Honduras Cops Beat and Arrest Hundreds of Coffee Workers!!!

Honduran police arrest hundreds of coffee growers

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Aug 13 (Reuters) - More than 500 Honduran coffee 
growers were arrested and 24 were injured on Tuesday after clashing with
police on their way to a protest to demand government aid for their ailing

The police used tear gas and a water cannon to subdue demonstrators, and
three coffee leaders were among those arrested in the incident in El
Zamorano, 16 miles (25 km) north of the capital Tegucigalpa, police spokesman
Danilo Orellana told Reuters.

The protesters were in buses on their way to the capital to take part in the

"After we stopped their caravan the coffee growers blocked the highway with
vehicles and began to throw rocks and stones at the police. The police had to
respond energetically to break up the highway blockage," Orellana said.

Honduras, like all of Central America, is deep in a coffee crisis. A
worldwide coffee glut has pushed international prices down to the point that
many growers cannot afford to harvest their beans.

There are 110,000 coffee growers in Honduras and they are demanding that the
government of President Ricardo Maduro make good on promises of $20 million
in loans to the coffee sector's 65,000 growers.

The growers say the loans would add up to $6 for each 100-pound (46-kg) sack
of coffee for farmers, which would allow them to make enough to harvest.

Coffee growers said they are also protesting because the government wants to
add a 3 percent interest rate to $40 million in previous loans that were
interest free.

"We are going through a crisis and we're not going to accept ... that the $40
million they loaned us interest free suddenly has a 3 percent interest," said
Jose Saavedra, leader of the National Coffee Growers Association (Anacafe).

Finance Minister Arturo Alvarado told journalists that "given the financial
situation the country is in, we cannot hand out loans without charging a
minimum amount of interest."

Despite the crisis, Honduran coffee exports have not fallen much this year.

Honduras exported 3.06 million 46-kg bags (or quintals) of coffee between
Oct. 1, the first day of the 2001/2002 harvest and Aug. 2, down just slightly
from the same period of the previous coffee cycle.

08/14/02 00:16 ET

For more information, please check:

US/LEAP Information apge on Coffee campaigns:

and February 2000 survey of working and living conditions on Guatemala coffee
workers: http://www.usleap.org/Coffee/sbcovercorpt/sbcovercorpt.html

Honduras | IMF/WB | www.agp.org