Photo: Coffee growers Juan Rivas and Manuel Antonio Rodriguez sit in the assembly area of their El Salvador coffee cooperative. The cooperative has 115 members, but has been silent this year because a fungus that has wiped out much of coffee production. (CNS/David Agren)
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Oralia Lopez had a brother leave for the United States in 2013. He had given up on eking out a living in El Salvador’s coffee country, where a fungus known as coffee rust wiped out crops and caused hardship and hunger. He arrived in the Washington, D.C., area, home to many Salvadoran migrants, and started sending home remittances.
His success encouraged two brothers to try their luck, Lopez said, but they were detained on the Mexico-U.S. border and deported.
“Agriculture is not providing anything here to survive on,” Lopez said.
Such is the desperation in this corner of El Salvador and other parts of Central America, where coffee crops can provide modest livelihoods. The coffee crisis in El Salvador has sent some searching for work in larger cities, while those staying put increasingly grow subsistence crops such as corn and beans, which stave off hunger, but can be bad for the environment.
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