Mennonites in Mexico
A Mennonite girl in Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua State. The smiling infant is holding a basket with red and green apples.
|Approx. 100,000 (2012)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Plautdietsch, Spanish, German (22%), English (5%), Russian (5%)|
There are 100,000 Mennonites living in Mexico, including 29,277 adult church members; About 90,000 are established in the state of Chihuahua and 6,500 in Durango. Other states with Mennonites colonies are Guanajuato, Sonora, Zacatecas and Campeche.
Their settlements were first established in the 1920s. In 1922 3,000 Mennonites from the Canadian province of Manitoba established in Chihuahua. By 1927 Mennonites reached 10,000 and they were established in Chihuahua, Durango and Guanajuato.
After dwelling for nearly a century in Mexico, as of 2012 there were reports that some Mennonites had plans to return to Russia by 2014, due to severe droughts, conflicts with mestizo Mexican farmers and harassment from criminal groups. In 2012, about 1,500 Mennonites left Durango and moved to Canada due to the harsh living conditions they endured in Mexico.
In the period leading up to and during World War I, governments in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan passed laws requiring public schools to fly the Union Jack, required compulsory attendance, and forcibly created public schools in areas of Mennonite settlement. In response the more conservative Mennonites sent out delegates to a number of countries to seek out a new land for settlement. They finally settled in a tract of land in Northern Mexico after negotiating certain privileges with Mexican President Álvaro Obregón. Approximately 6,000 of the most conservative Mennonites eventually left Manitoba and Saskatchewan for Mexico. The first train left Plum Coulee, Manitoba, on March 1, 1922. Many Mennonites immigrants settled in Northern Mexico from the U.S. states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, as well as from Canada.
Between 1922 and 1925 some 3,200 members of the Reinlaender Gemeinde in Manitoba and 1,200 from the Swift Current area left Canada to settle in Northern Mexico on approximately 230,000 acres of land in the Bustillos Valley near present-day Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua. The Manitoba and Swift Current area groups settled the Manitoba and Swift Colonies in Chihuahua, while about 950 Mennonites from the Hague-Osler settlement in Saskatchewan settled on 35,000 acres in Durango near Nuevo Ideal.
Using modern methods by Mexican standards, the Mennonites established farms, machine shops and motorized vehicles for transporting produce (although automobiles were forbidden for common use). Canadian oats, beans and corn were the main produce. The villages followed Mennonite architectural styles existent in Russia and Canada and the names were based on former names in Canada such as Rosenort, Steinbach and Schönwiese. The colonies were based on former Mennonite social structures in terms of education, similar prayer houses and unsalaried ministers. Conservative dress and traditional roles for women were the norm.
In Chihuahua, Mennonites continue their lifestyle with several reforms, such as the use of automobiles, although most use horse and buggy. They coexist, learning Spanish and English and living side by side with Tarahumara Indians in the hill country of the state. About 50,000 Mennonites reside near the city of Cuauhtémoc in Chihuahua. In Durango, there are 32 Mennonite communities (30 in the Municipality of Nuevo Ideal and 2 and the Municipality of Santiago Papasquiaro). Mennonites in Durango number reached a top of 8,000 in 2011, now they are 6,500; most of them lives in Nuevo Ideal. Nuevo Ideal's lies around 77 miles (124 km) north of the city of Durango. Once in Nuevo Ideal, it becomes central transit point where the main roads that communicate Northwest and Northeast Durango separate (the road going northwest to Tepehuanes is paved while the one going to Escobedo, Durango towards the northeast, is a dirt road). Mennonites benefit from this transit point since many travelers and truck drivers stop in Nuevo Ideal in search of Menonita Cheese.
The largest denomination as of 2006 is Old Colony Mennonite Church with 17,200 members. Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference has 97 members, Kleingemeinde in Mexiko has 2,150 members, Reinländer-Gemeinde has 1,350 members, and Sommerfelder Mennonitengemeinde has 2,043 members.
Since the start of the Mexican Drug War, many Mennonite colonies in Chihuahua have suffered the impact of the drug-related violence. The location of the colonies and the economic success of the Mennonites are the reasons why the community has been affected. The economic achievements have attracted the attention of organized criminal gangs, putting Mennonites at risk of armed robbery, kidnap and extortion. A small number of Mennonites have left the settlements and immigrated to other Mennonite settlements in Alberta, Canada, Belize and Paraguay to escape the violence. Thousands have moved and settled in more secure Mexican states like Campeche, or moved to South America, in countries like Argentina and Bolivia.
During 2007, the colony of Salamanca (a Mennonite settlement with a population of 800 spread over 4,900 acres (2,000 ha) in the state of Quintana Roo) was completely destroyed due to the landfall of Hurricane Dean. As of 2008, Salamanca had a population of 862.
Out of Mexico and return to Russia
Due to the harassment of criminal groups, to severe and continuous droughts and conflicts with Mexican farmers, as of 2012 there were reports that some Mennonites had plans to migrate to the Russian Federation, invited by the government of the Republic of Tatarstan. Those reports noted plans that by 2014 all Mennonites would have been evacuated to Russia.
- Mennonites in Netherlands
- Mennonites in Paraguay
- Mennonites in France
- Mennonites in Belize
- Mennonites in Bolivia
- Cascante, Manuel M. (8 August 2012). "Los menonitas dejan México". ABC (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 February 2013. "Los cien mil miembros de esta comunidad anabaptista, establecida en Chihuahua desde 1922, se plantean emigrar a la república rusa de Tartaristán, que se ofrece a acogerlos"
- Fierro, Luis (23 September 2012), Comunidad menonita planea migrar del país (in Spanish), El Universal, archived from the original on 27 September 2012, retrieved 20 September 2013, "(...) El gobierno de Chihuahua informó que desconoce los planes de los menonitas, cuya población se estima en alrededor de 90 mil personas en el estado, y sostuvo que las condiciones económicas actuales no son un factor que obligue a ningún productor local a abandonar la región. (...)"
- Ramírez, Laura (14 de marzo de 2012). "Se van mil 500 menonitas por sequía e inseguridad". El Siglo de Durango (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 de marzo de 2013. "Desalentados por la inseguridad y la falta de producción por la sequía de 2011, en los 12 meses recientes, cerca de mil 500 menonitas de una población total de ocho mil de las colonias de Nuevo Ideal y Santiago Papasquiaro emigraron a Canadá y otras entidades del país como Campeche y Chihuahua, donde se emplean en el campo o en talleres mecánicos. (...)"
- "The Mennonite Old Colony Vision: Under siege in Mexico and the Canadian Connection" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- William J. Frawley (2003). International Encyclopedia of Linguistics 1. Oxford University Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-19-513977-8. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- "Mennonite & Brethren in Christ World Membership". Mennonite World Conference. 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- "The Mennonite Old Colony Vision: Under siege in Mexico and the Canadian Connection" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-05-30.[dead link]
- Hensen, Lawrence Douglas Taylor (Enero-Junio 2005). "Las migraciones menonitas al norte de México entre 1922 y 1940" (PDF). Migraciones Internacionales (in Spanish) 3 (1). Retrieved 5 de marzo de 2013.
- Fierro, Luis (23 September 2012). "Comunidad menonita planea migrar del país". El Universal (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- "Piensan menonitas abandonar México". El Ágora (in Spanish). 17 November 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- ""Aquí no hay futuro", menonitas analizan migrar a Rusia". Terra México (in Spanish) (Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua). Terra. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Ens, Adolf (1994). Subjects or Citizens?: The Mennonite Experience in Canada, 1870-1925. University of Ottawa Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-7766-0390-6.
- Krahn, Cornelius; Sawatzky, H. Leonard (1990). "Old Colony Mennonites". Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Krahn, Cornelius; Ens, Helen (1990). "Durango (Nuevo Ideál) Colony (Durango, Mexico)". Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- [dead link]
- "Drug war hits Mexico's Mennonites". BBC News. 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "Mexican Mennonites | PRI's The World". Theworld.org. 2009-12-23. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
- Ovalle, David; Merzer, Martin (2007-08-23). "Dean makes for misery among Mennonites". The Seattle Times.
- "Menonitas, una comunidad atrapada en el Siglo XIX / Nacional". Elsiglodetorreon.com.mx. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
- Mexican Farmers Exploring Tatarstan Agribusiness at The Kazan Herald
- Mexico at Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online
- Protective Retreat: Mexico's Mennonites Consider a New Migration - The World and I