The largest tropical forest in North America yields to perfect rows of corn and soy. Light-haired women with blue eyes in wide-brimmed hats bump down a dirt road in a horse and buggy, past simple brick homes and a whitewashed schoolhouse: A Mennonite community in southern Mexico.
Here, in the state of Campeche on the Yucatan Peninsula at the northern edge of the Maya Forest, the Mennonites say they live to traditional pacifist values and that expanding farms to provide a simple life for their families is the will of God.
Lifting his cap to wipe sweat from his brow, Dyck Thiessen, the Mennonite leader, doubted organic methods proposed by the government would be successful Tension with officials has stalled his plans to acquire more land, he said.
Still, he has faith.
"If the government shuts us down," he says, "God will open for us."
(Photo Editing Kezia Levitas; Additional Reporting Adrian Virgen and Jose Luis Gonzalez; Text Editing Stephen Eisenhammer and Frank Jack Daniel; Layout Kezia Levitas)