Around 100 families belonging to 15 Maya communities settled in the eastern part of the Yucatan peninsula found a better quality of life when taking care of a teca tree plantation – a tree of Asian origin – that the company Bienes Ecoforestales (Bieeco) established in 2011, in the Yucatecan municipality of Tizimín, on deforested lands more than 70 years ago.
By returning the forestry vocation, Bieeco created jobs for communities with a high degree of marginalization such as San Pedro Bacab, San Isidro, Montecristo, La Sierra, San Juan, Colonia Yucatan, Maderas Blancas, Cepeda Peraza, Cenote Azul, La Libertad, Santa Rosa , Santa Pilar, Dzonot Carretero, Moctezuma, Dzonot Aké, where the sources of employment are scarce and the inhabitants subsist mainly from the sowing and raising of small-scale hens, as well as from coastal fishing.
“There is no work here, the places where people can go to work are not close. Many locals survive thanks to their cornfields, you plant your corn but sometimes there is no harvest (…) Then I saw that my son-in-law, who looked for work in the teca plantation, he was doing better that I, “said Paula Cocom, from the San Pedro Bacab community.
The plantation generates 50 permanent jobs and the same number of temporary places. The people of this communty are committed and hard working, so they immediately saw how their lives began to prosper.
“Here I am in charge of all the work, and I see everything that has to do with the maintenance of the plantation, all the activities that are carried out and the truth is, I am doing very well here. The work is very good because it is permanent, we have Social Security, benefits and transportation, something that we never had before,” said Pedro Delgado, worker of the plantation.
In addition, as they noticed the precarious living conditions of workers, in 2012 the company managed the construction of 22 homes for the families of the most needy employees. “We never expected to have something like this, because other companies have come to establish themselves here to give employment, but they have never given support to the workers, much less housing” said Raúl René Rosado, an employee of Bieeco.
“When you move from a wooden hut with a dirt floor to a concrete house, your life changes radically, and parents can provide a better quality of life for their children”, René Rosado added.
“Now we have a bathroom, that we did not have before,” declared Leydi María Cupul Cocom. In addition, Leydi and four other women from San Pedro Bacab formed a group to establish their habanero pepper garden; however, they were defrauded by intermediaries who asked them for money and told them they will get them support from federal agencies (which never happened and they never got their money back).
So, upon hearing about their situation, Bienes Ecoforestales also offered them help. “We are supporting them in their communities, basically the wives of the workers, they have managed credits or aid with the state and federal governments for the installation of family gardens. We provide them with machinery and equipment so that they can work the land with ease and thus have a better production of habanero, papaya and tomato, which is basically what is grown in the area, “said Rubén Quezada, director of the teca tree plantation.
“Without the help of the company Bienes Ecoforestales, this wouldn’t be possible,” said María Luisa Cupul Cupul, representative of the Yaax Ik women’s group. Besides, the forestry company also promoted breeding projects for cattle, and pigs for the wives, mothers and sisters of workers, creating 10 groups that were endowed with 100 thousand pesos each for the acquisition of a basic livestock herd.
TYT Newsroom with information from milenio.com