The historically exclusionary nature of the Peruvian state, its limited presence and authority throughout the national territory, and its narrow basis of social legitimacy have been widely analyzed.1 Peruvian historians and sociologists have traced the formation of what has been referred to as the oligarchic state in Peru at the turn of the twentieth century, which was based on alliance between the owners of large landed estates, known as gamonales, in the rural highlands; the commercial and financial elites of the coast; and foreign capital, which extracted raw materials for the international market. These elites maintained a tightly controlled system that restricted citizenship and resorted to repression and traditional forms of clientelism to contain and delimit challenges to their rule (Cotler 1978a; Burga and Flores Galindo 1981). In Peru’s oligarchic society, “political power was privatized and monopolized by a small group of families.”2 The state was primarily an instrument for these elites to advance their económic interests—expanding capitalism on the coast and selected regions where mining was developing, maintaining feudal-like relations in rural areas. The state remained anemic, subject to regionally based gamonales who carefully protected their fiefdoms from state encroachment. As historians Burga and Flores Galindo (1981:89) have noted, “The limits of the haciendas were also the limits of [the oligarchic state’s] power.”


International Monetary Fund Real Wage Political Violence Military Regime State Bureaucracy 
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© Jo-Marie Burt 2007

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