Talking with
an Old Invader
(recent snapshot)

Job La Flor (In Spanish, la flor means "the flower") is an old man living with his family beside the main highway, just as it enters Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan. I go to see him now because not long ago he was an invader -- one of the group of people that for years, and even now, has given Yerba Buena and Colegio Linda Vista so many problems (see "Armed Men Invade Yerba Buena Property,"  and "Invaders Planting Beans. When I finally stand before him, I find myself unprepared for the peaceful, wise-looking and even compassionate look in his eyes. Though he walks slowly and his hair is gray, it's clear from his appearance that most of his life he's been a good-looking, robust man, and the glint in his eye says that he's always been willing to enjoy a good laugh.

"I'm a member of the ejido here," he explains. (Ejidos are basic units of Mexico's semi-communistic system of organizing communities into agricultural cooperatives in which members have sole rights to farm parcels of land assigned to them, but the land's actual ownership lies with the ejido organization.) "Well, a few years ago the leaders in our ejido began telling us that the gringos had taken land from our ejido in order to have land on which to build Yerba Buena and the Colegio. A surveyor came in and showed us where the property boundary really should be, so we put barbed-wire fences there. I was assigned a plot of land that the Colegio claimed, and so were several of my compañeros. But from the beginning I could see that there was a lot of confusion about this matter. So I just let my land go, and kind of withdrew from the whole thing. But other compañeros, you know, they wanted to fight for their land."

Job La Flor does not mention the time when some supporters of Linda Vista school went to remove the barbed- wire fence. Several members of the ejido spotted them, got some help, and then overpowered the school's people, tied them up, and marched them to Pueblo Nuevo to be put in jail. However, at the town's edge the ejido members lost some of their steam as some of the townspeople taunted them. The school's people were let loose, but not until after the school promised that the fence could stay. To this day barbed-wire fences cut off both Linda Vista and Yerba Buena from large portions of their land. About 700 people from Pueblo Nuevo now gather firewood on this property.

"I'm out of all that now," he says. "In a situation like that, you just can't know who has the right. It causes bad feelings, even among compañeros... " When he refers to those problems with his friends, I clearly see in his face that he is remembering one or more incidents that still trouble him. He simply stops talking and looks into the dust at our feet. After a while I say that to me it seems that already there are too many people in this land. All the good soil already has been used, and now it is deteriorating from erosion and weed and insect infestation. But it's typical for families to produce seven to ten children, and in twenty years, those children will have children...

"What's going to happen then," I ask.

"All that is in the hands of God." he replies in a whisper, without hesitation.

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