MLR Forestal and the Mayangna community of Sakalwas, establish good neighborly agreement
In the area now occupied by the Mayangna community of Sakalwas in Bonanza, some 50 families were established more than thirty years ago, which are now about 140. “In an assembly back then we said that we should have a name in the Mayangna language and it was called Sakal after the kerosene tree, and it was for the river that we have nearby. The ending “was” means “river” in the Mayangna language,” says Simon Taylor, 60, one of the community’s founders.
The El Chingo farm, owned by MLR Forestal is close to this Mayangna enclave and the company decided to approach at the beginning of 2022 to start a relationship of good neighborliness. “Although the farm is not in Mayangna territory, we recognize our neighbors and establish with them a policy of good neighborliness. This process allows us to communicate, see what things are favorable for both the community and MLR and thus have a formal relationship based on common interests. The approach on this occasion was facilitated by Mayangna councilors of the Municipal Mayor’s Office of Bonanza, “explains Luis López, manager of Sustainable Development of MLR Forestal.
This rapprochement deepened until it was embodied in a relationship agreement that was approved by the Mayangna community of Sakalwas in full.
The agreement is based on shared values and was approved by the community assembly
The text of the agreement establishes the lines of work that will be followed from now on, among them are:
- Strengthening the governance system of the Mayangna community of Sakalwas.
- Transfer of knowledge, technologies and skills to producing families in the community.
- Employment opportunities for community members at the El Chingo farm located in Bonanza.
- Internships for students of technical and higher education.
- Support for the dissemination of the communal property rights of the Mayangna community of Sakalwas.
- Keep the community informed about the activities and progress of the El Chingo farm.
- Establish mailboxes of complaints and suggestions in the territory of the Mayangna community of Sakalwas on issues related to the aforementioned agreement.
- Reforestation of polygonal areas owned by the community.
“It is the first time in history that a company visits us”
Roberto Sálomon is the communal trustee of Sakalwas and says contacts with the company began in 2021. “We have had several visits and little by little we have consolidated the information about what the agreement is about. When we met him, we summoned different actors from the community such as producers, pastors, teachers, people from the health sector. Then we organized the assembly that is the highest authority for decision-making because we considered that this friendship was necessary for the assembly to approve. It is the first time in history that a company visits us and we are happy with the way in which the agreement has been proposed,” he said.
Sakalwas is a village rooted in its culture and roots, but open to progress. It has a cooperative of women who make handicrafts with the bark of the tuno tree and a bilingual primary school. “The first is the mother tongue and the second is Spanish. From first to sixth grade, a percentage of the classes are given in Mayangna and another percentage in Spanish,” Taylor adds, “that’s why the agreement interested us in job opportunities and internships for students and young people, as well as the planting of plants such as cocoa and technical assistance.”
A new way of living interculturality
Arnoldo Taylor is an environmentalist originally from Sakalwas and does not hesitate to say that it is the first time he has known of “an agreement of this nature in the community”.
“This is a strategy of positive approach because the company has had the good intention of coming, living together, understanding and I like that because interculturality is also lived and we are happy because MLR has a lot of knowledge in agriculture issues and in relation to the environment,” he says.
In this sense, López, from MLR, deepens that the relationship is based on “respect for the governance regulations that these territories have and also on our own policies in which it is established that we must ensure that our operation does not channel any negative impact and that it favors positive impacts.”
This was discussed in the assembly to which the whole community was invited, there were more than a hundred heads of family and there the agreement was explained to them, we made known our complaint system, our certifications, they approved it and in front of them the signature was made. Now we are in the process of presenting the annual work plan that are activities going month by month, “said the executive.
MLR Forestal has a similar relationship agreement that it signed at the beginning of 2021 with the Mayangna communities of Pansuhnwas, Mukuswas and Ispayulilna, from the Mayangna Arungka Matumbak territory, also in Bonanza, that agreement is already in its second year of execution.