February 5th is a national holiday in Mexico that marks the enactment of its Constitution, Día de la Constitución.
Mexico’s 1917 Constitution
Mexico’s Constitution was drafted in the colonial city of Queretaro, north of Mexico City. It was legalized on February 5th, 1917, by the country’s Constitutional Congress. Venustiano Carranza was the first President to serve under the terms of the new constitution.
In years past, Mexico would have marked this holiday on February 5th but, in 2006, Congress approved an initiative whereby a number of official holiday dates would be observed on the nearest Monday to the official date, thus creating long holiday weekends.
2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the Constitution and to commemorate the centenary, the Bank of Mexico issued a limited edition 20-peso coin and a limited edition 100-peso banknote which are introduced here. On the centenary of the revolution in 2010, the bank issued a 100-peso commemorative banknote for that occasion: although they remain legal tender, they are rarely if ever seen in trade now, and have become a collector’s item.
The Mexican Constitution was drafted following the Mexican Revolution, led by Francisco Madero against the dictatorial regime of Porfirio Diaz (an era known in Mexico as “El Porfiriato”), in pursuit of political and agrarian reforms, and social justice.
Although it took several years for Mexico’s political upheaval to settle-down following the revolution —and subsequent enactment of the Constitution— to this day, the document continues to influence and shape Mexico’s social, political, and economic landscape.
Land ownership in Mexico
One of the key Articles of the Mexican Constitution to come to light in recent years is Article 27—which deals with the ownership of land in Mexico. Specifically, it states, foreigners may not own land within 100 km of a land border or 50 km of a sea border.
In a bid to open up land development to foreign direct investment the administration of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari introduced ‘Land Trusts’ (fideicomisos) in the 1990s; administered by banks, they provide foreigners with title of the land in all but name.
Before this law came to pass, foreigners who bought land near the border in Mexico used a ‘presta nombre’ (borrowed name)—a Mexican national whom the buyer could trust to hold title of the land, with a gentleman’s agreement existing between the buyer and the title holder.
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