On our Borderlands Coffee Project, we are working with more than 3,000 smallholder coffee farmers in the Andean highlands of Nariño in Colombia and the steamy Amazon lowlands of northern Ecuador. The area in Ecuador where the project is working is a source of endless cultural fascination for me, home to three distinct groups of people: (1.) colonos — migrants from southern Ecuador who began to populate the region in the 1970s, pushed by drought in the country’s traditional coffee regions and pulled by the promise of land and jobs in the Amazon after the discovery of oil there in the late 1960s; (2.) refugees — Colombians who have been expelled by conflict in their country and migrated south to Ecuador in the hope of making a new start; and (3.) indigenous Ecuadorans who have lived there since it was virgin jungle. We will introduce you to members of all three groups here as part of The Coffeelands Portrait Project, starting with today’s portraits of colonos now living in the Province of Sucumbíos.
This is an amazing project. I can’t wait to see more!