Coffee Producers in the Guatemala Highlands (00:40)
About one percent of what consumers pay for coffee goes to small coffee producers. In the Guatemala Highlands in Central America, fair trade coffee producers try to make a difference.
Guatemala: A History of Struggles (02:46)
Guatemala’s geography and climate make it a difficult place to survive. The Spanish conquest undermined an indigenous way of life. A civil war caused a 36-year silent holocaust. Now, producers search for a fair price for their coffee, the country’s major resource.
Guatemalan Coffee Farmers (04:42)
Introduced to Guatemala in the 1800s, coffee production was built up on the basis of low-paid and often forced labor. One coffee farmer took ten years to pay for his land. Without set prices, farmers like him are often ripped off.
Coffee Business in Guatemala (02:22)
Even the small, independent producers are at the mercy of the middle man. Large companies use to control coffee sales. Today, stock exchange brokers set the price. One coffee farmer explains that to be Mayan means to defend one’s language, culture, and customs.
Coffee Production and Politics Between Guatemala and the United States (02:44)
In the 1950s a CIA coup overthrew the president after he distributed thousands of acres of unused land belonging to a U.S. fruit company to coffee farmers. With the land returned to the elite, many farmers flee to the city where they live in shanty towns and are exploited.
Fair Trade Coffee in Guatemala (02:59)
In 1997, after the civil war, highland farmers organized into cooperatives in order to sell their coffee on the fair trade market. Holland began the fair trade movement in 1988 to provide a link between producers and consumers.
Producing Quality Coffee in Guatemala (02:15)
With an unequal land ownership, many small coffee producers find that survival means producing quality, organic coffee, a concept not new to them since their ancestors never used chemicals but used compost instead.
Effects of the Guatemalan Civil War (02:32)
The scars of the country run deep, especially along the shores of Lake Atitlan where terrible atrocities occurred. The military’s torture remains fresh on the minds of the Mayans, causing many to fear organizing into free trade coffee coops.
Fair Trade Coffee: Hope for a Better Future (02:40)
Despite the problems, Guatemalan highlanders know that coffee is the key for a better life. Behind every pound of coffee are men, women, and children. Changes in the trade rules are important, but the responsibility of the consumer is also important.
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