Export Agriculture and the Crisis in Central America / Edition 1

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Before social unrest shook the region in the 1970s, Central America experienced more than a decade of rapid export growth by adding cotton and beef to the traditional coffee and bananas. Williams shows how the rapid growth contributed to the present social and political crisis, examines the causes of the export boom and who benefited from it, and shows the impact of the boom on land use, the ecology, and the conditions of life in the rural areas.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A highly effective presentation of what we currently know about coffee, society, and politics in Central America.

Lowell Gudmundson, Mount Holyoke College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807841549
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 5/30/1986
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 273
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert G. Williams, Voehringer Professor of Economics at Guilford College, is author of Export Agriculture and the Crisis in Central America.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii
List of Abbreviations xv
Introduction 3
Part 1 Cotton
Chapter 1 The Cotton Boom and Its Primary Causes 13
Demand for Cotton by Central American Manufacturing 14
World Demand for Cotton after World War II 16
The Insecticide Revolution 17
Chemical Fertilizers 18
Tractors 18
Modern Technology and Cotton Yields 19
Government Road-building Programs 20
Cotton and Credit 24
Government Promotion of Cotton Finance 25
Summary 27
Chapter 2 The Cotton Boom and Its Primary Beneficiaries 28
The Cotton Growers 31
The Cotton Landlords 35
Cotton Gins 37
The Cotton-Export Houses 38
The Suppliers of the Cotton Boom 40
Banks and the Cotton Boom 42
Vegetable-Oil Factories and Textile Mills 43
Cotton and the Cotton Elite 44
Ecological Consequences of Cotton 48
Summary 51
Chapter 3 Cotton and the Common Man 52
The Cotton Boom and the Opening of Fresh Cropland 52
Cornfields to Cotton 54
Cotton and Peasant Access to Land 55
Cotton and the Creation of a Wage-Labor Force 60
The Irreversibility of Cotton 66
Cotton to Cattle 67
Cotton to Sugar 67
Cotton to Basic Grains 69
Cotton and the Social Fabric 70
Summary 73
Part 2 Cattle
Chapter 4 The Beef-Export Boom and Its Primary Causes 77
Practices before the Export Boom 78
The Demand for Beef in the U.S. Market 84
The Vital Supply Link: The Modern Packing Plant 87
Refrigerator Transport 90
Roads and the Beef Trade 91
State Promotion of the Beef Business 92
Road Finance 92
Direct Promotional Finance to the Beef Sector 93
The Beef-Export Boom and Technology on the Ranch 95
Summary 98
Chapter 5 The Beneficiaries of Beef 99
The Source of the Beef Bonanza 99
The Packing Plants' Share of the Beef Bonanza 102
The Impact of the Boom on Slaughter Sheds, Vendors, and Consumers 105
Private Investment in Cattle Raising 105
The Collapse of the Small Holder 108
Profits from the Sale of Modern Inputs 109
Vertical Integration in the Beef-Export Business 110
Summary 110
Chapter 6 Cattle and the Campesino 113
Forest to Pasture 113
Forest to Corn to Pasture 114
Ecological Consequences of Forest-to-Pasture Transformation 115
Impact of Forest-to-Pasture Transformation on Peasants 117
The Cattle Boom and Rights to Land Use 118
The Cattle Boom and Rural Conflict: The Pacific Coastal Plain of Honduras and Costa Rica 124
Olancho, Honduras: The Cattle Boom, the Peasant Movement, and Rancher Violence 126
The Cattle Boom, Rural Guerrillas, and Counterinsurgency in Nicaragua (1967-1972) 129
The First Phase of the Guatemalan Cattle Boom (1960s) 134
The Second Phase of the Guatemalan Cattle Boom (1970s) 139
The Cattle Boom and the Repression of Cooperatives in Quiche and Huehuetenango (mid-1970s) 142
The Cattle Boom, the Massacre at Panzos, and the Guatemalan Civil War 147
Summary 151
Part 3 The Crisis
Chapter 7 Cotton, Cattle, and the Crisis 155
Cotton and the Buildup to Crisis 155
Cattle and the Buildup to Crisis 158
U.S. Policy and the Buildup to Crisis 160
World-System Shocks: Impact on Elites 161
World-System Shocks: Impact on the Poor 163
Summary 165
Chapter 8 Governments and the Crisis 166
The Unfolding of the Crisis in Nicaragua 166
The Unfolding of the Crisis in El Salvador 170
The Unfolding of the Crisis in Guatemala 174
Reform and Repression in Honduras: Responses to Shocks 179
Government Responses to the Crisis in Costa Rica 183
Summary 188
Chapter 9 Challenge for a New U.S. Policy 190
Statistical Appendix 197
Notes 209
Bibliography 239
Index 249
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