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 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY (latinamericanhistory.oxfordre.com). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 13 November 2018

Summary and Keywords

For seventy-five years the Mexican government allocated private and public land to people who needed it—and lots of it. An average of 1.3 million hectares were redistributed annually from 1917 to 1992, for a total of nearly 1 million square kilometers, or, almost exactly half of the nation’s arable area. On the other hand, serious flaws in government policy, coupled with macroeconomic, demographic, and environmental phenomena, undermined the program and turned its signature component, the ejido, into a synonym for rural backwardness and poverty. Thus, in spite of the astonishing volume of redistributed land, many assert that revolutionary land reform in Mexico failed: that it did not permanently improve the lives of rural land recipients as much as convert them into clients of the government.

Keywords: campesinos, Mexican Revolution, Emiliano Zapata, Article 27, land reform, Lázaro Cárdenas, ejido, land invasions, 1992 counter-reform, Atenco

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