The WHAT and WHY of Ejidos - PART 1
By: Cheryl MIller, Broker, Baja Realty and investment
Ejido, pronounced (EH HEE Dough)…You hear about this, but what is this, exactly?
In Mexico, an Ejido is a once agricultural community that had communal land that was deeded to them after the Mexican Revolution of 1910. They typically were granted agricultural type land and they are sort of like the Indian Reservations in the United States. The Ejidos, were granted legal status in Article 27 of the 1917 Mexican Constitution. This status and the related Ejiditarian laws have changed and evolved over the years. And too, much ejido land have evolved with some Eijidos and their holdings finding themselves now smack dab in the middle of urban areas now, such as is the case with the Cabo San Lucas Ejido.
The concept of the “ejido” in Mexico is pre-hispanic with actual evidence in Aztec cultural, known as calpulli, but, the fundamental concepts that created what an ejido is today stem from theories of democratic communism dating back prior to the Constitution of 1917.
If you remember your Mexican history, prior to this time, the majority of land was owned by wealthy, mainly Spanish land barons, the church or the Spanish crown, with the majority of the Mexican citizens existing very much likes serfs/slaves on the land with no rights of ownership or possession. Even after Mexico’s Independence from Spain, little changed in this arena, which led to the Mexican Revolution. Remember too, that between 1913 and 1935, the Communist Party in Mexico had a real effect on the thinking of the time. You may recall how Diego Rivera painted a mural in the new Rockefeller Center in New York in 1933, depicting these communist theories and struggles, only to have the work stopped and the mural removed by the Rockefeller in 1934. But this political environment led to changing Mexico from a feudal system with land barons to a system they believed would redistribute the wealth among the poor. After the Revolution, the concept of land ownership, especially for farmers changed dramatically. One of these changes was the formation of the Ejidos and the granting of huge tracts of land to their collective membership from the federal government who had seized the land in the name of the people of Mexico from the land barons.
The concept was then and is now, that community members individually farm designated parcels and collectively, as an Ejido, maintain communal holdings for the benefit of the group. While Americans and Canadians understand the concept of democratic capitalism and private holdings, it is important to understand that Ejido property is subject to a democratic communistic type society in which the community determines what it is going to do, including agreeing upon how the land they hold is to be used, sold (when it is allowed) or privatized. Any such decisions require a majority vote, but in some cases a unanimous vote of its members to change the disposition of a piece of land or to sell it. Another key part of the definition of an Ejido is that it is ran almost like a Mexican Corporation with equal shares for its members and with assembles for votes, a Vigilante Committee and a Commisario who is elected to be the legal representative of the group.
Ejidos, their members and their land holdings must be registered with Mexico's National Agrarian Registry (Registro Agrario Nacional). (A foreigner can never become an Ejido.) The Ejiditarian holdings is governed by REGLAMENTO de la Ley Agraria, which was developed after the Constitution of 1917 through Article 27. It is the administrative law and procedures which delineates the functioning of the law. It is quite lengthy and complicated.
In Mexico, all real estate is classified either as public, private or social property. According to most recent statistics published by the agrarian authorities, 52% of Mexican territory is comprised of social property, 40% of private property and 8% of public property.
Public Property is owned by the government…arroyos, rivers, lakes, lagoons, some parks, maritime zones in front of your beaches, government land/buildings, most Mexican islands, some tract of lands with forest or other resources, etc. Ownership rights cannot be transferred to any individual, however exclusive rights to use and enjoy some types of public property can be acquired under certain restrictions via "concessions" for a given length of time, i.e. federal zone concessions. It is important to note that all individuals have the right (non-exclusive) to use public property. (Therefore, blocking any beach, is illegal. It belongs to the Mexican people)
Private Property are those that are owned by individuals or entities legally transferred. Remember though, that transfer of private land is further restricted by Article 27 of the constitution, inasmuch as foreigners cannot buy property in the restricted zone outright and must use bank trusts to obtain the rights of use and enjoyment.
Ejido Property is in the third category- Social Property, as is Agrarian communities (a different designation than Ejido regarding use and ownership of agricultural land for title agricultural communities, usually pre-dating the revolution). Ejido members enjoy use and enjoyment of the land and it cannot be sold unless it is privatized. But please note that no one can legally
buy Ejido land if it is not privatized prior to the first sale.
Part 1 has been a discussion of what an Ejido is and how it was established. In Part 2, we will discuss the possibility and legality of purchasing Ejido land.
By Cheryl T. Miller, Broker, Baja Realty and Investment, serving Los Cabos and the Pacific Coast. Also known as the “Cerritos Lady”, Cheryl specializes in land sales in Cerritos, Los Cabos and the Pacific Coast. Contact her at 624-122-2690, write her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www.forsaleinbaja.com.