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2183 - German influence on the chiapanecan labor contracting system

In Chiapas, México, as elsewhere, "enganche" was one of the principal mecanism's of assuring indian labor for the plantation sector. Growing labor needs on the chiapanecan coffee plantation, combined with increasing corruption on the side of the local labor contractors (enganchadores), made a perfection of the enganche system necesary. German entrepreneurs belonging to families with a longstanding experience en potato and sugar beed production in Eastern Germany and with strong contracting relations for migrant labor with Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, and White Russia), entered coffee production in Chiapas and Centralamerica, where they reformed and perfected - from 1905 onwards - the local contracting system. Contracting infrastructure with offices in the principal recruiting townships and strict control mecanism's managed directely by german plantation officers managed to control workers and "enganchadores" as well, thus stabilizing labor supply and lowering financial losses for the plantations. Enjoying state support, this system worked effectively until 1936, when state government finally took over responsibility for contract-labor.

Keywords: Labor, contracting system, coffee plantation

Author: Fenner, justus (PROIMMSE-IIA-UNAM, Mexico / Mexiko)

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