OAXACA, MEXICO — My name is Fidelfa Juarez and I live in the United States. I left my birthplace for the sake of my children. There, we ate only corn tortillas with chile for flavoring. Ten years ago we ate beans, but the eroded soil can no longer produce them, and the one hectare of land we had wasn't even enough to grow corn to feed the whole family. Because of the deforestation and the heavy rains, the countryside is barren, and in many places it is pure rock. Due to the uneven weather, we could only harvest once a year, and if the weather was bad we sometimes harvested only 20 percent of what we planted. When we needed money, we sold some of our produce to a man who arrived by truck from the city. We had no choice but to sell it cheap because we lived seven hours from the highway with no transportation.
At age 50, I have already passed the life expectancy of my village by seven years. For these reasons, my family and 70 percent of our neighbors left the Mixteca of Oaxaca, Mexico.