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

No. 3753

Sir: I have the honor to report that El Universal of the twenty-first instant published a bill presented to the legislature of the State of San Luis Potosi by Governor Rafael Nieto, the purpose of which is to expropriate the large land holdings and to divide them up among the inhabitants of the state.

In submitting this bill Governor Nieto states that, in the prolonged social upheavals in Mexico, no aspiration of the rural population [Page 478] has been asserted more vigorously than their desire for land, and that the treatment they have received from the land holders is the most cruel oppression to which they have been subjected under former regimes.

By way of demonstrating the truth of the above statement, he gives the following statistics:

Of the western, extremely arid section of the state, six estates embrace more than one-fourth of the region; nine other estates embrace more than one-sixth of the region; thirty-two others more than one-fifth, or, in all, forty-seven proprietors own almost two-thirds of the region.

Of the central, somewhat less arid, zone one estate embraces one-tenth of the region, four others one-seventh, and nineteen others one-fifth, or, in all, twenty-four proprietors hold more than one-half of the region.

Of the eastern, fertile and well watered region, seven estates embrace one-fifth of the section.

From the above it will be seen that, in the entire state, seven proprietors hold more than one-sixth of its territory; fifteen others another sixth; fifty-six others another sixth, or, in all, more than one-half of the state is held by seventy-eight proprietors.

The general plan of the bill is to furnish small lots of land to those desiring them in centers of population containing more than six hundred inhabitants, of which it is calculated there are in the state approximately three hundred and fifty, and that they will require in round numbers two million hectares of land.

It is proposed that the irrigation of the arid lands of the western and central zones shall be under the limited control of the state, and that the costs of irrigation works shall be paid in part from state funds.

The maximum amount of land which may be held by any one person, or company, is four thousand hectares in the western region, three thousand in the central and two thousand in the eastern.

However, the owner of the large estates is to continue in possession of his lands in excess of the above amounts until such time as requests are made by inhabitants of the vicinity for the small lots to which they are entitled under the bill, and, consequently, it may be that his total remaining estate may be larger than the above mentioned limits.

The small holdings resulting from the dividing up of the large estates may not exceed, for each person, thirty hectares in the western zone, twenty-five in the central and twenty in the eastern, but it is provided that these areas may be increased, depending upon the fertility and productiveness of the soil.

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The owners of the large estates are obliged to receive, in payment for the expropriated portions thereof, bonds of the State Agrarian Debt, which bear five percent interest.

The price at which the estates are expropriated will be determined by taking their smallest tax valuation after January 1, 1922, plus ten percent, and adding thereto the value of improvements made after the tax valuation was made. Payment is to be completed in twenty years.

I have [etc.]

George T. Summerlin