Agrarian Reform

Cant, Anna. “‘Land for Those Who Work It’: A Visual Analysis of Agrarian Reform Posters in Velasco’s Peru.” Journal of Latin American Studies 44, no. 01 (2012): 1–37.

Anna Cant’s treatment of propaganda posters put out in support of the 1969 agrarian reform emphasizes the ideological function of graphics while at the same time situating those graphics on a trajectory of dependency theory inspired radicalization of the Revolutionary Government’s platform and program. Generally speaking, and rooting her analysis in the critiques posed by Mayer, Seligmann and Caballero, Cant sees the Revolutionary Government’s program as contradictory, a fact especially evident in the effort to instill the values of capital-intensive production in the minds and administration of workers collectives, or in the delicate position of retaining peasant support for what was a centrally administered program. For Cant, the poster is the ideal medium for teasing out such contradictions precisely because of “its ability to suggest several things at once”. (3) However, though she adds a new and important source to the large body of primary material involving the Velasco years, I don’t know that her central contention (i.e. that posters reflected major tensions in Peruvian politics and society) says much more than someone like Mayer (Cuentos feos de la reforma agraria) or Mallon (“Chronicle of a Path Foretold”) already has. After all, the ambivalent position of a government speaking in defense of the peasantry and trying to mobilize grassroots momentum in opposition to oligarchy, while still vying for centralized, top-down administrative control, seems to me to be well established at this point. That is to say that the superficial interpretations of the Velasco regime as a crazed dictatorship, such as those advanced by Chirinos and Chirinos (1977), have been largely reduced to what they are: one-dimensional, as Cant points out. (11-12)