Meaning of Latifundio

What is Latifundio:

A latifundio is a rustic farm or hacienda, of more than one hundred hectares, that belongs to a single owner. The word, as such, comes from Latin latifundium.

The latifundio, in this sense, implies the agrarian exploitation of large tracts of land by a single owner, from which a large number of social conflicts have derived.

For a rural property to be considered a latifundio, they must exceed the extension of one hundred hectares, that is, it must exceed the limits of a small property.

The latifundio, as such, gave rise to a system known as latifundismo, which characterizes the supremacy of a group, the latifundistas, over the rest of the population, especially the peasants, to exploit the land.

We have news of the latifundium since the times of the Roman Empire, when the victorious military elites divided up the lands of the conquered territories.

This same scheme was repeated during the colony in Latin America, a consequence of the Spanish domination over the territory, where the king granted land to a few people, and it lasted even in the republican systems of the new independent nations of the 19th century.

Today, the term latifundio has a pejorative meaning, since it is considered that a system that gives continuity to an inefficient use of the land.

In addition, the concept of the latifundio also acquired a political nuance, since it implies that a single person owns enormous possessions of land, contrary to the rights of the peasant.

For this reason, in more recent times, to solve the social problems caused by the latifundio, various solutions have been tried, such as a change in the structure of property (agrarian reform) or the modernization of the exploitation of the land (agriculture of market).

See also Land reform.

Characteristics of the latifundio

  • Large tracts of land are owned by a single person.
  • Waste of the land's productive capacity (inefficiency and dispersed productivity).
  • Workforce in precarious conditions (underpaid and in deplorable working conditions).
  • Little capitalization of what is produced, low competitiveness.
  • No or little use of technology to increase the efficiency of the processes.

Latifundio in Mexico

The latifundio in Mexico began from the Spanish colony, when the king granted the lands to a small group of people loyal to the Crown for their exploitation.

In Mexico, both the latifundio and the latifundista system remained in operation during the colony and the Republic, and were, in the early twentieth century, one of the great issues of social discontent that led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution. In fact, one of the primary objectives of the revolution was to end landlordism.

See also Mexican Revolution.

Latifundio and minifundio

Latifundios and minifundios are rustic properties that differ, fundamentally, in their size and in the type of land where they are located.

The latifundio is more extensive, it can occupy hundreds or thousands of hectares, while the minifundio, as its name implies, is considerably smaller.

In addition, they are distinguished in that the latifundio is more typical of flat lands, while the minifundio is more common in mountainous areas, with rugged relief.

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