September 13, 2002
Nicaraguan Coffee Farmer to Address Issues at UW-RF
Cornelio Rivera, a coffee farmer from Jalapa, Nicaragua, will be on campus at UW-River Falls on Wednesday, Oct. 9, to address the political and economic issues that surround coffee. The public is invited to a brown bag lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Rodli Commons, at which Rivera will address the question, "Where Does Your Coffee Come From?"
Throughout the day Rivera will visit University classes, speaking on topics that include Nicaraguan culture and politics, international development and the impact of globalization.
Rivera's visit is one component of a speaking tour he is conducting in Minnesota and Wisconsin sponsored by Witness for Peace, a politically-independent grass roots organization. Founded in 1983, it is dedicated to non-violence and working for peace and justice in the Americas.
According to John Pegg, Witness for Peace regional coordinator for the Upper Midwest, Rivera has worked extensively on issues related to fair trade and organic coffee. He is the leader of the Cooperative of Active Small Farmers of Jalapa, known as the CCAJ in Spanish, with 985 members throughout the area.
Rivera coordinates a micro-lending program for small farmers, promotes organic agriculture and leads educational programs that focus on teaching leadership skills and political and economic analysis to small farmers. A small farmer himself, Rivera makes his livelihood off his four acres of coffee, three acres of corn and beans, and two cows.
He is one of the 112 members in CCAJ who are certified organic coffee producers selling their coffee as fair trade. They have been hit hard by the crisis created from the drop in coffee prices on the world market. Rivera has brought them together to analyze the policies that have created the crisis and advocate for themselves as a unified body.
At a protest in 1999, Rivera had the opportunity to talk to policy makers at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. He also spoke with members of the U.S. Congress about how structural adjustment policies affect small coffee producers in Nicaragua.
For more information, contact Leslie Bleskachek, modern language department, 715/425-3121.
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