Ranquil: Rural Rebellion, Political Violence, and Historical Memory in Chile.

AuthorMcsherry, J. Patrice

Klubock, Thomas Miller. Ranquil: Rural Rebellion, Political Violence, and Historical Memory in Chile. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2022.

Thomas Klubock has amassed a rich store of information about the injustices faced by Chilean campesinos in the years preceding the historic Ranquil rebellion of 1934 and the event itself. Thick with description and detail derived from hitherto unused judicial archives and unknown documents, the book adds depth to our understanding of peasant struggles in the south of Chile and the context surrounding the 1934 rebellion. Ranquil was the largest rural revolt in Chile's history. The author fleshes out the roles of the Sindicato Agricola Lonquimay, the Democratic Party and the Chilean Communist Party and wealthy landowning families such as the Puelmas and Bunsters, as well as key peasant leaders such as Juan Segundo Leiva Tapia. Klubock shows that many of the peasants who participated in the rebellion were "disappeared" and murdered, previewing the savage repression to come forty years later under the Pinochet dictatorship.

The book leads with an excellent introduction that presents the author's key conceptual observations. "Ranquil is a reminder that political violence and state terror have a long history in Chile," he notes, and continuing movements against inequality "are rooted in the repression of campesinos' recurrent struggles to build a more free and just society" (25). Many of the activists involved--Klubock details the role of indigenous Pehuenche and female campesinos as well as that of male unionists and peasants--sought to initiate a socialist revolution. One of Klubocks major points is that the rebellion was not exceptional or unusual but was rather "the most visible and pronounced clash in a long history of conflicts" in the region (2). Peasants had contested the property rights and deceitful maneuvers of wealthy owners since the nineteenth century. Another important observation is that the peasant movement was revolutionary, aiming to install a socialist transformation. The peasants of Bio Bio were "moving from a pragmatic strategy of working through the legal system and petitioning authorities in Santiago to revolutionary insurrection" (3), writes Klubock. This dimension of the struggle has often been lost in historical treatments of the conflict, Klubock notes; he gathers "considerable evidence that a number of the Sindicato Agricola Lonquimay leaders were aligned with the Communist...

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