INTRODUCTION: Four hundred Salvadorean peasants have received deeds to land parcels, in the second such distribution under the Land Reform Decrees of 1980.
SV Farmer speaking in Spanish and audience (2 shots)
SV Dr. Morales Ehrlich addresses audience (2 shots)
SV Farmers presented with documents
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Four hundred Salvadorean peasants have received deeds to land parcels, in the second such distribution under the Land Reform Decrees of 1980. The ceremony was held in Sal Salvador, last weekend (13 June).
SYNOPSIS: The scheme calls for the handover of 40-percent of El Salvador's cropland to around 200-thousand peasant families. The land was previously owned by large estate operators. One of the farmers spoke on behalf of his fellow peasants in thanking the government for the Land Reform Law. He said that their ancestors had cultivated the soil, and now, thanks to the government, it was theirs. Compensation is being paid to the former owners in bonds and cash based on earlier tax declarations. The new owners will reimburse the government over 30 years.
The head of the Agrarian Reform Institute, Dr. Antonio Morales Ehrlich, who is also a member of El Salvador's ruling Junta, addressed the peasants. The Land Reform is basically self-implementing. Daily radio broadcasts tell the former tenants that the land and harvest is theirs, and to stop paying rent. Bumper crops have been raised and the first harvest had enough left over for export to Guatemala and Nicaragua. Under the decree of last March, the 263 largest estates were transferred to 62,000 families and are now farmed as co-operatives.
The military junta of El Salvador received the backing of the United States last February. In a significant policy change, the Reagan Administration said it supported the economic reforms and democratic changes in El Salvador, hoping they would lead to a popular elected government. The American Ambassador Deane Hinton was at the ceremony to see the peasants receive their land titles.