While traveling through San Salvador last Spring, my class got to visit and talk with a phenomenal photojournalist, Mauro Arias, who is working for El Faro. It is the most widely distributed left-leaning news publication in the country, and tends to report heavily and unapologetically on the most severe injustices happening on Salvadoran soil. In talking with him, I really admired his drive to photograph - it was not a want, but a need - to report and accurately describe the often unsavory and overlooked mistakes in the country’s politics and execution of policies.
He has recently published a story, ¿Cuánto cuesta su taza de café? (How Much Is Your Cup of Coffee?), talking about the coffee boom in El Salvador and it’s effects on the job market, human labor and social justice in the country. A typical salary for a permanent/year-round employee here is $140 every other week. Someone employed weighing and bagging coffee can be paid $70 every other week. Someone working raking the fields of drying cherries can make as little as $150 a month. The cost of picking raw cherries for processing and exporting is roughly 155 times less than what is paid for the same bean, roasted and brewed, at a typical specialty cafe. During harvest months (peak between November and January), schools will hold classes at night so that children can go to work picking in the fields from sun up to sun down.
I’ve had intentions to do a project like this for a long time. Mauro’s images are incredible. It’s an important story for all of those involved in the coffee chain to consider.
"The coffee has directed the course of personal histories and of a country to fair weather, on the one hand, and to the injustice, on the other. "