Mexico, Chiapas

Coffee coop Maya Vinic

The Maya Vinic cooperative was established in 1999 in Chiapas, Mexico and is exporting its certified organic coffee directly and without the involvement of intermediary traders. Most of their 300 members are indigenous Tzotzil and live in the Chenalhó, Chachihuitán and Pantehló communities. The coop's headquarters are in Acetal, a city in the Chenalhó region.

Las Abejas and the Acteal massacre

Maya Vinic's establishment is tightly connected with the indigenous religious group Las Abejas (The Bees) and the Acetal massacre on December 22, 1997. Paramilitaries had murdered forty-five members of Las Abejas.

Las Abejas was established at the beginning of the 1990s as a reaction to land conflicts and political injustice and had been fighting against capitalist exploitation and for the rights of indigenous population groups ever since. The Christian pacifist organisation is closely related to the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas following liberation theology. During the Zapatista uprising in 1994, Las Abejas didn't join the revolt but declared their solidarity with the principles and objectives of EZLN.

However, this resulted in them being the target of attacks culminating horribly in the Acetal massacre. The community members gathering for prayers were massacred mercilessly by the paramilitäries. Sixteen children and young people, 20 women and nine adult men, were murdered. The massacre lasted for seven hours and took place right next to a police control point without any police intervention whatsoever.

This crime has never been appropriately solved; many suspected persons have been cleared of all charges; it is supposed to be retaliation for the solidarity with the Zapatista movement and part of the state's counterinsurgency via the paramilitaries.

Cooperative self-organisation

The survivors and other community members couldn't find rest in the massacre's aftermath. Further intimidations and death threats forced about 2000 indigenous Tzotzil to flee. Among these displaced persons were farmers with substantial knowledge of coffee production, which allowed them to survive in their new home regions.

The current office of the cooperative in Acteal.
The establishment of Maya Vinic took place to take the next step and find a common solution. The coop's self-organisation is not merely a means to enhance living conditions but also an indication of ongoing resistance against repression and a part of indigenous struggles for autonomy and an entirely different whole.

Maya Vinic maintains close connections to the Zapatistas. It is standing in solidarity with the resistant communities and maintaining close relationships. As well as Zapatista coffee coops Yachil Xojobal and Yochin Tayel, Maya Vinic demonstrates that another agenda and another world are possible.

Since 2023, Café Libertad Kollektiv has been importing coffee from Maya Vinic as well as Zapatista coffee from Chiapas. We are glad to support the resistance and autonomy of indigenous communities wholeheartedly.