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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 16, 2009

Land ownership was the topic of this day’s meeting with the lawyer who represents people who have been living on the land and working to obtain legal title to their property for the past thirty years or more. The president of the ejido and a person who brought a group of peasants to the ejido forty years ago were present. The lawyer gave a brief history of the manner in which Mexican department of Agrarian Reform distributed land. Government land that was not being used was given to peasants who had little or no income with the requirement that the land must be used for farming and or raising animals. Large parcels of land called ejidos were often located in the outskirts of municipalities and the peasants had to petition the department of Agrarian Reform to legalize their status as landowners. In recent years, some Juárez peasants learned that their ejido remained at the petition status and not yet legalized. In addition, due to government corruption, wealthy people were allowed to purchase ejido land already occupied by peasants. In some cases, homes were torn down, fences were erected, and farm animals were taken by the wealthy. Some peasants were made to pay for the same property more than once or pay dues to occupy their land.
In 1994, a former president of México, enacted a law to end Agrarian Reform to allow wealthy individuals to use their money to develop unused lands. It was stated that there is a large multinational plan to develop an economic corridor from New México to Panama. In one case, a in wealthy individual got the title to land ownership in 48 hours contrasted to the 30 years peasants have struggled to obtain a legal title to their land.

The people living in the ejidos lack running water, paved streets and other services because the municipality requires land titles to deliver these services. The presenters stated that large amounts of money have been spent to construct roads and provide water along the future economic corridor where there are no people living.

The lawyer stated that these people must have hope, perseverance, a vision. He added that the ejido has leaders, yet needs organizers, more involved residents of the ejido, and funds to complete the legal process. This presenter affirmed that the presence of women religious and some clergy gives the people hope because they work so that people know their rights.

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