Ejido

Last updated
Ejido in Cuauhtemoc En el ejido Cuauhtemoc (28) (5618095756).jpg
Ejido in Cuauhtémoc

An ejido (Spanish pronunciation:  [eˈxiðo] , from Latin exitum) is an area of communal land used for agriculture in which community members have usufruct rights rather than ownership rights to land, which in Mexico is held by the Mexican state. People awarded ejidos in the modern era farm them individually in parcels and collectively maintain communal holdings with government oversight. Although the system of ejidos was based on an understanding of the preconquest Aztec calpulli and the medieval Spanish ejido, [1] [2] [3] in the twentieth century ejidos are government controlled. After the Mexican Revolution, ejidos were created by the Mexican state to grant lands to peasant communities as a means to stem social unrest. The awarding of ejidos made peasants dependent on the government, with the creation of a bureaucracy to register and regulate them through the National Agrarian Registry (Registro Agrario Nacional). As Mexico prepared to enter the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1991, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari declared the end of awarding ejidos and allowed existing ejidos to be rented or sold, ending land reform in Mexico. [4]

Contents

Colonial-era indigenous community land holdings

In central Mexico following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire (1519-1521), indigenous communities remained largely intact, including their system of land tenure. The Spanish crown guaranteed that indigenous communities had land under its control, the fundo legal. It also set up the General Indian Court so that individual natives and indigenous communities could defend their rights against Spanish encroachment. [5] Spaniards applied their own terminology to indigenous community lands, and early in the colonial era began calling them ejidos. [6]

Nineteenth century

Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, following the Mexican War of Independence, the new sovereign nation abolished crown protections of natives and indigenous communities, making them equal before the law rather than vassals of the Spanish crown. The disappearance of the General Indian Court was one effect independence. With political instability and economic stagnation following independence, indigenous communities largely maintained their land holdings, since large landed estates were not expanding to increase production.

For nineteenth-century Mexican liberals, the continuing separateness of natives and indigenous villages from the Mexican nation was deemed "The Indian Problem," and the breakup of communal landholding identified as the key to integrating of Indians into the Mexican nation. When the Liberals came to power in 1855, they embarked on a major reform that included the expropriation and sale of corporate lands, that is, those held by indigenous communities and by the Roman Catholic Church. The Liberal Reform first put in place the Lerdo Law, calling for the end of corporate landholding and then incorporated that law into the Constitution of 1857. Ejidos were thus legally abolished, although many continued to survive. [7] Mexico was plunged into civil unrest, civil war, and a foreign invasion by the French, so not until the expulsion of the French in 1867 and the restoration of the Mexican republic under liberal control did land reform begin to take effect. Under liberal general Porfirio Díaz, who came to power by coup in 1876, policies to promote political stability and economic prosperity, "order and progress", meant that large haciendas began expanding and many villages lost their lands leaving the peasantry landless.

Twentieth century

Many peasants participated in the Mexican Revolution, with the expectation that their village lands could be restored. In particular, many peasants in the state of Morelos under the leadership of Emiliano Zapata waged war against the presidency of Francisco I. Madero, a wealthy landowner whose reformist political movement sought to oust the regime of Porfirio Díaz; Victoriano Huerta, the leader of a reactionary coup that ousted and assassinated Madero; and Venustiano Carranza, a wealthy landowner who led the Constitutionalist faction, which defeated all others. In 1917, a new Constitution was drafted, which included empowerment of the government to expropriate privately held resources. Many peasants expected Article 27 of the Constitution to bring about the breakup of large haciendas and to return land to peasant communities. Carranza was entirely resistant to the expropriation of haciendas, and in fact returned many to their owners that had been seized by revolutionaries.

Distribution of large amounts of land did not begin until Lázaro Cárdenas became president in 1934. The ejido system was introduced as an important component of the land reform in Mexico. Under Cárdenas, land reform was "sweeping, rapid, and, in some respects, structurally innovative... he promoted the collective ejido (hitherto a rare institution) in order to justify the expropriation of large commercial estates." [8]

The typical procedure for the establishment of an ejido involved the following steps:

  1. landless farmers who leased lands from wealthy landlords would petition the federal government for the creation of an ejido in their general area;
  2. the federal government would consult with the landlord;
  3. the land would be expropriated from the landlords if the government approved the ejido; and
  4. an ejido would be established and the original petitioners would be designated as ejidatarios with certain cultivation/use rights.

Ejidatarios do not actually own the land but are allowed to use their allotted parcels indefinitely as long as they do not fail to use the land for more than two years. They can pass their rights on to their children.

Criticism

Opponents of the ejido system pointed to widespread corruption within the Banco Nacional de Crédito Rural (Banrural)—the primary institution responsible for providing loans to ejiditarios—illegal sales and transfers of ejido lands, ecological degradation, and low productivity as evidence of the system's failure, but defendants countered these arguments by pointing out that every administration since that of Cárdenas had been either indifferent or openly hostile to ejidos, that the land assigned to ejidos was often of lower quality and therefore inherently less productive than privately held land, that the majority of agricultural research and support was biased towards large-scale commercial enterprises, that the politicians complaining about Banrural were the people responsible for the corruption, and that, regardless of its productivity, subsistence production is an important survival strategy for many peasants.

Change

As part of a larger program of neoliberal economic restructuring that had already been weakening support for ejidal and other forms of small-scale agriculture and negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1992 pushed legislation through Congress that modified article 27 of the Mexican Constitution to permit the privatization and the sale of ejidal land. [9] This was a direct cause of the Chiapas conflict.

The changes to the ejidal system have largely failed to improve ejidal productivity, and have been implicated as significant contributing factors to worsening rural poverty, forced migration, and the conversion of Mexico, where the cultivation of maize originated, into a net-importer of maize and food in general. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Emiliano Zapata

Emiliano Zapata Salazar became a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, the main leader of the peasant revolution in the Mexican state of Morelos, and the inspiration of the agrarian movement called Zapatismo.

Mexican Revolution major nationwide armed struggle in Mexico between 1910 and 1920

The Mexican Revolution was a major revolution, including a sequence of armed struggles, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that transformed Mexican culture and government. Its outbreak in 1910 resulted from the increasing unpopularity of the 31-year-long regime of Porfirio Díaz and its failure to find a managed solution to presidential succession. This resulted in a power struggle among competing elites, which created the opportunity for agrarian insurrection. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí.

Lázaro Cárdenas 44th president of Mexico

Lázaro Cárdenas del Río was a general in the Constitutionalist Army during the Mexican Revolution and a statesman who served as President of Mexico between 1934 and 1940. He is best known for nationalization of the oil industry in 1938 and the creation of Pemex, the government oil company. He also revived agrarian reform in Mexico, expropriating large landed estates and distributing land to small holders in collective holdings (ejidos).

Hacienda Spanish word used in colonies of the Spanish empire to refer to estates with large business enterprises

A hacienda, in the colonies of the Spanish Empire, is an estate, similar to a Roman latifundium. Some haciendas were plantations, mines or factories. Many haciendas combined these activities. The word is derived from the Spanish word "hacer" or "haciendo", which means: to make or be making, respectively; and were largely business enterprises consisting of various money making ventures including raising farm animals and maintaining orchards.

Constitution of Mexico

The Constitution of Mexico, formally the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, is the current constitution of Mexico. It was drafted in Santiago de Querétaro, in the State of Querétaro, by a constituent convention, during the Mexican Revolution. It was approved by the Constituent Congress on 5 February 1917. It is the successor to the Constitution of 1857, and earlier Mexican constitutions.

Decree 900, also known as the Agrarian Reform Law, was a Guatemalan land-reform law passed on June 17, 1952, during the Guatemalan Revolution. The law was introduced by President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán and passed by the Guatemalan Congress. It redistributed unused land greater than 224 acres (0.91 km2) in area to local peasants, compensating landowners with government bonds. Land from at most 1,700 estates was redistributed to about 500,000 families—one-sixth of the country's population. The goal of the legislation was to move Guatemala's economy from pseudo-feudalism into capitalism. Although in force for only eighteen months, the law had a major effect on the Guatemalan land-reform movement.

Liberation Army of the South Armed group during the Mexican Revolution

The Liberation Army of the South was a guerrilla force led for most of its existence by Emiliano Zapata that took part in the Mexican Revolution from 1911 to 1920. During that time, the Zapatistas fought against the national governments of Porfirio Díaz, Francisco Madero, Victoriano Huerta, and Venustiano Carranza. Their goal was rural land reform, specifically reclaiming communal lands stolen by hacendados in the period before the revolution. Although rarely active outside their base in Morelos, they allied with Pancho Villa to support the Conventionists against the Carrancistas. After Villa's defeat, the Zapatistas remained in open rebellion. It was only after Zapata's 1919 assassination and the overthrow of the Carranza government that Zapata's successor, Gildardo Magaña, negotiated peace with President Álvaro Obregón.

Indigenous land rights are the rights of Indigenous peoples to land, either individually or collectively in colonised countries. Land and resource-related rights are of fundamental importance to Indigenous peoples for a range of reasons, including: the religious significance of the land, self-determination, identity, and economic factors. Land is a major economic asset, and in some Indigenous societies, using natural resources of land and sea form the basis of their household economy, so the demand for ownership derives from the need to ensure their access to these resources. Land can also be an important instrument of inheritance or a symbol of social status. In many Indigenous societies, such as among the many Aboriginal Australian peoples, the land is an essential part of their spirituality and belief systems.

Economic history of Mexico aspect of history

Mexico's economic history has been characterized since the colonial era by resource extraction, agriculture, and a relatively underdeveloped industrial sector. Economic elites in the colonial period were predominantly Spanish born, active as transatlantic merchants and silver mine owners and diversifying their investments with the landed estates. The largest sector of the population was indigenous subsistence farmers, who lived mainly in the center and south.

Land reform in Mexico

Before the 1910 Mexican Revolution that overthrew Porfirio Díaz, most land in post-independence Mexico was owned by wealthy Mexicans and foreigners, with small holders and indigenous communities retaining little productive land. This was a dramatic change from the situation of land tenure during the colonial era, when the Spanish crown protected holdings of indigenous communities that were mostly engaged in subsistence agriculture. Mexican elites created large landed estates (haciendas) in many parts of Mexico, especially the north where indigenous peoples were generally not agriculturalists. Small holders, many of whom were mixed-race mestizos, engaged with the commercial economy. Since foreigners were excluded from colonial Mexico, landholding was in the hands of subjects of the Spanish crown. With Mexican independence in 1821 and the emergence of Mexican Liberals, the economic development and modernization of the country was a key priority. Liberals targeted corporate landholding by both the Roman Catholic Church and indigenous villages, for they were seen as impediments to their modernization project. When liberals gained power in the mid nineteenth century, they passed laws in the Liberal Reform that mandated the breakup and sale of these corporate lands. When liberal army general Porfirio Díaz took power in 1876, he embarked on a more sweeping program of modernization and economic development. His land policies sought to lure foreign entrepreneurs to invest in Mexican mining, agriculture, and ranching. It was successful, with Mexican and foreign investors controlling the majority of Mexican territory by the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Peasant mobilization against the landed elites during the revolution and calls for "Mexico for the Mexicans" prompted land reform in the post-revolutionary period.

Valle de Chalco Town & Municipality in State of Mexico ----, Mexico

Valle de Chalco, officially named Valle de Chalco Solidaridad, is a municipality located in the State of Mexico, Mexico, on the eastern outskirts of the metropolitan area of Mexico City. Formerly part of the municipality of Chalco, it was split off as a separate entity in 1994, during the presidency of Salinas de Gortari, under his Programa Nacional de Solidaridad. The municipality lies on the old bed of Lake Chalco, which was substantially drained in the nineteenth century. Technically, the municipal seat is Xico, after a high point of land that once formed an island, and now remains as a small hill within an otherwise monotonous, urban expanse. "Chalco" refers to the Chalca tribe, whose territory covered the area around the lake, prior to the Spanish Conquest of Mexico.

Andrés Molina Enríquez was a Mexican revolutionary intellectual, author of The Great National Problems (1909) which drew on his experiences as a notary and Justice of the Peace in Mexico State. He is considered the intellectual father of the land reform movement in modern Mexico embodied in Article 27 of the Constitution of 1917 "by transcending the Liberal taboo against state interference in the ownership and administration of private property." He has been called "the Rousseau of the Mexican Revolution."

The Coalition of Workers, Peasants, and Students of the Isthmus (COCEI) is a Mexican socialist political organization in Juchitán, Oaxaca. Founded in 1973/1974, it supports agrarian reform, and workers rights. In 1981 it won municipal elections, after which it formed the first socialist city council in Mexico.

Tila, Chiapas Municipality in Chiapas, Mexico

Tila is a town and one of the 119 municipalities of Chiapas, in southern Mexico.

Amanalco Municipality and town in Mexico, Mexico

Amanalco is a town and municipality, in Mexico State in Mexico. The municipality covers an area of 219.49 km².

Agriculture in Mexico

Agriculture in Mexico has been an important sector of the country’s economy historically and politically even though it now accounts for a very small percentage of Mexico’s GDP. Mexico is one of the cradles of agriculture with the Mesoamericans developing domesticated plants such as maize, beans, tomatoes, squash, cotton, vanilla, avocados, cacao, various kinds of spices, and more. Domestic turkeys and Muscovy ducks were the only domesticated fowl in the pre-Hispanic period and small dogs were raised for food. There were no large domesticated animals.

Agrarian reform and land reform have been a recurring theme of enormous consequence in world history. They are often highly political and have been achieved in many countries.

Collective farming Type of agricultural organization

Collective farming and communal farming are various types of "agricultural production in which multiple farmers run their holdings as a joint enterprise". There are two broad types of communal farms: Agricultural cooperatives, in which member-owners jointly engage in farming activities as a collective, and state farms, which are owned and directly run by a centralized government. The process by which farmland is aggregated is called collectivization. In some countries, there have been both state-run and cooperative-run variants. For example, the Soviet Union had both kolkhozy and sovkhozy.

Land reform in the Philippines has long been a contentious issue rooted in the Philippines's Spanish Colonial Period. Some efforts began during the American Colonial Period with renewed efforts during the Commonwealth, following independence, during Martial Law and especially following the People Power Revolution in 1986. The current law, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, was passed following the revolution and recently extended until 2014.

Indigenismo is a Latin American nationalist political ideology that began in the late nineteenth century and persisted throughout the twentieth that attempted to construct the role of indigenous populations in the nation-state. The ideology was particularly influential in Mexico where it shaped the majority of indigenous-state relations since its incorporation into the Constitution in 1917. While the perspectives and methods of Indigenistas changed and adapted over time, the defining features of Mexican Indigenismo are the implementation by primarily non-indigenous actors, the celebration of indigenous culture as a part of the nation's history, and the attempt to integrate indigenous populations under the authority of the nation-state. The ideology was enacted by a number of policies, institutions, governmental programs, and through artistic expression. These included education programs, land reform, political reform, and economic development as well as national displays of indigenous heritage. Although generally viewed as beneficial for creating a platform to discussing indigenous issues, Indigenismo has been criticized as still operating under colonial paradigms of racial hierarchy and often helped to solidify some stereotypes of Indigenous peoples even while trying to break down others.

References

  1. Appendini, Kirsten. “Ejido” in The Encyclopedia of Mexico’’. p. 450. Chicago: Fitzroy and Dearborn 1997.
  2. Van Young, Eric. "Ejidos" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol.2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996, p. 471.
  3. Gallup et al. (2003) Is Geography Destiny? Lessons from Latin America, Stanford University Press ISBN   978-0821354513
  4. Markiewicz, Dana. The Mexican Revolution and the Limits of Agrarian Reform, 1915-1946. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers 1993
  5. Borah, WoodrowJustice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aides of the Half-Real. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press 1983. ISBN   978-0520048454 Spanish translation: El Juzgado General de Indios en la Nueva España.  Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica 1985.
  6. Markiewicz, The Mexican Revolution, p. 173.
  7. Van Young, "Ejidos", p. 471
  8. Knight, Alan. "Cardenismo: Juggernaut or Jalopy?". Journal of Latin American Studies, vol. 26. No. 1 (Feb. 1994, p. 82.
  9. Yetman, David (2000). "Ejidos, Land Sales, and Free Trade in Northwest Mexico: Will Globalization Affect the Commons?". American Studies. University of Kansas Libraries. 41 (2/3): 211–234. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  10. Bello, Walden (2009). The Food Wars . New York, USA: Verso. pp.  39–53. ISBN   978-1844673315.

Further reading