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Attempted coup: a Fair Trade coffee producer’s perspective

News from Nicaragua | Thursday, 20 September 2018 |

The Co-operative Union SOPPEXCCA is made up of 650 members who are small scale farmers producing coffee for the Fair Trade market

The Co-operative Union SOPPEXCCA is made up of 650 members who are small scale farmers producing coffee for the Fair Trade market

Junieth  Maribel is a young Fair Trade coffee farmer and member of the Co-operative Union SOPPEXCCA, Jinotega, northern Nicaragua. SOPPEXCCA is made up of 650 small scale coffee and cacoa farmers organised into 15 co-operatives. Their coffee is sold through Fair Trade markets in Europe and the US.

Junieth describes the political, social and psychological impact of the violence on the lives and livelihoods of members of the co-op.

‘The situation in the country at the moment has had an effect on us, especially our mental health. With the opposition roadblocks, [in June and July] and having had our freedom of movement for work suspended, we missed a lot of opportunities, we were frightened, distressed, worried, because in Jinotega, the people who were on the barricades and the roadblocks, protesting against the government, could detain any citizen, assault them, strip them or beat them, and all of that frightened us a lot.

After that, when the police began the operation to take back control of the city, it was a very tense night. There were shots all night, and it hurt me to find out that three young men that the leaders of the coup had encouraged and organized, had been left in some neighbourhood to die.

 What I think has happened is that leaders high up have put discontent with the government into the heads of the poor people, but it's clear to see as well that they use the poor, and whip up passions so that we take to the streets, and then these leaders with the money and high status leave the country quietly with their families, live well, and leave the country abandoned.

The damage that Nicaragua has suffered through this situation has been very negative for us, because now we have unemployment, and my organisation is finding it difficult to obtain credit because we're seen as unstable and unsafe, and without funding, production is at risk.

Another big problem is that investors are taking their money out of the country, leaving even more economic problems behind. I don't think they [the opposition] ever thought that by wanting to bring down the president or the government, they would be taking the bread out of the mouths of a lot of families, and the methods that they used, and continue to use, are damaging the economy - and that affects us all.

In Nicaragua, in my humble opinion, before April we had economic and social problems that were being overcome: we now have roads, electricity, health care, education – even secondary education - in rural areas, and many families have received support to improve their homes. When I was a child we had none of these things.

But with all the disorder the opposition has caused, they have saddened my community and my city.