Mexico- Unión de Productores Maya Vinic (Maya Vinic)

Members – 500 members
Location –  municipalities of Chenalhó, Pantelhó and Chalchihuitán, in Chiapas, Mexico
Elevation – 900 and 1400 meters above sea level
Established – 1999
Coffee varieties – Arabica coffees, including varieties such as Typica, Caturra, and Mundo Novo
Diversification – honey, corn, beans, vegetables, chickens, fruit trees

Inspired by the traditions of their ancestors, Unión de Productores 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 is 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.

With an incredibly intense history, 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.

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. Cooperative Coffees purchased the first Maya Vinic coffee to be exported under fair trade terms in 2001. This year we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary with Maya Vinic.

By continuing to further their local sale of roasted coffee through workshops provided by roasters organized in Cooperative Coffees, Maya Vinic will be opening their first cafe in San Cristobal de las Casas this year. They are also working to promote fair trade, organic honey production, and exporting to the European market.