News from 44 North

Nov. 4, 2011 - Guatemalan Producer: Asociación Chajulense

Guatemala [Asociacion Chajulense] - Organic, Fair Trade, & Shade Grown

Guatemala, bordered by four other Latin American countries -- Mexico and Belize to the north and Honduras and El Salvador to the south -- has a history of both great wealth and extreme destruction and poverty.  Once inhabited by the pre-colonial Mayan people, the dense and underdeveloped jungle still hides massive ruins of the abandoned civilization.  This diverse and dense landscape became shelter and hiding for the peasants who fled their homes during the 43 years of agrarian reform and civil war that began in 1953.  During this time of repressive military dictatorships, backed by the CIA, 40,000 to 50,000 people “disappeared” and approximately 200,000 were killed.  It was not until the 1996 Peace Agreements that Guatemalans regained clear access to information and a level of participation in political discussions.

Today in Guatemala poverty and social inequality is still a major problem for more than half of the population; almost 25% of the population lives in extreme poverty. In addition, social indicators are among the worst in Central America in terms of social public expenditure, access to health and basic services, education, child and maternal mortality rates, distribution of wealth and land. An even heightened demographic of these inequality are the indigenous peoples, who constitute 50% of the population -- one of the highest rates in Latin America -- suffer from strong racial, social, economic and cultural discrimination. An estimated 67% of indigenous children (with the indigenous representing the majority of the population) suffer from chronic malnutrition.  From this rural population the agricultural product of coffee has become a main export for both huge plantations and small organic and fair trade communities, representing 24% of all Guatemala's exports.

The cooperative, Asociación Chajulense Va’l Vaq Qujol was founded in 1988 by 40 coffee farmers of the Chajul area of Triángulo Ixil, Quiché.  At present there are 1,662 active members in the organization.  The main goal of Chajule cooperative is to “promote a sustainable development model that is environmentally sound, economically feasible, fair from a social point of view and appropriate from a cultural standpoint.”  The farmers have worked to diversify their crops with cardamom and bee honey as well as expanding their income and exposure by developing the Posada, a lodge for tourists and visitors. Today they export 50-60 containers annually of organic, fair trade and shade-grown certified beans.


In this coffee, look for these tasting notes:  Warm honey body with a light floral sweetness.

Price per pound to worker: $2.64 

Cooperative name:  Asociación Chajulense Va’l Vaq Qujol

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