dates when sluice gates must be opened and
closed. Then he pays his fees or a 2$ interest charge for
the credit granted.
The rice cooperative or Cooperativa Arrocera provides
credit, seed, and a market for the large and small producer
of rice. The trucks used to transport rice are rarely owned
by estate owners, and they are usually rented from certain
coastal shopkeepers and landowners in the town, just as
rice harvesters are rented. Crop duster airplanes are
available for a fee in nearby Fundación. Each of these

113
interface relationships must be precisely scheduled so that
producers have them available at the time when they are
needed. In contrast to cattle production, rice production
is a precise activity.
INCORA parcelas
The peasant cooperative agricultural unit created by
INCORA is a second unit of production. The land ceded and
sold to the Colombian government by the United Fruit Company
in the 1960's is today administered by INCORA. All the land
is occupied by three classes of tenants: (1) those tenants
who invaded large tracts of land belonging to the United
Fruit Company in the 1940's, signed contracts to grow bananas
for sale to the Company, and currently hold these same con¬
tracts which INCORA honors as usufruct right to the lands
invaded, (2) those tenants who invaded small parcels of land
of the United Fruit Company in the 1940's, built houses and
planted subsistence crops, and today continue occupancy be¬
cause they have been granted title to the land by INCORA,
and (3) those tenants who invaded small parcels of land of
the United Fruit Company in the 1940*s, built homes and
planted crops, and today continue occupancy without title
at the grace of INCORA. As the town notary put it, the
tenants have occupied the land longer than INCORA has existed,
so the land is rightly theirs to use.
The tenant of the first category is generally enaged
in cattle and rice production as discussed previously. The
second and third categories are subsistence farmers, or

114
coastal peasants. These will be discussed in the following
section. Title to INCORA land is granted only to the small
Parcel tenants, those who possess less than one to perhaps
five or six hectares. Squatters of category (1) are not
given title to their lands, but are allowed to make them
produce. This right is really an obligation, given the pres¬
sures on land which exist in the municipality.
The INCORA parcela or peasant cooperative is a fourth
category which must be taken up apart from those listed above.
The cooperative uniformly results from the invasion and colo¬
nization of large estates belonging to tenants of category (1).
Several examples of the process by which this occurs were
witnessed during the period of study. The squatters or
colonos are uniformly landless day laborers residing in the
municipality. The tactic for such an invasion is as follows.
First, a group of day laborers decide among themselves
that the squatting on a portion of an estate is politically
feasible. By this is meant that the current tenant is either
not exploiting a portion of the estate or is exploiting it
inefficiently (e.g. grazing one head of cattle per five or
six hectares). Day laborers feel they have a better chance
for success under such conditions since the Agrarian Reform
Law of 1961, as amended in 1963, (INCORA 1963, 1969, 1972),
states that land unexploited or inefficiently exploited shall
be expropriated and partitioned among the landless. Of
course such an expropriation has never occurred, and few
expect it to occur in the future. Thus, workers attempt to

115
discover where their efforts to colonize are most likely to
succeed, and this is uniformly on INCORA land exploited inef¬
ficiently (from the invader's viewpoint). Invasions of pri¬
vately owned estates do occur but have resulted in deaths on
both sides in the past. Recent invasions of private estates
date from six and seven years ago and are still in litigation.
Second, the day laborers choose a night for the invasion
and assemble materials for house construction and manioc,
corn, and plantain seed. Night arrives and they invade the
estate, clear the brush away, hastily put up makeshift huts,
and quickly plant a few cultigens.
Third, morning arrives, the squatters are discovered,
and the mayor of the town is contacted for help. The mayor
sends the police if the contingent of invaders is small or
calls Santa Marta for the army if the contingent is large.
Groups of squatters who invaded lands between August of 1972
and November of 1973 ranged from two to 50 families. In all
instances the police or army initially drove off the squatters,
burned their houses, destroyed their cultigens, and arrested
those who refused to be ejected.
Fourth, having just failed, the squatters mount a second
attempt and repeat the second step on the same estate. The
current tenant then repeats the third step. This continues
until either the invaders or the current tenant give up,
while each time tempers flare hotter and threaten open violence,
leading to the fifth and sixth steps.
Fifth, the colonos give up their plan and content them¬
selves with no land or make plans for the invasion of another

116
estate.
Sixth, the current tenant gives up defense of his usu¬
fruct right and sells the me.joras or improvements he had made
on the land since his own invasion several decades back (i.e.
fences, gates, houses, stock pens, irrigation ditches, bridges,
roads, etc.) to INCORA. INCORA buys these and notifies the
colonists that it will form a parcela or cooperative of the
lands given up by the tenant. Lawyers for INCORA then consult
lengthy lists of applicants for land (lists solicited in pre¬
paration in the event that any lands will ever be expropriated
and partitioned in accordance with the law). From these lists
names are drawn to supplement the parcela.
The parcela is envisioned by INCORA to be a parcel of
land that is large enough to be farmed economically with the
benefits of modern farm technology (machinery), yet owned and
operated by the poor of the society who formerly had no land.
The cooperative is the result. According to INCORA lawyers
and parcela members interviewed, INCORA has three categories
for choosing members of the cooperative: (1) workers on the
land disemployed by the invasion, (2) the invaders, and (3)
those persons on the waiting list for the partitioning of
the large estates.
In a carefully studied case, four day laborers invaded
a cattle estate occupied by a tenant living in Santa Marta.
These four then weathered out the pressure to abandon their
claim, and the tenant eventually backed off and transfered
his cattle to another of his estates. INCORA divided this

117
land into two parts, giving #2 hectares to the formation of
a cooperative including the four invaders. The workers dis¬
placed by the invasion (estate employees) numbered eight and
these were added to the four colonos to bring the full comple¬
ment of the cooperative to 12 families. No families on the
list were chosen.
The cooperative members are given some time to choose
a crop they wish to cultivate. In the example cited above,
the 12 family heads decided upon rice after some debate between
rice and cattle. INCORA then loaned them the use of a bull¬
dozer for clearing trees, bush, and leveling the ground. A
tractor was also loaned for plowing, harrowing, and planting.
Water was loaned at the standard 2$ interest rate. And rice
seed was loaned by the Cooperative Arrocera with INCORA
signing the note. The cooperative has 15 years to pay off
INCORA for the land. The land is not a gift. The first
three years no interest is paid and no payment is required
on the principal. Beginning with the fourth year payments
must begin as well as payments for the water, machinery rental,
and seed and fertilizer used.
The personnel of the cooperative, therefore, are uni¬
formly landless day laborers and estate employees who for
the first time have their own land. Significantly, invasions
take place only on cattle estates and not on rice estates.
The reason probably does not lie in greater efficiency of the
rice estates but in the composition of the employee and
administrator staff of the rice estates. It will be recalled

US
that such employees are related affinally, filially, and
ritually to landowners. Their cooperation in the invasion
and cooperative formation is not expected. Day laborers
therefore seek allies among the nonkin employees of the
cattle estate.
Upon close examination one finds that the position of
the hombre que indica or labor broker persists into the
structure of the cooperative. This man is an older day
laborer who traditionally directs the labor of his fellows
on the estates, coordinates work schedules, and recruits
workers to work crews. On the cooperative it is he who
negotiates the interface relationships with INCORA, the
rice cooperative, the seed, fertilizer, and weed control
salesmen, and the buyer. When the bulldozer rolls onto the
property it is he who tells the operator where to plow up
trees and where to level the ground.
Typically the cooperative operates at less than full
strength. In the example discussed above, 12 families
started out in February of 1972. By September of 1972 one
of the household heads had already returned to work for the
former tenant of this land on another of his estates. When
questioned the household head explained that one rice crop
had been grown and harvested, and he now knew that he could
do better as the administrator of a cattle estate given the
fringe benefits of the patron-client relationship. Of five
parcelas studied, none operated at their full complement of
families. Internal fighting, the attraction of external

119
opportunities like the one mentioned above, and crop failures
have caused some to drop out of the venture. In the two
oldest parcelas (established in 1970) the following pattern
appears. A number of related families are found to be mem¬
bers of the cooperative, yet INCORA lawyers specify that
related families are not a criterion of cooperative formation.
As families drop out of the venture they are replaced by
families related to the original members. These are recruited
rapidly by member families and suggested to INCORA as good
replacements with whom all can get along. The cooperatives
appear to be headed in the direction of kin-based units of
production.
To digress a moment, it should be noted that the parcela
of INCORA is a controversial innovation which many argue is
not the proper response to the crisis of land and work in
the municipality. The current president of the Colombian
Senate, Hugo Escobar Sierra, a politician from a wealthy
coastal family with strong ties to Majagua,has condemned
INCORA for its activities and callea for the abolition of
INCORA and the repeal of the Agrarian Reform Law of 1961
(Escobar Sierra 1972). But at present the peasant coopera¬
tive, the conflicts which produce it, and the tensions
which result, are characteristic of this community.
Peasant farms: Highlanders
The cachacos or highlanders who migrated to the muni¬
cipality in the 1950's brought with them a distinctive pro¬
duction system. This is the highland farm. The vast majority

120
of highlanders in the community are Andean peasants, similar
in many ways to those described by Fals Borda (1955) in his
classic work on Colombian Andean peasant society. But that
description will not serve the present analysis since many
features of highland peasant life in a coastal community are
different from those encountered in the interior.
The highland subculture in the Sierra Nevada de Santa
Marta is characterized by farms located in a vereda or rural
neighbornood. The vereda is an ethnocentric, politically
cohesive, homogeneous unit (Fals Borda's 1955 definition
applies equally well here as it did to peasants in Boyacá).
The extended families of the vereda are related by affinal
and filial kinship ties, ties of ritual coparenthood, and ties
of common origin in Santander, Norte de Santander, and Cun-
dinamarca. The production unit which exploits the land is
composed of male members of the extended household: a man,
his oldest sons, sons-in-law, and any other adult males
present. In no cases do males of different families work
together cooperatively, except for hunting ñeke, guartina.ja,
and other wild animals for their meat. Wage labor is absent
from the highlands with the exception of the police commis¬
sioner who is recruited from among the peasants and paid 400
pesos a month.
The highland farm is an agro-pastoral unit. The male
kinsmen grow primarily subsistence crops, secondarily cash
crops for the lowland town market, and thirdly raise cattle
on a sharecropping basis for lowland dwelling cachaco store-

121
keepers. The yearly horticultural cycle begins during the
months of January, February, and March. The household head
and his male relatives cut with axes and machetes the brush
and trees on the site of the roza or mixed garden plot for
that year. The hot sun of this period dries out the vege¬
tation and it is burned off during February or March. In
the classic swidden pattern (Conklin 1954, Carter 1963) the
large stumps and logs are left where they fall, and the
smaller trees and brush are consumed by the fire. The garden
plot is always located on the hillsides and the relatively
level bottom land of the valleys is devoted to pasture grass
and grazing animals. The first crop is planted in April when
the rains commence.
Included in the mixed garden are yuca or sweet manioc
and maize, the staple crops consumed by the highlanders. In
addition kidney beans, black-eyed peas, coffee, rice, sugar
cane, and cannabis may be included in any given year. Each
of these is a cash crop specialty of certain peasant house¬
holds of the highlands. Many peasants plant four hectares
of corn and two to three of sweet manioc. About two hectares
of corn and two of manioc are generally consumed by a house¬
hold of 10 persons over the year. The remainder is marketed
as a cash crop. Beans are generally planted in amounts of
three to four hectares, sugar cane in amounts of two to three
hectares, rice in amounts of four to six hectares, and
coffee in amounts of four to six hectares. Certain peasants
specialize in one or several of these, but rarely does a

122
peasant grow all of them. Those who specialize in cannabis,
which is a cash crop like the others, plant from one to 10
hectares at the same time as the staple crops and other cash
crops are planted.
The bulk of labor expended on the highland farm is
directed to two processes: (1) clearing and burning off the
land, and (2) weeding the mixed garden periodically. The
latter involves bending from the waist and running the machete
across the surface of the ground, thereby cutting weeds off
at ground-level. Both tasks are difficult in the extreme,
and weeding must be repeated three times during the growing
season for corn, manioc, beans, peas, and cannabis for the
land is covered with scrub rather than forest. Coffee, rice,
and sugar cane are often weeded only once. Clearing, burning,
and weeding are the work of adult men and late adolescent
aged sons.
Harvest of the first crop begins in August and is com¬
pleted by September. Corn and manioc to be consumed by the
household are generally left on the stalk or in the ground
until harvest of the cash crop is completed. Seed corn is
selected immediately. But that to be consumed is stored in
the field until it can be stored in the houses. Manioc is
left in the ground until used as food or seed. The crops
harvested first are those that are to be marketed.
Before harvest begins, however, the second planting
takes place in July. This occurs after the final weeding
of the first crop has been completed. Second planting is

123
generally much smaller than the first and often confined to
corn, manioc, and beans. The latter ripen fast and can be
sold for much needed cash just before the dry summer begins,
and corn and manioc are always needed. But many highlanders
do not plant a second crop claiming they too frequently lose
much of it to an early summer. The harvest of the second
crop takes place in November when the summer has already
begun in earnest.
Animals raised on the highland farm include cattle,
horses, mules, chickens, pigs, turkeys, and the ubiquitous
beast of burden the burro. In addition to the essential milk
cow only chickens and turkeys are raised specifically for
household consumption. Pigs are raised to be sold in the
lowlands. Only when they are in danger of dying or when
they are needed for ceremonial events (e.g. a wake) are pigs
butchered and eaten. Horses are a luxury highly valued by
the highland peasant, and any prosperous adult male tries to
obtain at least one. Mules are considered important and
more practical beasts of burden in the mountains, but are
expensive. The burro in fact serves most frequently as a
pack animal. Cattle production is governed by an entirely
different set of arrangements.
The highland peasant household heads stand in relation¬
ships of client to patron with the cachaco shopkeepers of the
lowland town of Majagua. It will be recalled from Chapter II
that highland storekeepers from interior towns migrated into
the community at about the same time as the highland peasants

124
colonized the Sierra. The shopkeeper grants to his clients
credit at his store and contracts for grazing cattle on the
highland farm. The contracts for cattle grazing are on the
sharecropping model. Yearlings purchased by the shopkeeper
at 1,000 to 1,500 pesos each are transported to the client’s
farm where they are fattened for a period of three to four
years. At that time they are sold for perhaps 4,000 pesos
each. Of this the shopkeeper takes three-quarters as his
share and the highland peasant receives one-quarter. Heifers
are sold to peasants as milch cows and are incorporated into
the shopkeeper's lowland farms to be utilized for milk produc¬
tion. Steers are sold in the town market for local consumption.
Important social relationships among highland peasant
households are most clearly visible during the dry summer
season. The months of November to March are the hardest time
for the highlander. Planting loans are sought from the Ca.ja
Agraria, or Agrarian Bank, in March, and then the long depen¬
dence upon corn and manioc may come to an end. For purchases
can again supplement this basic diet. But from November until
the planting season and receipt of the loan, items such as
sugar, coffee, cooking oil, kerosene, and other processed
foods must be obtained on credit. Or these items can be
exchanged among related peasant households.
Domesticated animals are converted into cash at this
time to meet purchase needs. Meat is generally scarce in
the highland household, but during the summer it is absent.
It is then that the nonkin cooperative hunting of wild.

125
meat is undertaken. If a steer or pig becomes sick and thin
over the summer and cannot be sold, then it may be butchered
for household consumption. The meat is divided carefully
among related families, so carefully that a scale is used to
weigh sections "given" to affinal and filial kin. Repayment
of such gifts is obligatory when the recipient next butchers
an animal.
Dry summer or wet winter, a large flatbed truck with
wooden slat sides owned by a highland shopkeeper of the town
crawls up the torturous road each morning at 7:00. The
single road which it travels is the lifeline of these peasants.
It arrives at a store in the highlands at about 10:30 a.m.
There the produce of the peasants is loaded onto the truck and
transported to market for a small fee additional to that paid
for the transport of the peasant himself. During the rainy
growing season, the trip may take up to five hours as the
truck stops at farms all the way down the mountain to load
sacks of produce.
Agricultural and pastoral production are organized along
age group lines. This will be more thoroughly discussed in
Chapter IV dealing with life cycles. Now it is sufficient to
outline the activities of each age group. Sex segregated work
on the farm creates two separate spheres of activity, that
directed by the household head and that directed by his
spouse.
Children of each sex up until age three play no role in
production. Females aged four to seven assist their older

126
female siblings in care of younger siblings of each sex.
Females aged eight to 14 assume primary responsibility for
the care of younger siblings. They also assist in the kitchen,
in milking the cows in the morning, and in cleaning houses and
washing laundry at the stream. By age 15 the female is wholly
responsible for milking and assumes a larger share of the
burden of food preparation and washing and cleaning. Child
care recedes in importance but never fully ceases. Adult
females are responsible for all operations of the female sphere
of activity and assume primary responsibility for cooking,
cleaning, mending, and washing while they indirectly have
ultimate responsibility for child care, milking, and other
tasks assumed by younger females.
Male children aged four to seven are initiated in the
care of animals as they assist older siblings. Between ages
eight and 14 male children assume the major responsibility
for herding cattle and for care of the beasts of burden,
washing them in the stream when the household head returns
from traveling. They also chop firewood and carry it to the
kitchen. From ages 15 to adulthood the male offspring leaves
behind his responsibilities for care of the cattle and is
initiated into horticultural work in the mixed garden. No
task is kept from him, and he assumes a work load equal to
that, of an adult, even though his activities are directed by
the household head.
Peasant farms; Coastal
The coastal peasant farm bears many superficial similarities

127
to the highland peasant farm because each unit is involved in
subsistence agriculture and the yearly cycle affects each unit
similarly. The scheduling of planting and harvesting are the
same. While ecological conditions are the same, historical
circumstances and certain social traditions set the coastal
peasant off as distinct from the highland peasant. Cultural
traditions transmute the gross effects of ecological conditions,
since these two subcultures manifest quite different adjustive
responses to similar ecological circumstances.
Peasants of the coast live in urban nodal centers scat¬
tered along the road networks across the countryside called
aldeas or hamlets and pueblos or towns. There are six peasant
hamlets in Orejones, but the bulk of the peasants live in
neighborhoods of the town of Majagua. The peasant's roza or
mixed garden is always located at some distance from his home.
He commutes to his garden for three or four days at a time by
burro, on foot, on bicycle, or in chivas, the brightly painted
wooden-bodied buses built on old truck and car frames. The
latter regularly travel the dirt roads of the countryside
carrying passengers, supplies for estate commissaries, and
transporting peasants and their produce, day laborers, estate
employees, and estate administrators to town. But the burro
is the most common means of transport for the peasant.
At the farm the coastal peasant lives during his stay
in a second house of his own construction. He cooks his own
meals, cleans this second house himself, works in the fields,
and sleeps by himself. After several days of such work he

128
returns to town with his burro loaded down with produce, fire¬
wood, charcoal, or other products of his labor.
The crops planted differ only slightly from those planted
in the highlands. Corn, manioc, sugar cane, black-eyed peas,
and cannabis are common to both. But in the case of the
coastal peasant few of these are grown as cash crops. The
highland peasant, as seen above, is a commercial cultivator
of cannabis, but the coastal peasant plants only a small amount
and this for his own consumption and for petty trade with day
laborers. Similarly, corn, manioc, and peas are planted in
smaller quantities. The reason is the smaller size of the
farm. All coastal peasant holdings result from (1) invasions
of United Fruit Company lands during the 1940's, or (2) saving,
obtaining a good reputation, obtaining a cosigner for a loan,
and purchasing the land. Under each of these circumstances
the garden plots are small in contrast to those of the high¬
landers. One significant cropping difference is observed.
The coastal peasant depends heavily upon the plátano or plan¬
tain and corn, rather than upon manioc as does the highland
peasant. The plantain is a cultivo permanente much like pas¬
ture grasses and fruit trees, meaning that after planting
little else is done until harvest. A stand of 20 to 25 plan¬
tain trees insures that the family will survive the dry
slimmer without fear of hunger. The plantain requires less
intensive labor than the staple manioc of the highland peasant.
The preference for plantain in the coastal subculture is re¬
lated to the organization of work on the farm.

129
The coastal peasant lives out most of his life in a
nuclear family unit: a man, his spouse, and their children.
The nuclear family is only one stage of the developmental
cycle of the stem family, but one which endures the longest
of any. In terms of production it is the nuclear unit which
does the actual work on the farm. This work unit consists of
a man and his adolescent aged male children. But in practice
the work unit often consists of only the adult household head.
Upon reaching adolescence his sons wish to seek wage labor in
the countryside or the city (see Chapter IV). The smaller
size of the land area and the smaller size of the work unit
each decrease the output of the coastal peasant farm.
Another contrast between the highland and coastal peasant
farms is the social origin of each group. The coastal peasant
is invariably the son of a migratory wage laborer who came
to the banana zone to work for the United Fruit Company. The
coastal peasant himself has engaged in wage labor for the
Company or for one of the large estates. His adolescent son
is now so engaged. Therefore, the coastal peasant is a day
laborer who only recently obtained land. The highland peasant,
in contrast, is invariably the offspring of a peasant in the
interior.
The coastal peasant has migrated as a day laborer over
the length and breadth of the coast, visiting hundreds of
different towns, working on many different estates as a young
man. He learned to depend upon relationships among nonkin
during those migratory years. Later in life he depended upon

130
those nonkin relationships to find a fiador or cosigner for
a loan to purchase his plot of land. That some former day-
laborers have obtained land in this manner and made it produce
for decades is testimony to the fact that the capital was
found among these nonkin resources.
Work on the coastal farm is not clearly age structured
as on the highland farm. There are fewer workers, children
do not live on the farm but in town, and there is not as much
work to do. The division into sex segregated spheres of work
activity is similar. Female children assist their mothers in
the care of younger siblings between ages seven and 14 and
milk the cow. Unlike the highland farm the coastal farm
rarely has a number of livestock. The coastal farm has no
pasture lands upon which cattle may be sharecropped. The
coastal peasant is only a horticulturalist and not a pastoralist.
Chickens, a burro, and a milk cow are the essential animals.
Few have more than these. Young males aged seven to 14 may
accompany their father to the farm, but their work is only
minimal. Males in the coastal subculture begin adult work
patterns in the work crews of the estates.
Shopkeeper farms
The beef and cattle products consumed in Majagua are
marketed by the shopkeepers of both coastal and highland sub¬
cultures. Farms belonging to the shopkeepers and sharecropping
arrangements with the highland peasants provide these products.
The shopkeepers who own these units hire a single employee
who is called a trabajador or worker to live on the farm, care

131
for the cattle, milk them once a day, transport the milk to
town, report signs of illness, and play the role of watchman.
The worker's offspring are frequently godchildren and employer
and employee address each other as compadre or coparent.
The owners of these units of production purchase their
calves from the larger cattle estates in the municipality,
preferably during March, April, or May of the year when they
are ready for sale. The calves may be immediately transported
to a highland farm for grazing over the next several years.
As heifers mature these are brought down to the lowland farm
of the shopkeeper for milking. Steers are brought down for
eventual sale. Milk is sold to the numerous small shops of
the town and hauled to town on burros, mules, or horses.
The kind of cattle and cattle products produced on this
farm differ significantly from those of the large cattle
estates. Milk and cheese production on the estates is often
of minor concern. Beef is generally the major product of the
estates and this is marketed in the city. But small cattle
farms market both milk and beef in the town nearby. The
capital investment is limited. A bull used for reproduction
on a shopkeeper's farm is generally purchased for six to
seven thousand pesos, whereas bulls on large estates in the
same municipio are often valued at 20,000 pesos, and it is
reported by the veterinarian for one estate that bulls on
large dairy farms near Santa Marta may have been purchased
in the United States for as much as 70,000 pesos. Similarly,
the number of cattle on the shopkeeper's farm ranges between
30 and 100, whereas the great estates have herds of several

132
thousands.
These compose the variety of production units operating
in the municipality. Of these only the highland and coastal
peasant farms are involved in cannabis production. Cannabis
distribution and consumption will be taken up under the app¬
ropriate headings later in this chapter, where it will be
seen that personnel of other production units (e.g. day laborers
on the estates) are related to some aspect of the cannabis
cycle.
Production of Cannabis
Cannabis is farmed in clandestine plots in the highlands
of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and in the lowland towns
and farms. In the municipality of Orejones there are two
broad patterns of cultivation.
The highland peasant grows cannabis for commercial pur¬
poses. He is not a cannabis consumer. The peasant generally
plants his seeds just as the March rains begin, together with
his other crops such as corn, beans, sugar cane, and manioc,
in his mixed garden plot. These commercial growers first
germinate their seeds in a germination box made of four logs
placed in a square surrounding well cleaned and well pulverized
soil. The seeds are simply scattered on the surface of the
prepared soil. A thick layer of commercial ant-killer is
spread around the perimeter (Aldrine). The plants are thinned,
selected, and transplanted to the peasant’s mixed garden for
that year in about 15 to 20 days. When cannabis is to be
included in the garden it is planted at the lowest point on

133
the hillside, below the tall corn plants mixed with manioc
plants, and far from the numerous paths which criss-cross the
ridge tops. In this manner the growing crop is concealed.
Highland peasants plant in quantities dictated by the
middlemen with whom they form contracts. A peasant does not
simply plant a cannabis crop for market sales. He does so
when he is assured of a buyer, and the buyer contracts ver¬
bally for a certain amount. Most buyers and peasants produce
only a few hectares of cannabis, but occasionally the parti¬
cularly affluent and well connected buyer calls for an espec¬
ially large planting, perhaps 10 hectares. One such planting
was found in Orejones in 1973* At the end of the growing
season, October, the peasant producer was arrested along with
several others and the entire crop destroyed (El Tiempo
October 2, 1973)* Nobody went to jail, however, as the com¬
mercial buyer and peasants together were able to provide the
police with a substantial payoff. Several other commercial
growers commented at the time that the peasants who were
arrested were foolish. Planting a large crop is an invitation
to the police, for it indicates considerable financial backing
and at least the possibility for a healthy bribe. Similarly,
informants warned that a very small crop would invite police
action, since the police must arrest someone and a small crop
indicates no support of a powerful middleman. The small
cropper thus becomes a statistic in the arrest records of the
region, and the police are covered in the event that their
superiors pressure them for more action against the growers.

134
Ideally, claim these informants, from two to four hectares
seems the safest size for a cannabis crop, for this indicates
to the police that one is neither too large a producer to be
a profitable arrest nor too small to be without good connec¬
tions among the wealthy middlemen. Police action seems to
stem not so much from the law, which forbids the cultivation
of cannabis, but from the social and economic factors asso¬
ciated with such action.
In contrast to highland peasants, coastal peasants and
day laborers do not plant in large quantities. Neither do
they use the germination box technique. Rather, they plant
cannabis like corn. A hole is poked in the prepared soil with
a machete and covered over with the foot after several seeds
are dropped in. Several weeks later the smaller of the re¬
sulting plants are thinned out, leaving the healthiest looking
plants to grow to maturity. When asked about this difference
in planting techniques, coastal informants explain that the
highlanders use a germination box because they are all from
Norte de Santander. In that region tobacco is an important
cash crop, and since tobacco seeds are quite small a germina¬
tion box is needed. But there is no need for this with
cannabis. The highlanders plant as they do out of habit,
the coastal growers conclude.
The coastal grower usually plants for his own consump¬
tion needs. A single plant may produce up to 20 pounds of
leaves and two or three pounds of resinous stem tips. Ten
or fewer plants assure the coastal consumer-cultivator of

135
sufficient cannabis for his own needs, and of several extra
pounds for barter and trade with day laborers who have no
land upon which to plant cannabis for themselves. Some day
laborers plant a few plants in the patio of the home, but
many purchase cannabis in small packages called papeletas
from other day laborers and peasants who specialize in
cannabis distribution of small two or three gram packages.
Cultivators and consumers class the parts of the plant
into two categories: la mona which is made up of the mixture
of resin, small leaves, and small stems from the top of the
mature female plant, and la hoja or the larger lower leaves
of both male and female plants. La mona is sold to a buyer
for around 200 to 300 pesos a pound and la hoja brings about
100 pesos a pound. The buyer usually doubles these prices
paid to the cultivator when the product is retailed. Con¬
sumers universally prefer la mona for smoking, but are not
always able to afford it.
It should be noted, however, that la mona is often used
as a generic term to refer to cannabis generally in the same
way that the terms la amarilla and marihuana are used. The
term canabis is used by adolescent offspring of the upper
sector in small towns and cities who experiment with this
and other drugs. In this social sector, such drug use is
clearly influenced by the so-called "hippie movement" in the
United States and Europe. Such usage indicates more than
the easy transference of symbols of rebellion and alienation
from the industrial societies to the underdeveloped society.

136
It also suggests that the conditions of cultural transmission
and the replication of societal structures in each of these
societies have been affected by similar changes during the
mid-twentieth century. Such changes, that is changes which
are affecting both the industrial and underdeveloped societies,
are probably of world wide distribution and as such could be
profitably investigated and compared in terms of effects on
various kinds of social structures. But that is not the focus
of the present work.
Consumers and cultivators alike often refer to cannabis
simply as ella, "she" and "her" regardless of the type being
consumed. One never hears the classic Spanish cáñamo, meaning
hemp, applied to cannabis in any of the groups of the munici¬
pality. This word signifies a lasso made of cabuya fiber in
this region of Colombia.
Harvesting of the cannabis plants takes several days of
intense labor on the part of the males of the household.
The harvesting techniques do not seem to vary with subculture
as much as with individual preference. Some merely yank the
plant up by the roots and strip off la mona into one pile and
la hoja into another. Others practice a more complicated
procedure. The plants are first girdled by cutting off a
ring of bark around the circumference of the trunk. In a
few days the leaves begin to fall off. These are gathered
and packed for sale either as they fall off or as they are
picked just before falling. Then when all of the leaves
have fallen or been picked, the tip of the female plant,

137
called _l£ mota sometimes, is harvested. Male plants mature
faster than female, and these are simply harvested when the
leaves begin to turn yellow and dry out. Much greater care
is taken with the female plant, which ripens a month after
the male plant's leaves begin to turn yellow. By girdling
the female plant the leaves are air and sun dried before
sale or consumption. This process of harvesting is believed
to increase the potency of the marihuana: by girdling the
trunk, informants state, one conserves the leche or sap of
the plant, and this is believed to rise to the tip of the
plant since it cannot flow to the roots.
Among the commercial growers in the highlands, informants
report a variety of cannabis they call patagallina or chicken
foot. This is said to be an inferior grade of cannabis,
but in reality appears to be Hibiscus cannabinus L. or
kenaf (Pate, et al. 195k)• During the 1950's a landowner
in the municipality operated a fiber industry under contract
with the United States Department of Agriculture. This
operation was closed down in 1961, but plants can still be
found in the area. Patagallina seems to resemble cannabis
in leaf form and stature only, which does not preclude its
sale as cannabis. This mistaken identification of kenaf as
cannabis, and the inappropriate cultivation techniques
imported from the interior of the country, both point to the
cachaco commercial growers as relatively new innovators.
While the presence of cannabis among coastal people seems
traditional, its presence among the highlanders is probably
a market-induced phenomenon.

Systems of Distribution
Implied in the discussion of systems of production are
systems of relationships which govern the distribution of
produce. The estate system, in the case of both rice and
cattle, and the INCORA peasant cooperatives, supply the
urban markets of the coast. Trucks owned by certain land-
owners and by certain storeowners of Majagua roll out of
the rural estates and cooperatives loaded with sacks of rice
and cattle on the hoof bound for Barranquilla, the indus¬
trial center and most populous city of the north coast.
There the products are processed and retailed in the city.
Cattle and cattle products so distributed rarely return to
the hinterlands. Other sources supply the meat, milk, and
cheese eaten in Orejones. Rice on the other hand returns
to the municipality in paper and plastic bags. These are
retailed by the general stores and small shops. The large
stores generally sell in large quantities to the upper sector
of the population and to the estates and peasant farms lo¬
cated at great distances from town. Such purchases require
significant amounts of ready cash or credit. The tienda
however, markets the same rice in small quantities at three,
three and one-half, and four pesos according to quality.
Day laborers who are able to save nothing of their daily
wage of necessity purchase rice and all other foods in such
small quantities. So characteristic is this mode of dis¬
tribution that it deserves some elaboration.
While there are only five general stores in Majagua,

139
retailing everything from nonperishable food stuffs to
saddles and bridles to kerosene lamps and aluminum cookware
to farm implements and pharmaceutical supplies, there are
over 50 tiendas in the town. These small shops tend to be
family run enterprises. Children take their turn behind the
counter just as do adults. Most such shops are merely the
front rooms of residences with a counter, some shelves, a
refrigerator for cold drinks, and some chairs or benches.
Tienda owners are frequently widowed women, older day laborers,
or young men who have been apprenticed to a general store
owner and thereby become clients of his. The large stores
or almacenes supply the tiendas with their stock which is
sold in large quantities at retail prices. Thus, the tienda
owner makes very little profit. A pound of coffee, for
example, sells for 9*50 pesos in a large store whether retail
or wholesale. The tienda owner will break the pound into 20
small papeletas or packages of coffee. These are sold for
.50 centavos each, so that the profit on a pound of coffee
is .50 centavos. This is roughly half the value of a small
plantain, one fourth the value of an egg, or the value of two
of the cups of coffee he drinks during the day. Since only
a pound or two of coffee may be sold in a day, the margin of
profit is slim.
The redivision of items sold in the tienda applies to
all goods which are sold. Rice, raw sugar, salt, bread,
beans, laundry soap, candles, cigarettes, kerosene, cooking
oil, and all other items are divided into quantities the

140
client wishes to purchase. One can purchase a single cig¬
arette, a chunk of raw sugar sufficient for sweetening only
a single pot of coffee, or half of a candle. The availability
of such quantities points up the very small daily resources
of the clientele of the tiendas. For the day laborers of
the town it is both a necessity and a tragic element in a
cycle that deprives them of the capacity to budget and econo¬
mize their household expenses.
Ward (1967:138)» in a study of merchants in a small
fishing village near Hong Kong, has explained the multiplicity
of middlement in terms of the elaboration and extension of
credit arrangements throughout a society in which capital is
scarce. In the present instance, however, capital is not
scarce. Credit is scarce. Significant amounts of money are
earned and invested by certain members of this community.
Some such investments and purchases provide for other members
of the community, day laborers, for example, their only means
of support. But significant amounts of money are also earned
by members of the community and invested elsewhere, providing
no means of support for other members of the community. An
obvious example is the urban dwelling estate owner who invests
profits earned not in the development of the estate but in
another, urban located enterprise. Similarly, the day laborer
who shops for clothing in the city rather than in town redi¬
rects his smaller investment. The result is that there is
little credit for the poorest members of the community, since
there is little income.

141
The data collected from Orejones cannot be explained
using Ward's (1967) model. Tiendas in Majagua do not grant
credit to day laborers, and day laborers greatly outnumber
any other social category in the municipality. In each
tienda can be found a book of accounts of certain persons
who have credit who turn out to be relatives and friends
of long standing, but these amount to only a handful of the
customers. Street traffic accounts for the majority of
purchases in these shops, in keeping with the shifting work
opportunities and migratory character of the clientele.
The significant factor here is not the elaboration of credit
throughout the society, but the simple market mechanism of
dividing a given item into smaller units so that each unit
accrues value through exchange. The tienda owner tailors
his product to the needs of his clients: small, inexpensive
quantities. The day laborer can afford no other amount.
The multiplicity of middlemen must be explained in terms
other than the multiplicity of credit, for there is no credit
for the day worker. Ward (1967:139) specifies that the great
number of creditors in a society follows from the great num¬
ber of consumers in that society, post hoc, ergo propter hoc,
due to the personalistic nature of the creditor-debtor relation¬
ship. Yet in the present instance a great number of consumers
can find little credit. An explanation which more closely
fits the facts is that a small cash wage in the absence of
credit tends to produce the need for small, inexpensive
quantities of goods. Middlemen multiply in such a situation

142
in response to that need. If there are many people paid a
small wage there are many more opportunities for small pur¬
chases, the result being that the number of middlemen multi¬
plies to meet the demand.
The significant fact about one distribution system in
Majagua, therefore, is the proliferation of tiendas which
serve the function of breaking down large quantities of goods
into small, inexpensive quantities which can be purchased
with great frequency by the bulk of the population.
Ward (1967s139-140) also postulates that the primary
producer such as the peasant becomes more or less productive
depending upon his credit arrangements at the local stores,
since the threat to stop credit stimulates the peasant to
produce. Unfortunately, this reasoning does not fit the
evidence from Majagua either. For the peasant is not dependent
upon the store owner for credit to plant his crops, but for
the simple purchase in bulk of items such as salt, rice,
sugar, and other items which demand significant amounts of
money or credit to obtain. Productivity is affected more by
the annual planting loan obtained through the Agrarian Bank
or Cattleman's Bank. Tightening of credit in the stores means
only that the peasant will purchase less economical quantities
of goods, i.e., smaller quantities. Productivity is only
indirectly affected and then only in the long run in relation
to factors such as nutrition and time away from work to make
more frequent purchases.
Here in Majagua, as elsewhere (Arensberg and Kimball 1968),

H3
the threat to stop credit or actual stoppage rarely occurs.
An outstanding account with a patron-shopkeeper is common
among the peasants. The shopkeepers and the peasants rarely
break such relationships by paying accounts in full or by
demanding payment in full. One storekeeper complained that
since the highlanders began planting cannabis they no longer
seek him out for credit. Just the other day he loaned a
compadre from the highlands 4,000 pesos. The ungrateful
peasant paid it back in full in two weeks time. In the old
days, says the shopkeeper, such an account would have taken
a peasant many months to repay (during which time he would
have sought further credit). This comment raises the possi¬
bility that cannabis cultivators sever their ties by paying
their accounts at the store, but this is not the case. All
cannabis cultivators continue to run up large accounts at
the stores of their patrons. What the above mentioned shop¬
keeper was referring to was cash loans which are usually made
at a 20$ interest charge by people who have money to those
who do not. The shopkeeper laments that such a loan can now
be paid back readily, including the exorbitant interest, and
the peasant does not become further indebted by taking out
further cash loans. The shopkeepers owning the large stores
provide food and other goods in large amounts to families of
professionals, government employees, the police, artisans,
and estate employees as well as to highland peasants. These
are the families which have credit at the store. In addition
street vendors, the tiendas, and women in the stalls of the

144
market building provide foods strictly on a cash and carry
basis to all social sectors of the town. For fresh fruits
and vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and certain local
breads everyone must shop the market building, the street
vendors and the tiendas. But for processed foods such as
corn, beans, rice, salt, sugar, cooking oil, condiments,
potatoes, coffee and other items which can be purchased in
bulk, those with credit shop the large stores.
As one poor day laborer put it, "money talks." Credit
is only granted to those who regularly earn money, despite
Ward’s (1967) claim that they need only be consumers.
There are, therefore, two local systems of distribution
outlined so far: that based upon credit and that based upon
cash. But there is still a third distribution system among
related family units in the countryside. This has been well
documented by Alicia and Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff (Dussan de
Reichel 195&, Reichel-Dolmatoff 1966). Peasants of both sub¬
cultures produce a variety of foods, but never the full
variety of foods consumed. The tendency towards a degree of
specialization (e.g. corn, coffee, plantains) produces a
situation in which one household has an abundance of certain
items and less of others. Hence, related family units often
give gifts of items which they have in abundance in the valid
expectation that the gifts will be returned. A stalk of
bananas ripens all at once. Should several stalks ripen at
the same time, there is an excess, and the household head may
sell some of these to market women or to street vendors. Or

H5
he may give them to a filial, affinal, or fictive relative.
When that unit then has a surplus of, say, manioc, the giver
will become a receiver. An example mentioned earlier is the
division of a pig or cow. Related units receive portions of
the animal, and when they in turn slaughter they distribute
portions in return.
Even though coastal peasants were once day laborers
themselves and even though they are related filially, affinally
and fictively to families of day laborers, no such partitioning
of food stuffs occurs between day laborers and coastal peasants
An example will clarify this point. A coastal peasant was
visited by his paternal first cousin, a day laborer in Majagua,
and asked for the loan of food. The day laborer was refused
even though he was closely related. The peasant later ex¬
plained his reasons to be that the day laborer was not part
of his family. The peasant found it necessary in this instance
to define his family rather narrowly, as is usually the case
with upwardly mobile poor people (Whitten 1965). The signi¬
ficance of this act is made clear when it is noted that this
same peasant was then engaged in numerous exchange relation¬
ships with other peasants who were unrelated and with an
unrelated shopkeeper. As Lévi-Strauss (1969:131) has phrased
it, the mutual debt between those indebted to each other
leads to interdependency and organic solidarity, but the
mutual debt between creditors leads to extinction. The
redistributive relationships among peasants is a third kind
of distribution system.

146
A final system of distribution involves the local mar¬
keting of cattle and cattle products. As mentioned earlier,
cattle and cattle products from the large estates do not
reach the townspeople (unless they go to the city to buy
these, as some wealthy families do). Only the sick or thin
steer is marketed in the town from this source. The impor¬
tant source of meat, milk, and cheese in the town is the
small scale operation of the shopkeeper and his employee.
Milk is brought to the market building and to the numerous
tiendas by such employees about 6:00 A.M. each day and lines
of children with pails stretch out in front of these shops
for an hour or more each morning. Other small scale producers
market their milk at a cheese processing plant on the out¬
skirts of town. This is made into cottage cheese and sold
to the same tiendas where it is then retailed in small quantities.
Meat is marketed only in the market building and in one
large general store nearby. The general store has a freezer,
so that meat can be stocked and made regularly available,
but it is quite expensive since the retailer waits for "meat¬
less days" and then sells his frozen meat to the wealthy.
Most meat consumed in town is sold in the stalls of the market
building. There is only one retailer of meat and the scarcity
of meat-selling middlemen is not due to the scarcity of
consumers, as Ward (1967) would have it, but to the intri¬
cacies of complying with government regulations for slaugh¬
tering, processing, and retailing. Technically, any animal
slaughtered for sale to the public must be inspected by the
health inspector, the police captain, the mayor, and the tax

147
collector, each of whom must affix his signature and rubber
stamps of office to a certificate indicating the inspection
was passed. In practice, only the health inspector and the
police captain actually see the animal. The others merely
sign and stamp the certificate of inspection. The specialist
in this transaction is able to ease the complexities of the
inspection process through gifts made to the poorly paid
police officers and health inspector.
Most meat consumed in the town is slaughtered at the
municipal slaughter house. One man butchers all the animals.
He begins work in the early morning around 2:00 A.M. by
killing an animal with a carbine. He then butchers it, loads
it on his horse-drawn wagon, and has it at the market stall
by 4:30 A.M. where it is further prepared for retailing.
Townspeople begin arriving about 5:30 A.M. since there is
always a limited amount of meat available. On "meatless
days" several peasants of the town learn of it when the
meat retailer is not observed to be obtaining inspection
certificates. These peasants then butcher a hog and sell
it from a wheelbarrow, if one can be found, at exorbitant
prices. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays only one
steer is butchered at the slaughterhouse. On Mondays and
Fridays two steers are slaughtered, and on Saturdays and
Sundays three to four are killed. This schedule reflects
the ebb and flow of people coming to town over the weekend
from the estates and farms. When they return to the country¬
side they carry with them a pound or two of meat.

In summary, there are five systems of distribution
observed in the municipality. These are: (1) sales to
the urban centers from the large estates, (2) sales of
foods to the large stores by the peasants which are then
retailed through credit relationships (3) sales of fresh
fruits and foods to market women, street vendors, and
tiendas which are then sold only on a cash basis, (4) gifts
of food among related peasant households, and (5) sales of
beef and cattle products to the meat retailer and tiendas
who then retail only on a cash basis.
Distribution of Cannabis
There are two separate cannabis distribution systems
which correspond to the two systems of cultivation discussed
above. The first can be called the market-induced system,
involving the highland commercial growers and wealthy buyers
and retailers of the upper sector of the coastal subculture.
This system moves large quantities of cannabis to the cities
of the coast and into the interior, often for export to the
urban markets of the United States. Newspaper reports
appear with regularity which testify to the large scale of
this operation, an operation involving millions of dollars
(El Tiempo. May S, 1973» El Espectador. April 12, 1973, El
Espectador. January 5, 1973» El Espectador. November 19, 1972
El Tiempo. June 12, 1973» El Diario del Caribe. May 26, 1973)
The second system may be called the traditional system,
and involves no wealthy upper sector middlemen but is speci¬
fic to the lower sector of the coastal subculture. The

149
coastal peasant produces in small quantities and sells to
certain day laborers who are also consumers. These persons
in turn sell in even smaller quantities to fellow day laborers
in the town and countryside. The homes of certain day
laborers who act as distributors are often centers where
users assemble, smoke cannabis, talk, gossip, and make their
purchases. Such sites are called caletas, the same term
given to any place where workers assemble to talk and gossip,
meaning a small bay or cove in nautical terminology. These
sites are frequented by a number of people, and informants
were asked how secrecy was maintained, or if not secrecy
then some degree of security from law enforcement officials.
They explained that, first, the police themselves are fre¬
quently consumers of cannabis, and that those who are not
accept bribes quite readily. Second, the petty merchant
usually gets on well with his neighbors because he makes small
loans to them. These loans of perhaps five or 10 pesos, are
seldom repaid. Rather, such a good neighbor policy is con¬
sidered a business cost that is to be absorbed.
The commercial distributor who buys from the highland
cultivator is from the upper sector of the coastal subcul¬
ture. These are professionals such as physicians, teachers,
agronomists, landowners, and managers of rice and cattle
estates, and government employees at the municipal, depart¬
mental, and national levels. They are uniformly descended
from influential and wealthy families who rose to power
during the heyday of the banana industry on the coast.

150
Today their economic and social statuses are threatened by
the collapse of the banana industry, and they are naturally
drawn into lucrative businesses. While this business acti¬
vity is technically illegal, members of the upper sector
view it as yet another form of contraband merchandising.
Most persons of the upper sector play some role in contra¬
band activity, either acting as middlemen, buyers, or con¬
sumers. The writer has often been offered a glass of imported
Scotch in government offices and private homes of the elite
which has been obtained through contraband networks. The
members of several prominent families of the town are involved
in marketing such items (including Scotch, televisions, radios,
clothing, tape recorders, cigarettes, and the like) in Colom¬
bia, Venezuela, and Panama. Cannabis merchandising is viewed
as simply another, albeit lucrative, contraband activity.
As one upper sector woman laughingly said, "Majagua produces
the best marihuana in the world."
The traditional or petty distributor who buys from the
cultivator of the lower coastal sector is himself a member
of that sector. Here there is no unusual initiation of
interaction among groups which normally do not interact, as
in the case of commercial cultivation and distribution.
Radical changes in the nature of customary interaction are
not observed in the traditional distribution system in that
the cannabis production-distribution-consumption network
conforms well to other networks of interaction found in
this sector. That is, traditional distribution occurs

151
among day laborers and coastal peasants who normally exchange
personnel through mating relationships and food stuffs
through cash purchases and redistributive arrangements.
Cannabis is no different in this regard from food. Day
laborers obtain cannabis from coastal peasant growers just
as they obtain plantain, manioc, or corn grown by the coastal
peasants through day laborers who sell these for cash.
Moreover, those involved in cannabis distribution of the
traditional kind do not initiate exchange relationships with
persons with whom they do not normally have such relationships,
such as professionals, highland peasants, or estate adminis¬
trators .
In contrast, the commercial distributor and the high¬
land peasant do not normally interact at any level or main¬
tain any kind of exchange relationship. Cannabis is the
cause of the initiation of interaction among these two segments
of the community. In this sense, the market-induced distri¬
bution system may be considered deviant and marginal to
normal social relationships in the community.
Neither petty distributors nor commercial distributors
are occupied full-time with this activity. The petty dis¬
tributor is a day laborer of the coastal subculture who
works at a variety of jobs and sells cannabis only as a
part-time specialty. In no cases do petty distributors sell
to commercial distributors, nor is the reverse true. Commer¬
cial distributors operate large estates, deliver professional
services to the population, and work in government offices.

152
They do not work full-time as cannabis distributors either.
And these two classes of distributors sell to quite different
clientele.
A word should be said regarding the relationship between
the police and the traditional and commercial cannabis dis¬
tributors. Cannabis does not cause the initiation of unusual
or deviant patterns of interaction here. The police, as
explained by the mayor, are very poorly paid, and in order
to get any service delivered people must frequently offer
gifts. Several incidents confirm the mayor's summation of
the situation. On one occasion a knife fight broke out
during the yearly Carnival celebration, and women in nearby
houses began screaming for the police. One of these women
went running two blocks to the police barracks where she
encountered six policemen drinking cold drinks (nonalcoholic)
in the shade of the trees by the barracks. When she explained
the need for police intervention, that someone might be
killed, the senior member of the garrison replied "Okay,
Okay, talk to my pocket." The woman returned without the
police intervention she had sought. A more common incident,
one which occurs regularly, is characterized by the highland
peasants as "milking the cow." It is illegal to carry a
pistol in Colombia without a permit from the secret police,
yet all highland peasants regularly are armed with pistols.
The police regularly set up road blocks on the road leading
down to Majagua from the highlands, stop the truck, and
search the peasants for arms. Those peasants who are unable

153
to hide their pistols are often caught without the proper
papers since the proper papers are rarely issued to peasants
by the secret police. The police then "milk" the peasant
for 100 pesos or so and permit him to continue on his jour¬
ney. It cannot be maintained, therefore, that cannabis is
the cause of any unusual interaction patterns on the part
of the police.
Systems of Consumption
Units of consumption are best described in terms of
their characteristic social relationships, in terms of
patterned variability due to either seasonal rhythms or
production schedule rhythms, and the kinds of foods consumed.
Placing the data in such a complex classificatory scheme
creates a complex model, but this is necessary in order to
include all the variables. Units will be lumped together
first on the basis of pattern variability through time,
and then kinds of food consumed and relationships among
the consumers will provide for further divisions of each
category.
The first category consists of those consumption units
that experience little significant variability over the
year. These are the households of landowners, government
employees, professionals, storekeepers, rice estate adminis¬
trators and employees, cattle estate administrators, and
artisans.
This category can be further broken down on the basis
of the forms of social relationships represented into two

subcategories. The first of these is characterized by the
domestic servant-household head's spouse relationship.
The domestic servant is present in the household of the
landowner, government employee, storekeeper, and profes¬
sional. The domestic is always a woman mated or married
to a day laborer. She rarely lives in the home of the
household she serves, generally arriving around 7s00 A.M.
and leaving after preparing the evening mean around 6:00 P.M.
She attends to the following tasks: shopping for the day's
foods, preparation of the food, serving the food, clearing
away the dirty dishes, cleaning the kitchen and washing
the dishes, sweeping and mopping the floors, and watering
the fruit trees and plants in the patio. In these activities
she is directed by the household head's spouse, who often
assists with the shopping and with the preparation of the
meals, although not with the other activities. The female
spouse generally spends her time in the care of young child¬
ren, watching the novelas or serialized soap operas on
television, reading popular magazines, sewing, knitting,
and visiting with other wives in the neighborhood. The
domestic has the additional responsibility of keeping hot
tinto or black coffee available throughout the day, and
serving this in the morning to the males before other kinds
of activity are initiated.
In these kinds of consumption units the meal is
served for all household members at a regularly scheduled
time. Children are taught to sit at the dining table with

155
their parents and all eat together. Meals are scheduled
for 7:30 A.M., 12:30 P.M., and 6:30 P.M. Excused from
this schedule are school aged children whose classes con¬
flict with the schedule. These eat in the kitchen when
they can, as does the domestic servant. Another exception
is the shopkeeper, who is always up and at work before his
family awakes, about 6:30 A.M. He returns to eat breakfast
around á:30 and is served separately for the women and
children eat together earlier.
The second subtype includes the households of the
artisan, rice estate employee and administrator, and the
cattle estate administrator. These units lack the domestic
servant, so all activity surrounding food preparation falls
to the female spouse and her female offspring. The young
children are sent out about 6:30 A.M. to secure the day's
supply of milk. At about the same time the male household
head secures the day's supply of meat. The female spouse
goes with a basket to the market stalls for vegetables and
other needed items. The group reassembles and preparation
of the morning meal is undertaken. In these units the males
of adult and adolescent ages are served first at the table,
and the younger children and the women second or in the
kitchen. This is the procedure for all meals excepting
festive events when the entire group sits at the table
together.
Figure 7 demonstrates the typical meal schedule for
units with no patterned variability. Of course, items

156
Morning meal
Midday meal
Evening meal
Coffee with boiled milk and
sugar, cheese, fried or
scrambled eggs with tomato
and onion, commercially
baked bread, fruit or fruit
juice, milk.
Soup of rice, potatoes,
noodles, corn, plantain,
onions, oregano, tomatoes,
manioc, yams, chunks of
beef or pork or chicken;
plate of fried pork or
beef or chicken or fish,
boiled rice or manioc or
potato or plantain; dessert
of bananas, guava jelly,
cookies or candies; soft
drink, beer, or fruit juice.
Boiled rice, boiled beans;
fried beef, pork, chicken,
or fish; fried plantains,
seasoned noodles, or boiled
vegetables; fruit; dessert
of commercial cookies or
candies; soft drink, beer,
or fruit juices.
FIGURE 7
Daily Meal Schedule of Consumption Units
with No Patterned Variability

157
listed vary in relation to economic resources so that there
occur variations among subtypes of this kind of unit. But
despite differences in the day-to-day content of the meal
schedule among groups in this category the contents are
present and made available throughout the year more often
than in other categories. The only exceptions involve
shortages of certain items (e.g. corn during times of the
year, cooking oil during a nationwide strike) which affect
all consumption units of the community.
The second major category of consumption unit consists
of those which experience seasonable variability in their
diet. These are the highland peasant households, coastal
peasant households, cattle estate employee households, house¬
holds of street vendors, tienda owner households, and market
women households. The source of the variability is a strong
degree of dependence upon subsistence horticulture or depen¬
dence upon other units which depend upon subsistence horti¬
culture. In this part of Colombia this means that the food
consumed during the rainy season is significantly different
from that consumed during the dry season, invierno and verano
respectively.
A comparison of the meal schedules in Figure 3 reveals
critical shortages of milk, cheese, corn, and meats during
the dry summer period. In addition, cash resources are low
as a result of cash crops receipts being depleted so that
the purchase of rice, cooking oil, refined sugar, beans,
potatoes, tomatoes, and onions becomes more infrequent.

153
Rainy Season
Morning meal
Cora bollo (coastal bread)
or cora arepa (highland
bread); coffee with boiled
milk and sugar; cheese;
boiled plantain or manioc;
eggs fried or scrambled with
onions and tomatoes.
Midday meal
Soup of rice, manioc, potato,
corn, and chunks of beef,
pork, or chicken; plate of
boiled manioc, plantain,
rice, potato, or beans;
water, fruit juice, or water
mixed with lime and raw
sugar.
Evening meal
Boiled manioc, rice, or plan¬
tain; fried meat or fish or
boiled beans; black coffee,
water with lime juice and
sugar, or fruit juice.
Morning meal
Dry Season
Coffee with raw sugar; boiled
manioc or plantain.
Midday meal
Boiled manioc or plantain;
fried egg or fish; water
with lime and raw sugar.
Evening meal
Boiled manioc or boiled
plantain; beans or egg;
water with lime and raw
sugar.
FIGURE S
Daily Meal Schedule for Consumption Units
with Seasonal Variability

159
The dry summer brings dependence upon manioc in the highlands
and dependence upon plantain in the lowlands for this kind of
consumption unit. Weeks have been passed by the writer in
the homes of peasants during the summer when manioc or plan¬
tain were the only food served to the family. By the same
token, when the planting loans are received for the approaching
growing season these same households blossom forth with rice,
potatoes, tomatoes, cooking oil, and other products available
in the stores of Majagua. As the cash crop ripens breads,
milk and cheese, pork, beef, fish, and chicken once again
enter the diet. But by November manioc and plantain will
again loom large in the diet.
On the peasant farm females are responsible for all
activities involving food preparation, males are responsible
for food procurement. Females aged eight and up assist the
household head's spouse in her duties and males aged 15 and
older assist the procurement of food.
A third category of consumption unit is that structured
by the rhythm of production cycles on the estates. This
unit is the household of the landless day laborer, the worker
whose life is organized around the availability of jobs on
the large estates. Since most are employed on rice estates
this production schedule will be used as an example. It will
be recalled that opportunities for work are greatest during
the planting times and least during growing and harvest
times. During the period of January to March and July to
September day laborers are at work on the estates. During

160
the periods of April to June and October to December there
is little work for the day laborers. The meal schedules in
Figure 9 demonstrate the contrast in the diets of these two
periods. It need only be added that in the homes of day
laborers it has often been discovered that only one or two
meals are eaten daily. In some instances these consist of
only a cup of rice and a plantain.
The situation of the day laborer can be understood more
fully by consulting Figure 10 which demonstrates the prices
of items commonly consumed in the municipality. It should
be remembered that the day laborer makes only 20 to 25 pesos
a day when there is work. And it must be added that the
prices listed do not necessarily indicate what a day laborer
will buy. What is cheaper is not necessarily more desirable.
For example, raw sugar and refined sugar cost exactly the
same amount, but the day laborer buys raw sugar because it
can be obtained in smaller than one pound chunks whereas a
whole pound of refined sugar must be purchased. Likewise,
coffee is never purchased by the pound but by the .50 centavo
package. This holds true for rice, beans, beef, and other
products which are subdivided at the tiendas and in the
market building. In this fashion the day laborer's 25
pesos can be divided out over a variety of needed food stuffs.
An income of 25 pesos will feed the average sized family
of the municipality (seven persons) about one pound of rice
a day for each family member. Or a little less than one
salted fish can be provided each day for each member of the

161
January to March and July to September
Morning meal
Corn bollo (coastal bread);
boiled plantain; coffee
with milk and sugar.
Midday meal
Stew of plantain, manioc,
rice, noodles, potatoes,
tomatoes, and pieces of
beef, chicken, pork, or
fish; water with lime and
raw sugar.
Evening meal
Boiled rice or plantain or
manioc; fried fish; water
with lime and raw sugar
April to June and October to December
Morning meal
Coffee with raw sugar;
boiled plantain.
Midday meal
Boiled plantain; piece of
salted fish; water with
raw sugar.
Evening meal
Boiled plantain; water
with raw sugar.
FIGURE 9
Daily Meal Schedule for Consumption Units
Characterized by Production Cycle Variability

beef without bone
beef with bone
pork with bone
chicken
salted fish
rice - fine
rice - regular
potatoes
plantain - large
plantain - small
egg
fresh fish
cooking oil
milk
cheese
coffee
beans
refined sugar
raw sugar
tomato
onions
salt
12 pesos a pound
8 pesos a pound
12 pesos a pound
14 pesos a pound
4 to 5 pesos each
4 pesos a pound
3 pesos a pound
2 pesos a pound
2 pesos each
1 peso each
1.5 each
7 to 20 pesos each
25 pesos a liter
3 pesos a liter
14 pesos a pound
10 pesos a pound
7 pesos a pound
2 pesos a pound
2 pesos a pound
4 pesos a pound
3 pesos a pound
1 peso a pound
FIGURE 10
Retail Prices of Items Consumed Daily

163
family. Or about three small plantains can be purchased
for each family member. In fact, lesser amounts of all
these items are purchased in order to provide some variety
in the diet. The idea of massive undernourishment is not
new to Colombians since it is widely broadcast that 100
children die daily in Colombia from starvation. In seeking
an understanding of the role of cannabis in community life
this fact may prove to be quite relevant.
Consumption of Cannabis
There is widespread belief in the efficacy of cannabis
mixed with rxun and aguardiente and applied to the skin for
treatment of pain of the joints and muscles. This practice
is present throughout coastal subculture. Testimonies and
accounts of cures were collected from government employees,
estate administrators, day laborers, in short, the whole
social range of the coastal subculture. A puzzling fact,
however, is that this mixture and its use for pain is absent
from the treatments collected from coastal curanderos or
herbal curers of líajagua . The practice of mixing various
plant parts (bark, leaves, roots, seeds) of over 25 different
plants with rum or aguardiente is common for snake bite, to
stop bleeding, and for the treatment of pain. But in all
cases the mixture is to be drunk and not applied to the skin.
And in no case is cannabis one of the ingredients. Perhaps
the explanation is to be found in the fact that herbalists
are specialists in certain treatments, for example, snake
bite cures or protection from evil curses. In contrast, the

164
knowledge that cannabis can be used for treatment of pain
is widespread and not the exclusive property of curanderos.
Moreover, the use of cannabis in any form seems to be a
recent innovation and the formulas of the curanderos are
conceived to be quite ancient in origin (collected in "books"
written by the Indians (sic) in the mountains of Spain and
brought over by the conquerors in the 15th century, according
to the curanderos). And it should be remembered that the
use of tobacco in this form and for this function is quite
old on the coast. The common medicinal use of cannabis
might derive analogically from such practice. Tobacco, like
cannabis, is assumed to have a variety of curing properties
and is not part of the esoteric treatments monopolized by
the curanderos.
The use of cannabis for smoking is restricted to the
lower sector of the coastal subculture, a fact that conforms
to reports on the Caribbean (Rubin and Comitas n.d., Rubin
1973» Comitas 1973). In all cases cannabis is smoked in
cigarette form. It is first air and sun dried; green
cannabis leaves are said to "inflame the head." It is
smoked in pure form, unmixed with other substances. The
cigarette is rolled in the paper of a commercial tobacco
cigarette, since other kinds of paper are said to burn too
hot. The cannabis cigarette is generally short and thin.
Probably no more than half a gram is contained in these
cigarettes.
As mentioned above, the work group of the coastal

165
subculture composed of unrelated adult males is the setting
for the smoking of cannabis. The group is contracted to
clean an irrigation canal, weed a field, clear brush from
a pasture, weed a garden plot, cut down trees on estates,
or cut with shovels the ramales or ditches which bring water
to a crop from the irrigation canals. The labor broker is
responsible for recruiting and assembling these workers.
They assemble in the morning on the estate where they have
contracts, talk about girls and dances and drunks, sharpen
their machetes or prepare other tools, and smoke a marihuana
cigarette. The cigarette is not passed among the workers,
although all may smoke cigarettes from the same supply.
That is, the cigarette is not passed from person to person
but each individual smokes his individual cigarette. The
group receives directions from the estate manager and sets
about its task. Around 10:00 in the morning the workers may
pause again for another marihuana cigarette and then con¬
tinue working until noon. Work groups which bring alcohol
with them to work follow a similar pattern. And tobacco
.cigarettes are consumed similarly. With them they have in
their mochilas or woven carrying bags of cabuya fiber several
nesting aluminum pots with a hot stew prepared in the morning
by wives, sisters, or daughters. After lunching they stretch
out under the branches of a tree for a siesta. Work resumes
around 2:00 and another marihuana cigarette may be smoked by
each man. Around 4:00 or 5:00 they start for home, where
they separate and go to their own homes. In the evening they

166
meet with neighbors, fellow workers, and labor brokers with
whom they drink beer, rum, or aguardiente. But the friends
with whom they drink may or may not be the same with whom
they spent the working hours of the day.
The marihuana cigarette is called a cigarillo just as
are tobacco cigarettes. There is no evidence of a special
argot among cannabis consumers. Marihuana cigarettes are
not always smoked by workers, depending upon availability
which in turn depends upon limited resources. Some infor¬
mants report that they are unable to work without smoking
marihuana. They claim to have no fuerza or strength or they
lack the necessary ánimo or spirit for work. But these same
workers can be observed to work without cannabis when they
have none to smoke. Not all workers smoke cannabis, nor
are they encouraged to do so. Disapproval of the nonsmoker
is never expressed in work groups, nor is disapproval of
the smoker by nonsmokers. "He is an addict" nonsmokers will
say, but they do not avoid smokers in town or treat them any
special way. At work it is impossible to tell one who is
a smoker from one who is not unless consumption is observed.
Joseph Schaeffer's (1973) data regarding work patterns of
smokers and nonsmokers reveals certain subtle changes in
behavior associated with cannabis.
The use of cannabis is found also among certain artisan
groups composed of a master artisan and several apprentices.
One old man is known locally as the Rey de la marihuana or
King of Marihuana. He is an adobe brick maker and uses

167
cannabis during his working day. He is said to be the best
brick maker in town, producing more brick faster than any
other brick maker. This claim is made by cannabis consumers
and nonconsumers alike, including several upper sector indi¬
viduals. The apprentices of the old man are similarly con¬
sumers of cannabis, and it is he who initiated each of the
younger men. Usage patterns are much like those on the
estate in that consumption occurs during rest breaks.
A few informants report that they smoke marihuana to
relax or to go to sleep in the evenings. Some report that
they use cannabis when they wish to think about some problem
that is bothering them. These individuals claim that they
smoke cannabis, think about the problem, go to sleep, and
awake finding easily the solution to the problem. But these
reasons do not appear as often as the claim that cannabis
reduces fatigue and makes a man tireless. Similarly, it is
reported that workers on construction sites in the cities of
the coast smoke cannabis during their agua de panela or water
with raw sugar breaks during the day.
While most informants report using cannabis for leisure
activities such as fiestas the observer was not able to wit¬
ness this with any frequency. Several informants who live
and work in the municipality and were born in Cartegena
confirm the report that in that city social clubs exist for
the purpose of recreation, and the smoking of cannabis is
one of their activities (Subcommittee on Alcoholism and
Narcotics 1972:56). In fact, all the female smokers inter—

163
viewed were born and grew up in that city or in the hinter¬
land areas of the department of Bolivar. In the department
of Magdalena, in which Orejones is located, the incidence
of female smokers is quite low, and social clubs which con¬
sume cannabis during leisure activity are absent.
In reality alcohol is the drug of choice on festive days
in this region of Colombia. Moreover, it is an essential
element in the reciprocal relationships among male laborers
(Gutierrez de Pineda 195&). Informants mention that canna¬
bis is cheaper than alcohol and for this reason is preferred.
They also report that cannabis is better than alcohol for
sexual relations because the former does not inhibit sexual
desire or capacity, whereas alcohol often interferes with
these. But these same informants can often be found drinking
in the stores and bars in town.
Informants also report the use of cannabis for health
maintenance (Fabrega and Manning 1972:243)» Cases cited
involve men of advanced age who smoked all their lives and
have enjoyed excellent health. Credit is given by informants
to cannabis smoking. They state that smoking is generally
good for one's health. A further use of cannabis involves
the vise of green leaves crushed and rubbed on the skin for
minor pain treatment. Female consumers report that cannabis
mixed with water and raw sugar and cooked to form a tea is
given to infants to stop excessive crying. These women
confirm that female smokers are rare in Magdalena. In the
municipality only two could be located. Incidentally, one

169
female informant reported that women habitually smoke
greater amounts of cannabis than do the men. She claimed
to smoke up to 20 cannabis cigarettes each day. In contrast
men smoke about seven cigarettes daily.
Little information could be gathered concerning the
socialization of females into cannabis use patterns. One
female was initiated into cannabis use when as an adolescent
she went to work in the city of Cartegena as a domestic in
the house of an American citizen employed by the Coca Cola
Bottling Company in Colombia. This American smoked and sold
marihuana, and while he was out on vacation she found a
supply of the drug and sampled it for herself. When he
returned he noticed it had been disturbed and questioned
her, -whereupon she admitted experimenting with it. There¬
after the employer invited her to smoke with him when he
cared to.
Males are socialized into use at the age of late
adolescence with the initiation of adult work patterns.
Informants report learning to smoke in the male work group.
Informants began smoking cannabis between 12 and 22 years
of age and have between 11 and 31 years of experience with
the drug. Such learning depends largely upon individual
patterns of interaction and individual life experiences
since most informants are the only adult males in their
families who consume cannabis. No informant reported that
his father used the drug. This is not surprising given
the nonkin composition of the male work group where sociali-

170
zation takes place.
All informants are male heads of households which are
supported entirely by the work of the household head.
Those informants who are peasant farmers are all former day
laborers as is generally true of the subculture. And all
have through saving, obtaining a cosigner in order to establish
credit, and maintaining a good reputation as a padre de familia
have been able to buy a piece of land or are colonos who.for
years have successfully supported a family off the land they
invaded and planted. The use of cannabis began in the nonkin
male work group for these peasants. So consumers are best
described as nonkin groups of landless day laborers, some of
whom eventually obtain land.
No informant reported visual distortions, seeing strange
things, or having hallucinations while smoking cannabis. This
is remarkable given the common belief in the United States
that cannabis grown in this region of Colombia is one of the
most potent varieties. These informants found comical the
reports of hallucinations given them by Peace Corps volunteers
who lived in the community several years ago. Informants
report that a person who is débil en _la cabeza, weak in the
head, should not use cannabis. They observe that the drug
often "turns people crazy," but that these are people who
are said to have weak heads. Only one informant reported
experiencing negative effects, which he described as a feeling
of sleepiness. He recommended cold water poured over the
head, eating green bananas, and drinking hot black coffee as

171
remedies. No subjects were found who had "weak heads" and
had stopped cannabis use. These persons may be invented in
response to the upper sector notion that cannabis adversely
affects the mental functioning of the worker: that is, the
concept of the "weak head" may be a counter stigma which has
evolved in reaction to institutionalized prejudice.
Before leaving patterns of cannabis consumption, an
additional factor regarding consumption patterns of other
drugs should be considered given the high correlation in
the United States between the use of alcohol and tobacco
and the use of cannabis (Subcommittee on Alcoholism and
Narcotics 1971:90, National Commission on Marihuana and
Drug Abuse 1972:51)» Alcohol is easily the most popular
of all drugs used in all subcultural groups of the municipio.
There are four patterns of use: (1) reciprocal buying and
mutual drinking among friends and business associates at
cockfights* during the sale of animals, at leisure at stores
and bars, etc.; (2) individual drinking by peasants of both
subcultures and day laborers of the coastal subculture in
the morning before going to work and to a lesser degree
during working hours; (3) two to three day borracheras or
drunken feasts during fiesta days, family celebrations, or
on a whim; and (4) ritual drinking to the point of stupefi-
cation for weddings, baptisms, and during wakes.
The first pattern is part of a wider system of social
and economic reciprocal relationships. The sale of a cow
by a storekeeper to a peasant demands that the former buy

172
drinks for the latter. A landowner attending a cockfight
who meets an employee will purchase drinks for both as part
of the patron-client relationship. A peasant who has been
given good manioc or corn seed will partly repay his peer
with a bottle which they will both share at a store.
The second pattern is largely confined to agricultural
workers and peasants. Alcohol is consumed with the morning
black coffee. Infrequently day laborers will consume a
bottle of rum or aguardiente during the day while working
and this is shared just like cannabis and tobacco with their
fellows who are expected to reciprocate later. A few day
laborers are so fond of aguardiente that a ration of it is
part of their contract with an employer. Often these latter
day laborers are single men of adult age who are known to be
alcoholics. Their employers are mostly family and fictive
kin. For the coastal day laborers, consumption of alcohol
is prohibitively expensive if done with any frequency. For
a day laborer to purchase a bottle of rum or aguardiente is to
remove all but three pounds of rice from the table of a
family of seven persons. Since that may be the only meal
eaten that day, the purchase of alcohol is prohibitive in
the extreme.
The third pattern of use is confined to the upper
sector of the coastal subculture. Naturally the poor have
few resources for binges. The wealthy are famous for the
drunken feasts they are fond of throwing. Stories are told
and retold in the town of conspicuous consumption, pranks

173
such as chicken stealing and putting soap in the food for
a wedding party, and extended stints in the local brothels.
Such borracheras occur every month or so in the municipality
and several times during the year, such as the Patron Saint
Fiesta, New Year's Eve, Carnival, and Holy Week, wealthy
families from several surrounding towns and nearby cities
are to be found participating.
The fourth pattern is present through each subculture,
but is particularly apparent among the highlanders. Coastal
weddings, wakes, and other life crisis events involve some
consumption of alcohol. Generally food, sweet cakes, and
black coffee predominate on such occasions. In the highlands,
life crisis events call for the consumption of quantities of
food, chicha or maize beer made on the farm, and aguardiente.
Relatives invariably leave such events quite intoxicated.
In the coastal subculture this is less frequently the case,
except among upper sector families who can afford it.
Tobacco is likewise consumed by all groups in all sub¬
cultures. But it is seldom used habitually as in the United
States. Cigarettes are most frequently purchased one or two
at a time in a tienda. Individuals who smoke may do so only
once or twice during the day, and then at a fiesta or during
an evening of drinking consume an entire pack with friends.
At the borracheras of the upper sector tobacco cigarettes
are provided together with food and drink for the guests,
and on such occasions persons who normally do not smoke
tobacco may indulge. Females of all groups in the munici¬
pality use alcohol and tobacco only rarely. Females of the

174
of the upper sector will use both during fiestas and private
parties in the home, but only infrequently at other times.
Workers on the estates of the lowlands exchange tobacco much
as they exchange alcohol and cannabis. Females of advanced
age in all groups of the coastal subculture smoke tobacco
cigars with the burning end inside of their mouths as is
coastal custom.
Consumers of cannabis are invariably also consumers
of tobacco and alcohol. The use of each of these drugs is
learned in the context of the nonkin male work group and
occurs during the period of transition from late adolescence
to adult work patterns. As will be discussed in Chapter IV,
the reciprocal exchange of cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol
among day laborers is an instrumental activity related to
labor recruitment, the mobilization of work crews for the
estates, and the expenditure of energy in productive activity.
Cannabis and Social Structure
The elements of community stand in hierarchical rela¬
tionships one to another, but these are not "social class"
relationships as they are understood in the industrial world.
In the preceding pages an empirical analysis of the processes
of production, distribution, and consumption was undertaken
as these reflect the social structure of Orejones. The
phrase "social sector" was used rather than "social class"
in discussing broad social categories in order to avoid the
ethnocentric connotations associated with the social class
concept

175
The indices of social class normally employed in social
analysis in industrial societies will not serve in the present
instance. For example, on the basis of indices such as edu¬
cation and housing the day laborer on an estate and the high¬
land peasant would occupy the same social class. But as was
seen above these two groups are characterized by distinctive
social relationships with other elements in the community,
distinctive diets, distinctive forms of family organization,
distinctive work habits, and distinctive roles in the pro¬
cesses of production, distribution, and consumption. Simi¬
larly, the cattle estate employee and the rice estate employee
might be considered in a social class analysis to be "middle
class" since they are both employees and receive fixed sal¬
aries. Yet these kinds of employees have quite different
origins in the historical conditions of the community, have
distinctive social relationships to other elements in the
community, distinctive diets, distinctive work habits, and
distinctive roles in the processes of production, distribu¬
tion, and consumption.
For these reasons the empirical determination of broad
social categories is preferred over the social class concept.
The process of the empirical determination of broad social
categories, called sectors in this analysis, is an examina¬
tion of social relationship reflected in activities and
patterns of interaction discussed previously. The basis
of the analysis is the determination of exchange relation¬
ships which unite elements of the community into interdepen-

176
dent groups, as elucidated for social scientists by Mauss
(1954), Malinowski (1965), Oliver (1949), Polanyi (1970),
Polanyi, Arensberg, and Pearson (1957), and Lévi-Strauss
(1969). Mauss (1954:79) has phrased the basic and essential
nature of exchange succinctly:
When two groups of men meet they may
move away or in case of mistrust or
defiance they may resort to arms; or
else they can come to terms.
The manner in which men come to terms is universal and
always involves the exchange of valued items such as ser¬
vices, materials, and personnel (Mauss 1954:3).
In basing this analysis upon the exchange relationship
no attempt is being made to ignore Sahlins' (1965:140) con¬
tention that exchange in primitive societies plays a differ¬
ent role than economic flow in modern industrial societies.
While this is true at one level of analysis (comparison
among models), it is irrelevant at the level of empirical
description and model construction. For as Mauss (1954)
and Lévi-Strauss (1969) have observed, the exchange always
carries with it the obligation to repay, and it always
entails the enhancement of value of an object, service, or
person exchanged. These facts enable us to consider the
consequence of exchange to be everywhere similar, i.e.
the establishment of regular and continuous bonds of inter¬
dependency among those groups so engaged. Of course examples
such as diffusion of an item from one group to another or
theft of an item do not constitute exchange relationships,
for their consequences are not those of the obligation to

177
repay and the enhancement of value of the exchange item.
As Arensberg (1972:15) points out, the reciprocal exchange
relationship is not axiomatic; it is a systems-product.
This analysis asks if and where continuous exchange rela¬
tionships exist. From the answers to these questions it
can be concluded that significant social interdependency
or the absence of such a condition is the product of the
relationship. This is true whether the relationship be
one of generalized exchange, balanced exchange, or negative
exchange (Sahlins 1965:147-149)*
Figure 11 summarizes reciprocal exchange relationships
discussed in this chapter. The double arrow connecting
highland peasants and highland shopkeepers indicates that
objects such as food stuffs, services such as credit and
godparenthood, and money are regularly exchanged among the
parties to this social relationship. Similarly related
are the coastal peasant and the coastal shopkeeper, the
worker on the shopkeeper's farm and the shopkeeper, and
the owner of the rice estate and the administrator and
employees of the rice estate. In the case of the double
arrow connecting the landowner and the government employee,
the professional and the landowner, the artisan and the
day laborer, the coastal peasant and the day laborer, and
the cattle estate employee and the day laborer, the exchange
includes the exchange of personnel in the form of marriage
and mating, as well as the exchange of goods, services, and
money.

17S
FIGURE 11
Reciprocal Relations Between
Town, Estate, Hamlet, and Vereda

179
The result of this analysis is a social structure
characterized by three broad categories: an Upper Sector,
a Coastal Lower Sector, and a Highland Lower Sector.
The first of these groupings is the Upper Sector com¬
posed of landowners, professionals, rice estate managers
and employees, government employees, and coastal storekeepers.
It was seen in Chapter II that the ancient elite of the re¬
gion dominated human and nonhuman resources up until the
coming of the United Fruit Company. Among other effects
the Company created through its structure and functioning
a new middle sector composed of employees of the corpora¬
tion. The middle sector of the years of the banana boom
was prosperous and exchange relationships among this group
and the ancient elite group flourished. Many middle sector
families became wealthy and today are landowners in the
former banana zone. Others watched their fortunes fall as
the banana ceased to be the "green gold" of the region.
Some of the traditional elite were likewise ruined by the
exit of the United Fruit Company. Thus, the mobility of
many middle sector families achieved during the 63 years of
the banana boom qualified many of these for alliances with
upper sector families. With the exit of the Company the
two sectors merged into a single Upper Sector united by ties
of marriage and fictive kinship established during the years
of prosperity. Such alliances from the standpoint of the
traditional elite can be seen to have been less than advan¬
tageous, but at the time of the boom they clearly were per¬
ceived as such and were frequent. Hence the middle sector

180
was absorbed into the Upper Sector of today and clearly
functions as part of that sector. As was pointed out earlier
the manager and the employees of a rice estate are often
filial, affinal, and fictive kin of the landowner. Like¬
wise the professionals, landowners, and government employees
are related similarly.
In contrast stands the cattle estate and its personnel.
The landowner and administrator are members of the same Upper
Sector as the owner of the rice estate, his manager, and his
employees. But on the cattle estate the full-time employees
are not generally related by filial or affinal kin ties to
the landowner. Rather solely the patron-client relationship
unites the manager and the full-time employees. This in¬
volves the exchange of services for services (work for wages,
usufruct rights to a roza plot, education for one's offspring,
and credit at the estate commissary or in the stores of the
town). Such a traditional patron—client relationship does
not characterize exchange relations on the rice estate,
rather a considerably higher wage is paid. The distinction
between the two kinds of exchange relationships points to
the importance of viewing the cattle estate managers and
employees as belonging to a different social sector from
the landowners, rice estate employees, rice estate managers,
professionals, and government employees. In fact the
cattle estate employees are recruited from the Lower Sector
of the coastal subculture. Their filial and affinal ties
are to the homes of day laborers. And both groups have

1S1
their roots in the day laborer ranks of the banana indus¬
try days.
The day laborers, cattle estate employees, artisans
and skilled workers, coastal shopkeeper and coastal peasants
constitute a broad sector that will be called the Coastal
Lower Sector. When in Chapter IV the life cycle of the
male of the Coastal Lower Sector is considered it will be
seen how individuals are recruited into each of these sta¬
tuses in the productive units of the community. Recognizing
that all coastal peasants have worked as day laborers during
their lives and that most have obtained land only in the
present generation, and that all artisans and skilled workers
have their origins in the day laborer homes of the community
and have likewise worked solely for wages for a number of
years, the grouping of these diverse kinds of statuses into
a single social sector is understandable. For the social
relationships which characterize each of these statuses are
that a patrSn is chosen from within the Coastal Lower Sector
and not from within the ranks of the Upper Sector. The day
laborers stand in a relationship of client to patron with
the labor broker who is one of their number as do artisans.
An exception is the cattle estate employee who finds his
patron among the cattle estate managers. These latter sta¬
tuses are filled by recruitment from the ranks of the Upper
Sector or from regions where cattle raising is likewise an
important industry. The artisan begins his career as a day
laborer and apprentice to a master craftsman who himself

182
came from a day laboring household. Their relationship is
one of patron to client. The peasant of the coastal sub¬
culture is uniformly a former day laborer himself and his
father before him. Land aquisition is a relatively recent
phenomenon resulting from invasion or from the saving of
wages during the United Fruit Company days and the establish¬
ment of good credit. Finally, reciprocal exchange relation¬
ships which unite members of this social sector include
marriage and compadrazgo relationships. Thus, filial,
affinal, and fictive kin relationships establish these
diverse statuses as members of the same social sector.
The personnel of the parcela discussed earlier in this
chapter are likewise members of the Coastal Lower Sector.
They can be seen to constitute an unusual kind of social
form brought into existence only recently by the actions
of the government and the circumstances of the exit of the
United Fruit Company. They are merely reconstituted day
laborers who for the first time in their lives have land
and are defined as peasant members of cooperative production
units. The same filial, affinal, and fictive kinship rela¬
tionships unite them with other members of the Coastal
Lower Sector.
The third social sector is composed of highland peasants
and highland shopkeepers and is called the Highland Lower
Sector. This category includes individuals who are economi¬
cally quite powerful in the life of the community, the high¬
land shopkeepers, but who stand socially below the Upper

183
Sector of the town. Mates are drawn by coastal shopkeepers
from families of shopkeepers and peasants in the interior.
Highland peasants take mates within the highland vereda
and establish bonds of fictive kinship with their neighbors
and shopkeepers. Patrons and fictive kin are sought within
this social sector and never outside of it. From what is
known of the relationship between shopkeepers and peasants
in other parts of the world (Arensberg and Kimball 1968), it
. is expected that the peasants and shopkeepers here will in¬
creasingly become involved in mate exchange but at present
only one highland shopkeeper has taken a wife from the
peasant families and few highland peasant offspring are
employed as apprentices in the stores. This may be due to
the recent migration of this group to the region and the
relative abundance of land to be colonized.
The hierarchical relationships among the three social
sectors are best visualized as forming a triangle: the Upper
Sector placed at the apex and each of the lower sectors
placed at the intersection of one of the sides and the base.
Figure 12 illustrates the cannabis networks present
in the community, the reciprocal exchange relationships
which involve the exchange of cannabis as part of the pro¬
duction, distribution, and consumption cycle. As mentioned
earlier in this chapter, the highland peasants are the
commercial producers of cannabis and they sell to commercial
distributors made up of professionals, government employees,
landowners, rice estate managers and rice estate employees.

Market-induced system
Traditional system
FIGURE 12
Cannabis Networks in the Traditional
and the Market-Induced Systems

135
That is to say that the highland cultivator sells to the
Upper Sector of the town. These buyers then retail cannabis
to the urban markets of the coast. This cannabis network is
best called the market-induced system, for the patterns of
interaction established by these exchange relationships
centering on cannabis are totally novel and atypical of
normal relationships between the Upper Sector and the High¬
land Lower Sector. As can be seen from a comparison of
Figure 11 and Figure 12 these two social sectors normally
do not establish exchange relationships. Therefore, the
market-induced system controlling commercial production
and distribution of cannabis must be considered marginal
and deviant.
In contrast, the traditional system of cannabis pro¬
duction, distribution, and consumption creates no novel or
atypical relationships among the interacting participants.
The exchange relationships which exist among coastal pea¬
sants, day laborers, and artisans include the exchange of
mates, ritual parenthood, food, alcohol, tobacco, and canna¬
bis. Cannabis is merely one element in a number of elements
which unite these participants in the exchange relationship,
and as such it conforms well to normal patterns of inter¬
action. Therefore, the traditional system controlling
petty production, distribution, and consumption of cannabis
must be considered typical and a logical expression of commu¬
nity social structure.
In the following chapter the life cycles of the Highland
Lower Sector and the Coastal Lower Sector personnel will be

136
discussed in order to explore more closely the relationship
between cannabis and social relationships. For it will be¬
come apparent that there exist important structural differ¬
ences between the two life cycles, and that these differing
structures account for the fact that Coastal Lower Sector
people smoke cannabis and Highland Lower Sector people do not.

CHAPTER IV
LIFE CYCLES AND THE REPLICATION OF STRUCTURE
Moore (1973:2) contends that most intellectual treat¬
ments of the transmission of culture are limited by their
conceptualization as an education or socialization process
by which elders convey through the medium of symbols the
content of a cultural tradition. Following his lead, this
analysis conceives of the replication of societal forms in
terms of choices made within a field of interindividual re¬
lationships. The field of interindividual relationships
provides certain constraints and incentives which canalize
choice for each generation. Successive choices provide
for the replication of the social structure. The ways in
which such canalization occurs will become clear when the
life cycles of elements of the community are examined.
The decision or choice to smoke cannabis or not to
smoke is one product of the nature cf social structure in
the community. The perpetuation of these structures and
the choices they provide is the focus of this analysis.
Central to the analysis is the concept of claiming (Kimball
and McClellan 1966:232-235)* For the constraints and in¬
centives which the social structure provides that affect
the nature of choice for each generation consist exactly
in the process of claiming. Claiming is the dyadic rela¬
tionship which exists between two actors that play the role
of claimants: one acts as a sponsor and one acts as an

initiate, but each must claim the other. The stages of
the human life cycle at which such claiming relationships
exist vary greatly from culture to culture, but in all
cultures the sponsor and initiate must claim each other at
certain prescribed times. Such relationships may occur
several times in the life cycle. He who was once an initiate
eventually may be a sponsor. A vast array of possible
claiming relationships may exist in a society, but certain
of these are patterned by successive choices of previous
generations and are seen as more attractive choices by both
sponsors and initiates. Successive claims provide for the
replication of social structure over time.
Cannabis use is initiated among males in association
with the claiming relationship which occurs in the transition
to adulthood in the Coastal Lower Sector. Females and males
of the Coastal Lower Sector have complementary, yet distinct,
life cycles which are quite different from females and males
of the Highland Lower Sector. In each case certain struc¬
tural relationships exist which influence the choices made
by each generation. Since males and females in each sub¬
culture theoretically have equal opportunity to initiate
cannabis use, the four life cycles will be discussed below
in order to point up the significant structural differences
which set the Coastal Lower Sector male off from the female
of the same social sector and the male and female of the
Highland Lower Sector.

189
The Coastal Lower Sector
In 1972 only 70 infants were born in the free public
clinic in Majagua; most Coastal Lower Sector children are
born in their parents' home where their births are attended
by a midwife. From the day of birth until the birth of the
next sibling the infant of either sex is closely attended
by the mother as he or she passes through the stages of "lap"
child and "knee baby" (Moore 1973:40). Baptism occurs during
infancy and godparents for the child are chosen from among
the labor brokers, successful peasants, and artisans of the
subculture. For most members of this social sector baptism
is their only contact with formal Catholicism.
With the birth of another infant the child makes the
transition from "knee baby" to "yard child" and comes in¬
creasingly under the care of older siblings. As a "yard
child" the symbols of sexual identity are given, including
short trousers and shirts for boys and short dresses for
girls, by parents, godparents, or other relatives. The
"yard child" is initiated in toilet etiquette by older
siblings at this stage and socialization takes place in
the context of play in the patio and house area among sib¬
lings.
At the age of seven the male of this social sector
makes the transition to "street child” and the world of
nonkin peer groups. But female children do not make such
a debut at this age.

190
Females of the Coastal Lower Sector
The female from age seven until adolescence remains
closely tied to her mother's kitchen, to the irrigation
ditches where clothes are washed, and to the daily round
of shopping, cooking, and cleaning. She enters the street
in which her brothers play only in the company of her
mother or when asked to run errands. There she briefly
and temporarily enters the public world where she meets
friends and neighbors. But no large blocks of time are de¬
voted to nonkin until she first "goes out" to promenade in
the street and plaza with a group of female peers. This
does not occur until adolescence for females. The Coastal
Lower Sector female generally does not enter school. Some
attend school for one or two years so that many adult fe¬
males of this sector learn to read and write haltingly
from relatives in order to sign their names and do simple
sums at the market. The labor of a female child between
seven and 12 is valuable since it is upon her that the
duties of caring for "yard children" fall, as well as the
errands to the stores, market, and neighboring households
and the assistance given in the kitchen, laundry area, and
house.
Confirmation into the Catholic church occurs at age
12. Coastal Lower Sector girls are rarely confirmed, since
this ritual and much of the Catholic ceremonial cycle is
the provenience of the Upper Sector families. The event
which marks the transition to adolescence for the Coastal

191
Lower Sector female is the initiation of visiting among a
group of nonkin peers. At about the age of 12 such groups
have evolved out of repeated meetings in the street while
on errands, out of brief school friendships, and out of
neighborhood visiting. Adolescent aged girls will increas¬
ingly demand to be permitted to stroll with their friends
in the streets and plaza of Majagua. Insistent requests
soon bring success, and dressed in their finest clothes
they join hands or wrap arms about each other's waists and
venture into the public world of the promenade.
The promenade is a shortlived activity lasting from
around 6:30 P.M. to around 3:00 P.M. found in many parts
of South America (Harris 1971, Vargas Lloas 1967).
Throughout the event the females maintain close physical
contact by holding hands and putting arms about each other.
The anxiety of their first appearance in the public world
is probably mitigated by such physical assurance. Linked
together in this manner they stroll about the plaza, greet
friends, make new friends, and receive the admiration of
adolescent males.
Through this experience the Coastal Lower Sector fe¬
male is gradually introduced in a formal manner to male
siblings of their female peers. Short conversations and
weeks of watching each other evolve into invitations to
festival dances, to drink a soft drink together, or simply
to meet the following evening. When the adolescent female
accepts such an invitation it means only that she and

192
several friends will come to the dance together, go to the
store together for a soft drink, or be waiting at a certain
bench together for conversation. Such assignations are
always peer group functions. At the dance, for example,
the female adolescent who accepts such an invitation pro¬
mises only to break away for a moment from her girl friends
and permit a dance or two. Out of such brief contacts over
a period of several years adolescents may develop a dating
relationship.
A dating relationship means that the male adolescent
freely initiates conversation during the evening promenade,
may invite the female to have soft drinks at nearby stores,
and may offer gifts such as cigarettes, costume jewelry, or
a scarf. The young man may also call at her home and escort
her and her girl friend or female siblings to the dances
held during the festival events of the yearly ceremonial
calendar. These include the Patron Saint fiesta of Nuestra
Señora del Carmen on July 16, the National Independence Day
of July 20, the Imaculate Conception of December 3, the
Carnaval Week from March 3rd to 7th, and the Sacred Heart
of Jesus on June 29. Festivals always provide the oppor¬
tunity for adolescent males and females to cement dating
relationships through public appearances and ritual behavior.
At public dances held in the dance salons of the town
or in private dances held in the homes of certain families,
groups of adult chaperones are invariably present. They
watch over not only their own offspring but those of all

193
townspeople. But la cumbia dances are different.
The dance called _la cumbia is said to be derived from
the indigenous Carib Indians and was performed during their
cooperative working-drinking-dancing events called chaguas,
discussed in Chapter II. La cumbia is a round dance held
in the poorer neighborhoods of the town or in isolated
patches of woods nearby. It is publicly secret in that
adults of the town are not supposed to know when and where
it will be held. But in fact everyone knows, for word is
passed during the daytime celebrations of the festival.
At around 6:30 P.M. the adolescents begin to assemble at
the prearranged site to dance la cumbia.
The dancing begins with a long cane flute solo verse
played by an old man who has been cajoled and bribed with
gifts of liquor to provide the music for the evening.
Several other adults have been recruited to play the drums.
These men are well respected musicians from the Coastal
Lower Sector who each year protest being tapped for service
at la cumbia but nevertheless play for the dance each year.
The long lilting wail of the flute signals the girls to
light their wax candles, six or seven of which have been
tied in a bundle, and to form their circle about the musi¬
cians. With them come adolescent males who stand at their
sides. At the conclusion of the flute solo the drums come
in and the flute picks up the second verse. With the first
drum beat the participants emit a loud shout, Alliii, and
the dancing begins.

1%
The couples move in a circle about the musicians.
The girls dance a quick and even rhythm, one following behind
the other immediately ahead, their bearing dignified and
their carriage erect and proud. The males dance in the same
quick step in smaller epicircles about their female part¬
ners. Their bearing is the opposite of that of the females,
for they twist and turn, bend at the waist, leap into the
air, and hold their arms above their heads so as to en¬
circle their partners. In this form the dance proceeds,
the females holding candles strutting in a large turning
circle while the males excitedly turn about the individual
females in small circles.
During the evening couples will have the opportunity
to advance their relationship to engagement. Coitus is
frequently the result of the intense interaction of the even¬
ing as the dancers drift in and out of the light provided by
the candles. For here there are only peers and the musicians.
La cumbia is a time for courting couples to formally commit
themselves to each other. Such a commitment may be in the
form of a promise to marry or mate, or it may be in the form
of sexual intercourse. The result is generally the same.
The ceremonial cycle brings adolescent males and females
into intense interaction and permits mutual agreements to
mating and marriage. A young man reveals his commitment to
his father who in turn will pay a visit to the home of the
young girl and sponsor his son's request for the girl. The
boy's father usually brings a bottle of rum and the men dis-

195
cuss the engagement most of the evening while the females
of the household are excluded. If the young girl is pregnant
the visit may not be a pleasant one. If the girl is under
15 years of age and pregnant her father generally threatens
the young man with prison, since coitus with a female under
15 is illegal. The boy's father is accused of raising his
son badly, of producing a malcriado, and the unfortunate
father must bear this accusation and offer arguments in
defense of his son and himself. In such a situation the boy's
father can be forced to pay a huge sum of money, which may
mean the sale of his house, land, or crops. So the accusa¬
tions are borne with dignity, and an agreement is sought.
A free union is the result of such a drastic situation. If
the young girl is not pregnant a formal wedding in the Catholic
church may be planned involving marriage coparents, a wedding
dinner, and fees paid to the town notary and the priest.
Such a decision is not typical of the Coastal Lower Sector
and many couples live in free unions.
Upon entering the mated state the fenale of the Coastal
Lower Sector may leave the home of her parents and come to
live in the home of her mate's parents, or the couple may
come to live with the bride's parents. After a few months,
if space is scarce as it generally is, the young man will
rent a house in one of the poorer neighborhoods. There he
will move his new family. This is not possible until he has
obtained good employment, which means until he has found a
labor broker who will put him on a work crew. During this

196
time the first child is born, and then the second, and the
female has fully launched into her own household. The Coastal
Lower Sector female has only a brief visit in the public world,
for with the birth of her own children she is tied once more
to the kitchen of the nuclear family. Washing clothes at the
irrigation canal and walking in the park in the evening will
be her only contact with the nonkin public world.
Young families move several times before settling down
depending upon whether or not the household head can earn a
reliable wage. Houses grow by acretion as rooms are added to
accommodate family expansion. A simple bareque of mud and
wattle often becomes inadequate. If the household head can
afford it he will purchase concrete block and adobe brick,
stockpiling these until he has enough for an addition to his
house. Older houses are not torn down, but built upon. When
a new house is to be built it is constructed around the old
one which the family still occupies. Only when the new roof
goes on will the old house be dismantled. But building a
new house or adding on to an old one demands that the house
is purchased by the Coastal Lower Sector males earnings.
Most frequently a man's earning capacity does not permit
such growth of a household shelter. The simple bareque must
be used unless more income can be found, and it grows increas¬
ingly crowded with each new birth in the family. The adult
female may then seek work as a laundress or domestic servant
for the household of one of the Upper Sector families. With
both spouses working the additions to the house may be possible,

197
but the adolescent daughter who tends the younger children
while her mother is working will soon find an adolescent
male interested in her. In a short period of time there
will be no children to assist the adult female with cooking,
cleaning, and washing. Then the adult female may ask for and
be granted several female grandchildren to foster in her
home. Such foster children also make able assistants with
cooking, cleaning, shopping, and washing clothes for an older
couple. Less frequently a married or mated daughter and her
spouse stay on with the older couple. And still less fre¬
quently the older couple are brought to the household of a
married or mated son or daughter.
The favored activity of an older couple, however, is
opening a small tienda in their neighborhood, becoming street
vendors of fresh vegetables and fruits, or opening a stall
in the market building. Widows frequently open stalls in
the market or open kitchens nearby where they prepare food
for the working men.
When the woman of the Coastal Lower Sector dies she is
formally mourned for nine days by all of her kindred and is
buried in a simple grave in the town cemetery. The grave
looks small and insignificant beside the tombs of the wealthy,
and is located at some distance from these expensive monuments.
The grave of the Coastal Lower Sector woman is a concrete slab
with a wooden cross at the head, and the name and date of
death of the deceased scratched into the still moist concrete
with a stick. The only decorations such graves have are

19S
the product of the annual velorio or wake held to mark the
anniversary of the death. Surviving daughters, sisters, and
granddaughters visit the cemetery after paying the priest to
say a mass for the deceased and burn candles about the peri¬
meter of the concrete slab. In death as in life the Coastal
Lower Sector woman is the focal point of private domestic
rituals.
Males of the Coastal Lower Sector
Early childhood socialization experiences of the male
of this sector are like those of the female discussed above.
The male child takes on his sexual identity with the transi¬
tion to "yard child" and is dressed in short pants and short
sleeved shirts until the age of seven.
At seven years the male transition to "street child"
is more marked than in the case of the female. When he goes
to the bathing area at the river with his parents, a favorite
activity in the late afternoon, he will for the first time be
taken by his father to the male bathing place _el puesto de
los hombres. He looks forward to this day when he can make
the change from the female bathing area where he is super¬
vised by older females to the male area where he is to wash
himself with his older male siblings and his father. The
transition is not ceremonialized, but its significance is
underscored by congratulatory joking among all the 'males
present. This transition, therefore, involves physical
movement from one area of sex segregated activity to another.
The male "street child" when he puts on his long trousers

199
and changes bathing areas enters a different and public world.
He leaves the household compound for increasingly longer per¬
iods of time and joins a group of peers in sex segregated play
in the streets, in the plaza, in the nearby fields, in the
irrigation ditches, and on the dusty dirt roads leading into
the countryside. The male street child has the run of the
town and countryside. He learns to make slingshots and hunt
birds, to play soccer in the plaza and in the streets, to swim
in the irrigation ditches, to build and fly kites, to shoot
marbles, to stalk and club iguanas and bring them home for
his older female siblings to prepare, to locate and climb
fruit trees and bring the fruit down to his companions, and
numerous other boyhood skills. All of these and much more
are learned from his nonkin peers.
As a "street child" the young male may be expected to
attend school for five hours each day. The children of arti¬
sans are encouraged to stay in school until they complete at
least the primaria or the first five years. But most street
children are not so encouraged. Increasingly, as they play
in their peer group, they are drawn into the household rou¬
tine of their mothers. Errands of all kinds are the duty of
the "street child" as well as carrying firewood, and water
to fill the earthen jar in the patio-kitchen area. Once
the peasant or day laborer male child of the coastal sub¬
culture has learned to sign his name and read slightly and
do simple sums, generally the second or third year of schooling,
he leaves school and devotes his full energies to the acti-

200
vities of the household unit and his peer play group. He
continues in this manner until about the age of 12.
The transition from "street child" to adolescent is not
marked by ceremonial or ritual activities. As the street
child scurries with his companions about the town and country¬
side he observes his older siblings in théir adolescent peer
groups. The best locations for playing are dominated by the
older age group. A particular delight is taken from pummeling
the soccer ball in the mud and water when it rains. When a
rain comes up the street children group may run to the plaza
to organize such a game, but they soon learn that the plaza
is the arena of activity and the territory of the adolescent
aged group. When the adolescents arrive the street children
must very quickly give up the highly valued center sidewalks
of the plaza and continue their game in the muddy street near¬
by. Early on the street child learns that power resides in
the senior members of his society. His interest in making
the transition to such a privileged position is heightened
as the older group demonstrate time after time their dominance.
As he matures the street child watches the adolescents
gradually cease to dominate the choice play areas, as they
come to spend more and more time in the stores, bars, and
poolrooms of the town. For the adolescent is maturing into
the world of work, marriage, and parenthood. The adolescent
is also watching the next oldest group of males as they
enjoy themselves in the various bars and return home to
meals and beds prepared for them by women to whom they are
mated, rather than women to whom they are related.

201
The street child one day discovers there are no older
contenders for the favored play area in the plaza. Moreover,
he soon notices a group of younger boys playing nearby with a
soccer ball. He will be careful to alert his fellows, his
age mates, to this growing threat to their rights to the
choice play area.
Between the ages of 12 to 14 Coastal Lower Sector males
gather primarily in the late afternoon and early evening with
age mates. Usually the morning hours are spent working at
odd jobs about the town or in his father's fields, if his
father owns or rents land. Males begin to partly assume a
wage earning role at about this age through the combined pres¬
sures of his peer group and parental urging. Parental pres¬
sure can only be indirect at this point, for the child is
never ejected forcefully from the home. Invitations from his
father to accompany him to the fields or the job, hints about
his coming into manhood from his mother are the kinds of
pressures applied. But the most influential pressure comes
from among his peers. Some explanation is needed of the
nature of this peer pressure.
The town plaza is the arena of varied activities ranging
from religious processions to casual gossiping in the late
evening. But the adolescent males of the town clearly claim
possession of this area during the late afternoon and early
evening hours. It is here that adolescent aged males engage
in the harmless provocative play banter of the young. Older
males call such young men cocacolas, meaning that those who

202
hang around the benches of the plaza and drink the American
soft drink rather than beer or liquor. Their loud laughter,
shouting, and pranks are ignored by the older males, but
despite mock bravado and boistrous behavior, the adolescents
are quite aware of their disparaging title of cocacolas.
After dinner when the people of the town come out for an
evening walk around the perimeter of the plaza the adolescents
of the lower sector are relatively inconspicuous. The giggling
groups of adolescent girls, holding hands and walking with an
air of deliberate casualness about the plaza, are an object of
amusement and are sometimes taunted. But the stream of older
couples, adult women with babies, and Upper Sector strollers
inhibits any contacts among the two sex segregated groups.
It is not until around 8:00 P.M. when the strollers begin to
disperse that such contacts are initiated. The males furtively
talk about the girls and attempt to shame one of their number
into initiating conversation with one of the female clusters.
They walk about, lounge on the benches, or go to get a soft
drink with the peso or two their father, older brother, or
padrino has given them to spend. In general, they affect a
look of extreme disinterest yet watchful attention, a most
awkward combination. Conversations may be initiated through
a female sibling of one of the groups, who acts as a liaison
for an interested yet shy brother and his group of friends.
Such contacts are fleeting and the girls must be home by
8:30 P.M. The cocacolas are soon left in the plaza, alone
except for a few grazing burros and groups of gossiping

203
elders of the town. Then the mock bravado of the late after¬
noon is affected once again. The conversation turns to acts
of daring adventure. Manuel suggests that they steal a chicken
and cook it down by the river. Pedro observes that such an
activity would be dangerous and foolhearty. He suggests,
rather, that they buy a bottle of rum and go down by the
river and drink it together. But between them they can put
together only a few pesos, the gifts of older male siblings,
fathers, and padrinos. Nothing stronger than cocacola can
be obtained so they may disperse. The continued repetition
of this and similar scenes convince the members of the peer
group that to lack money is to hobble themselves to their
parental households.
As the group progresses through the ages of adolescence,
therefore, they will increasingly seek work opportunities.
In the main these efforts are in the interest of obtaining
money for activities within their peer group. The lure of
the saloon and the world of adult manhood that it represents
is a strong influence. But there is another influence.
That is the attraction of the strolling groups of females
who grace the plaza each evening between 6:30 P.M. and 3:00
P.M. Through the casual introductions to female siblings
of male members of the peer group they soon discover inter¬
esting and eligible females who are neither relatives nor
first cousins. Casual introductions lead to invitations
to the public dances during the festivals of the yearly
ceremonial calendar. As explained above, this dating pattern

204
gives way to invitations to la cumbia and to the possibility
of engagement or pregnancy and the common outcome of marriage
or consensual union.
The young man is therefore interested in obtaining spending
money. Work opportunity existing in the town is well mono¬
polized by the adult aged males. The adolescent in search of
work is frequently frustrated in his quest, and consequently
roams farther and farther afield. It is at this age that the
characteristic coastal migration pattern begins. Together
with a companion or two the adolescent day laborer sets out
to travel the length and breadth of the coast.
Such a pattern is common but it is not universal to
the Coastal Lower Sector. A number of avenues of employment
exist, and these can be traveled depending upon the youth's
training and the advice he receives from his parents and peer
group. Theoretically, the father of a youth can sponsor him
to the labor broker, el hombre que indica. A few youths are
thus found at work early in their lives. But the bulk of the
work crews in the town and countryside operate at full capa¬
city already. The mechanized harvest leaves household heads
and their adolescent offspring looking for work. So such
opportunities are rare. On certain cattle estates the off¬
spring of vaqueros and ordinarios are employed, but this de¬
pends upon the inclination of the patr6n. Certainly such a
situation provides the best opportunity for gaining an educa¬
tion, for a teacher is provided for employee offspring by
many estate owners.

205
Another avenue that may be traveled is that of appren¬
ticeship to a tradesman: potters, brickmakers, carpenters,
etc. Such an artisan will take on young apprentices several
times during his lifetime. If the young man is an ahijado or
godson or if he is a sobrino or nephew the chances are good
that the artisan will accept him as an apprentice, if it is
possible to do so. Other adults who petition on behalf of
their sons stand less chance of such a favor. The young
apprentice works from four to eight years for the master doing
the heavy and monotonous tasks. He is frequently paid a daily
wage though sometimes given food instead. His performance
is judged in terms of his productivity and his respecto or
respectful submissiveness to the directions of the skilled
master. If the young apprentice proves himself properly he
will find himself launched in a career of his own, often
working as a socio or partner of the master, but more often
given credit, job references, and the reputation which only an
established master can provide. Still, few young males of the
Coastal Lower Sector have such an opportunity, for few can
count master craftsmen among their godfathers and uncles.
The majority of the male offspring of the Coastal Lower
Sector migrate to other municipalities in search of agricul¬
tural labor or to the cities in search of work. In this con¬
text the young man comes to rely increasingly upon the nonkin
relationships which he learned as a street child. At first
he may not travel far, and may accept employment in a few
nearby municipalities. In this way he obtains some spending
money, buys some fine clothing, treats his peers to drinks,

206
and buys a scarf, some cigarettes, or costume jewelry for a
favorite girl friend. Such expenses are neverending and the
Coastal Lower Sector male finds them particularly rewarding.
Such a pattern has led Reichel-Dolmatoff (1954:312) to high¬
light the attitudes toward dress of the coastal day laborer
as a distinctive subcultural trait, the importance of which
in the mind of the coastal day laborer is greater than the
kind of food he eats, the repair of his house, his health, or
his education. Certainly this characterization is borne out
by the writer's personal observations. Repeated purchases of
new clothes are one of the great joys of the male day laborer.
Shirts and trousers of expensive and fine material are worn
at all times and whenever possible. A man working to repair
a tractor frequently wears a fine imported American cotton
sport shirt, a pair of imported "double knit" trousers, and
white shoes. These become covered with grease after several
days, are cleaned and worn again, only to become ragged and
ugly very quickly. The entire outfit is thrown away, and
the man purchases an entirely new and equally expensive and
fine outfit. Young workers, adolescents, are perhaps most
typified by such behavior. Weeding a garden patch, cutting
an irrigation ditch, cleaning brush from a field with a
machete, or working concrete and bricks are tasks that are
all performed in clothes that an American worker might think
more appropriate to a Saturday night dance or movie.
The concept of prestige in the Coastal Lower Sector is
expressed in other ways besides dress. Concern with showing

207
the proper atención or hospitality to one's visitors and
guests is another expression of prestige. Visitors are invar¬
iably served a tinto or hot black coffee upon arrival at the
host's household. This is necessary but hardly sufficient.
Food, alcohol, and soft drinks are commonly offered as well.
The household is a private world. Visiting is an invasion
of this private space, and calls forth ceremonial behavior.
Visitors are rarely unknown and are almost always related in
some manner to one or more members of the household unit, but
they are not members of the unit and their presence intro¬
duces an element of disorder and demands ritualized inter¬
action. Receiving a labor broker in one's home, who may be
the compadre of one's children, is a time for such ceremonial
behavior. The patrón of the household head, a local politician,
or the school teacher all call forth such concern with proper
atención on the part of the Coastal Lower Sector member.
The concern with such elements of prestige on the part of
the adolescent of this sector marks the beginning of the transi¬
tion from childhood to adulthood. There are no formal rites
of passage which mark this transition. It occurs when the
young man takes leave of his home and his parents and travels
with nonkin companions in search of wage labor. He retunis
regularly for the important events of the festival calendar
and for important household events, often traveling several
hundred kilometers, and at these times he will have the oppor¬
tunity to display some of the fruits of his quest for full
adult status: his clothing, his largess at the stores and
bars, and the gifts he can provide to family and friends.

203
Through separation from his family the young man will demon¬
strate that he has embarked upon the transitional state of
the rite of passage or the period of liminality which pre¬
cedes his incorporation into full adult status (Van Gennep
I960, Turner 1969, Chappie and Coon 1942).
The transitional period may last several years and the
young man may travel the length and breadth of the coast
working in a variety of occupations. But transition to adult¬
hood is not achieved until the young male forms his own house¬
hold and procreates children. Until that time the young male
continues to interact with other, single males of the commu¬
nity in the .bars, stores, and work groups traversed in the
course of the day. During his travels the young male meets
many eligible young females in many different towns and cities
of the coast. By taking one of these for his mate and providing
her with a household apart from that of his or her parental
household, he makes the final step in achieving full adult
status. It is likewise the final step for the adolescent
female of this sector.
It is only in the new household that the young male can
display one of the symbols of full adult status: hosting kin
and nonkin under his own roof and thereby displaying the
proper hospitality. The procreation of children is similarly
a symbol of the end of the period of transition and the
initiation of full adult status. Significantly, the event
of child birth is celebrated primarily within the household
by the female and her midwives. But the young father also
celebrates the event out in one of the cantinas of the town

209
where he gathers around him members of his work group and
male relatives and compadres and buys alcohol for everyone.
Achieving each of these symbols of the initiation of
full adult status is contingent upon the successful completion
of the most difficult task facing the adolescent aged male.
That is finding and retaining the services of a patron whether
this individual be a labor broker, an estate manager, or a
master artisan. Perhaps it is most accurate to say that the
young adolescent male decides to settle and create his own
household where he finds relatively permanent work, and only
then is he able to mate with one of the females whom he has
courted during his years of travel. Once this relationship
is solidified the young male is granted the opportunity to
express the important symbols of adult status.
It is during the migratory years of the life cycle that
the male of the Lower Coastal Sector initiates the use of
cannabis. The use of the plant is intimately connected with
the organization of work in this sector. Moreover, there is
found to be a high correlation between the drug of choice of
the patrón and the drug of choice of his clientes. Thus, if
a labor broker smokes cannabis while working on the rice or
cattle estate his work crew members generally also consume it.
Likewise, if the master artisan uses it so also will his crew
of apprentices. This is so because the patron-client relation¬
ship involves the ceremonial exchange of valued items. Canna¬
bis is one of these items in the Coastal Lower Sector.
Cannabis using informants were uniformly initiated to
the use of the drug during late adolescence in the context of

210
the nonkin based work group. They began smoking cannabis
between the ages of 12 and 22 and have between 11 and 31
years of experience smoking the drug. Most are the only
adult males of their families who consume cannabis. None
reported that his father used the drug. This is not sur¬
prising given the nonkin composition of the work group where
socialization into cannabis use takes place.
The prestige value of alcoholic beverages surpasses
that of cannabis. Alcohol is preferred by consumers of
cannabis and nonconsumers alike for the important ceremonial
events which mark the yearly, weekly, and daily calendar.
Among Coastal Lower Sector laborers cannabis is associated
primarily with the work group and is used almost exclusively
in the form of smoking. The group which consumes cannabis
during the day, as it cleans a field or irrigation ditch, may
not use the drug in the evening when one of its members or
the labor broker hosts an assembly at his home. Likewise,
the master adobe brickmaker and his apprentices may consume
mari uana throughout the day while working, yet meet at one
of the stores during the evening for beer, rum, or aguardiente
drinking.
The initiation of cannabis smoking during the migratory
period of the life cycle in the context of manual labor does
not seem to cause the use of cannabis in other settings and
in other groups. The reason is that cannabis is perceived
to be an energizing drug. It is used in connection with
manual labor because the users have been taught that it in¬
creases one's tolerence and capacity for hard physical exer-

211
tion. While most informants use the drug in the context of
cooperative work, it is significant that coastal peasants con¬
tinue to use the drug when they obtain land and the capital
for working the land. The coastal peasant works alone or
with a few young offspring on his farm. The belief in the
efficacy of cannabis for enhancing energy persists into this
setting in which the character of the work group changes.
But clearly cannabis use is learned in the nonkin work
group. Perhaps the most critical factor associated with
such socialization is the clear association of drug of choice
and work group composition. Rarely do the labor broker and
his crew of laborers consume different drugs during the working
hours. Some crews drink alcohol, others consume cannabis,
and both kinds of groups smoke tobacco cigarettes. The
artisans who use cannabis at work prefer this drug to alcohol
and they too consume tobacco during the work day.
As the male of the Coastal Lower Sector searches for
the right combination of patron, mate, and residential loca¬
tion the use of cannabis is initiated. And as we have seen
the necessity of finding a good patrón is the most important
step which the adolescent youth must take as he seeks to make
the transition from adolescence to adulthood. It is only
when he has succeeded in this quest that he can begin to dis¬
play the other symbols of adulthood. Thus, when the patrón
is selected so too the drug of choice is selected. This will
be alcohol or cannabis depending upon the preference of the
group.
The reason this is so is as follows. Work groups of

212
the Coastal Lower Sector merely work during the day. They
are not kinship groups which have other functions. They are not
clubs which have numerous social functions aside from work.
They are, instead, parts of the larger production unit, the
estate. Recruitment into this larger unit is on the basis of
reciprocal relationships which evolve among nonkin during the
migratory period of the life cycle. In order to join such
a unit, thereby joining the ranks of productive adult males
of the community, the adolescent must establish such a recipro¬
cal relation with a labor broker.
Work groups invariably gather together in the early
morning as each member makes his own way from his private
household to the estate. Upon assembing the group begins the
preparation of the tools to be utilized that day. This in¬
volves the sharpening of machetes or other implements which
are usually supplied by the workers themselves. The men sit
on the ground and use the files which they always carry to
sharpen their machete and smoke the first of perhaps seven
cannabis cigarettes to be consumed during the day. Each man
smokes one cigarette alone and does not pass it or share it
with others. But not all of the workers have purchased canna¬
bis. Some of them supply cannabis for the others under the
tacit assumption that they in turn will reciprocate this
favor. The gift is never given in the absence of expectation
of repayment at some future time, for that is the nature of
gift giving in all human groups. Over time reciprocal rela¬
tions among members of these groups evolve and what was
formerly implicit becomes explicit. The breach of the con-

213
tract brings condemnation. This is true of all drugs of
choice. The groups which use alcoholic beverages while
working share the gift of one of their members. Others are
expected to reciprocate on another work day. Those who do
not reciprocate soon find themselves ostracized by the label
vivo.
To be vivo is to be considered active of mind, intelli¬
gent, and unscrupulous. A member of a work group who is
labeled vivo is one who takes unfair advantage of the gifts
of others by not honoring his obligation to repay. Certainly
such an obligation is not stated at the time when the gift is
made. It is implicit and unstated. But it becomes explicit
and is stated when members of the group do not honor the im¬
plicit obligation to repay. Such a person is then called
vivo by other members of the group and he is considered untrust¬
worthy. None will advance him social credit any longer, none
will offer him further gifts of tobacco, alcohol, or cannabis.
He is in effect ostracized.
To the labor broker, the man considered vivo by his
fellows is not reliable. He is not one who feels the obliga¬
tion to repay the kinds of social debts which are implicit
as opposed to those that are contractual. Given the scarce
job market, the excess of laborers, and the consequent high
degree of migration, the labor broker is interested in re¬
cruiting and holding a relatively stable group of workers
over the year. He wants men who honor the obligation which
they accrue when the broker selects them by remaining loyal
to him. The worker who is vivo may not honor such an obligation.

214
He does not respond to the subtle obligations of reciprocal
sharing of the tobacco or alcohol or cannabis, so he will be
unlikely to respond to the obligation to be at work a parti¬
cular day when the labor broker needs him.
The labor broker needs a relatively reliable group of
workers so that he might honor his obligations made at the
stores, bars, cockfights, and in the home of his patrón.
For example, a certain week he must lead a crew of 10 men to
the estate La Fonseca and work at cleaning the irrigation
canals. These canals must be readied by a set date when the
INCORA employees come to open the sluice gates. If the labor
broker fails then his position in the unit of production is
threatened.
To be considered vivo is thus partly a compliment, since
it implies a certain independence and native intelligence
which permits the individual to come out on top in a social
exchange, but it also is condemnatory since it implies a lack
of cooperation. It implies egoism of self-centeredness. It
means that the workers is intelligent enough to make a pro¬
fit in the social exchange relationship, but ignorant enough
to value that small profit over the long-range benefits of
alliance with a good patron and group of coworkers. In summary,
the labor broker does not want men who are vivo in his work
crew. He will reject those who do not show commitment to the
group by recognizing their obligations to reciprocate gifts and
favors.
This does not mean that men who are labeled vivo during

215
their adolescent migratory years are doomed to permanent
social ostracism. Quite the contrary. Those who are truly
active of intellect, and not simply greedy or unresponsive
to social obligations, discover a number of ways in which
to compensate for the label and in fact turn it to their
advantage. For example, a bright day laborer can engage
his talents in breeding and fighting cocks, and thereby draw
himself into the cockring-brothel-bar circuit where an
influential and wealthy patr6n may be encountered. The poten¬
tial patron may select the bright day laborer for employment
on an estate, to work as a trabajador on a small cattle
finca, to work for the municipal government or at one of
the other government offices in the town, or a number of simi¬
lar positions whereby the man can provide the patron with
good fighting cocks on a regular basis. Arimiro Hernandez
became an employee on the African Palm estate of the Insti¬
tuto Colombiana de Agricultura (ICA), an experimental farm
operated by this agency of the national government but di¬
rected by local elites, in exactly this fashion. The day
laborers labeled vivo in his early years may also educate
himself in the mechanics of merchandising, and become a vege¬
table and fruit vendor in the streets of the town. He
learns to purchase food stuffs cheaply and sell them at a
profit. Most men of this social sector, however, depend
directly upon the good relations they maintain with a labor
broker and their coworkers in the cooperative work groups of
the estates. For most men to be labeled vivo is a mark of

216
unreliability which indicates to their fellows that they
are ill suited to the form of productive activity practiced
by most adult males of this social sector.
Through the years following his successful transition
from adolescence to adulthood, signified by membership in
a work group, obtaining a mate, procreating children, occupying
a separate household from his parents, and hosting his rela¬
tives, compadres, and his labor broker in his home, the male
of the Coastal Lower Sector joins the group of productive
and responsible adult males of the community. These are the
best and most rewarding years of his life, the years between
the ages of 12 and 50. He will work on a variety of estates
and his reputation as a padre de familia, literally the father
of a family but also meaning respectability and reliability
will spread. Soon he will be an older and experienced worker
himself, and the administrators of the estates will seek him
out as a labor broker. For the male of the Coastal Lower
Sector to become a labor broker entails a long term residence
in a particular location, which is _de facto evidence of his
ability, reliability, and trustworthiness. At this stage of
his life cycle he has earned the respect of younger workers
and estate employers alike, and will increasingly act as
mediator between these two essential elements of the produc¬
tive unit.
Also upon reaching the status of labor broker around
the age of 50 employees of the municipal, departmental, and
national government in the community will seek out the

217
Coastal Lower Sector male for purposes of recruiting workers
to some task which needs to be performed. This kind of employ¬
ment is irregular and not highly desired by the workers in
the town. For the government, at all levels, rarely pays
its workers when promised. In one instance workers hired to
clean the dead branches off African Palm trees at an ICA
experimental area farm in June of 1973 were not paid their
wages until September of 1973» And the teachers employed
by the departmental government were not paid between Septem¬
ber of 1972 and March of 1973* Government work is not de¬
sired by day laborers, as a result, and migratory adoles¬
cents are often the only laborers who will accept such work.
The labor broker continues to work in the fields until
he attains an age which prohibits any further manual labor.
When he can no longer work there are only two options open
to him. The first is to move in with offspring, which may
entail moving to another municipality or department. No
male offspring follow in the aged male's household to assume
the burden of productive labor. And often relatives cannot
be found who will accept the burden of an aged and nonpro¬
ductive relative. The other option is to become a beggar.
When I first inquired about the old men who begged from
door to door I was told that they had no relatives and no
homes. But upon further checking it was discovered that many
lived with relatives in town and many were owners of houses.
Some owned more than one house. Yet they regularly took up
their canes, their battered straw work hats, their woven
mochilas in which they once carried food to the fields and

213
dressed in ragged work clothes, made the rounds of the
wealthy homes of the community. When the wealthy alms
givers were questioned and confronted with the fact that
these old men did have homes and relatives, a modified ex¬
planation was offered: they are men who are padres de
familias but cannot work, so they are bored and leave the
house to beg in order to get away from the women. People
give alms out of respect for these old workers, for the
life they have led and wish to continue to lead.
The life cycle of the Coastal Lower Sector male, then,
can be seen as a steady progression of stages of incorpora¬
tion into the public world of nonkin relationships. After
the age of seven the male learns to spend less time with
relatives and more with nonkin. This pattern intensifies
until he joins the nonkin work group and thereby assumes the
symbols of adult status. He lives out his life in this pub¬
lic world, and when death comes it finds him still facing
towards this world.
The contrast between the male and female life cycles of
this social sector are marked. The female only briefly en¬
ters the public world of nonkin relationships and then returns
to the private world of home and children. She is claimed
by the private world for life and is not taught to live among
nonkin. The male is claimed by the public world after the
age of seven and enters the private world only at death, when
relatives of both sexes and some nonkin gather for a special
mass and the velorio. The distinction between the public and

219
private realms as they are expressed in the life cycles of
the male and female is basic to an •’nderstanding of the
Coastal Lower Sector.
The Highland Lower Sector
In the highlands the household unit is composed of
members of the three generation extended family. The system
of inheritance dictates that all male offspring have equal
shares in the house and farm. Females become owners of
houses and farms only upon the death of all male siblings
or their husbands. In other regions exploited by this sub¬
culture the inheritance custom results in the rapid frag¬
mentation of holdings into units too small to be economically
feasible (Smith, et al. 1944, Fals Borda 1956). But in
this region the land is only recently colonized and the
farms are large. Similarly, the possibility of further
colonization of lands higher up in the mountains eases the
pressure on the land, unlike other areas of the world where
colonization is not possible or practiced (Carter 1964, Yang
1945* Arensberg and Kimball 1968). For these reasons house¬
hold composition is quite stable over time. The male child
is claimed from the moment of birth until death. He will
not have to leave the farm as will his sister upon her mar¬