Central America by Jan L. Flora, Professor Edelberto Torres-Rivas (eds.)

By Jan L. Flora, Professor Edelberto Torres-Rivas (eds.)

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New values had developed which were both an accommodation and resistance to those of their rulers, whose values were in sharp contrast to pre-Colombian indigenous perspectives. Class While people under the colonial system were initially assigned to a particular socially-relevant group based on their ethnicity, boundaries were permeable and mechanisms developed to legitimize persons born out of wedlock of mixed parentage. Persons of a "lower" ethnic group could be defined as being in a more powerful group if they occupied a position of prestige and power within the subordinate group, or if they were extremely talented.

Costa Rica, as a colonial backwater with peculiar expansion of coffee production, is the only country with a majority of land dedicated to a primary export crop (coffee) in the hands of peasants. 18 Peasants' tenure is more secure in Costa Rica than in any other Central American Republic, although rural landlessness is a severe problem. 19 Honduras was half a decade behind the other countries in diversifying its export agriculture, and pre-capitalist labour relations continued to be strong in the non-export sector.

The body of this chapter is in two parts - an economic and a political section. The economic section will examine the different ways in which each country became part of the international economic system and the effect that had on the role of the state. The political section will examine the degree to which all social classes - especially the poor majority - have been allowed to participate in political affairs and to feel they had some influence over the allocation of resources through the political system.

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