Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A vignette of the value of land

In Argentina, the government is currying votes by encouraging the "Originarios", the self-proclaimed descendants of the tribes who occupied the land before the Spanish conquest, to claim back their "tribal lands" off the descendants of the people the Spanish gave the land to.

From Bill Bonner's Diary*

“You are so naïve,” said an engineer who came to check on our grapes and oversee the pruning. "You don’t really understand anything. This whole originario thing is a scam. They call themselves the ‘Diaguita Community,’ but no one knows if they have any real connection to the Diaguita people that once lived here. And they say they want to live in a traditional way on their land. But it’s nonsense. They want pickup trucks and television, just like everyone else. The originario thing is just a way for the organizers to get money. The local people are pawns. They don’t know what’s going on.

You think you’re going to go to them and explain the situation. You think you can tell them why it is a bad idea… and why they would be better off in the modern economy. Well, of course they would be better off. If this succeeds, they’ll be condemned to live hard lives with just enough from the government to get by. The government will say they are living in a ‘traditional way,’ but you’ve seen what that means. No heat. No running water. No education. It’s terrible.

The best thing that could happen – for them – would be for you to go to the ringleaders and make a deal. You give them some money. And they back off. Look what happened at [a neighboring ranch that was seized by the government and given to the originarios]. It was all an inside deal. The originarios made noise. And the owner of the land had a good contact with the government. He was paid by the government for the land… far more than it was really worth. Everybody came out ahead, except the originarios. The politicians gave the land to the originarios and won some votes. The landowner got his money. But the originarios now live in a state of perpetual poverty. No one wants to invest in their community because they don’t respect property rights."

*Bill Bonner owns a ranch in Gualfin, Argentina.


Lola said...

No one wants to invest in their community because they don’t respect property rights." Says it all really.

Bayard said...

Yes, that's what I thought.