This book is primarily an indictment of the shortcomings of Mexican agrarian reform, together with a series of recommendations designed to correct them. Romero Espinosa sketches the historical background of reform only as an introduction to his analysis of the national agencies charged with the problems of landholding, land distribution, and availability of rural credit. The author advocates reorganization of the bureaucracy of reform and improvement of credit facilities for Mexico’s farmers, especially its ejidatarios, as solutions to these problems.

Jesús Silva Herzog, himself the author of a basic work on the subject, El agrarismo mexicano y la reforma agraria, has written the preface to this volume. Silva Herzog characterizes the distribution of land as the fundamental problem of Mexico. He praises post-Revolutionary Mexican governments for distributing fifty million hectares of land to ejidos, but deplores the fact that there are still nearly two million rural Mexicans without land. He blames this situation upon the continued existence of old latifundios and the creation of new ones and upon the constitutional revision in 1946 which increased the legal size of individual landholdings, to the disadvantage of the ejidos. Silva Herzog concludes, in part, that “the thing to do is to reform Agrarian Reform, to do away at last with the concentration of land in a few hands,” and to substitute collective for individual exploitation of the soil.

Romero Espinosa translates Silva Herzog’s bold plea for collectivization into a proposal to create a secretariat of agrarian organization and affairs, which would, in cooperation with the states, quickly liquidate existing latifundios, including foreign-owned ones. It is worthy of note that the author singles out the Texan, Clint Murchison, as an example of a foreigner in possession of vast cattle ranches on or near the northern frontier in violation of the Constitution of 1917.

The author also complains that the Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, Mexico’s semi-official agency of rural credit since 1936, has never had enough capital to satisfy the needs of more than thirteen percent of all ejidatarios. Its operations have given an initial impulse to such enterprises as the development of the Laguna region, only to leave them stagnant afterward for lack of additional credit. Romero Espinosa believes that over-centralization and graft account for the bank’s inadequacy, and he urges the substitution of a new, more heavily capitalized bank, one in which the states would play a major role.

The introduction and first three chapters may be of value as a survey of the ideological and legal history of Mexican agrarianism, particularly since 1910. This section of the book includes portions of Carranza’s law of January 6, 1915 and of Article 27 of the 1917 Constitution, significant legislative milestones of Mexican agrarianism. The author gives most of the credit for these laws to Carranza’s associates or allies rather than to the self-styled “First Chief,” who is thus east in a hackneyed role as the hesitant conservative surrounded by eager champions of social and economic upheaval.

Romero Espinosa’s bibliography conforms to no apparent principle of organization; the works of scholars such as Eyler Simpson and Nathan Whetten are ignored. It is also puzzling that although the author included a chapter on the Laguna region, he did not see fit to list Clarence Senior’s study of that area. The bibliography is, however, the only major flaw in a work which is refreshing, because its author, unlike many students of the Revolution, prefers not to view the results of that struggle through rose-tinted glasses.