Gildemeister Family

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Gildemeister Family

Gildemeister Family, owners of sugar plantations in the Chicama Valley on the northern coast of Peru. In the early twentieth century they built a vast network of lands around Hacienda Casa Grande. Their successes led them to expand operations, and in the early 1920s they purchased Hacienda Roma, owned by the Larco family. The purchase signaled a trend toward centralization of land ownership that characterized the Peruvian sugar industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Centralization and heavy investment in technical improvements were accompanied by a search for cheap labor. Asian indenture had ended, and to expand the labor force with indigenous people, the Gildemeisters, Peruvians with strong German ties, sent labor agents to the highland villages, where they advanced money to young men. The highlanders became heavily indebted peons on the plantations. Later, this same labor force was set free through total conversion to wage labor. Proletarianization of the indebted workers signified that by World War I, Peruvian sugar had reached a period of major expansion. That is because the replacement of sharecroppers and tenants with a mobile labor force meant sugar agriculture was flexible enough to meet market fluctuations. Some scholars see the process as the beginning point in establishing links between antiimperialism and anticapitalism in Peruvian politics. At this time the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) emerged as a major political force in the sugar valleys of coastal Peru. Many of the party's earliest rank and file, formerly small sugar producers, were driven off the land and into artisanry and technical work for the big producers.

See alsoPlantations .


Peter Klarén, Modernization, Dislocation, and Aprismo: Origins of the Peruvian Aprista Party, 1870–1932 (1973).

Peter Blanchard, The Origins of the Peruvian Labor Movement, 1883–1919 (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Klarén, Peter F. "The Sugar Industry in Peru." Revista de Indias LXV:233 (2005): 33-48.

Villanueva, Armando, and Guillermo Thorndike. La gran persecución, 1932–1956. Lima: s.n., 2004.

                                      Vincent Peloso