COOPERATIVES FROM THE AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES IN CHIAPAS

Organizing and Producing for a Better Way of Life

In the autonomous communities in Chiapas, cooperatives involving both men and women have been forming in order to organize to produce and sell diverse products at a fair price. The cooperatives are a way of looking for economic alternatives to improve the living conditions of the autonomous communities as well as the defense of their identity.

The cooperatives provide an income, which allows the communities to improve their nutrition, health, education, and to continue organizing. By supporting these cooperatives you not only address the economic needs of the producers and their families, but also contribute to the development of the whole community and their struggle for autonomy and indigenous rights.

Mut Vitz (Bird Mountain) Coffee Cooperative

mut vitz

“Our cooperative was formed through the efforts of 6 municipalities in the Highland region of Chiapas. We are indigenous Tzotzil, Tzeltal and Zoque peoples, from communities in resistance. We produce organic coffee, both strictly high bean (S.H.B) and high bean. For years, we knew little about selling our coffee, and the coyotes, or middlemen, who do the least work in the entire process of coffee production, took all of the benefits. Now we are organized and we have realized that we can be in charge of the entire process, from production of coffee from our own plants to exportation and direct sales to the consumer. We have also been working to improve the ecology of our coffee fields, producing organically. With the coffee cooperative as an example, we hope to look for other alternatives and encourage more projects that can generate needed funds for other projects in our communities."

Contact: Café Rebelión or mutvitz@laneta.apc.org
or enlacecivil@laneta.apc.org

Mut Vitz (Bird Mountain) Honey Cooperative

“The Mut Vitz cooperative, located in the Highlands of Chiapas, includes some 95 small-scale honey producers from several indigenous communities in resistance. Through our agriculture production and commercialization, we have the common goal of improving the standard of living of the members of the cooperative, as well as encouraging regional economic development under conditions of equality. The producers who are members of the Mut Vitz cooperative recognize the importance of producing with care and improving our practices in order to produce high quality honey. Through our work we hope to have access to national and international fair trade markets."

Contact: Café Rebelión or mutvitz@laneta.apc.org
or enlacecivil@laneta.apc.org

Yachil Xojobal Chulchan (Nueva Luz del Cielo) Coffee Cooperative

Yachil Xojobal Chulchan (Tzeltal for "a new light in the sky") was founded in 1999, by Mayan Tzotzil and Tzeltal communities in the Highlands of Chiapas. The members of Yachil say that when their grandparents were young, they were forced to work for large landowners, where they worked from dawn to dusk, earning only one peso (10 cents) a day. Their grandparents suffered a lot, and began organizing in secret because if the owner of the ranch discovered that their workers were involved in such activities, they were either killed or expelled from the ranch. This history has been passed on through many generations in order to educate future generations about the need for local organization, such as the cooperative. Through the cooperative, the members of Yachil have been able to reclaim the respect and dignity they deserve, by insisting on fair compensation for their labor and fair prices for their products. In doing so, they hope to provide a better life for their families and for future generations, like a new light in the sky.

With over 1500 members in 4 different indigenous autonomous municipalities, Nueva Luz is the largest autonomous coffee cooperative. They produce high quality coffee, and will be receiving their organic certification in 2004. They exported their first coffee to Europe in 2003, and in May 2004 their coffee will be available in the U.S.

Contact: Café Rebelión or yachil@laneta.apc.org
or enlacecivil@laneta.apc.org

Xulu'm Chon Weaving Cooperative

“Our weaving cooperative, XULU’M CHON EL DINOSAURIO, began in the year 2000, with the participation of 200 women from 10 indigenous communities in resistance located in the Highlands of Chiapas. We work in a collective space in order to improve the production and commercialization of our textiles in order to obtain a fair price for our work. We have a variety of textiles that form part of our identity as tsotsil weavers and embroiderers. Our textiles are made from natural fibers such as cotton cloth and thread. We produce a variety of textiles, including: blouses, tablecloths, pillowcases, bags, wall hangings, napkins, coin purses, and bracelets. We produce a variety of designs using the back-strap loom, as well as cross-stitch and traditional embroidery techniques in a range of colors and sizes.”

Contact: Café Rebelión or mutvitz@laneta.apc.org
or enlacecivil@laneta.apc.org