Peace Community cocoa beans to Lush

Helping San José de Apartadó to become financially more independant

The Urabá region in northern Colombia is one of the most violent regions in the world. 13 years ago more than 1,000 farmers and refugees founded the peace village San José de Apartado to defend themselves by non-violent means against expulsion. Now they received support - by a cosmetics company based in England. In July 2011 the first 25 tonnes of organic cocoa beans from the peace community arrived with Lush.

Lush is known by products that look like tarts and pies - in reality there are "fresh, handmade" soaps and creams. Their high prices have a reason: they buy their resources in ecological production, fair trade and free of animal testing.

When the first 25 t of cocoa beans of the peace community San José de Apartado arrived in the UK they were first checked for their quality and usability. Now, the cocoa butter which is about 1 / 3 of the beans, will be basis for many Lush products. For the remaining 2 / 3 of cocoa powder, Lush is still looking for a partner, possibly a chocolate manufacture.

 

Paulo Mellett, scout of Lush company and former Greenpeace activist, met members during his participation in Tamera´s peace education. He needed months of bureaucratic work to achieve the appropriate certificates and import permits."Lush´s whole staff was standing behind me, as I suggested last year to support the peace village," said Mellett. "Everyone was thrilled that we can even save lives with our work. Now that we see the high quality of the cocoa beans, we will expand our cooperation. We can handle a lot more cocoa butter."

 

The peace community with its 1300 inhabitants live in a constant struggle against political and economic forces who have already displaced more than 4 million farmers off their land. Many farmers in the region are forced to cultivate coca, as competition with giant corporations makes traditional crops barely profitable. The peace community adamantly stick to their principles:. "The statutes which we have set ourselves forbid us not only to participate in the armed struggle, but also to use or produce alcohol and drugs. It is a question of our dignity. We grow most of what we need to live, but we also need the opportunity to sell some of our products. "

Thus the fair-trade collaboration with Lush is a lifeline to the community and  vital for their continued brave non-violent resistance.

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