I live by a popular quote in my country that translates “Deaf ears to foolish words”. Believe me, it is the secret to a tranquil life. Nonetheless, Nicolas Maduro’s speech last Wednesday, May 22, in which he affirmed that the best coffee in the world is not Colombian but Venezuelan, caught the attention of all my senses.
During a broadcast on the nationalized T.V. channel, a loyalist to the regime warned farmers about buying coffee seeds from Colombia because, according to him, they were plagued with biological diseases.
Then, Maduro added to the commentary and said that Colombians “are taking the coffee out of here. Half of the coffee Colombia is selling to the world is Venezuelan. They are taking it. Paramilitary armies are threatening the farmers. We are investigating all this. The best coffee in the world is from Venezuela.” (See video in Spanish)
With all due respect to the neighboring nation, identifying Venezuela as a coffee producer is as thinking of the United States as the motherland of tequila. Perhaps the borders with Colombia are fading in Maduro’s mind because of all his interventionist policies. He may very well be thinking “what is yours is mine”.
However, I took the time and checked the records about the largest coffee producing countries in the world since 1994, five years before Hugo Chaves regime climbed to power, and ratify I was correct.
In 1994 the top ten producers were Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Indonesia.
In 2000 it was Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, India, Honduras, Ethiopia, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Today, still in the lead is Brazil followed by Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Honduras, Ethiopia, India, Uganda, Mexico, and Peru.
Venezuela has never been in the top ten. At its peak in 2000 was number 16 and today is number 22.
Nicolas Maduro can say anything he wants. His freedom of expression is protected by the cloak of his dictatorship. But, daring to infringe upon one of my home country’s most precious jewels, is a matter of honor.
On an economic level, Café de Colombia is not just a trademark. It is an excellence standard which determines the quality of other grains around the world. Moreover, it is part of the soft commodities group such as cocoa, sugar, corn, wheat, soy, fruits, and livestock, which are traded in stock exchanges influencing economies around the globe.
On a personal level, Café de Colombia is a symbol of pride that my fellow Colombians, especially those like me who live out of our home country, treasure. My American friends and family know well that, in matters of coffee, few can argue with me.
So, I tell Maduro: limit your propaganda speech to oil. Not because you know much, but because it is the little you have left.
Thank you for reading and sharing.