History of land tenure and migration patterns

Kligerman, Nicole S., “The Violences of Capitalism: Privatization and Land Tenure in Uganda, Minnesota, and Mexico” (2010). Latin American Studies Honors Projects. Paper 4.

This paper explores ” the process through which non-capitalist land tenure systems are forcibly incorporated into
capitalist production systems through a combination of physical, structural, and intra-community violences.”  In Southern Mexico, it examines the privatization of indigenous lands which were previously used communally for agriculture.

In 1992 a law was passed which changed the constitution (from 1917), to allow the purchase/privatization of communal land through a majority vote of members.  This was enacted prior to the passage of NAFTA.  Also allowed for foreign investment in ejido land, as well as mortgages against the land.  Also a change in previous government subsidies for ejido farming, and changed a previous constitutional provision which allowed groups of peasants to petition the government for ejido land.  Tenure rights no longer required an individual to personally farm their own land.  A 1995 Zapatista conference declared that the 1992 law was particularly disastrous/ inequitable for rural peasant women.

“Article 27 no longer requires ejidatarios to work their land personally in order to maintain ownership rights” (Lewis 2002, 416); these challenging economic factors lead to high rates of emigration. Lewis (2002) argues that as increasing numbers of young ejido members emigrate to urban centers in Mexico and internationally, the value of ejido land as family patrimony will decrease” (Lewis 2002, 416).

Lewis, J. “Agrarian Change and Privatization of Ejido Land in Northern
Mexico.” Journal of Agrarian Change 2, no. 3 (2002): 401-419.


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