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Mennonite farmers face sanctions for clearing jungle

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The Mennonite community in Bacalar has been accused of deforestation. Photo: Sipse

Chetumal, Q. Roo — Members of Bacalar’s Mennonite community will face fines after illegally clearing 3,000 hectares of jungle, a federal attorney said.

Guillermo Haro Bélchez said that a sanction procedure has been initiated against the farmers who acted without permission in the communities of San Fernando, El Bajío and Buena Esperanza.

The official added that the community of Mennonites called “Cuatro Banderas” will be subject to an economic sanction of around 50,000 times the minimum wage.

Since establishing themselves in the area 15 years ago, Mennonites have cleared more than 20,000 hectares of jungle in different ejidos.

Related: Read about the Mennonites’ past conflicts with the law, and about their history in Mexico, from their own point of view

There is talk of an expansion project of more than 100,000 hectares, all to grow crops such as maize, beans, squash, sorghum, tomatoes, jalapeños, habaneros, peanuts and potatoes on a large scale.

But local media complain that they used heavy machinery to knock down large trees that were marked as protected by Profepa, the Federal Office of Environmental Protection.

Sources: Informativo Turquesa, Sipse

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