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Extreme Land Concentration Fuels Poverty, Conflict in Latin America

ISSN:1060-4189
LADB Article ID: 80254
Category/Department: Region
Date: 2017-03-31
By: Andrés Gaudín

A study by the international charitable organization Oxfam suggests that more than half of the productive land in Latin America is held by just 1% of the largest farms, while small-scale producers, who together account for approximately 80% of agricultural operations, occupy only 13% of the available land. UN organizations consider Latin America to be the world’s most unequal region in terms of income distribution. The same goes for land distribution, according to the Oxfam report. Titled “Unearthed: Land, Power and Inequality in Latin America” and released in November 2016, the study draws on data from the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to argue that the imbalance in land access and control is a primary cause of the region’s high poverty levels. Some 167 million people in Latin America have subsistence-level incomes, and another 71 million are destitute.Oxfam describes the situation in Latin America as being “rooted in a culture closer to feudalism than a modern democracy,” and says that campesinos (agrarian workers) and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable, as they are often pushed off their land by large economic groups.

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