By Benjamin S. Orlove
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Additional resources for Alpacas, Sheep, and Men. The Wool Export Economy and Regional Society in Southern Peru
The railroad linked new areas in what had been isolated eastern portions of the Andes with Arequipa. The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth also witnessed a decline in the importance of the smaller ports on the south coast, such as Pisco and Chala. The immediate hinterlands of these ports were tied more directly to the growing commercial center of Arequipa (Centro de Colaboracidn 1951). The Arequipa wool export houses are the descendants of the import-export merchant firms established there after independence and throughout the nineteenth century, as they were elsewhere in Latin America.
The middlemen who operate with the largest volume are found in the biggest towns, such as Juliaca, Sicuani, Ayaviri, and Have. They buy wool from the larger traders. Most of the hacienda wool enters the marketing chain at this point (although the output of the largest haciendas is sold directly to the Arequipa houses); such sales, though less numerous than transactions with the peasants, give the merchant large volumes of high-grade wool. These major urban wholesalers sell to the Arequipa houses.
The utter destitution of the poorest peasants is also evidenced by child sale. In years of drought and famine, some peasant families are entirely without food. Some give their children to compadres, who treat them much like domestic servants; others sell their children for cash or barter them for agricultural produce. The obverse of this poverty is the wealth found among certain comuneros. Some individuals acquire large herds of animals and a permanent labor supply through occasional violence and the manipulation of various social relations, including kinship ties, reciprocal forms of labor exchange, and community membership.