Accepted paper:

Rethinking property in the process of transition: redistribution or legalizing concentration?


Helena Alviar (University of Los Andes)

Paper short abstract:

The paper has the following starting point: ending with the 'latifundio' is no longer at the center of the debate in Colombia. The left, including demobilized FARC (as well the right) are now bargaining the adjudication, and the terms of accretion, of vacant, publicly owned land.

Paper long abstract:

The theme that greatly worries the economic elite in Colombia is not expropriation, they are confident they have prevented this threat. Both the right and the left are now obsessed with the distribution of publicly owned land. Relocating the debate from demanding the break up of property concentration to the legal structures that regulate barren land adjudication and accumulation, requires a different set of tools. Limiting public policy choices to the distribution of vacant land demands an appraisal and description of the political choices this produces; the legislative and regulatory architecture that are a consequence of this conservative axis as well as the winners and losers of these choices. The paper has two goals. First, and as in previous research, my objective is to critique the superficial and thin interpretation that technocrats have of property. As a result of the deep influence that Hernando De Soto's work on property formalization has had, technocrats have been demanding the formalization of barren land as essential to post-conflict property regulation. Their starting point is a classic, individualistic, formalistic understanding of property. On the other side of the political spectrum, the left and center left have been aiming at enforcing existing limits over the amount of publicly owned land that can be assigned and opposing the legalization of accumulated vacant land. Second, my goal is to narrate transition differently. Less as a total breaking point with the past and more as a product of existing political, legal and regulatory structures.

panel I05
Inequality studies: developing a southern approach (Paper)