Hillside Units, Wage Labor, And Rural Haitian Land Tenure

This report is a companion report, highly applied in nature, to another report which the author has prepared discussing several general issues and ambiguities which have arisen concerning the dynamics of rural Haitian land tenure. In June of 1978, I had prepared a preliminary report on land tenure for USAID/Haiti. The materials for the present report were gathered during a visit to Aux Cayes, made with the intention of getting impressions on the land tenure situation in the region of PDAI activities, in particular, the Acul River watershed. There I encountered several types of tenure relations not seen in earlier visits to the Thomazeau and Marigot project areas. Among these were enormous lowland holdings of several hundred carreaux owned by basically non-agrarian absentee landlords–shades of the Latin American lati- fundio. In addition, there were far-flung tracts of state land in the upper reaches of the ‘Watershed, leased for the most part in the upper reaches of the watershed, leased for the most part by absentee renters of substantial means, and subleased in turn (at substantially higher prices) to smallholding cultivators who actually work the land. Ani finally, there were widespread patterns of a heretofore unencountered rotating occupancy, in which siblings, rather than subdivide a small plot, and rather than crop it in common, would take annual or semi-annual turns cropping the ground, an arrangement which led to intra-familial conflict and mercilessly unceasingly cropping of the plot.

But during the visit I had the gcxx1 fortune of goi.n:J beyond detached question- ing of the local tenure situation and of observing firsthand the operation of USAID’s erosion control activities in the Acul watershed. In the canpanyof the PDAI (Projet Developpenent Agricole Integre) cammrity DevelOfl’lBlt coor- dinator, I stayed for overnight visits in the camumities of Tom, in the eastern part of the watershed and Les Platons, in the western hills. In each place I assisterl at camn.mity neetin:]s, observed cx:mmmi.ty projects and oon- versed with as many peasant cultivators as possible. My questioning touc..hed oot only on lan:i tenure issues, but also on the carmunities’ response to the various types of erosion oontrol activities planned for the watershed. (These activities had begun in Toro.)