ejido (āhēˈħō) [key] [Span., = common land], in Mexico, agricultural land expropriated from large private holdings and redistributed to communal farms. Communal ownership of land had been widely practiced by the Aztecs, but the institution was in decline before the Spanish arrived. The conquistadors instituted the encomienda, which was superseded by the repartimiento and finally, after independence (1821), by debt peonage. Although legally abolished by the constitution of 1917, which provided for the restoration of the ejido, peonage remained a general practice until the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas. In the Laguna District in 1936, the ejido became fact on a large scale. The intent of the ejido system is to remedy the social injustice of the past and to increase production of subsistence foods. The land is owned by the government, and the ejido is financed by a special national bank which supplies the necessary capital for reclamation, improvement, initial seeding, and so forth. In effect, the bank has replaced the colonial encomendero, with this difference—the laborer is paid on the basis of unit work accomplished.
See D. Ronfeldt, Atencingo; The Politics of Agrarian Struggle in a Mexican Ejido (1973).
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