The Ambassador in Mexico (Sheffield) to the Secretary of State

No. 2264

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith enclosed for the Department’s information, the translation of the Law of Colonization, based on article 27, which appeared in Excelsior of May 20, 1926, together with five copies in the original Spanish.

I have [etc.]

James R. Sheffield

Mexican Law of Colonization of April 5, 1926

Plutarco Elías Calles, Constitutional President of the United Mexican States, to the inhabitants thereof, be it known:

That in the exercise of the authority granted to the Executive in my charge by the decree of Congress of the 6th of January of the present year, I have deemed it expedient to issue the following:

Federal Law of Colonization

Article 1. In accordance with the provisions of article 27 of the Federal Constitution, the colonization of agricultural property privately owned under the provisions of this law, is declared of public utility.

Article 2. The following lands shall be subject to colonization:

Lands which are the property of the Nation and those which the Nation may acquire through the application of the Federal Law of Irrigation or through any other title.
Lands which the National Bank of Agricultural Credit may acquire for this purpose.
Lands privately owned included under the terms of this law.

Article 3. In the lands referred to in clauses I and II of article 2, the works of colonization shall be undertaken by the Federal Government, by the National Bank of Agricultural Credit, and by colonizing enterprises or companies either separately or in cooperation as determined by the regulations.

In the lands referred to in clause III, colonization may be undertaken by the owners when they voluntarily submit to the provisions of this law and its regulations.

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Article 4. Privately owned agricultural property is subject to the provisions of the present law:

When its owners request it and the Federal Government authorizes it.
When within the region comprising a colonization project there are no lands comprehended in clauses I and II of article 2, and clause I of this article 4.
The following are excepted from the provisions of this clause:
Lands which are being duly utilized for agricultural purposes.
Lands which constitute an industrial agricultural unit planned and carried out in accordance with modern technology.
Lands whose owners are directly utilizing more than 50 percent of each kind of available land.

Proof of the circumstances mentioned in the foregoing subclauses, as well as the declaration that a privately owned property or a part of it is subject to this law, shall be made by the Department of Agriculture and Fomento, after hearing the interested party and following the administrative procedure for which the regulations provide, and during which there shall be heard the opinion of experts, one of whom shall be named by the interested party himself.

Article 5. Within a period of 60 days from the date of notification of the declaration referred to in the last paragraph of the foregoing article, the owner may solicit authorization, subject to this law and its regulations, to colonize on his own account, or in connection with the Federal Government, the National Bank of Agricultural Credit, or a private enterprise.

Article 6. If the owner does not make use of the privilege granted him in the foregoing article, the Federal Executive shall decree the expropriation of the lands to the extent necessary for undertaking the colonization, and indemnification shall be made by means of the delivery to the owner of payment bonds which the colonists may make up to the value determined for the expropriated property. In case the National Bank of Agricultural Credit furnishes the amount necessary to make the payment of indemnification, the bonds of the colonists shall be delivered to it.

Article 7. Colonizing enterprises, the National Bank of Agricultural Credit, or the private individuals in the cases referred to by this law, must obtain authorization of the Department of Agriculture and Fomento to undertake colonization in conformity with the following provisions:

The authorization may only be granted in settled cases, where the farm [boundaries] have been fixed, and the Department has approved the plans of subdivision and colonization, as well as the period of payments, which cannot be extended, except in fortuitous cases or in case of force majeure, instances in which it may be necessary to grant an extension of time in order to carry out the project.
Persons petitioning authorization must prove their solvency or furnish security satisfactory to the Federal Executive, and must, furthermore, deposit in cash with the National Bank of Agricultural Credit 30 percent of the total value of the works to be undertaken, the investments to be supervised by the Department of Agriculture and Fomento.
When the petitioner is the National Bank of Agricultural Credit, it is only necessary to prove that there is an authorization for the amount of the corresponding disbursement.
Other provisions which may be provided by this law and its regulations.

Article 8. Lands to be colonized shall previously be put into condition through the construction of roads, irrigation works, fences, and, in general, through all kinds of land improvements which will guarantee a good economic development. They shall be subdivided into tracts whose development will be sufficient for the support and economic betterment of a rural family, in accordance with the following provisions:

In irrigable lands, 5 hectares as a minimum and 150 hectares as a maximum.
In lands of high seasonal rainfall, 15 hectares as a minimum and 250 hectares as a maximum.
In lands having other seasonal rainfall, 20 hectares as a minimum and 500 hectares as a maximum.
In arid lands 50 hectares as a minimum and 5,000 hectares as a maximum.

Article 9. The lands will be colonized with national or foreign colonists.

The regulations shall determine the proportion of foreigners to be settled in each colony.

The acquisition of lands by foreign colonists shall be subject to the provisions of the organic law of clause I of article 27 of the Constitution, and its regulations.

Article 10. The following shall be given preference as colonists in the order enumerated:

Renters on shares or tenants of the land to be colonized.
Farmers domiciled in the locality.
Expatriated farmers who desire to return to the country.
Farmers in general.
Individuals who are not farmers.

Article 11. The regulations shall fix the conditions which must be complied with in order that one may be admitted as a colonist. Among these shall be the following:

I. To be a preferred colonist one must prove that he is an experienced farmer, of age, healthy, and of good character.

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In the case of foreigners, this proof must be made to the satisfaction of the Consul who has to visa the passports.

II. To show that he has the capital to operate a farm for the first year, or credit to obtain it.

Foreign colonists must deposit with the National Bank of Agricultural Credit the sum of 1,000 pesos per family. This amount may be withdrawn for expenses of cultivation and for maintaining a family, when the work is commenced.

III. To pledge himself to pay 5 percent of the value of the tract at the time of the first harvest, and likewise to pay the balance in annual installments to be determined in accordance with the regulations.

Failure to pay the annual installments shall give the colonist the right to an extension of all payments for one year, if this failure is due to loss of crops for causes not imputable to the colonist. In any other case failure to pay two annual installments shall be sufficient cause for the cancelation of the contract and the recovery of the parcel by the colony administration. The tract shall be allotted to a new colonist. Eighty percent of what may have been paid in shall be returned to the colonist. The 20 percent remaining, together with any increase in value of the land, shall go to the benefit of the colony in accordance with the provisions of the regulations.

IV. To pledge himself to pay from the first year the quotas for the general expenses of the colony, to farm the tract personally or to supervise the farm work and to comply with the regulations approved for each colony by the Department of Agriculture and Fomento.

Article 12. No colonist may transfer, mortgage, or encumber his parcel in any manner until he shall have completed his payments. In the meantime it shall be especially encumbered by this debt.

Any acts in violation of this provision shall be considered nonexistent.

Article 13. Transfers made after the payment of the parcel shall be invalid if made to a person who does not fulfill the requirements of this law to be a colonist, or if the maximum or minimum limits fixed for the respective areas of land which an individual may acquire within a colony are changed.

Similar rules shall be observed in the case of testamentary succession. Parcels must be auctioned to the persons who fulfill the requirements of a colonist in accordance with the regulations of each colony, depending on each case, or they shall be reconstituted, within the authorized boundaries of the respective colony.

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Article 14. The colony shall be administered by the Federal Government or by the person or institution authorized for this purpose; but managerial powers shall begin to be given to the colonists as soon as they begin to pay their installments, and it shall be delivered wholly into their hands when 50 percent of the value of the lands has been paid.

Article 15. The Federal Executive through the Department of Hacienda and Public Credit and on the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture and Fomento shall determine the materials which may be imported free of duty when destined for colonization purposes.

Likewise, and within the authorization of the Budget of Expenses, the expenses of transportation within the country may be furnished to the colonists.

Article 16. Any questions arising from the application of the present law will be solved by the Executive, who is likewise empowered to issue all the supplementary provisions and such as may tend to the better enforcement of its precepts.


Sole Article: The law of colonization of December 15, 1883, and all provisions on this subject now in force, are repealed.

Therefore I order this to be printed, published, circulated, and complied with.

P. Elías Calles
, Rúbrica
The Secretary of Agriculture and Fomento,
Luis L. León
, Rúbrica
  1. File translation revised.