The Cooperative "Producers’ Union Maya Vinic" is comprised of some 500 coffee farming families located in 38 highland communities in the municipalities of Chenalhó, Pantelhó and Chalchihuitán, in Chiapas, Mexico. Each member has an average of one hectare and produces an average of 400 kilos of coffee from each plot. Inspired by the traditions of their ancestors, Maya Vinic is organized and operates in keeping with a respect of local culture, language, reverence for the Mother Earth and traditional forms of self-government. Maya Vinic was born out the wider civil society "Las Abejas”, an organized response to the prevalent injustice in their communities and in the hopes of promoting positive change and autonomous development by pacific means. The plight of their communities came to the public eye in the aftermath of the infamous Acteal Massacre, where 45 men, women and children were killed by paramilitary forces and thousands more displaced from their homes. The organizational structure of Maya Vinic holds a General Assembly as its maximum authority. An Assembly of Community Delegates works in close conjunction with the Producers’ Board of Directors to accomplish the tasks assigned to the Education, Technical Assistance, Marketing, Administration and local Arbitration and Problem Resolution Committees.
[Rep at Polho] Coffee production is nothing new to the farmers of this region. “Recruited” since the arrival of the plantations in the early 1900s as poorly paid hired hands during the harvest, they learned about production and processing, and the wealth that coffee had made for a fortunate few. Soon, seeds began trickling back to the Highland communities of Chiapas.
Farmers eventually were able to organize themselves into producer cooperatives in search of more equitable markets. In keeping with this legacy, Maya Vinic has recently been accepted to the FLO register and is in the second year of organic certification. Cooperative Coffees purchased the first Maya Vinic coffee to be exported under fair trade terms in 2001. In order to be able to offer a consistently high-quality coffee, raised with care and dignity, the coop offers educational and capacity-building activities focused on sustainable farming techniques and the importance of a strong social economy. As a collective initiative to improve the living situations of their farmers, Maya Vinic understands that in addition to providing a greater economic benefit, the coop works for the dignity and fair treatment of its members through coffee production and marketing. Visit Maya Vinic's website here!
Geographic Location: Located in the highlands of Chiapas (Acteal) -- Varietals: Typica, Caturra, and Mundo Novo -- Altitude: 900 - 1400 meters _______________________________________________________________________________
Yachil Xojobal Chu’lchan, which means “new light in the sky” in the Tzeltal language, has members from the Tzotzil and Tzeltal Mayan indigenous groups supportive of the Zapatista autonomous movement working towards respect for Indigenous rights. In 2001, Yachil began to organize its first members with 383 producers from the municipalities of Chilon, Pantelho and San Juan Cancuc.
In 2003 Yachil sold its first container to Germany, and in 2004 they sold just over 2 containers to Germany and into the US. They currently are comprised of over 800 members in eight municipalities ( Pantelhó, San Juan Cancuc, Chenalhó, Tenejapa, Chalchihuitán, Aldama (magdalena de La Paz), Simojovel (16 de Febrero) and El Bosque (San Juan de La Libertad)). They are currently hoping to export 6.5 containers to even different buyers. Coop Coffees is currently the only American importer. Members of this cooperative have formed their own local Indigenous governments, which focus on community development efforts to promote democracy, equality, and empowerment. Members do not accept government handouts. Over the last decade members of Yachil have suffered repression at the hands of government security forces and the paramilitary. Many members and their families have been forced to flee their communities as internal refugees and they continue to be victims of oppression, intimidation, and even assassination.
Geographic Location: Located in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas -- Varietals: Arabica – Bourbon, Caturra, Typica -- Altitude: 1000 - 1300 meters _______________________________________________________________________________
Yeni Navan started as a small organization regrouping organic coffee producers from various ethnic groups. Their name, Michiza, is an abbreviation of these five groups: Mixtecos, Chinantecos, Chatinos, Cuicatecos and Zapotecos. The farmers hoped that through the organization they would be able to stop the local intermediaries from manipulating the local price of coffee and exploiting them in the process.
Initially, they sold their coffee only on the local market. In 1989, the organization obtained legal status under the name Yeni Navan, and they had the authorization to export. By 1991, they were capable of exporting independently.
MICHIZA offers technical support to its members to improve their capacity in organic agriculture and overall coffee quality and yields. MICHIZA is also responsible for marketing and the direct export of their members` coffee. In addition, they are in a constant process of promoting women`s participation in their decision-making, the impact of which is noted in the number of women who are members.
Geographic Location: Located in the regions of Oaxaca -- Varietals: Arabica: Typica, Caturra -- Altitude: 900 - 1800 meters