LOCATION – Solola, Guatemala
ESTABLISHED – 1998
DIVERSIFICATION – corn, beans, fruit trees
Comite Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA) initially began as a civilian support group for the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) during the peak of the civil war in 1982 in San Martin Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango. This organization has been around since the early eighties, and after being outlawed during the war and working “underground” organizing Mayan campesinos they re-emerged after the war and were recognized as a “legitimate” political group working within Guatemalan civil society. The original name was the Campesino Committee in Defence of the Highlands. The perception that the CCDA was another armed group led to the arrest, disappearance, assassination and exile of many of the CCDA directors by the repression of the government against social groups and human rights. For this reason, the CCDA changed its name to the Campesino committee of the Highlands. The CCDA began to work clandestinely until 1988 but were not established legally until 2000 when it succeeded in becoming a legal organization. There are still CCDA members living outside the country.
The CCDA participates at a regional, departmental, national and international level in defence of access to land and the agricultural situation, labour rights, human rights and the Mayan cultural situation. Through their work, several members receive support with questions of land, credit, educational scholarships, and have the opportunity to participate in various trainings offered by the CCDA and other affiliates.
At the national level, the CCDA forms part of the National Coordination of Campesino Organizations (CNOC). Through this group, campesinos can organize themselves and struggle together to improve their living conditions. That is to say that campesino organizations like the CCDA can collaborate in declaring their discontent with the lack of governmental policies in favour of rural development and call for a better Guatemala that considers the needs of campesinos and indigenous people.
Much like Nicaragua’s La FEM, CCDA’s coffee project is just one important piece of their larger political project. They have been exporting to Canada for several years working with several Canadian solidarity groups, but had never sold their excellent coffee to US buyers. They have had interest in their coffee from US importers, but they had not found the right connection; one that also sees coffee and a vehicle for social and economic justice. When we met in August 2010 we realized quickly that we were a good fit for each other.
CCDA is an extraordinary group and is doing incredible work in Guatemala. Some of their members continue to be harassed by “unknown” groups and the president of the organization has historically received threats from unknown group for his political work. Their courage and vision are rare and important and we at Just Coffee are very excited to bring you their most excellent coffee and assist them in achieving their goal of a more just Guatemala and world.