The seventh blog in our Guatemala Blog Series by Jur Schuurman is out:
It will be no surprise to the readers of this blog that the institutional environment for land governance in Guatemala has its shortcomings. In the previous instalment I wrote about a massive land fraud in the Petén department, perpetrated with active participation of staff of FONTIERRA, the fund that was created in 1997 in order to address land tenure inequality and to facilitate the access of landless labourers and small farmers to (more) land. The involvement of its personnel in illegal activities makes one less than optimistic about FONTIERRAS’ general performance, and indeed, the available literature confirms as much. In a comprehensive evaluation of rural land governance after the peace agreements of 1996, the authors conclude that the results have been disappointing: FONTIERRAS’ slow bureaucracy, fundamental flaws in its setup and widespread corruption have meant that the main beneficiaries of the ‘market-assisted land reform’ that the Fund was supposed to enable were the big landowners. They could take advantage of the high demand for land by smallholders, and sold the low-quality portions of their properties, frequently overvaluing them in the process, to FONTIERRA. The ultimate consequence is the high degree of indebtedness of the buyers, who cannot produce enough to repay the loan they got from the Fund.
Read Blog #7 here!