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The Varying Effects of Neo-Liberal Land Policy on Communal Property in Rural Mexico

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: DiGiano, Maria; Racelis, Alexis; Barnes, Grenville; Barsimantov, James
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1596
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Social Organization
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): land tenure and use
agrarian reform
policy analysis
property rights
Abstract: "In 1992 Mexico amended its constitution and passed a new Agrarian Law that altered the fundamental tenure rules of the communally titled ejidos that covered over half the country. These reforms removed various restrictions and created the possibility of converting ejidos into private property. The expectation at the time was that widespread parcelization and conversion to private property would occur, resulting in the disappearance of the ejido as a form of communal property. While less than four percent of ejidos in southern Mexico have chosen to formally dissolve, others have chosen various degrees of legal and extra-legal individualization of common lands, and still others remain unchanged. In this paper we analyze why the response to neo-liberal land policy introduced in 1992 has had such varied responses. In our analysis we identify both internal and external factors that explain why these responses have varied within ejidos in the southern Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Certain external factors, such as tourism, appear to be driving ejidos towards increased parcelization and individualization. Other external factors, like community forestry, have had the counter-effect of consolidating and promoting communal tenure. These external factors are either accelerated or retarded by internal factors, such as governance, culture, existing resource base, livelihood strategy and attitudes towards property. Our six case studies include two ejidos with successful community forestry, two waterfront ejidos under tourism pressure, and two control ejidos that are neither forestry nor tourism ejidos. Through this analysis we present a general framework to understand changes in land tenure and explain how policy goals are derailed or diverted as they move from the national stage to the local community level."

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