Latifundia (Hacienda)

Latifundia are overdimensional pieces of landed property covering tremendous areas. Today, they are only found in Latin America. The most widely spread form is the hacienda (facenda) that originated under colonial law allowing forced labour recruitment and through land grants for military services. A hacienda is an economic and social entity that, similar to a small state, strives to be self sufficient and autarkic and is centered upon the "patron". The hacienda is not a farm but rather an area of land on which several different forms of labour organization and land utilization exist simultaneously, e.g. , plantations and sharecropping. The intensity of the cultivation is very different on different parts of the hacienda, although low all in all. The haciendas include forest and waste land in their property.

The various economic units on the hacienda are tied together through labour relations. Cash is used as little as possible. The patron receives work performance from the labourers, tenants, colons, herdsmen, the management, and other personnel and provides- even if with very low standards- schooling, medical aid, subsistence, old age benefits, and stores. Wages, credit, and purchases are calculated together in an account in the store.

For the haciendero, the land is above all a source of respect, power, and speculation. Its significance as a basis of agricultural production is only secondary. The large landowners are the financial aristocracy in the countries and have a large influence on the government. A change in the government often only mans that another family takes over. Despite their political interest, the hacienderos strive to uphold regionalism and, thus, hinder the construction of an infrastructure in the country.There is a distinct class structure with landed property and race as the most important characteristics determining the strata. The patriarchal structure determines the life of the people from birth to death. It is hardly possible to break out of the system as there is nowhere else to find work. The coexistence of latifundia and minifundia (marginal farms), abundance and destitution, is hardly as marked in any agrarian system as this case.