Mexico: Company Town

For years, the property owners in Tijuana have watched land values boom in their bawdy Lower California border town, but no one could be sure for whom they boomed. A vast lawsuit dragging through Mexican courts cast nagging doubt about ownership of the land. Last week Tijuanans had to face up to the hard fact that a big land company held legal title to almost the entire city—and technically could dispossess some 22,000 Tijuana residents.

The roots of Tijuana's travail reach back more than a century. In 1862 the 26,000 acres that make up...

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