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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 115 / 153

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ARENA fought hard against land reform yet would not directly attack the land-reform program—only because such a move would further alienate rural peasants and drive them into the arms of left-wing guerrillas.

Instead, Cristiani favored the reconstitution of collective farms as private plots.

Such a move, according to the government, would improve productivity and put an end to what authorities perceived as a form of U.S.-imposed "socialism." Critics of the government's policy charged that the privatization plan would ultimately result in the demise of land reform altogether.

Yet another problem was that many of the collectives established under the military reform were (and remain) badly in debt.

A 1986 study by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that 95% of the cooperatives could not pay interest on the debt they were forced to acquire to compensate the landlords.

New York Times reported that the world surplus of agricultural products as well as mismanagement by peasants who suddenly found themselves in the unfamiliar role of owners were a large part of the reason for the failures.

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