On Tuesday, I announced here our involvement in an FT4All innovation pilot with independent smallholder farmers in Nariño, Colombia. Yesterday, I explained here how our involvement came to pass. Today, I discuss why Nariño might be the best imaginable place in the world for this pilot. And why it might be the worst.
A light that burned brightly for nearly 50 years on the shores of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala has gone dark: Fr. Greg Schaffer of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, died last week. During nearly a half-century of committed ministry, Fr. Greg accompanied the mostly indigenous community of San Lucas Tolimán through a painful civil […]
For me, leaving my office and driving to the coffeelands is usually cause for great joy and reverence. I recently returned from a visit to the coffeelands in Colombia that was short on joy and long on reverence: I met with families seeking shelter in the coffeelands after being displaced by acts of terrible violence. […]
In a few hours I will be boarding a flight for the United States and leaving Guatemala for good after living and working here for nearly four years. Two nights ago I had dinner and a great discussion with the owner of a coffee estate — a parting conversation that served to remind me of […]
Stories are swirling this year about one of the unforunate side effects of high prices — coffee is being stolen. And it is not just coffee that is getting lost at origin — lives are being lost, too. In El Salvador, theives recently stole coffee grown by a CRS partner cooperative and killed four security […]
The identity of the Maya Vinic cooperative in the Chiapas highlands was forged in a context of brutal violence. When I first visited Maya Vinic, the group’s advisor told me: “Maya Vinic cannot be understood outside the context of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, the Zapatista uprising and the Acteal massacre.”
Last week I suggested that the violence hasn’t stopped in many parts of the coffeelands even though the revolution has. Mostly, navigating that violence that is a pretty awful thing for coffee farmers and their families to have to deal with. In some cases, however, violence and shared struggle have forged powerful bonds between coffee farmers and given new life to farmer organizations. There are few better examples of this than Santa Anita de la Union in Guatemala.
I have recent posts to reflections on massacres in the coffeelands that happened more than a decade ago in the context of armed revolution. These were not idle reflections on the remote past. Many parts of the coffeelands are still — quite literally — in flames.
Less than a week after I visited the site of the Santiago massacre in Guatemala, I found myself in the bed of a pickup truck, rolling out of San Cristobal through some stunning Chiapas landscapes toward the highland town of Chenhaló. We slowed at the entrance to Polhó under the watchful gaze of the Zapatista sentries in their iconic balaclavas, and admired the mural of the Zapatista Guadalupe on the side of the tiny chapel there. We pulled to a stop in the coffee-growing community of Acteal and reflected in reverent silence on the murder of 45 people there just days before Christmas in 1997.
n Santiago Atitlan, I strapped my baby boy to my back and we walked along the main road leading out of town. Along the way, I pulled a few cherries from the coffee trees that rolled down to the road from the foothills of the Atitlan Volcano on the left the road and further down to the lakeshore below on the right. There, in the middle of the coffee fields, 14 men, women and children were murdered for standing up to the Army.