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Help Rebuild After Dozens Killed in Colombian Coffeelands Mudslide

Damage from last week's mudslide in Salgar, Antioquia, Colombia.

Damage from last week’s mudslide in Salgar, Antioquia, Colombia.

The mudslide that ravaged the of town of Salgar in Colombia’s Antioquia District last week has taken the lives of dozens of smallholder coffee farmers and their family members, wiped away homes and destroyed infrastructure.

Flash-flooding initiated the deadly mudslide throughout the coffee-farming community in the highlands of Southwest Antioquia, an approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Medelin, on the early morning of Monday, May 18. As of May 22, there were 88 confirmed deaths, while dozens more people remain missing. It is being considered the deadliest natural disaster in Colombia since 1999.

The hillsides where the mudslide occurred were primarily occupied by smallholder coffee farming families, and many who survived the calamity have completely lost their homes.

A regional dry mill operated by the region’s primary cooperative, the 50-year-old Cooperative of Coffee Growers of Salgar (COOCAFISA), has also been badly damaged, and all of the coffees within it destroyed.

Damage from last week's mudslide in Salgar, Antioquia, Colombia.

Damage from last week’s mudslide in Salgar, Antioquia, Colombia.

Several groups, including the Antiquia coffee guild, have mobilized to assess the situation and initiate the rebuilding process. Meanwhile, the cooperative has created a bank code for people wishing to contribute to the rebuilding (see the letter below). U.S.-based Farmer Brothers and Canadian importer RGC Coffees, who have traded with the cooperative in the past, have also helped establish a YouCaring campaign to contribute directly to the rebuilding in Salgar.

Following is a letter on the tragedy from COOCAFISA Director Hernando Restrepo Piedrahita:

Apreciados Señores:

Teniendo en cuenta la solidaridad de personas y de entidades que ustedes representan y en respuesta a su ofrecimiento para colaborar en la medida de sus posibilidades para mitigar algunas de las necesidades más prioritarias de la gran cantidad de personas afectadas por la avalancha del rio la Liboriana ocurrida en la madruga del 18 de mayo y ampliamente difundida a través de los medios de comunicación nacionales e internacionales.

Con nuestro apoyo y compromiso gremial, social y humano la Cooperativa de Caficultores de Salgar con Nit 890.907.323-7, pone a disposición la cuenta de ahorros Bancolombia, denominada “COOCAFISA DAMNIFICADOS SALGAR” N° 88342395851, para recibir las donaciones y ayudas que serán aplicadas en el cubrimiento de algunas de las necesidades más urgentes y demandadas por el gran número de afectados.

La Cooperativa de Caficultores de Salgar hará un manejo transparente y diligente de estos recursos  cuyas aplicaciones y balances serán conocidos por ustedes.

Agradezco a Dios por contar con personas y entidades tan solidarias y comprometidas con la solución de problemas de muchas personas necesitadas como en este caso.

Reiteramos nuestros agradecimientos por su colaboración y apoyo que Dios los bendiga y les multiplique espiritual y materialmente.

Cualquier inquietud al respecto con gusto la atenderemos.

Atentamente,

Hernando Restrepo Piedrahita
Gerente

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