[Sp. e-hee-thaw]
ejido [Span.,=common land], in Mexico, agricultural land expropriated from large private holdings and redistributed to communal farms. Communal ownership of land had been widely practiced by the Aztecs, but the institution was in decline before the Spanish arrived. The conquistadors instituted the encomienda, which was superseded by the repartimiento and finally, after independence (1821), by debt peonage. Although legally abolished by the constitution of 1917, which provided for the restoration of the ejido, peonage remained a general practice until the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas. In the Laguna District in 1936, the ejido became fact on a large scale. The intent of the ejido system is to remedy the social injustice of the past and to increase production of subsistence foods. The land is owned by the government, and the ejido is financed by a special national bank which supplies the necessary capital for reclamation, improvement, initial seeding, and so forth. In effect, the bank has replaced the colonial encomendero, with this difference—the laborer is paid on the basis of unit work accomplished.

See D. Ronfeldt, Atencingo; The Politics of Agrarian Struggle in a Mexican Ejido (1973).

In Mexico, village lands held in the traditional Indian system of land tenure, blessed by Mexican law in the 1920s, that combines communal ownership with individual use. The ejido consists of cultivated land, pastureland, other uncultivated lands, and the fundo legal, or town site. The cultivated land is generally apportioned in family holdings, which until recently could not be sold but could be passed down to heirs. Though the land reform of the mid 18th century was aimed at breaking up the large church holdings, it also forced the Indians to give up their ejidos. The village lands were restored by the 1917 constitution. In 1992 the Carlos Salinas government revoked the ban on the sale of ejido land.

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