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 […]
ASOCAMPO – Asociación Campesina Pochuteca – is comprised of 112 members who are working to be able to give their children what their parents couldn’t give them – land to call their own.
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.
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.
The mountainous terrain where quality coffee thrives provides welcome cover to revolutionary groups, and invites the presence of the counter-revolutionary forces that stalk them. This dynamic has put coffee communities in the cross-fire from Mexico to Peru since the early 20th century. The cries of innocent victimes continue to echo loudly through the coffeelands.
Reuters recently published an article that warns about the likely impacts of climate change on coffee farming here and explains what our partners at CIAT are trying to do about it.
Last Thursday, the Pacaya Volcano erupted. Then the next day, Tropical Storm Agatha rolled in, destroying lives, homes, bridges, roads and — yes — coffee. The storm is a reminder that all the hard work of smallholder farmers to produce high-quality coffees for the discerning specialty market can be swept away overnight.
The Juan Ana Coffee project in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, is beautiful in more ways than you can count, beginning with its name. “Juan” was John, the late father of Fr. Gregory Shaffer, pastor of the San Lucas Mission for the past 45 years. “Ana” was Ann, Fr. Greg’s mother. They both passed away at […]
In San Lucas Tolimán, on the shores of the breathtaking Lake Atitlán, there is a very special mission parish, led by a very special priest — Father Greg Schaffer of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, known affectionately here as Padre Gregorio. It is so special, we decided to have our son George baptized there.
I get paid – among other things – to travel to remote regions of the coffeelands to meet with farmers hear about their aspirations for their coffee and their families and do what I can to help them along the way. Every one of these visits is memorable in its way. But every once in a while, I get to visit places that are even more memorable than usual, like Tzampetey.