The Chargé in Mexico ( Summerlin ) to the Secretary of State

No. 3496

Sir: I have the honor to report that to-day’s press publishes the draft of a proposed agrarian law which, it is said, will be submitted to the Congress by President-elect Alvaro Obregón, shortly after his inauguration. The main features of the Bill are as follows:

The following lands shall be expropriated for distribution, such areas as are needed to be taken in accordance with this law:

  • The large landed estates;
  • Lands which have been idle for five years past;
  • Lands cultivated by primitive and antiquated methods.

Lands cultivated according to modern methods shall not be expropriated in so far as concerns the area necessary to make a complete agricultural whole; not less than five and not over twenty hectares may be granted to any one individual; the parcels adjudicated may not be the subject of sales contracts, mortgages, usufruct, or any other transaction limiting the right of ownership, nor may they be embargoed;89 the rights under this law granted to recipients of lands, shall become void upon failure to cultivate the land during a period of one year. The Local Agrarian Commissions are empowered to receive and handle petitions and the National Agrarian Commission is authorized to decide upon them and then request the Executive to order the required expropriations.

The rights under this law shall be exercised by Mexicans only. Mexicans already owning over twenty hectares of land shall be excluded. Petitioners must prove they are of industrious habits and fully able to cultivate the land.

[Page 474]

Payment for expropriated lands is to be made by the Government to the owner in twenty-year agrarian bonds redeemable in twenty annual payments of principal plus interest of not over five per cent. Recipients shall pay the Government for lands granted, on the basis of the amount paid to the owner, plus five per cent, for cost of survey and division. The value of the lands expropriated shall be the registered tax valuation plus ten per cent., or in the absence of such data, the value shall be fixed by experts.

I have [etc.]

George T. Summerlin
  1. I.e., attached.