In Memory of a True Fair Trader

14 February 2013

On 13 February Raúl del Águila, a Fairtrade producer and dedicated Fair Trader, passed away in Nuremberg, Germany, where he was attending a trade fair. As a strong leader in the global Fair Trade movement, Raúl’s network was wide and the effect of his life’s work touched everyone working for trade justice.

As Manager of COCLA, one of Peru’s largest coffee cooperatives, Raúl was dedicated to serve the interests of ‘pequeños productores,’ the small producers, and made sure their voice was heard loud and clear throughout the international Fairtrade system. He was among the first producers elected to serve on the board of Fairtrade International and had recently stepped down after serving on the board for the past six years as well.

“Raúl has been one of the giants in the Fair Trade movement. He showed that small farmers can take an instrumental role in determining the direction of the entire Fairtrade system,” said Harriet Lamb, Chief Executive of Fairtrade International. “He was always a calming voice in what could sometimes be heated discussions and he always had a big ambition for where he wanted to take small farmers and Fairtrade. He was looked up to by many people.”

Raúl witnessed the effects of Fairtrade in his own community and on the more than 7,500 farmers in his cooperative. Under his leadership, the group has gone from selling just two percent of their coffee on Fairtrade terms to over 40 percent. He extended this leadership to a regional level as well serving as President and in other roles for the Coordinator of Fairtrade Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAC).

“Raúl was a tireless servant advocating for trade justice and pushing for the interests of the small producers everywhere. We’ll miss not only his leadership, support, knowledge and strength, but his friendship as well,” said Marike de Pena, Vice-Chair of the Board at Fairtrade International, President of CLAC, and Director of Banelino, a banana cooperative in the Dominican Republic.

The impact of his leadership and vision can be seen around the world through his work on boards and consultative groups with businesses, non-profits, trade organizations and more. Raúl was President of the Coordinator of Fairtrade Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAC) from 2007-2010, served on the coffee advisory committee of Fair Trade USA until 2011, was President of the Peruvian Network of Fair Trade and Ethical Consumption, served on the Boards of Twin Trading and Cafe Direct, and was recently elected to serve on the Board of Fairtrade International USA. He was also President of Pachamama Coffee, an innovative cooperative selling coffee in the USA.

Fairtrade International and all of our members pass sincere condolences to his family and everyone who worked with him.

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