Recent Latin American constitutions tend to share two peculiar features: they recognize and protect the collective and inalienable land ownership of ethnic groups to their ancestral lands; they also declare the State’s duty to ensure access to land property to the landless through the allocation of public lands and the expropriation of private ones. Offering a historical account of land property rights in Latin America, I argue that, with the exception of current constitutions, collective and public land rights have tended to be recognized and protected mainly under non-liberal legal systems that foresee plural modalities of property. Under liberal legal systems, in contrast, collective property has been prohibited de jure and often persecuted de facto, seen as an impediment to economic development and private investment. I finally analyze current constitutions as engendering an odd combination of plural modalities of property rights and the promotion of neoliberalism and natural resources exploitation.
Saffon, Maria Paula, Property and Land (March 2, 2018).