‘Agrarian mafia’: Communal farms steadily give way to big business

Communal land near Aké in Yucatán. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Communal land near Aké in Yucatán. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The authors of a report on the disappearance of communal lands in Yucatán liken tactics used by large business interests to those of the mafia. 

Over 500,000 hectares of hejido lands in the Yucatán Peninsula have been privatized since 1992.

The privatization of communal lands known as ejidos is entirely legal. But concern is growing that political and business elites are gaming the system to take advantage of poor farmers.

Many in México see the dissolution of ejido lands as the final nail in the coffin of the Méxican revolutionary movement, which saw land ownership by farmers as one of its main goals.

Politicians signaled out for the unethical purchase of ejido lands include Mérida mayoral candidate Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín, and former Gov. Ivonne Ortega Pachecho.

“The privatization of these ejido lands for use in agroindustrial, tourism and energy projects has been orchestrated by an agrarian mafia with the financial means to bypass legal restrictions such as the sub-division of ejido lands with extensive vegetation,” said Gabriela Torres-Mazauera, author of a new report on the subject.

During the term of President Enrique Peña Nieto between 2012 and 2018, 68,000 hectares underwent privatization, the largest amount during any presidency, according to “Tres décadas de privatización y despojo de la propiedad social en la Península de Yucatán,” or “Three decades of privatization and dispossession of social property in the Yucatan Peninsula.”

Critics also argue that the country’s elite has often secured the rights to valuable land through intimidation and political cronyism.

Source: Por Esto!

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.