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Social property administration in Mexico

Mexico has a high diversity territorial mosaic, compound by its geography, culture or as a result of its social identity that is present in each territorial space. When traveled the national territory these differences are notorious, which tend to make of Mexico an attractive country in various ways.

This territorial heterogeneity, of geographic and social elements, created a high complexity in the managing processes of the land tenure.

Nowadays, Mexico has different types of property. Among them, stands out the social property, this represents the 52% of the national territory with a length of 103.5 million hectares, owned by the peasant population.

The social property is the result of the social struggles lived by the country at the beginning of the 20th Century, when large state models of land administration existed. Those models where substituted by the organizational model that gave the land to the rural communities.

This organizational model operates through a figure named agrarian groups. They could be of two types: the first one, is the “ejido”, the second one is the agrarian community. Currently more than 30,000 agrarian groups compose the social property in Mexico; those groups contain more than 4 million organized people.

As a result from this organization models for the land tenure administration, the Federal Government has created different offices that deal with the human, social and political development of this communities, as the coordination of the management for the 52% of the national territory.

Consequently, the Secretariat of Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development (Secretaría de Desarrollo Agrario, Territorial y Urbano – SEDATU), was created to coordinate the efforts for the order and territorial development in the country. The National Agrarian Registry (Registro Agrario Nacional – RAN) depends on SEDATU, and its principal aim is to contribute to the efficient use of the national territory, promoting territorial sustainability and exploitation, through territorial regularization and order actions. The objective of these actions is to deliver legal certainty over the land tenure to the rural domain population.

Since 1993, the legal bases were established in order to create the National Agrarian Registry (RAN). Among its responsibilities are the registration of documents that prove the original operations and modifications suffered by the property of the lands, and the legally constituted rights over the ejido and communal property. As well, there has been an important progress that has allowed an efficient management of the social property.

In this document there is an analysis and description of the actions that have allowed certifying more than 94% of the country’s agrarian groups, integrate a reliable cadastre system, and provide property security to millions of Mexicans.

The social property in Mexico

Mexico has a territory surface of 196 million hectares, among which, as been mentioned before, 52% of that surface (103.5 million hectares) was given to the peasants during the time named as agrarian distribution.

The agrarian distribution goes from 1915 to 1992. During this period the process of the land distribution of the ejidos and agricultural communities of the country started.

The agrarian distribution achieved to redistribute the land property, and also was the inception of the conflicts between ejidos, communities, and private landowners. That situation was a consequence of mistakes, interests and historic land ownerships.

Therefore, upon completion of the agrarian reform, the government’s priority was directed to order the rural property, to resolve conflicts over land tenure and promote the comprehensive agricultural development through the system of social ownership and to pay attention to land conflicts.

This land tenure regularization policy was operated through the Programa de Certificación de Derechos Ejidales y Titulación de Solares Urbanos – PROCEDE- (Program for the Certification of the Rights of the Ejidos and the Certification of the Urban Land).

The main objective of PROCEDE was to provide land tenure security through the regularization of the same, by the issue and delivery of the certificates for the common use land, plots, and urban lands.

This program operated from 1992 to 2006. In that year the official closure of the Certification Program of Ejido Rights and Titling was concluded. Among its achievements are the certifications of 28,454 agrarian groups, formed by 93,132,667 regularized hectares; delivering 9,569,129 documents that benefited 4,445,213 individuals.

At the end of PROCEDE, there were 2,421 agrarian groups in the country that were not attended as they should, because they did not fulfill the requirements. These agrarian groups did not accept the program, and could not demonstrate the ownership over the lands. They were facing conflicts over the land tenure and there were reports of internal social conflicts and the directory was not defined.

Therefore, the program called Agricultural Cores without Regularizing Support Program (FANAR) is created. This Program allows agricultural centers that have not been regularized to start the process that allows them to have legal certainty and security on land tenure. It supports those who have voluntarily decided to regularize land tenure and do not have any problems that put in doubt their ownership of the land, at risk of suspending the operation of the program.

From this process in the policy of regularization of tenure and land administration, which has been generally described, the social property in Mexico is integrated as follows:

  • 30,258 agrarian settlements regularized, composed of 94 million 487 thousand 482 hectares, in which 80% of woods and forests are located, 74% of the biodiversity and two thirds of the coastline.
  • In this area 4 million 780 thousand 849 Mexican families live, who are entitled to the use and exploitation of the land.

Therefore, strategies that apply to social property will determine and impact the development of half the territory and a quarter of the country”s population.

Regularization and land management actions

According to the information presented before, the National Agrarian Registry started its activities in 1992, as a result of the policies previously developed for the solving of the land tenure problematic.

Therefore, the National Agrarian Registry is configured as the decentralized organ of the Secretariat of Agricultural, Regional and Urban Development, which is responsible for the control and ownership of communal land, and to provide documents with legal certainty, derived from the implementation of the Agrarian Law.

Among its principal responsibilities are: the registry of the original operations and the modifications on the land tenure, and the legal rights over the ejidos and communities as well as to provide documentary legal security over that property, through the regularization, certification and control of the agrarian documents.

Thus, through a series of programs, some already completed and others in process, the National Agrarian Registry promotes regularization of social property tenure generating documentary legal certainty. Thus, institutional projects focus on improving service, the regularization and legal order, but also attention to the agricultural sector, projects of social bonding and transparency projects.

Another priority of the National Agrarian Registry has to do with the modernization of the technical tools that integrate both cadastral information and the registration of social property in Mexico. Today it has the advantage of generating comprehensive databases regarding social property, integrated in a federal system, which gives the possibility to show the complexity of the structure of geographically referenced cadastral and registry mosaic of social ownership of the country.

All this information integrates a highly reliable rural cadastre. This has allowed initiating the analysis processes that will contribute to determine the productive vocation of each territory, promoting an effective territorial planning under a sustainability and development foundation. What is sought is to create the conditions that allow the communities to grow with order, delimiting areas suitable, conditioned and not suitable zones for the human settlements and productive activities as we all identifying and preventing areas that can derive into social conflicts.

During the first year of the administration of President of the United States of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, has been reinforced actions in order to improve the results on the legal certainty over the land tenure, and has been generated conditions for an efficient land management, system-oriented and sustainability.

Because of the above, during 2013 there was a significant improvement in order to reach the goals of the next programs: Fondo de Apoyo para Núcleos Agrarios sin Regularizar (Fund for the Support of the Non-Regularized Agrarian Groups), Alianzas para la Regularización y el Ordenamiento Territorial (Alliances for the Territory Regularization and Order), and the Cero Rezago en trámites y servicios (Zero Backwardness in Procedures and Services).

The implemented actions by each one of the programs mentioned above have allowed achieving the following results:

  1. Legal certainty is provided on land ownership to 406 members of agrarian communities, reducing the delay in the certification and regulation of social property.
  2. In 2013, a territory ordering process began over a surface larger than 584 thousand hectares.
  3. The attention provided to procedures and services was updated, ending completely the backwardness presented in more than 236,000 applications that were in that condition.
  4. Strengthen the cadastre systems, making a constant actualization of the processes and changes in the land rights, in order to create one of the most reliable cadastre systems in the country.
  5. Simplification and modernization of procedures, by reducing steps in the processes of attention and accompanying procedures of information technology, a fact that provides certainty and transparency to users.

This impulse of the National Agrarian Registry from the inside of the newly created Secretariat for Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development, as part of the National Development Plan, seeks modernization and efficiency required to transform it into an institution that promotes the agrarian governability and governance through simplification of procedures, and also transparency, generating order and legal certainty in the field.

The challenges of land administration

Consistent with the new vision over the territory, in which this resource is an important part of the country’s development, some challenges have been formulated, among which the most relevant are:

  • Initiate the creation of a national territories inventory; with the purpose of make a better use of the resources offered by each territory, according to criteria such as order, sustainability and regional development.
  • Boost the agrarian domain development, within a peaceful environment, with legal certainty and environmental harmony. In order to achieve that, it is required to reinforce the land tenure regularization actions; this will help to eliminate the backwardness on the agrarian rights certification.
  • Promote the territory planning, in rural and urban zones, in order that these do not grow or develop at the expense of the social property, contributing to the orderly growth of the urban zones and the population groups.

Under this perspective in 2014, the Secretariat of Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development, through the National Agrarian Registry, will implement focused actions that will attend specifically each problem presented. This approach will contribute to obtain an effective land administration, and this translates into specific benefits for the more than 4 million families living in the national agrarian sector.