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Politics of Institutional Change in Tanzania and Mexico

Politics of Institutional Change in Tanzania and Mexico

(p.146) Chapter 6 Politics of Institutional Change in Tanzania and Mexico
Democracy in the Woods
Prakash Kashwan
Oxford University Press

What explains the variable successes of land rights formalization programs in different countries? This chapter shows that the differences in political space that forest-dependent groups enjoyed in Mexico and Tanzania determined both the process of reform design and its outcomes. The Mexican government initiated reforms with the intention of opening up the country’s agrarian sector, reforms that were finalized only after intense political negotiations with peasant representatives. In Tanzania, meanwhile, reforms were based on models developed by renowned economist Hernando de Soto. The expert-driven process in Tanzania proved too costly and unwieldy to benefit members of forest-dependent groups, and these reforms’ narrow focus on business promotion was the root cause of their failure. Mexico’s ability to embed its reforms within the country’s political system ensured that the reforms were implemented without imposing excessive costs and in ways that enabled peasants to make choices that were largely autonomous.

Keywords:   legal empowerment, land rights, participatory reforms, decentralization, neoliberalism, tenure security, Hernando de Soto, institutional reforms, transaction costs, climate mitigation

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