1st Agrarian Reform Law

05/03/09

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"They (the United-States) are practically telling us that if we go ahead with agrarian reform, they will strangle us economically... No country can have political independence if, when it issues a law, it is told it will starve to death"

Fidel Castro[1]

 

First Agrarian Reform Law (1959)

 

          After Fidel Castro and his revolutionary forces ceased power from the Batista regime, the revolution against Batista did not come to a grinding halt. On the contrary, a wave of revolutionary reform swept the nation. The first of such reforms was the First Agrarian Reform Law instituted on June 2, 1959.[2] This was the first major act of revolutionary policy to be established by the new government under the control of Fidel Castro.

          The First Agrarian Reform Law called for profit sharing among farmers and the division of unused lands.[3] Large estates and companies were nationalized by the Cuban Government.[4] Since many of these lands belonged to United States shareholders, the U.S. government demanded compensation for all nationalized lands. Despite U.S. opposition, the agrarian reform of the Cuban Revolution was met with great enthusiasm from the Cuban people. [5]

          The implementation of the First Agrarian Reform Law was not easy. The National Institute of Agrarian Reform was established to oversee and administer the provisions set forth by the law. The agrarian reform included the following measures:

 

1.     Limited landholdings to 993 acres.

2.     Expropriated Latifunda.

3.     Distributed expropriated land to peasants.

4.     Nationalized cattle ranches.

 

Eventually the Cuban government acquired half of the land in the country in just one year. A majority of the expropriated lands went directly to the government and were not distributed to the farmers.[6]


 

[1] http://cubaproject.freeservers.com/blocus.htm

[2] Marshall, ??.

[3] Plank, Tad Szulc, 60.

[4] Marshall, 2.

[5] Plank, Tad Szulc, 61.

[6] Marshall, 93-94

 

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