The Consul at Guaymas (Yost) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 105

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of the Boletin Oficial published on July 6, 1919, at Hermosillo, containing the Agrarian Law passed by the State Legislature on June 23 and promulgated by the Governor on July 3, together with a translation of said law into English. Owing to the extensive American land interests in Sonora, a knowledge of this radical piece of legislation is thought to be of the utmost importance to many Americans, and of interest to many others.

I have [etc.]

B. F. Yost
[Page 616]

Agrarian Law of the State of Sonora, Promulgated July 3, 1919

Chapter I

general purposes

Art. 1. The present law has for its purpose the creation and fostering of the small properties in the State.

Art. 2. For the purposes of the present law the following are for the public interest:

—Division of estates (latifundios).
—The creation of new agricultural centers with indispensable lands and water.
—Utilization of the waters for equitable distribution and application to the cultivation of the lands.
—Everything else which tends to the accomplishment of the purposes set forth in the preceding article.

Art. 3. Each inhabitant of the State who possesses the requisites cited in this law shall have the right to acquire a parcel in conformity with the provisions of this law.

Art. 4. The parcels referred to in the preceding article shall be taken from private properties, or from those which the State may for any reason dispose of.

Art. 5. Private lands intended for division shall be divided by the owners themselves in accordance with this law; but if they fail to proceed with the division, or resist carrying it out, the State will make the division by expropriating the lands on the basis of public utility.

Art. 6. The procedure of expropriation shall be carried out in accordance with the law on the subject, except as regards payment, which shall be carried out in accord with the precepts of this law.

Chapter II

agrarian offices

Art. 7. All matters relating to this law shall be carried out by the State Agrarian Department, under the Executive Power, and shall be in charge of an engineer with such force of assistants as the budget of expenditures provides.

Chapter III

classification of lands

Art. 8. For the purpose of this law the lands shall be classified in the following manner: [Page 617]

—Agricultural lands.
—Grazing lands.

Art. 9. By agricultural lands are meant those which, at the time of application, are under cultivation or capable of immediate cultivation.

Art. 10. By grazing lands are meant those which, at the time of application, are untillable for any reason inherent in the land itself, and those susceptible of cultivation which would require for the purpose special preliminary work of irrigation, protection or breaking.

Art. 11. Agricultural lands shall be divided as follows:

—Irrigable lands.
—Seasonal lands.

Art. 12. By irrigable lands are understood those which, at the time of application, have sufficient water to assure at least one crop per growing season.

Art. 13. By seasonal lands are understood those the watering of which depends exclusively upon the eventuality of rain.

Chapter IV

maximum area to be held

Art. 14. The maximum area of land that may be owned by one person or corporation legally organized is as follows:

Fifty hectares in the privately owned lands located in the zone which was originally delimited as village common lands (ejidos).

Outside the zone defined above, the maximum extent shall be:

—Irrigable agricultural lands, 100 hectares.
—Seasonal agricultural lands, 300 hectares.
—Grazing lands, 10,000 hectares.

Art. 15. In the extent fixed by the foregoing article may be included one lot or several lots belonging to the same proprietor, whether located together or at a distance one from the other, in one or in several municipalities.

Art. 16. Persons or institutions who have the right to possess land in conformity with this law may possess at the same time grazing lands, irrigable lands and seasonal lands, provided that these lands do not exceed the limits fixed by Article 14.

Art. 17. When the owner of seasonal lands the extent of which does not exceed the limits fixed for lands of this class, desires to convert the same into irrigable land, he may continue in integral ownership thereof.

Art. 18. Grazing lands within the maximum extent, for which applications have been filed for the purpose of cultivation, shall be [Page 618] divided in accordance with the provisions of this law relating to agricultural lands.

Art. 19. When the owner of grazing lands the extent of which does not exceed the limits prescribed by this law for this class of land, desires to convert a part or all into agricultural land, he may continue in integral ownership thereof.

Chapter V


Art. 20. Every property exceeding the area fixed by Article 14 and belonging to one individual or legally constituted company, shall be considered as an estate (latifundio) and its owner shall be obliged, in the public interest, to divide the excess within the period fixed by this law.

Art. 21. From the date of the promulgation of this law the owners of estates (latifundios) in this State shall send notice to the Agrarian Department of the preparatory measures for the division, together with legalized copies of any contracts made in connection therewith.

Art. 22. Owners shall be allowed ten months from the date of promulgation of this law as the period within which they themselves may carry out the division prescribed in the foregoing articles.

Art. 23. On the expiration of the time fixed by the preceding article the excess parcels belonging to one individual or legally constituted company shall be divided by the State Government, in accordance with section VII and subdivisions of Article 27 of the General Constitution of the Republic, and the State Law of Expropriation, for reasons of public utility.

Art. 24. The Governor of the State shall, by means of permanent notices in the Boletin Oficial or any other means of publicity, notify the persons who desire to acquire lots in the property to be divided, stating the conditions of acquisition, etc.; and when a sufficient number of applications shall have been received, he shall proceed with the expropriation.

Art. 25. For the purpose of the foregoing article it is understood that a sufficiency of applications shall be considered to have been reached when ten have been received, or when, without reaching that number, they cover an area of fifty hectares. In case the expropriate tract does not exceed fifty hectares, it will be sufficient if the applications presented cover fifty per cent of such area.

Art. 26. When a property is divided, the owner shall have his choice of tracts, provided it does not exceed the limits fixed by this law.

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Art. 27. The expropriation of lands by the Executive of the State for the application of this law shall be limited to the area solicited.

Art. 28. The lands which, through the exercise of economic-coactive rights, pass into the power of the State, shall be adjudicated to those who apply for them, by due process of law.

Chapter VI

applications and adjudications

Art. 29. The maximum areas to be adjudicated shall be as follows:

—Irrigable lands, 15 hectares.
—Seasonal lands, 50 hectares.
—Grazing lands, 1,250 hectares.

Only in very special cases where the applicants show sufficient means within the legal time for the construction of works of irrigation, protection and breaking, may the Executive concede at most one hundred hectares, and two thousand, five hundred hectares for grazing purposes, when the applicant has sufficient means to develop the land and improve the grazing.

Art. 30. Applicants for lands shall address themselves in writing to the Governor of the State and furnish the following information:

—Family and given names, profession or occupation, residence, nationality, civil status and age.
—Number of hectares desired and class of land.
—Location of lot or lots solicited and other data relative to the situation, giving the name of the property and of its proprietor.
—Number of members in the family he is supporting (if he has anyone dependent upon him), giving the sex and age of the members thereof.

Art. 31. Applicants shall furnish proof of the following, in conformity with regulations:

—That they have draft animals and means of cultivating the agricultural lands solicited, or in default of these, the resources necessary to acquire them.
—That they possess at least fifteen head of grown cattle or thirty young cattle, or in default of these, the necessary resources to acquire them, for the utilization of the grazing lands applied for.
—That what is expressed in paragraph IV of the previous article is true, and that they are not land owners, or if they are, the area of the lot or lots, their class, location and other pertinent information.

[Page 620]

Art. 32. In case there should be several applicants for the same tract, preference shall be given in the following order:

—Mexicans who have served in the Constitutional Army; those who have rendered aid or personal services in the Yaqui campaign; the sons and widows of the foregoing; and other persons who have rendered services to the cause of the Revolution or to public instruction, and are residents of the place where the lands applied for are located.
—Persons described in the foregoing paragraph who are non-residents of the place where the lands applied for are located.
—Mexicans who are partners in or renters of the property to be divided.
—Residents of the place.
—Others possessing the requisites established by Article 27 of the Federal Constitution and by this law.

Art. 33. The Governor of the State will forward all applications to the Agrarian Department, where a register shall be kept of them, for the purpose of proceeding in the order of the priority of the applications for lots solicited and in accordance with the preceding article.

Chapter VII


Art. 34. The grantees of fractional lots shall carry the following obligations, except in proven cases of prevention by force majeure:

—In the case of agricultural land which is under cultivation at the time of the division, the grantee must put it under cultivation in its totality within the first year from the date on which possession was taken.
—In the case of land not under cultivation at the time of the division, but which is tillable at once, the grantee must place fifty per cent under cultivation during the first year and the balance during the second year.
—In the case of grazing land solicited for cultivation, five years are allowed for placing the same under cultivation, the grantee being obliged to place at least twenty per cent of the total granted under cultivation each year.
—In the case of grazing land, solicited for the purpose of grazing, the grantee must keep constantly upon it at least fifteen head of grown cattle or thirty head of young cattle.
—After the termination of the time fixed in paragraphs I, II and III, the grantee may not suspend cultivation during two consecutive years.
—The grantee must promptly pay the annuities for amortization of the value of his properties, and the interest upon said value, as well as the State and Municipal taxes assessed.
—As long as the price of the tract is not paid in full, the grantee may not alienate, mortgage nor in any manner encumber it, nor in any manner speculate with the titles of acquisition, any contracts or transactions in this respect being null and void; and the title to such property can be transferred, as an inheritance, only when the total value has not been paid.
—The lot or lots must be registered in the tax office of the municipality to which each belongs and in the register of deeds’ office, for fiscal and statistical purposes.
—The grantee must personally cultivate and manage the lot or lots adjudicated. Cultivation in absence will not be permitted; neither will gratuitous transfer, nor leasing in any form.

Art. 35. If the grantee fails to comply with the provisions of paragraphs I, II, III, IV, V, VII and IX of the foregoing article, the Government shall declare subject to application the tract or tracts which were adjudicated, publishing such declaration in the Boletin Oficial three consecutive times at weekly intervals, and using any other form of publicity.

Art. 36. When the provisions of the foregoing article have been fulfilled, the tract or tracts shall be adjudicated to the first applicant who possesses the requisites prescribed by this law, and who shall pay in cash twenty-five per cent of the sum paid in by the former farmer, plus fifty per cent of the improvements, and the balance of the price in securities fixed by the contract of adjudication. The twenty-five per cent mentioned shall be delivered to the first grantee, the balance remaining in favor of the State, as well as the price of the improvements. The expenses of the transfer shall be on account of the State.

Art. 37. Those grantees who violate the provisions of paragraphs VI and VIII of Article 34 shall be subject to the provisions established by the laws relating thereto, and with regard to the payment of the annuities for amortization of the value of the property and the interest accruing thereon, they shall be subject to the contract of adjudication.

Chapter VIII

price of and payment for tracts

Art. 38. The value of the expropriated property shall be paid by the State Government with bonds of the agrarian debt, which shall be amortized in the time and in the form that the law on the subject may provide.

Art. 39. The value of each tract shall be paid by the grantee in twenty annuities which shall amortize the principal with interest on it at the rate of five per cent per annum.

[Page 622]

Art. 40. Payment of annuities must be made during the first fifteen days of July in the Special Department of the State Treasury.

Art. 41. Annuities not paid within the period fixed shall be subject to the interest stipulated in Article 39.

Art. 42. When the division is made by the Government, the value of each hectare shall be that fixed or accepted in the offices of the tax assessors or collectors augmented by ten per cent, plus the value of the improvements and the proportional expenses of the division. The value of the improvements shall be fixed by appraisers, one named by the proprietor, another by the grantee and a third by the Government in case of disagreement.

Chapter IX

general dispositions

Art. 43. The tracts adjudicated in conformity with this law shall pass to the grantee free of incumbrances, saving the rights of creditors of the subdivided estate to prosecute such actions as are open to them under the relevant laws.

Art. 44. The simulation of a contract of sale after the promulgation of this law shall be considered as a direct attempt to elude the fulfillment of the law, and the lands affected by such simulated contract shall remain by deed and right, through that circumstance alone, subject to the same consequences as the estates (latifwndios) which have not been voluntarily divided by their proprietors.

Art. 45. The difficulties which may present themselves in the application of this law shall be resolved by the Executive of the State.

Administrative Dispositions

  • Art. 1. The Executive of the State shall issue the necessary regulations for the enforcement of this law and appoint the employees of the Agrarian Department.
  • Art. 2. This law shall be published by solemn proclamation in the whole State on July 27 of the current year, on which date it shall become effective.
  • Art. 3. For the application of this law all dispositions contrary to its provisions shall be without effect.

Communicated to the Executive for his approval and for execution.

Assembly Hall of the State Legislature, Hermosillo, June 23, 1919.

A. Trujillo, D.P.

Alonso G. González, D.S.

V. G. Tena, D.S.

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I hereby order that it be printed, published and circulated for its due observance.

General P. Elías Calles


General M. Pina, h.
Secretary of State.

  1. Substituted for file translation.