'/fJIS
BOOK
tells the story of Rosalie Evans, a woman who willfully gave
up her life to keep the property she loved, roughly two thousand acres
of fertile farmland in the Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley on Mexico's central
plateau, as well as the stories of those who struggled to take that property from
her. The most determined contenders claimed that absolute justice was on their
side, each citing unimpeachable truths. On the one hand, Rosalie Evans and her
fellow landowners acquired their titles legally, at a time when the law was on
their side. On the other hand, the villagers who lived nearby and worked on her
hacienda were, in the main, poor, exploited, and deserving of a better life. In
such elemental struggles, force and violence are practically inevitable.
This book, then, offers a detailed case study of agrarian reform, a conflict so
fundamental that it seldom occurs without violence and brutality, at least in its
initial stages and especially when
it
occurs - as this struggle did - as an adden-
dum to war. At its Simplest - a simplicity that has little to do with reality-
agrarian reform is a feud between the "haves" and the "have nots;' Yet, if
students of agrarian reform agree on anything, it is that an agrarian reform
where rich and poor fight each other
mano a mano
is probably no reform at all,
but more probably a spontaneous jacquerie of little lasting consequence. Surely,
both participants and observers long for a happy outcome and listen for the
flourish of trumpets proclaiming the triumph of justice. But in truth, although
notions of justice may undergird the agrarian reform process and provide in-
spiration for revolutionary poets and propagandists,
it
is not justice that ul-
timately matters most in the process. Nor are economic calculations usually
paramount. Agrarian reform is nothing if not political. As a leading student of
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