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Judge declares illegally obtained Seyé land deeds null and void

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
A man works his field collecting maize within his section of the local ejido. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

A judge in Mérida has ordered investors to return communal land to a Seyé ejido. 

Ejidos are a form of land ownership in which property is owned collectively by a community.

However, since 1994 it has been possible to privatize ejidos, which has fueled a real estate boom rife with shady deals. 

“The present case is clearly an example of injustice and corruption,” said Judge José Riviera Uribe in his ruling. 

The exact methods through which a group of 16 business people got the deeds to nearly 4,000 acres of ejido land in Seyé remains unclear.

However, cases of outright document forgery facilitated by corrupt notaries is far from unheard of. 

In his ruling, Judge Riviera Uribe made reference to the so-called agrarian mafia which over the past several years has been active in the Yucatán Peninsula illegally taking over ejido lands.

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

However, this is not to say that all ejido lands turned into private property are the result of theft or corruption. Land sales by ejidos has become a lucrative business since the 1990s legal reforms.

“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.

Even the Mexican federal government has been involved in several controversies regarding the purchase of ejido land, most recently in connection to the Mayan Train rail project. 

For Mexicans living in rural communities the dissolution of ejido lands as the final nail in the coffin of the Méxican revolution, which saw land ownership by farmers as one of its main goals.

Over 1.2 million acres of ejido lands in the Yucatán Peninsula have been privatized since 1992.

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