Accepted paper:

The Ejido in Motion - Reforms and Regulations regarding Mexican Communal Landholding


Svenja Schöneich (University of Hamburg)

Paper short abstract:

The ejido is a form of communal land holding in Mexico introduced after the Revolution. It roots in pre-Columbian times and grants territory and a certain autonomy to peasant communities. But conflicts about land with state entities continued, as this case of PEMEX in a Totonac community shows.

Paper long abstract:

More than a hundred years after its introduction the ejido - a form of communal land holding for agricultural use - still counts as one of the most important accomplishments of the Mexican Revolution, when masses of indigenous peoples and peasants demanded their own land. Large holdings of wealthy landowners where expropriated and distributed to landless peasants to be administered as communal land by a community of ejidatarios with equal rights and responsibilities. The concept in ideas of pre-Columbian communal land as for example the Aztec Calpulli and was therefore considered "authentic Mexican". Originally designed to grant a certain political and organizational freedom to the communities, the important role during the establishment and the continuing interference in administrational matters by state authorities led to a perpetual presence of the state in the ejido. This is demonstrated especially through the governmental expropriation of ejido land for purposes of national interest. The extraction of resources such as hydrocarbons was one of these purposes, for which large parts of ejido territories were expropriated by the state-owned oil company PEMEX. This paper introduces the case of an ejido founded by Totonac peasant families in the state of Veracruz, which is strongly affected by hydrocarbon extraction and lost more than one quarter of its original territory to PEMEX until the present date. Conflicts about the ejido land have been part of the community life since the entrance of the state company, during incisive reforms and prevail until the present day.

panel P065
(Post-)colonial settling and native staying: indigeneity and land rights in the Americas [law net]