Tulum 40-year-old land dispute comes to an end


They put an end to uncertainty over land tenure in the coastal area of ​​Tulum

Area disputed for more than 40 years; destination with many eco-chic hotels

The ruling issued unanimously on July 13 by the five magistrates who make up the Superior Agrarian Court of Mexico City gives certainty to the land tenure in the coastal area of ​​Tulum parallel to the Tulum-Boca Paila highway, an area in dispute for more than 40 years and where many of the hotels that have given this place the fame of an eco-chic destination with which it is recognized worldwide are based.

The José María Pino Suárez ejido, with 10,000 hectares and 70 ejidatarios, claimed those lands as their own, which is denied by the judicial resolution, which reiterates the limits of the ejido and recognizes the ownership of private individuals over the lands of the coast and the line parallel to the road, inland. In addition, the agrarian registry canceled the plan folio 23TM50275, the meeting minutes of the year 2006 where said plan was approved, one thousand 92 parcel certificates, and 706 property titles.

“The importance (of the sentence) lies in the fact that the higher agrarian court reviews the sentence of the magistrate of Quintana Roo and does not find that something improper has been done or that a rule has been violated to the detriment of the ejido and resolves that the property title that originally it was from Enrique Humberto Fulquen Chelet is valid, that the current owners exist and that their property is legal. It establishes how far the ejido reaches and that the beach land is private property ”, explained the lawyer Víctor Salaya, who represents the individuals involved in the trial.

The lack of legal certainty for land tenure in this area, which goes from the local El Tábano to the arch of Sian Ka`an and which is considered “the jewel in the crown” of Tulum, has generated a series of irregularities, such as You continue invasions, evictions, dispossession, and complaints of fraud from both nationals and foreigners.

“The problem here is that many people who came with the desire to start a hotel or business and develop the beach area when the Tulum boom began, bought in good faith from the ejidatarios. They issued property titles that have no validity, ”said Víctor Salaya.

Photo: Rosario Ruiz

The speed with which land changes hands in Tulum has allowed lots to change ownership on various occasions; A large number of these purchases and sales were made with documents issued by the ejido, which are officially no longer valid.

Those who do recognize the property are those who bought from an individual, Antonio González Avilés, owner of the lots on the coastal strip since 1940 and who between the decades of the 70s and 80s divided and sold to many people when no one I imagined that Tulum would be the current tourist giant.

“There were ( sic ) who were visionaries and said: I just have a role, I find the owner and buy; Now, whoever bought the ejido must be aware that at some point that owner may initiate a lawsuit against him to claim what is his, ”said the lawyer.

The José María Pino Suárez ejido was constituted in its beginnings, in the 80s, by mostly peasants, then development began, groups with greater purchasing power came and bought from those who were there … today most of the ejidatarios are businessmen, only a few stores remain.

This resolution, in his opinion, “comes to give legal certainty and that is what it is about, that if someone is going to make an investment, it is legally well, the legal insecurity of the land is not good because it generates uncertainty. It is necessary that those who want to invest in Tulum investigate private property well, that they know where they are buying, that they seek good advice ”.

A little history

In 1992 the federal agrarian reform law was repealed, which allowed for agrarian distribution, which was the cause that gave rise to the Mexican Revolution. In the new law, there were modalities by which a group of peasants could request land from the nation to create an ejido.

When in certain states there were no longer lands to give to the peasants, the federal government assigned them to them in another state, an example of this was Quintana Roo, where lands were given to people from other states of the republic. These were no longer called ejidos, but new centers of ejido populations.

Photo: Rosario Ruiz

In the case of José María Pino Suárez, the lands were granted to inhabitants of Tenosique, Tabasco in 1973 and it was until 1981 when they were formally handed over, with limits established by the federation. The peasants received and signed an agreement. 

“The peasants at that time had no interest in the sea, unaware of the tourist development that would occur over the years in Tulum and that made this area so much in demand,” said the lawyer.

In the official document of that time delivered to the ejidatarios it is stipulated that the border of the cardinal point East is with swampy national lands; that is, their lots did not reach the beach. These “swampy national lands”, being national, were for sale and were bought by citizen Enrique Humberto Fulquen Chelet. 

They are currently between the mangrove and the Tulum-Boca Paila highway.

The other strip of land in that area, which includes the Tulum-Boca Paila highway to the beach, a total of 49 hectares, had been bought from the federal government since 1940 by citizen Antonio González Avilés. 

Quintana Roo at that time only had three delegations: Cozumel, Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Othón P. Blanco.

By 1994, the change of owners of the properties began, after many of the ejidatarios sold their lots, so the landlord of owners was changing and among the new ejidatarios, some with great purchasing power arrived who began to speculate the size of growth that Tulum would have in the future.

The first thing these new owners did was to file an indirect amparo lawsuit, in 1994, where they told the first district judge of Chetumal that they were not satisfied because they did not grant them all of their lands and they requested the rest. When the Amparo judge ruled them, he said that if they did not agree with the boundaries, they should mention it no more than 15 days after receiving the land, which is the term established by the federal agrarian reform law to report the disagreement. 

In 1997, the ejido initiated various agrarian lawsuits asking that land be restored to them on the beach, which it lost. In the sentence, issued in 2001, the court pointed out that between the ejido and the lots they are asking for there is a private property that has already been titled.

 Years later, in 2006, the members of the ejido, now made up of businessmen and people with greater economic capacity from different parts of the republic, hold an assembly in which they approve a new plan of the ejido that extends its size to the beach; that is, marshy and coastal lands, owned by individuals, that did not include the original measurements, were obtained.

Based on this plan, the ejido issued parcel certificates and more than 700 property titles. “In that assembly, the representative of the agrarian attorney warns them that they can only parcel out the lands that comprise the original extension of the ejido”, mentions the lawyer Víctor Salaya.

Even so, the ejidatarios enter their documents in the national agrarian registry, but the agency does not register them and before this they initiate the agrarian trial 307/2007, which concludes by ordering the agrarian registry to register the act of assembly and the plan made by the members from the ejido.

Setback to ejidatarios

In 2013, the ejido began a new agrarian trial, on 09/2013, requesting the nullity of the property title issued in favor of the individual Enrique Humberto Fulquen Chelet, who had already divided his land into nine lots: eight of them he sold to the Land Management company and one more to Grupo Alfil.

Photo: Rosario Ruiz

Both companies reply to the court asking that the ejidatarios be formally informed how far the Pino Suárez ejidal nucleus reaches, and that the boundaries between the ejido and its property be established once and for all. For this case, the agrarian court issued its judgment in July 2019; In it, the ejido is informed about its boundaries and that the property titles of individuals cannot be canceled because they are not within the ejidal lands.

The ejidatarios introduced an appeal for review before the higher agrarian court and in the session of July 13, 2021, this body resolved to make the 2019 sentence-final, agreeing with Land Management and Grupo Alfil.

In 2014 an owner of the ejidal nucleus filed an Amparo because he was not called to the agrarian trial of 2007; In 2018 they granted the protection to the ejidatario and the collegiate court of the 27th circuit of Cancun ordered to nullify everything done by the ejidatarios in 2006 (assembly, plan, parcel certificates and property titles). The execution of this sentence has taken more than two years and has not yet concluded. 

Finally, on July 13, 2021, the agrarian registry partially complied with the Amparo and sent to the agrarian court the notification that it had already canceled the folio plan 23TM50275, the assembly minutes of 2006, one thousand 92 parcel certificates, and 706 titles of property.

“This means that the ejido once again has the plan it originally had, as the lands were handed over in 1981. They (the ejidatarios) never had to make another plan, but they did it to sell the beach land. During all this time, the ejido has issued parcel certificates or certificates for land located in the coastal zone, generating uncertainty or legal insecurity, ”said the law graduate.

The ejidatarios, indicated the lawyer, still have the possibility of taking refuge; for now, they were left without property titles and they will have to make a new assembly act in which they redistribute their lands: “they have to do it again without putting in the beach land or the Tulum-Boca Paila road.” Prior to this, they require authorization from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) due to the environmental impact, since they are areas with mangroves and underground rivers.

Source: lajornadamaya.mx

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