The Barbecho crisis, la plaga del banco, and international migration: Structural adjustment in Ecuador’s Southern Amazon

Structural adjustment policies have had devastating effects on segments of Latin America’s population, especially when environmental degradation has added to the squeeze. In Ecuador’s Southern Amazonian region, the withdrawal of public subsidies for agricultural loans coincided with productivity declines related to environmental degradation. As oil wealth in the 1960s gave way to financial crisis, interest rates for agricultural loans to colonists were changed from fixed to floating rates, ending a tacit subsidy in an inflationary economy. At the same time soil fertility declines and pests reduced agricultural production. Unable to recover from economic losses through commercial crops, cattle ranching, or access to credit, colonists (especially young men) are leaving the community to seek work in Ecuador’s cities or in the United States and Europe.

<< Back