In March this year, El Salvador's ruling civilian-military junta introduced a programme of agrarian reform.
GV Peasants working in cotton fields, El Salvador (4 shots)
GV Agrarian Reform Institute President, Jose Revolfo Viera working alongside peasants in cotton fields
GV Workers picking cotton
SV INTERIOR Jose Revolfo Viera speaking in Spanish to workers
SV Peasants listening to Sr. Viera (2 shots)
SV Sr. Viera speaking in Spanish
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Background: In March this year, El Salvador's ruling civilian-military junta introduced a programme of agrarian reform. The eventual aim of programme was to redistribute about sixty percent of the country's farmlands to eighty percent of the landless families. The move was in response to repeated demands from left-wing groups for a more equitable distribution of agricultural lands and ny implementing the reform programme the junta hoped to avert civil war. With the same end in view the United States granted a 32.5 million dollars (US) loan to El Salvador to help the programme.
SYNOPSIS: Anti-government left wing groups had long exploited the peasants' principal grievance of inequitable land ownership to win the rural classes over to their cause. By redistributing the country's agricultural wealth the junta hoped to cut the ground from under the left-wing movement. The anticipated backlash of opposition to the reforms from right-wing groups showed itself with an intensification in their campaign of violence. But for the leftists the reforms appeared t have come too late. Leftist leaders say they want compete nationalisation, the dissolution of the armed forces and the establishment of a 'people's government'. They continue to woo the peasants to help them in their bid to topple the junta.
President of the Salvador Institute for Agrarian Reform, Jose Revolfo Viera, is now employed by the government to explain the reform programme to peasant farmers, and encourage them to make the best use of their land. A former peasant, his position of authority over the country's one million peasant families places him in an unenviable position amidst El Salvador's sectarian violence. In a speech to farmworkers in the eastern town of La Union on Tuesday (5 August) sr. Viera stressed the importance of peasant participation in the land reform programme. He said the reforms might not bring more maize or rice but would give them a say in their economic future.