Tempest in the Andes? Part 2: peasant organization and development agencies in Cotopaxi (Ecuador)
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This paper, published in two parts, is an analysis of the links between the 'agrarian question' in the Ecuadorian Andes and the creation of a network of indigenous-peasant organizations that became the backbone of the national indigenous movement. I explore the relations between agrarian change and
social change, drawing on a monographic study carried out in Cotopaxi Province, in the central sierra of Ecuador, from the 1960s to the beginning of the twenty-first century. In the first part, I emphasized how the transformations unleashed by the crisis of the hacienda regime marked a rupture that consolidated the dense organizational scaffolding in the rural milieu. In this second part, I examine how development agencies, especially non-governmental organizations (NGOs), played a fundamental role in strengthening those structures (1980s and 1990s). The history of the Union of Peasant Organizations of Northern Cotopaxi (UNOCANC) is one such example: born from the struggle for haciendas, inputs from the development apparatus enabled the rise of local elites who turned the organization into one of the most militant in the country. In this paper, I draw attention to aspects seldom mentioned in the specialized bibliography, namely a detailed study of how peasant differentiation, the origins of which lay in hacienda hierarchies, and which was upheld in turn by the agrarian distribution, was accelerated by the actions of NGOs, which continued to favour those indigenous peasants with more power and economic resources. Thus, divergences were consolidated and internal fissures opened up in organizations that are at the root of the crisis of representation experienced by ethnic platforms in the Ecuadorian Andes today.