Chiapas Farmers Denounce Illegal Acts by Technicians of Sembrando Vida

by Fernando Camacho Servín

A group of beneficiaries of Sembrando Vida reported that some technicians of the social program are involved in serious irregularities, among them demanding (of participants) their resources for the purchase of materials with providers that they impose, halting payment without explanation and even allowing unregistered people to collect support with credentials that some beneficiaries “rent” from them.

In an inteverview with La Jornada, Hipólito Cabrera Fuentes, a former beneficiary of Sembrando Vida in the municipality of Pijijipan, explained that after registering in 2019, he was expelled after a little more than a year, with the excuse that he had missed various meetings, and was alleged to be responsible for sexual aggression for which there is also an arrest warrant against him.

However, according to the farmer, the true motive for which he was dismissed from the program of the Secretary of Welfare (SB) is for having criticized the actions of various technicians that forced them to channel their resources to a bank account that they specified.

“They told us in the assemblies: ‘it is by order of the Secretary of Welfare (SB) that you deposit your money into the account that we are giving you,’  which in total was 147,950 pesos for a nursery. We were supposed to have money left over to buy trays, pumps and other things, but they became contractors and were awarded the extra,” he denounced.

He asserted that from other beneficiaries, “the technicians just plain took their cards and that is theft.” Among those that did it are Rafael Molina Caballero, Manuel de Jesús Arriola, Guadalupe Santiz Gómez y José Iván Palacios Martínez”.

In the same way, Cabrera denounced that many of the grantees that receive between 3 and 4 thousand pesos a month from the government to help with the work of Sembrando Vida “rent” their membership in the program to family members or friends who collect money without paying.

For his part, Septimio Morales Pérez, a beneficiary in the same region in Chiapas, decried that the technicians in charge of supervising them stopped paying him since in the middle of last year without giving any explanation and despite that he has managed to to maintain more than a thousand plants in his nurseries. 

I have naively continued working, but since June to this day they have not paid me, although nor have they dismissed me from the program, and I think that that is where the mafia is. There are other (planters) with these same problems, but not all of them are moved to speak out. What we want is for an eyewitness investigation to be done of these incidents, he stated.

Another disgruntled beneficiary, who asked for anonymity for fear of reprisal, pointed out that a  group of growers were obligated to give more than 300 thousand pesos to a group of technicians for the purchase of materials, and although the officials promised to “replace” the money, that didn’t happen. They do whatever they want, but are afraid to complain because we don’t want to be taken out” of the program, he admitted.

This daily got in contact with the Secretary of Welfare to find out what their position is on the issue, but so far has received no response from the agency. 

This article was published in La Jornada on January 29, 2022. https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2022/01/29/politica/agricultores-de-chiapas-denuncian-ilicitos-de-tecnicos-de-sembrando-vida/ English translation by Schools for Chiapas.