THE LAND AND PEOPLE OF COLOMBIA by Lionel Landry

THE LAND AND PEOPLE OF COLOMBIA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For norteamericanos, an appreciative, knowledgeable, sometimes penetrating Portrait; for Colombians, too much advice. The usual terrain (geography, history, living patterns, aspects of the economy, folkways and culture) is covered but circumstances rather than categories determine the organization, and information teaches a lesson--that ""industry, agriculture, economic ways and intellectual habits all tend to be very much influenced"" by altitude, for example. And that, because of the mountains, each region, even each urban center, ""developed in more or less complete isolation""--which meant initially that they were linked more closely to Spain than to each other, and later became both a handicap and a source of pride. Running through is the cleavage engendered early by the Church-and-State affiliation between its supporters and its opponents, the Conservatives and the Liberals--actually a rift in the oligarchy which Landry emphasizes has never been as single-minded or all-powerful as elsewhere in Latin America. Identifying relative positions on reform within the Church and within the oligarchy is a major contribution--but repeatedly exhorting a ""middle path,"" a ""middle road"" makes him vulnerable to charges of intervention. Radical priest Camilo Torres, a popular hero, is dubbed ""naive, impractical"" (and ""the product of an unhappy home life""), resentment of exploitative foreign (mostly American) investment is termed ""very disruptive."" Whether or not what he advocates would be advantageous for Colombia is not the point--nor entirely to the point in view of the current unrest. But he's broadly informative on such phenomena as the economic dominance of coffee--""agriculture means much more than raising food for people to eat."" A good go if it knew when to stop.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1970
Publisher: Lippincott