2014 Funding Proposal - The Pacux Sustainable Agriculture and Cultural Restoration Center


Pacux Sustainable Agriculture
& Cultural Restoration Center

An Initiative of The Rio Negro Project

2014 Funding Proposal

Nathan Einbinder
581 East Main Street #2, Ashland, OR 97520
619.922.2996 ~ nathaneinbinder@gmail.com

The Need
We are requesting an amount of $18,800 to scale the successful pilot of the Pacux Sustainable Agriculture and Cultural Restoration Center, located in the Rio Negro relocation village of Pacux, Guatemala.

The Project
The Pacux Sustainable Agriculture and Cultural Restoration Center is an established initiative that has seen dramatic success in the past 8 months in bettering the lives of over 40 at-risk Maya-Achi youth through:
·      Technical training and workshops in organic agriculture
·      Food security through home gardens, seed saving, and nutrition
·      Maya-Achi cultural preservation, historical memory, and gender equality workshops
·      Small business management through the cultivation of organically grown flowers for market sale.

Why It Matters
For generations the Maya-Achi village of Rio Negro existed along the fertile banks of the Chixoy River in the rural department of Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. With roughly 800 inhabitants, Rio Negro enjoyed a prosperous local economy and livelihood based on agriculture—primarily fruit trees and milpa; a traditional polycrop system of corn, beans, and squash—craft making, and fishing.

In the late 1970s the government-owned electric agency, INDE, with funding from the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), began its initial construction of what would be known as the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam, located 6 miles downstream from Rio Negro. These agencies met with leaders of the affected villages – 33 in all – and were simply told that they must leave. They were promised housing and land of equal size and quality, and guaranteed compensation for what would be lost—none of which were ever complied.

Rio Negro was the village that most resisted their forced displacement, and its residents paid dearly for it. In the grip of a US-supported, military dictatorship, inhabitants were labeled guerrillas, or subversives, and an elimination campaign began. After five massacres, 444 men, women, elderly and children were killed, often brutally, making way for the reservoir that would back up more than a dozen miles behind the dam. Survivors lived for up to three years in hiding, and eventually ended up in the military-controlled relocation village of Pacux.

Today, 30 years later, survivors continue to live in Pacux in difficult and precarious conditions. Housing is cramped and inadequate, land in which to grow food is restricted, and decent paying work is scarce. Due to bleak economic conditions children often only attend school up to the sixth grade and residents confront ongoing issues with youth gangs and violence, chronic depression, food insecurity, and alcoholism—all of which were virtually absent before their forced displacement. 

In response to the impoverishment of this once self-sustaining and culturally intact community, leaders have set forth a number of grass roots development projects in order to resuscitate the local economy and culture, and offer a brighter future for the descendants of massacre survivors.

The Pacux Sustainable Agriculture and Cultural Restoration Center is one such initiative currently experiencing great success in its effort to transform this battered community. This project has three main objectives:

1. Offer practical training in sustainable agriculture and small business management.
2. Recover self-worth and confidence of at-risk youth by teaching them about their cultural heritage and recent history, social justice, and offering useful skills and knowledge.
3. Improve food security in the community through the creation of home gardens. 

Despite its mere 8 months in existence, this project is already having marked positive effects on approximately 40 youth, ages 13-17, as seen and documented on a recent visit by international observers (scroll down for images). Below is a list of achievements for 2013:

·      Purchase of land (~1 acre) and a small building in which to house center and propagation gardens
·      Construction of permaculture garden with traditional vegetables and herbs
·      Construction of 10 garden beds for organic flower cultivation
·      25+ workshops, successfully engaging some 40 boys and girls
·      Development and implementation of after school garden maintenance program

2014 Proposal
On behalf of the leadership of the local development group ASCARA (Association of Farmers Rio Negro 13th of March Maya Achi), and particularly that of its director Cristobal Osorio Sanchez, a Rio Negro massacre survivor and expert in organic agriculture and soil conservation, we are pleased to put forth a funding request for 2014. While the ultimate goal for this project is financial independence (through the sale of organic flowers and/or other cash crops in local markets) it is necessary in these initial stages to create partnerships with individuals interested in investing in the amplification of this already successful program.

Below you will find a list of objectives for the upcoming year:
·      Weekly workshops in organic floriculture, permaculture, and small business management: $2500
·      Purchase of garden equipment, construction of new garden beds: $500
·      Biweekly workshops in Maya-Achi culture, gender equality, and trip to massacre site in Rio Negro on the March 13th annual commemoration: $2500
·      Salary for instructors and other staff: $1200
·      Expansion of Center through the purchase of additional one acre lot with well and irrigation, preparation of soil, seeds, equipment, construction of shed: $10,500
·      (2) Computers, internet fees, printer: $1100
·      Utilities: $500     

Project/Program Area Evaluations
Since 2007 Nathan Einbinder has worked with Rio Negro Massacre survivors, both in documenting their history and contemporary struggles and in searching for development solutions. The Pacux Sustainable Agriculture Center was initiated after a four-month stay back in 2012/13. With a vision of sustainability and long-term commitment, this project has built in mechanisms of evaluation and critical reflection deemed necessary for its continued success—carried out both by Nathan, and by his partners on the ground.

Cristobal Sanchez, the Center’s executive director, has worked with non-governmental agencies such as Vecinos Mundiales (World Neighbors) and Non-Profit groups for over fifteen years. Since the initiation of the project in April 2013, he has meticulously tracked every dollar spent, and regularly sends detailed reports about the Center’s progress and activities.

Along with frequent personal visits to the Center and meetings with stakeholders, Nathan’s work also involves bringing groups of interested parties to view the project and offer critical evaluation. One such delegation was executed in December 2013, with another one planned for May 2014.


Thank you for your interest in this work. For those wishing to support this project please send checks to:

The Rio Negro Project
581 East Main Street #2
Ashland, OR 97520

Any amount would be greatly appreciated. For those with donations over $100 a tax credit may be arranged (please contact directly). Please feel free to call or write with any questions regarding more specific details on this project and the upcoming delegation.

Don Cristobal and the Center gardens

 Transplanted flowers for market sale                                        

 December 2013 Delegation

1 comment:

  1. I was one of the people in the deligation in December,,,this changed my life in ways I never thought imaginable....contact nate and try to take a trip there...youll never look at things the same...don't get me wrong my life is wonderful, but now more aware of things outside my bubble