Villaflores, Chiapas, Mexico
Size: 494 acres
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Fiscal Year 2012 Village Plan
In 1991 this group of Tsotsil (a Mayan indigenous group) families was expelled from the municipality San Juan Chamula for their religious background and was forced to work for extremely low wages as farm laborers. In 1996, the group organized themselves in order to solicit land from the government through the ejido program, a Mexican federal land reform action that gave parcels of land to communities free of charge under the condition that the land did not rest for more than 2 years. These 25 families received about 81 acres this same year, but as the community grew, land availability decreased.
Currently, this southern Mexico community has grown to 37 families (189 people) and 4 are waiting for land. With extensive experience growing corn, beans and peppers and raising sheep and poultry, each family farms on about 10-12 acres and lives in wood homes equipped with electricity, running water and latrines. An established local leadership represents the needs and interests of the members of Nueva Palestina, including health issues and organic farming projects. The children can attend the local school up to the fourth grade and participate in a school garden where they learn how to grow different types of vegetables. Nueva Palestina would greatly benefit from environmental and economic investment to improve land quality and increase the families incomes, potentially preventing the need that many have faced to migrate from the community for work.