Definitions

ejido

ejido

[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 The conquistadors instituted the encomienda, which was superseded by the repartimiento and finally, after independence (1821), by debt peonage.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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The ejido [ɛxˈido] (from latin exitum) system is a process whereby the government promotes the use of communal land shared by the people of the community. This use of community land was a common practice during the time of Aztec rule in Mexico.

It was not until the colonization of Mexico by the Spanish and other European settlers that this practice seemed to disappear and be replaced by the encomienda system. The encomienda system was abolished by the Constitution of 1917, with the promise of restoring the ejido system. This, however, did not happen until Lázaro Cárdenas became president in 1934. The ejido system was introduced as an important component of the land reform program. 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 did not actually own the land, but were allowed to use their alloted parcels indefinitely as long as they did not fail to use the land for more than two years. They could even pass their rights on to their children.

According to the 1960 census, 23% of Mexico's cultivated land belonged to ejidos.

In 1991, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari eliminated the constitutional right to ejidos, citing the "low productivity" of communally owned land. Since then some of the ejido land has been sold to corporations, although most of it is still in the hands of farmers. Some ejido cooperatives, like the ejido that runs the Tolantongo resort, have found alternative uses for their land other than farming.

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