18th Meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group
Property Registration -- Actions by Mexico
This report describes the most important actions taken by Mexico with respect to the registration of properties through the National Agrarian Registry, with the involvement of various national bodies.
The National Agrarian Registry is a deconcentrated organ of the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, with its own technical and budgetary autonomy. Its mandate is to supervise landholding and ensure the documentary security of acts deriving from application of the Agrarian Law. It registers documents recording original transactions and amendments thereto affecting the ownership of land and rights legally constituted on ejido and communal properties, thereby granting legal security and protection to their owners.
As of January 30, 2000, the National Agrarian Registry has recorded documentation on the creation of 27,285 ejidos and 2197 communities, as well as actions amending the land area of those agrarian entities, i.e. increasing or reducing them, in the latter case as a result of expropriation decrees, whereby a property may be taken over for public purposes, against compensation.
In accordance with the Agrarian Law, agrarian, ejido and communal entities have their own legal personality and are the owners of the lands with which they are endowed, or of those that they may have acquired by other means. The principal distinction between an ejido and a community lies in the origin and legal nature of the lands they own.
In the case of ejido
entities, in accordance with legislation that has now been repealed the Mexican government endowed them with sufficient lands to meet the needs of their members; in the case of communal entities, they were awarded title to their ancestral lands. In both cases, a Presidential Resolution was issued.
Currently, articles 90 and 98 of the Agrarian Law provide for the constitution of new ejidos and communities.
The constitution of a new ejido
today requires at least 20 individuals who are willing to contribute privately owned properties for conversion to the ejido regime, and consequently to subject them to the prerogatives and constraints that the Agrarian Law provides for this social property regime.
In the case of communities, the Agrarian Law repeats for the most part the legislative provisions that were repealed, and in article 98 establishes the following procedures for recognizing an agrarian entity as a community:
I. An agrarian action of restitution for communities dispossessed of their property.
II. An act of voluntary jurisdiction sought by persons who retain communal status, when there is no legal dispute over communal possession and property.
III. A decision of a court sought by persons who retain communal status, when there is a legal dispute with respect to the entity's application;
IV. The procedure for converting an ejido to a community.
Procedures under items I, II and III may (since 1992, when the current Agrarian Law came into effect) be decided by the Agrarian Tribunals, which were created specifically for the administration of agrarian injustice, and whose decisions are recorded in the National Agrarian Registry.
The procedure contained in item IV is exercised voluntarily by agrarian entities through a decision of their members’ assembly, which must also be registered in the National Agrarian Registry.
Given on the origin of their property, communal agrarian entities have the characteristic that their members are of indigenous origin. According to data from the National Agrarian Registry, as of 30 January, 2000, there were 2197 legally established communities and together they were the owners of 16,480,764 hectares (see Annex).
With the National Agrarian Registry, the Mexican government now has an instrument for supervising the social property of communities. The Registry records the documents containing any amendments to their property, thereby granting legal security and protection to their duly constituted rights; under the provisions of article 150 of the Agrarian Law, registrations and declarations issued by this body have full force of law in court and beyond.
In order to regularize land tenure in agrarian entities, the Mexican government introduced in 1993 a program for certification of ejido rights and urban lot titles (Procede).
Participation in this program is voluntary and free for beneficiaries, and it constitutes an instrument of service to ejido and communal agrarian entities, with the principal purpose of granting legal security for land tenure through decisions taken by the ejido and community in an assembly. These assemblies may, in the presence of a public witness and a representative of the Procuraduria Agraria, decide on the distribution of their lands (pursuant to article 56 of the Agrarian Law and its Regulations governing the Certification of ejido
Rights and Land Titles) among three major land-use areas: individual plots, common-use lands and human settlement lands.
The following bodies participate in Procede:
- The Procuraduria Agraria, which provides advisory and assistance services including advice on rights, and witnesses the decisions of the corresponding assemblies.
- National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI), a specialized institution that sends out teams of engineers, architects and topographers, with the assistance of an auxiliary committee, appointed and composed of members of the agrarian entity, to take survey measurements of the lands belonging to the ejido
or community, and the distribution among the major areas of land use.
- The National Agrarian Registry provides technical qualification for the topographical work conducted by INEGI; provides a legal assessment of decisions of the assemblies and the allocation of rights to their members, to ensure that these are consistent with legal provisions so that they can be registered with legal effect both for subjects of agrarian law and for interested third parties. At the same time, it updates and supervises land tenure for the agrarian entities. In the case of communities, Procede also involves the National Indigenous Institute, for which operating procedures were approved in April 1998.
Depending on the historical and cultural nature of the communities, Procede offers communities the following institutional services:
1. Updating the list of communes.
2. Defining, measuring and recording the perimeter of the community's lands.
3. Delimiting the major use areas.
4. Generating the corresponding maps.
In accordance with decisions of the assemblies, comuneros may be assigned rights to individual lots. Pursuant to articles 79 and 107 of the Agrarian Law, each comunero
may exploit his lot directly or may grant its use or usufruct to other comuneros
or third persons, through sharecropping, association, leasing or any other act not prohibited by law, without the need for authorization by the assembly or any other authority.
In the case of common-use lands, by decision of the assembly, members will be allocated a percentage interest, which may be distributed as equal shares or in proportion to the material and labor contribution of each individual. Rights to this type of land do not refer to any specific surface, but rather to a percentage, since common-use lands are to be used for the common benefit.
If the assembly decides to delimit and allocate a portion of its lands to human settlement, it will award or recognize a plot of land for each member, on which he may build a house for his family.
Acting through its delegations in each state, the National Agrarian Registry will issue certificates of rights over common-use lands to the members of the ejido
or community, as decided by the assembly, with due regard to the legal constraints of the Agrarian Law and the provisions of article 89 of its internal rules of procedure. These documents specify the name of the individual and his percentage interest in those lands.
It also issues certificates of rights to individual plots and to urban lots, identifying their precise geographic location in each case.
As of February 15, 2000, the National Agrarian Registry had issued a total of 132,279 documents for the 636 communities that have voluntarily joined the Regularization Program. Of these documents, 48,581 were certificates of rights to individual plots, 66,941 were certificates for common-use lands, and 16,757 were titles to urban lots. The number of beneficiaries was 80,264, out of a total of 105,125 comuneros
and 2,044,576.371 hectares, in accordance with the distribution described in the Annex.
The measurements performed by INEGI, which are also free of charge for members of agrarian entities, are conducted on the basis of technical standards issued by the National Agrarian Registry for generating computerized cadastral information based on satellite measurement equipment that can provide geo-referencing data for land areas and properties of ejido and communal entities. These, taken together, comprise a Geographic Information System that uses leading-edge digital information technology.
The goal of Procede is to complete the regularization and certification process for all agrarian entities. The participating institutions will therefore continue their work, within the limits of their budgets, and wherever the agrarian entities in question give their consent, or where there are no circumstances that would prevent their incorporation.
It should be noted that, pursuant to the Agrarian Law and the Internal Rules of Procedure of the Agrarian, this institution was created to provide legal advice and assistance to persons under agrarian law. There are two principal ways of dealing with agrarian disputes: conciliation and litigation.
The conciliation route constitutes the preferred alternative for dispute settlement, since it relies on the willingness of the parties, consistent with the applicable legislation. The litigation route is governed by the provisions of section 10 of the Agrarian Law, regulating article 27 of the Constitution. At the request of any party the National Agrarian Registry must record the corresponding decisions, thereby providing legal and documentary security of any acts that create, amend, transfer or extinguish the rights of agrarian entities