Unit 3 Destination Discussion - Nicaragua

Advance Preparation

Members of the group should read The History of (Authentic) Fair Trade – a graphic booklet produced by our partners at Equal Exchange.

You can also check out this blog post from Equal Exchange, explaining why they trade exclusively with farmer’s coops, rather than with plantations:


Do you drink coffee? If so, what surprised you, if anything, about the conditions under which much of our coffee is produced, as portrayed in this story?

  • What feelings come up for you when you think about the origins of some of the coffee products we enjoy?
  • Do you think reading this graphic book will lead you to change your consumer behavior at all? If so, in what ways?

Have you seen the fair trade label on products at the store before?

  • Have you made purchasing decisions based on that label?
  • If so, what feelings were brought up for you by reading Equal Exchange’s critique of the existing fair trade system, as it is used by some major multinational companies?
  • What, if anything, do you think this critique of the mainstream fair trade system (as represented by Fair Trade USA, e.g.) gets right? What, if anything, does it leave out, in your view?

Based on the blog post, what are some of the parallels you observe, if any, between the challenges still faced by small farmers today and the abuses described in the History of (Authentic) Fair Trade graphic booklet?

Take a break by listening to “El Pueblo Unido” (The People United), by Inti-Illimani, which is referenced in the graphic booklet. This classic Latin American protest song was first written in Chile shortly before the democratically elected President Allende was overthrown and assassinated in a U.S.-sponsored coup. The song became a symbol across Latin America for resistance to unjust U.S. policies and Western-backed dictators in the region.

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