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In Mexican system of government, an ejido (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈxiðo], from latin exitum) is an area of communal land used for agriculture, on which community members individually possess and farm a specific parcel. Ejidos are registered with Mexico's National Agrarian Registry (Registro Agrario Nacional). The system of ejidos dates from the Aztecs' rule of Mexico. During the colonization of Mexico by the Spanish and other European settlers, the Spanish encomienda system replaced the ejidos.
History and rationale 
The encomienda system was abolished by the Constitution of 1917, with the promise of restoring the ejido system. The system was reinitiated after the Mexican Revolution in some states, notably Morelos but the repartition of land in most of Mexico did not begin until Lázaro Cárdenas became president in 1934. The ejido system was introduced as an important component of the land reform program. The typical procedure for the establishment of an ejido involved the following steps:
- landless farmers who leased lands from wealthy landlords would petition the federal government for the creation of an ejido in their general area;
- the federal government would consult with the landlord;
- the land would be expropriated from the landlords if the government approved the ejido; and
- an ejido would be established and the original petitioners would be designated as ejidatarios with certain cultivation/use rights.
Ejidatarios did not actually own the land, but were allowed to use their alloted parcels indefinitely as long as they did not fail to use the land for more than two years. They could even pass their rights on to their children.
Reform and decline 
The change came about largely as a result of the negotiation of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which came into operation in 1994:
Entry into a free trade agreement with the United States and Canada required intense preparation for Mexico. To quell U.S. investors' fears of political upheaval (and thus, possible confiscation of foreign property), the authors of NAFTA included an extensive section on expropriation and confiscation. Mexico was also pressured by the World Bank and the United States to re-write Article 27 of its Constitution - a pillar of the new government that grew out of the 1910 Mexican Revolution - effectively doing away with the ejido system of collective land ownership. This opened up traditional Mexican territory for sale to foreign investors eager to buy up land. The ejido system had been a cornerstone of indigenous and peasant rights in the Mexican agricultural system. Eliminating ejido protections and privatizing traditional landholdings left the most marginalized populations even more vulnerable.
See also 
- Common land
- Communal land
- Chiapas conflict
- México Indígena: controversial geography research project studying the future of the ejido and the comunidad agraria
- Well-field system: communal lands
- Rural Development Institute: Ejidos and Communidades in Oaxaca, Mexico (pdf)
- Centro de Investigacion y Documentacion de la Casa and Sociedad Hipotecaria: Current Housing Situation in Mexico 2005 (pdf)
- David W. Connell at mexicolaw.com: CAN I BUY "EJIDO" LAND?