New Internationalist

The Ties that Bind

November 1979


‘You can buy land out there now for the same price as a couple of bottles of beer per acre. When you’ve got half a million acres and twenty thousand head of cattle, you can leave the lousy place and go to live in Paris, Hawaii, Switzerland or anywhere you choose.’

An American rancher who owns land in the Matto Grosso in Brazil.

‘I have a lot of respect for the small farmer. As most invariably when you look at what he is doing with his land, you find he is pro­ducing the maximum under the situation he has to work with, The thing is that he usually doesn’t have much to work with.’

Norman Borlaug, pioneer of the Green Revolution..

‘Landlords, moneylenders and traders, the chief components of any rural hierarchy did not attain their strong economic position because they increased agricultural production through improved farm management or reasonable invest­ment, but merely because they were able to take advantage of the economic opportunities arising from the weak bargaining power and economic helplessness of the peasants.’

Erich and Charlotte Jacoby, authors of Man and Land.

‘In most developing countries growth too often bypasses the absolute poor. They have only tenuous links to the organised market economy. They own few productive assets. They are often illiterate. They are frequently in poor health. And their meagre incomes make it almost impossible for them to save or invest.

But though the absolute poor have severe disadvantages, their human potential remains immense. Given a realistic opportunity they will respond. For no less than any­one else what they want most from life is an end to despair, a beginning of hope and the promise of a better future for those they love.’

Robert S. McNamara, President, World Bank.

‘Too often in the past, policy makers and planners have ignored the inarticulate but deep wisdom that resides in rural people - in their deep-rooted knowledge of the soil, their instinctive respect for their environment, their intuitive commonsense, and the mutually sustaining force of their customs.’ Edouard Saouma, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

‘This Hacienda has had no prob­lems with its labour force for 120 years. All trade union activity is forbidden. Anybody who wants to join a trade union must leave the hacienda. I don’t want my workers to be exploited by smart union leaders.’

Patron Pedro, owner of the Pinsaqui Hacienda (Estate), Otavalo, Ecuador.

‘In the past, dedication and commitment of governments and agencies, and the desired particip­ation of the people, have been assumed. This has been a false assumption and now serious work must go into converting that false assumption into a workable reality.’ General Zia, President of Bangladesh.

‘The depressed rural worker, who with his sweat waters his affliction, cannot wait any longer for full effective recognition of his dignity. He has the right to be respected and not deprived with manoeuvres which are sometimes tantamount to real spoilation of the little he has. He has the right to be rid of the barriers of exploitation, often made up of intolerable selfishness against which his best efforts of advancement are shattered.’

Pope John Paul II

This feature was published in the November 1979 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 081

New Internationalist Magazine issue 081
Issue 081

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  • Ticklesack and Southern Africa

    November 1, 1979

    An active committee of 150 members keep Canadians informed of the shifting political events in Southern Africa

  • Facts of life in US labour market

    November 1, 1979

    Hundreds and thousands of Americans make up what is called ‘the secondary labour market’, a group of unskilled, largely minority, workers who are the preserve of casual labour in the US.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

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– Emma Thompson –

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