Being female in the male-dominated world of ejido politics didn’t stop a determined Yucatán woman from speaking up against injustice and moving to the top of the community landowners’ commission.
Every day for the past 18 years, Luz del Alva Solís has risen from her bed at 3:00am to make food that she sells to the fishermen of Celestún, located about 100 kilometers from Mérida near the Campeche border. It is her only source of income to support her two children and her parents.
When her husband died eight years ago, Luz del Alva inherited his ejido lands and consequently became an ejidataria (landowner) of the communal lands where she had worked for the previous decade.
Despite knowing nothing about ejido matters, she decided to start attending landowner meetings where she soon became aware that some of the lots were being sold off irregularly and that ejidatarios were being offered prices for their land that were well below its value.
Fed up with a continuation of the status quo, this year Luz del Alva decided to do something to stop what she felt was a grave injustice. Her idea was ambitious.
Despite already having an arduous day job and being one of just a handful of female landowners at the ejido, in July Luz del Alva launched a campaign to become president of the ejido commission for 2017-2020.
And she won.
Now, despite some of the ejidatarios not being happy at having a woman in the top job, Luz del Alva is determined to get on with it.
“It’s not an easy task because it’s important to coordinate with other authorities to influence the ejido people and don’t obstruct my work,” she said.
The articulate leader, who proudly wears the typical dress of her native land, is also intent on protecting the 81,482 hectares of biodiverse, ejido land and stopping the exploitation of the more than 300 ejidatarios.
Her advice to her fellow landowners is not to sell but if she can’t convince them, she insists the land be sold “at fair prices . . . [and] don’t let them fool you.”
Three months after winning the election, Luz del Alva admits that she is afraid she could be removed from her position because of her stance.
But while she is in the job all she asks is that she be allowed to carry out her duties, and that she — as a woman — and the land be respected.
“The region where I live has many [natural] resources, such as the ecological reserve and the marvelous flamingos that are of unique tourism importance in the state and the world,” she said.
Source: El Universal (sp)