Landslide wipes out coffee partners in Guatemala – by Kim Schachte


In shocking news this week, heavy rains caused a mudslide in the northern Guatemalan town of Santa Cruz Barillas. Four homes were buried and the ASOBAGRI coffee coop offices and warehouse, which Lloyd and I visited in 2010, were destroyed.

Rain and unstable terrain prevented rescue teams from reaching the landslide on foot and crews removed dirt with heavy machinery.

Two brothers and a sister, aged between four and seven, died when mud buried their home. The children’s mother and their three-month old brother survived. Late this week, rescuers uncovered the remaining bodies of twelve others, all confirmed dead.

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.

Eight of the dead are members of Coop Manager Carlos Alvaros’ family.

Total damages are estimated at roughly $3,000,000 and the cost to rebuild ASOBAGRI’s facilities is estimated at over $550,000.

With a population of 127,000, the coffee coop 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 has responded to the disaster by calling for aid from local coffee roasters and Transfair Canada and will update this blog as events unfold.

Efforts are ongoing and we urge you to donate to the disaster relief.


4 Responses:
  • Susan Grattan Doyle

    Words fail to describe the grief and sympathy I have for these brave, hard working people. All I can do is contribute financially as I have MS and have lost the use of my legs, not my life.

  • Katie Alvarado

    My husbands family is from that town and it saddens me everytime I read about it because we just got back. I passed the bodega everyday. Hope you can find a temporary place to continue doing business while not only you but the families rebuild. We have been contacted about our house being used as temporary offices but are uncertain of the outcome.

    • Susan Grattan Doyle

      I tried pressing the Reply button to Ms. Alvarado but I did not get anywhere!

      If you read this, do you live in Canada? We adopted our daughter from Guatemala and I love introducing her to as many people as possible from her country of origin She is very proud to be Guatemalan! Thanks. Susan

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