Peru: A Sensible Land-Reform Law

After eight months of political bickering, Peru last week had its first major land-reform program. The sensible new law is a patient compromise of three different bills introduced by President Fernando Belaunde Terry and two major opposition parties.

Rather than give the government unlimited expropriation powers, the legislation scrupulously exempts the large, highly mechanized coastal sugar holdings and efficiently run highland livestock ranches that are vital to Peru's economy. Instead, it aims mainly at haciendas of 3,000 acres and up that do not pay their way, are either uncultivated or marginally productive under present ownership. The landholders—whether private...