This paper concludes this special issue. It draws on the findings of the individual contributions and provides a comparison of the agrarian policies of left-wing governments in Latin America. We identify common trends and offer an explanation of why these governments did not change the agricultural model in the direction of food sovereignty, but continued to heavily support agribusiness while redirecting some resources to peasant and family producers. They improved the living conditions of the rural poor, mostly through populist anti-poverty and social protection programmes financed by the commodity boom. They expanded programmes to integrate small farmers into commodity chains and improved the working conditions of rural wage labourers, but did not carry out a redistributive agrarian reform. They instead continued to support agribusiness with numerous policies and measures. We argue that these governments did not curb the power of the dominant rural classes because these are highly intertwined with capital, making them part of a coalesced bourgeoisie that occupies key positions in the state. Leftist governments did not have a real agenda of social transformation or a strategy to tackle the rentier nature of the state. Contradictorily, their policies furthered peasant differentiation thereby weakening the previous alliance of rural subaltern classes.

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Journal of Agrarian Change
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Vergara-Camus, L., & Kay, C. (2017). The agrarian political economy of left-wing governments in Latin America: Agribusiness, peasants and the limits of neo-developmentalism. Journal of Agrarian Change, 17(2), 415–437. doi:10.1111/joac.12216