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Playing and Eating Democracy: The Case of Puerto Rico's Land Distribution Program 1940's-1960's

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Colón, Ismael García
Journal: Centro Journal
Volume: 18
Page(s): 167-189
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6976
Sector: Agriculture
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): modernization
agricultural development
land tenure and use
Abstract: "In the early 1940s, the colonial government of Puerto Rico with the consent of the U.S. federal government began to elaborate a land reform. Under Title V of the Land Law of 1941, the government established resettlement communities for landless families. One of their goals was to transform landless agricultural workers into an industrial and urban labor force by teaching them 'democratic, industrial, and modern' habits. Government officials distributed land to landless families through lotteries, portraying the ceremonies as acts of democracy. Community education programs produced literature, films, and posters aimed at fostering development and political participation. The colonial state intended to mold landless workers into new citizens but land distribution and its effects over the population were uneven, disorganized, and sometimes contradictory. Landless workers and residents of land distribution communities maneuvered within, escaped from, and shaped those government policies."

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