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Reforma Agraria, Revolution

Reforma Agraria, Revolution

The Mexican Revolution (1910–1917) was predominantly agrarian in nature, which is why the new, postrevolutionary state installed in 1917 made the commitment to distribute the land to the peasants as a means of social justice. This also legitimized the regime and gained it the political support of the peasant beneficiaries.

The agrarian reform is defined by Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, which establishes that the nation owns the lands and waters and transfers them to the private citizens under its rule, and that the land thus becomes private property. One of the forms of property ownership is cooperative ownership.

The agrarian reform had different phases during the twentieth century. In the years following the Revolution there was only a moderate amount of land redistribution: From 1915 to 1934, 11.6 million hectares were given to about 866,000 peasant families and communities. During the administration of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940), land reform was given a boost when the government organized the peasants into the National Peasant Confederation, which became a pillar of subsequent administrations and formed part of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI, or Institutional Revolutionary Party) that governed Mexico for nearly seventy years, until 2000. During Cárdenas's administration, almost 19 million hectares were redistributed, of which almost one million were lands with irrigation. Agrarian reform slowed considerably between 1940 and 1964, but gathered pace once again during the administrations of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (1964–1970) and Luis Echeverría (1970–1976). In those years 37.5 million hectares were distributed to almost half a million agrarian groups. Land distribution dropped markedly during subsequent administrations until 1992, when President Carlos Salinas (1988–1994) had Article 27 of the Constitution amended to modernize and capitalize the legal system governing cooperative ownership.

See alsoCárdenas del Río, Lázaro; Ejidos; Mexico, Constitutions: Constitution of 1917; Mexico, Organizations: National Peasant Federation (CNC); Mexico, Wars and Revolutions: Mexican Revolution.

                                   Felipe Avila

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