This paper provides an introduction to this special issue by presenting a general picture of the economic and political situation of the Latin American countryside at the dawn of this millennium, when a wave of left-wing parties and leaders assumed power in several countries of the region. We argue that after more than a decade in power, few of the promises to reform the agrarian sector in favour of peasant and family producers were fulfilled. This situation constitutes a paradox, because these governments came to power partly on the back of a wave of social mobilization in which peasant and indigenous movements had been key actors. However, rural social movements were incapable of pressuring the state to change this situation. At the heart of this paradox lies a contradiction, which is that in their political proposals rural social movements called for an interventionist state, but they did not have the ability to control it through their alliance with political parties and politicians. This introduction offers a theoretical framework to better comprehend the struggles of the peasantry and the rentier nature of the state in Latin America, in order to contribute to the discussion on agrarian class reconfiguration under neoliberalism.

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Keywords ground rent, left-wing governments, peasant autonomy, politically constituted property, rentier state
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Journal Journal of Agrarian Change
Vergara-Camus, L, & Kay, C. (2017). Agribusiness, peasants, left-wing governments and the state in Latin America: An overview and theoretical reflections. Journal of Agrarian Change, 17(2), 239–257. doi:10.1111/joac.12215