Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Caciquismo, or political bossism, is a type of autocratic political organization which has been prevalent in rural agrarian Mexico for over 2 400 years. It has been especially noted in communities which have had corporate landholding, i.e., where title to the agricultural, pasture, and woodlands has been held by the community and usufruct rights to these lands have been granted to community members. Caciquismo exists in this type of community when one individual, with the help of a small group of followers, controls the economic, political, and sometimes even the social activity of the members of that community. He gains and maintains control through various means - patronage, coercion, cooptation, violence, etc. Tracts have been written explaining why communities with this form of land tenure arrangement have been prey to autocratic, or cacique rule in previous centuries (e.g., Gibson 1964; Silva Herzog 1959; Tannenbaum 1929). It is not so clear, however, why many post-Revolution (post-1917) communities in which the majority of land is under ejido grant 3 are still under cacique rule, for many parts of the 1917 Constitution and subsequent laws purposefully built a democratic form into the government of these communities.


Latin American and Iberian Institute

Language (ISO)



Caciquismo, Mexico, Ejidos, Land Tenure