MEXICO: Down on the (State) Farm

When President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-40) was thumbing his nose at the world's great powers by expropriating their oil holdings in Mexico, he scared the striped pants off U.S. diplomats, who feared that he was setting up a Communist-type state right next door. At one swoop in 1938, Cárdenas took over 395,000 acres of henequen (fiber) land in Yucatán and turned it into a vast government collective farm. It was the nearest thing to a Soviet-style Sovkhoz (state farm) outside the U.S.S.R. Cardenas called it the Gran Ejido to distinguish it from...

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