The land is and has been one of the fundamental resources for
any city, therefore, it is natural that since ancient times it
has been studied and tried to be classified, registered and taxed
with reference to the property.
The origin of cadastre in the Prehispanic Mexico is reflected
in the different systems of information used by the Aztec Empire,
with respect to its complex political and social organization,
according to its different tributary, record and cartographic
relationships, which is the main antecedent of colonial maps and
plans based on the Mesoamerican cadastral information in reference
to the type of property. With the appearance of mine centers and
huge properties it was necessary to give a legal support to the
forms of regulation and control of land tenure as well as juridical
From the independent period to the present time, the structural
growth and the urban center development have allowed the evolution
of systems and legislation of cadastre, within a normative framework
that facilitates decision making in the administrative, economic,
political and fiscal scope, becoming an essential tool for urban-rural
planning of cities.
The first forms of land organization were determined by the geographic,
economic and social frame of the prehispanic civilizations that
inhabited Aridoamerica, and Mesoamerica influenced on, by example,
the Aztecs whose lands belonged to the community and were divided
in the calpulli lands; the institutions, churches, army,
royal palace; the sovereigns and nobility.
In this period, the cadastral information is almost non-existent;
nevertheless, there are pictographic codices specifying legal
procedures related to land administration and land use (Santa
Maria Asuncion codex, representative document of the cadastral
and statistic system of population and land).
During the Colony, the land tenure was constituted by a complex
territorial structure, therefore the Catholic King and Queen,
in order to guaranty the possession of the discovered lands, appealed
to the Pope Alexander VI who issued a bull by which the
Crown of Spain receives the exclusive domain of the Western Indians,
endowing to Spain the legitimate possession of the mentioned territory.
In this period, the property was conceded by the Spanish sovereign
by means of a title called grace or land graces
or means for obtaining rural property. Another form of
land distribution was through the capitulation, a juridical title
used to carry on expeditions in new territories marking the real
authorization and rights and obligations between the parties.
Under this organization outline, the Spanish Crown issued some
documents called town ordinances to ruled the places where
new towns should be established, how to draw the cities, the land,
lots and benefits distribution between the parties.
In the context of 1524, the Royal Council of the Indies was established
and was in charge of issuing laws and ordinances for the colonies.
En 1527, the Royal Audience of Mexico was instituted with the
function of taking care of all the financial and tax collection
The two types of property existent in this period were the private
and the commune property. Before the immoderate trend of some
individuals for amassing properties, in 1535 the king Charles
V prohibited land possession for the clergy, through the Royal
letters of Mexico.
Since the middle of XVIth Century with the ordinance of 1517,
the fundo legal was instituted for the regulation of the
programming of the native indigenous people in town units.
Al the beginning of the XVIIth Century, the land tenure was irregular
and complex, then a juridical method called composition was applied,
by which the uncultivated and royal properties illegitimate obtained
were recognized by paying to the Crown.
The unfair distribution of land and the high index of rural property
concentration by peninsulars and creoles produced a general discomfort
that acted over the fight of the Independence, beginning with
a stagnation of the cadastral order.
The cadastre in the independence period is characterized by the
generation of the first dispositions of the legal antecedents
of the cadastre in Mexico, reflected in the Law of Colonization
that favored the colonization policies and the North American
Once consummated the Independence, the undeferrable necessity
for promoting the demographic development and populating the ample
regions of the territory was evaluated. The laws latter promulgated
were based in three principles: uncultivated land distribution
to army men, to foreign settlers and as plot adjudging to the
town inhabitants, for which the Law on Occupancy and Transferring
of Uncultivated Plots was promulgated.
This fight for organizing the country and promoting its development
led to the promulgation, in 1824, of the first Political Constitution
of the United Mexican States, with a republican government system
and the territory divided in 19 states, 4 central dependent territories
and a federal district.
In 1856, the Law on Disentailment of the Ecclesiastical Property
was promulgated in order to commercialize the ecclesiastical,
civil, town council and native indigenous town real estate.
With the promulgation of the Political Constitution of the United
Mexican States in 1857, the country was organized as a republic,
formed by 26 free and sovereign states, integrated in a federation
that forced the governors to publish and apply the federal laws.
In 1859, with Benito Juarez, the Law of Nationalization of Ecclesiastical
Property was decreed confiscating the clergy property, separating
the Church and the State, and distributing the mentioned property.
In 1863, a law implanting the Metric System was issued for the
land and water measures which will be estimated by engineers and
surveyors for the land redistribution so reducing the measurement
units used at that moment. Also, the Law stipulated that the longitudinal,
itinerary and surface measurements would be, henceforth, the included
ones by the tables approved by the Ministry of Justice, Promotion
and Instruction published on November 10, 1862 and established
by law on March 15, 1857.
With the French Intervention, this process was interrupted and,
in 1866, Emperor Maximilian proclaimed two laws: the Law on Community
Lands and Distribution, with the purpose of delivering the lands
that corresponded to the town inhabitants; and the Agrarian Law
of the Empire in order to grant fundo legal and ejido supporting
the Juarez's liberal concepts, but they were not executed because
of the opposition of the conservative government.
With Manual Gonzalez, in 1883 the Law on Plot Delimitation and
Colonization was decreed in order to include them in the economic
life because they did not own to anybody.
The same year, the establishment of the General Direction of
Statistics was decreed, charged with the compilation, classification
and periodic publication of economy comparative statistics by
the application of population census as well as cadastre of urban,
rural and mine property in order to know the country wealth. Therefore,
the legal bases for the cadastral measurement were found in the
Special Law of Cadastre and the Regulation for the National Territory
considering the surveying of municipality plans and private property.
The XIXth Century culminated with the first technical activities
and the appearance of the first cadastral institutions with the
promulgation, in 1894, of the Federal Law on Occupancy and Transferring
of Uncultivated Plots of the United Mexican States; the country
plots were classified as follows: uncultivated, surplus and excess;
and the Grand Public Property Record was established so ensuring
the rights of land owners and improving title deed delivery.
Modern cadastre began in the XXth Century, when the country was
passing through a social movement, mainly based on agrarian roots.
This led to the 1902 decree on the derogation of the country plot
classification, conserving only the uncultivated plots, that the
Executive could delimit by means of official campaigns; the dispositions
authorizing the separation of uncultivated plots by surveying
companies was annulled and the Grand Public Property Record was
All these facts modified the structure and organization of the
land property in Mexico, and the president Venustiano Carranza
considered as urgent the reorganization of the cadastre all wide
the republic, so in 1914 decreed a project of Agrarian Law establishing
the bases for the arrangement of cadastre. This law established
a assessing board in each municipality charged to register real
property, determine its valuation and the sum of capital.
In 1915, the Agrarian Law was pronounced as regulating the procedure
application in land restitution, delimitation and land donation
to the agricultural communities, and to be really applied, Venustiano
Carranza himself created the National Agrarian Commission that
determined the ejido extent as 4 190 m per side. Next year, the
Secretariat of Agriculture and Promotion was formed with the purpose
of recovering the country properties and ruling the provisional
possession granting, with the previous authorization of the Executive.
With the third Political Constitution of the United Mexican States,
in 1917, the necessary legitimacy was conceded for a just land
distribution with the creation of the ejido in Mexico, that with
the reform to the Article 27 constitutional is determined that
the nation is the only proprietor of the land and waters included
in the national territory and has the right to cede its domain
to individuals and legislates on land and water tenure, mainly
with the communities and the small property.
In 1969, the General Law of National Property was issued for
ruling the application exercised on the national patrimony of
public and private domain, and in 1970 the Federal Law on the
Agrarian Reform was issued for the consolidation of the juridical
institution and the social organization of the ejido.
In the urban scope, in 1973 the Federal Executive, in order to
solve the problem of land use created the Commission for the Regulation
of Land Tenure (CORETT: Comisión para la Regulación de la Tenencia
de la Tierra), dependent of the Secretariat of Agrarian Reform
(SRA: Secretaría de la Reforma Agraria).
As a result of the modification made to the Articule 115 Constitutional
in 1983, the municipalities are empowered in two aspects: in the
legal, federal, state and municipal scope to administrate the
zonation and plans of municipal urban development and in reference
to territorial reserves, the participation in plans for regional
development with respect to land use and to intervene in the regulation
of urban land tenure and the organization of their cadastres.
Our Constitution establishes the obligation of all Mexican citizen
to register in the cadastre and, according to Article 27, the
property is divided in: public, social and private, with a specific
juridical regime for each.
Under this legislative and organizing frame of cadastre, in 1992
begins the Program for the Certification of Ejido Rights and Titling
of Lots (PROCEDE: Programa de Certificación de Derechos Ejidales
y Titulación de Solares) whose purpose is the certification and
regularization of parcels and/or of common use right, as well
as the titles of lots in favor of all and each of the individuals
integrating the ejidos of the country.
The institutions involved in this project are: the Agrarian Law
Office (PA: Procuraduría Agraria), the National Institute of Statistics,
Geography and Informatics, responsible of performing the location,
delimitation and measurement of the ejido limits, the cartography
production and the corresponding database; finally the National
Agrarian Record, which formalizes the regularization of the land
tenure issuing the corresponding certificates and titles in order
to provide a documental security. The World Bank, along with the
SRA and the PA, concludes that this program has contributed to
reduce land conflicts, strengthen the juridical security, improve
the efficiency of agrarian agreements and move forward in the
regularization of all the land tenure forms in the country.
Since 1993 in the frame of the Program of the 100 Cities, the
Secretariat of Social Development started the Program of the Cadastral
Modernization and, jointly with the National Bank of Public Works
and Services, encourages the municipal and state governments which
undertook their cadastral modernization in their legal, administrative
and technological frame to strengthen the financial capacity and
propitiating standard information so other public and private
institutions may take advantage of this information for the urban
planning and development in the territorial ordering within a
sustainable development frame.
At last, there is a great agitation in linking the producers
and the users of geographic information in cadastral matters with
the purpose of homogenizing the mentioned frames and so feeding
the corresponding national information systems, therefore national
and sector committees have been formed.