Guatemalan Coffee Co-Op Wiped Out
Heavy predawn rains caused a mudslide in the northern Guatemalan town of Santa Cruz Barillas, burying four homes and destroying the Asobagri coffee co-op offices and warehouse last Tuesday.
Rescuers uncovered the bodies of fifteen villagers, including two brothers and a sister, aged between four and seven, who died when mud buried their homes. Eight co-op members were among the dead. “Two decades of effort was lost in the blink of an eye,” said Baltazar Francisco Miguel, General Manager of the Asobagri coffee co-op on Monday during a Skype conversation with Ethical Bean Coffee of Vancouver.
The landslide, measuring 250 meters long and 200 meters high, followed four earthquakes that shook the south of the country in quick succession. Heavy rains continue to pound Barillas and townspeople fear another landslide. Businesses remain closed and total damages are estimated at roughly $3,000,000. The cost to rebuild Asobagri’s facilities is estimated at over $550,000. With a population of 127,000, the coffee co-op is one of the town’s leading sources of income for the 1,200 members and 25 employees growing coffee in the surrounding foothills.
Ethical Bean Coffee is asking local roasters, Fairtrade Canada and the general public to join them in donating to the disaster relief. For information about how you can contribute visit their website at www.ethicalbean.com.