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From the Grounds UpBuilding an Export Economy in Southern Mexico$
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Casey Marina Lurtz

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781503603899

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503603899.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 22 February 2020

Scarce Labor and Unrealized Reform

Scarce Labor and Unrealized Reform

(p.117) 5 Scarce Labor and Unrealized Reform
From the Grounds Up

Casey Marina Lurtz

Stanford University Press

This chapter uses the history of a large finca called San Juan las Chicharras to demonstrate how laborers extracted incentives from their employers as the export economy of the Soconusco expanded. While labeled debt peonage, the labor system of the growing coffee economy is better understood through the idea of incentivized contracts. Because of demographics and planters’ lack of coercive capabilities, planters’ continual attempts to circumvent or reform contracts that came with advances, access to credit, good wages, and subsistence plots continually failed. Finqueros tried to ease their bottom lines through legislation and attempts to reach beyond the regional labor source. Yet so long as need for workers outpaced the supply of interested laborers, these attempts failed. The informal institutions of incentivized contracts won out over attempts to reform formalized labor relations.

Keywords:   Debt peonage, labor, incentives, contracts, Chiapas, labor reform, labor migration

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