Mexico - Maya Vinic
The Union de Productores Maya Vinic was established in 1999 by members of Las Abejas, a group of Christian indigenous Tztotzil Mayans dedicated to achieving peace and justice through pacifist demonstration. Motivated by similar demands for justice and equality for indigenous groups, Las Abejas formed an alliance with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation during the group's uprising in 1994. In December 1997, 45 Abejas—including women and children—were killed while attending church by the paramilitary group Mascara Roja.
Maya Vinic was founded to memorialize the land made sacred by the slain Abejas, and to continue in the tradition of preserving Mayan heritage and a reverence for Mother Earth. Today, the group has a membership of 500 coffee producer families, organized by a General Assembly. The cooperative works to educate and expand commercialization of it agricultural products to continually improve living situations for its members.
In forming a cooperative organization, Maya Vinic farmers were able to overcome the longstanding struggle to bring their coffee to market. Through their collective resources, farmers could avoid selling to predatory coyotes, allowing them to make a living and invest in their trade and communities, while still enacting traditional Mayan values and cultural traditions. Fair Trade premiums have further contributed to community development in the region, while Maya Vinic provides educational programming, technical and administrative assistance, marketing, and arbitration services to its members through a group of Community Delegates. The organization is also currently working on an income diversification program, including plans for the production and sale of honey, a market for handmade goods, and management of a cafe located in San Cristobal de Las Casas.
Maya Vinic farmers are located throughout Chiapas, Mexico, a highlands region encompassing altitudes of 900 to 1,400 meters above sea level. The cooperative produces Typica, Caturra, Mundo Novo, and Bourbon varieties of Arabica coffee. Maya Vinic coffee is characteristic of the Chiapas region, with a medium body, and a bright, citrus acidity, balanced by notes of milk chocolate, almond, honey, and an aroma of dried fruit. The cooperative achieved Fair Trade certification in 2001 and Organic certification in 2006.