Segments in this Video

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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Guatemala: The Human Price of Coffee

Part of the Series : Fighting the Tide: Developing Nations and Globalization
DVD Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



Coffee is second only to oil as the world’s most valuable traded commodity, but small-scale producers rarely profit from it. This program reveals the hardship and uncertainty faced by coffee farmers in Guatemala, and how many are taking steps to obtain better prices and build better lives. Analyzing the country’s traumatic history and the lingering effects of its civil war, the video sheds light on the reluctance of some citizens to organize for fear of persecution and murder. The video clearly demonstrates that behind every pound of coffee lies a story of human struggle. (Portions have English subtitles, 26 minutes)

Length: 27 minutes

Item#: BVL34472

ISBN: 978-1-4213-1230-9

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

This documentary is strongly recommended as an introduction to Fair Trade and the effect of globalization.”—Críticas

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Only available in USA.