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Inquilinaje, a rural labor system similar to peonage that is peculiar to Chile. In the colonial period, inquilinos were often exsoldiers who resided on the fringes of large estates called fundos to protect them from incursion by squatters. When Chile's farms were converted from pastoral activities to cereal raising, landlords moved the inquilinos closer to the main house to facilitate closer supervision of their labor. Housed in wretched hovels, paid in scrip, and deprived of their political rights through vote fraud and intimidation, the inquilinos seemed virtually defenseless, especially because the landlords often controlled the instruments of state power: the judiciary, the police, and the militia. As Chile's rural population grew, landlords increased the duties extracted from the inquilinos, who had to devote increasingly large amounts of their labor to maintaining the patron's fund.

Happily, the system began to collapse in the 1950s, and with the creation of the Corporation for Agrarian Reform (CORA), the state began to enforce labor laws in the countryside. The Christian Democratic agrarian reform program of the late 1960s eradicated the last vestiges of the inquilino system.

See alsoChile, Organizations: Corporation of Agrarian Reform (CORA) .


George M. McBride, Chile: Land and Society (1936).

Brian Loveman, Struggle in the Countryside: Politics and Rural Labor in Chile, 1919–1973 (1976), p. 49.

Additional Bibliography

Academia Chilena de la Historia. Vida rural en Chile durante el siglo XIX. Santiago: Academia Chilena de la Historia, 2001.

Gómez Leyton, Juan Carlos. La frontera de la democracia: El derecho de propiedad en Chile, 1925–1973. Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 2004.

Góngora, Mario. Origen de los "inquilinos" de Chile central. Santiago: Universidad de Chile, Seminario de Historia Colonial, 1960.

Orellana Muermann, Marcela, and Juan Guillermo Muñoz Correa. El Agro colonial. Santiago: Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Departamento de Historia, Instituto de Investigaciones del Patrimonio Territorial de Chile, 1992.

Tinsman, Heidi. Partners in Conflict: The Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Labor in the Chilean Agrarian Reform, 1950–1973. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

                                              William F. Sater