‘‘These questions will never end’’
This study ends where it began: with Miguel de la Madrid’s dream of a
national,rural cadastrein 1985,midway throughhis six-yearterm inof-
fice. The attempt never came to fruition, in part because of the vast dis-
tance separating what existed on the ground and what appeared in legal
titles, or (in the wonderfully pithy phrase of Luc Cambrezy and Yves
Marchal) that space between el hecho y el derecho (what is and what is said
to be).1 That such was the result should not have come as a surprise.
After all, less than a decade earlier, a similar effort to untangle rights to
land and territory in the state of Hidalgo foundered for precisely the
same reasons. When land invasions rocked the region of Huejutla in the
late 1970s, government officials and agrarian bureaucrats confronted a
situationinwhichthelegal distinctions,landcategorizations,andforms
of tenure they had learned about in law school and government pam-
phlets simply did not apply.2 Even local officials and cultivators did not
understand the legal status of lands nor the legal categories of landhold-
ings.3 The federal government managed to put matters to (temporary)
rest only by expropriating several million hectares of land to ‘‘normal-
ize’’ the otherwise opaque landscape.4
As a strategy to make sense of the productive and political landscape,
1 Cambrezy and Marchal, Cronicas ´ de un territorio fraccionado, 134–51.For an
excellent examination of these issues in contemporary Michoacan, ´ see Nuijten,
2 See Schryer, ‘‘Peasants and the Law.’’
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid., 305.
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