From working as a coffee picker as a child so she could afford school supplies, to becoming a general Manager at a coffee cooperative in her impoverished hometown of La Libertad, Huehuetenango, Iliana Martinez had been surrounded by coffee her whole life. Yet it was only after her passionate and vigorous exploration into the global coffee industry that she uncovered and truly understood the many troubling realities faced by coffee producers across the continent, including the fact that many of them do not even have the right to price their own product.
Though there was no way to fight global trends, Iliana’s cooperative has been able to produce and market specialty coffees on the global market, whilst providing technical skills training to youth and integrating elders into her cooperative’s decision making processes. In doing so, her cooperative found a way to move forward out of poverty, bringing their whole town with them.
Guatemala means ‘place of many trees’ and is the most populous country in Central America. It has a remarkable Mayan heritage and 50% of Guatemalans are descendants of the indigenous Maya people. However, with over 24 linguistic groups, it is also a country with a tremendous amount of diversity.