188.8.131.52 Latifundia (Hacienda)
Latifundia are overdimensional pieces of landed property
covering tremendous areas. Today, they are only found in Latin
America. The most widely spread form is the hacienda (facenda)
that originated under colonial law allowing forced labour
recruitment and through land grants for military services.
A hacienda is an economic and social entity that, similar
to a small state, strives to be self sufficient and autarkic
and is centered upon the "patron". The hacienda
is not a farm but rather an area of land on which several
different forms of labour organization and land utilization
exist simultaneously, e.g. , plantations and sharecropping.
The intensity of the cultivation is very different on different
parts of the hacienda, although low all in all. The haciendas
include forest and waste land in their property.
The various economic units on the hacienda are tied together
through labour relations. Cash is used as little as possible.
The patron receives work performance from the labourers, tenants,
colons, herdsmen, the management, and other personnel and
provides- even if with very low standards- schooling, medical
aid, subsistence, old age benefits, and stores. Wages, credit,
and purchases are calculated together in an account in the
For the haciendero, the land is above all a source of respect,
power, and speculation. Its significance as a basis of agricultural
production is only secondary. The large landowners are the
financial aristocracy in the countries and have a large influence
on the government. A change in the government often only mans
that another family takes over. Despite their political interest,
the hacienderos strive to uphold regionalism and, thus, hinder
the construction of an infrastructure in the country.There
is a distinct class structure with landed property and race
as the most important characteristics determining the strata.
The patriarchal structure determines the life of the people
from birth to death. It is hardly possible to break out of
the system as there is nowhere else to find work. The coexistence
of latifundia and minifundia (marginal farms), abundance and
destitution, is hardly as marked in any agrarian system as