To Doña Letizia: Coffee at the Royal Palace and poverty

I am writing to Letizia, the former journalist and granddaughter of a taxi driver who became a princess and is now Queen of Spain and FAO Ambassador for Nutrition. Doña Letizia, your latest position requires you to care for those who are malnourished and especially for those who are literally at risk of dying from hunger in all corners of the planet.

The millions who die from hunger every year are victims of our indifference; hundreds of millions receive insignificant aid that not only does not solve their problems but also perpetuates their poverty. The worst thing is that hundreds of millions of poor and extremely people work very hard to produce what we drink, eat and consume in developed nations and still receive an inadecuate income. This is unacceptable. It is exploitative.

Contrary to what many believe, combating poverty and hunger is not an act of charity; it is an act of justice. It is our obligation and it should be the highest priority of every head of state and government. Charity is optional, Justice is mandatory. Although I believe in charity as a human quality I do not think it can be a substitute for justice.

You, like very few people, know personally that the hard work of parents and grandparents to give educational opportunities to their daughters can transform girls from humble backgrounds into 'Superwomen' capable of affecting positively the course of millions of other girls and can CHANGE THE WORLD for all who are among the least fortunate, if they see that as their mission in life.

The reality for billions of people in today's world is almost as cruel as it was during the colonial reign of Queen Isabel. They work to produce what we eat and consume in developed nations without receiving even enough to live in minimum dignity; most cannot feed their children adequately, hundreds of millions of children will never finish primary school, attend high school or even dream of going to university as you did. That reality is one I know too well; I was born in Guatemala, my father Baltasar Morales-de la Cruz was born in the Sierra de Chama where even today coffee is grown and poverty is considered normal.

Baltasar came down from the Sierra de Chama to study in Chiquimula, a remote village, and became a teacher. There were no schools in the mountains then and now almost a century later there are still not enough opportunities for education for all children and even fewer for girls. Baltasar became a teacher in schools where most children could not attend, and studied law at the public university which even now is a privilege that few can afford. Baltasar became a prominent journalist in a country where even today millions are illiterate or have less than three years of schooling, and became a Member of Congress and Constituent, and when he became a Minister he realized that the government did not have the financial resources to bring the most basic opportunities to the rural communities in the mountains where he was born.

In my Guatemaya, as I proudly call my country for its ancient culture, almost one million people depend directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, on coffee production; most live in poverty and hundreds of thousands are starving in 'the thin months' (when they run out of the very small amounts they get paid for their harvests) or are victims of coffee rust, drought, etc. Their plantations are not insured against any risk by the companies that buy their harvest, by the roasters and retailers who are the biggest beneficiaries of the coffee industry. As you know, coffee generates more than €164 billion in annual consumption value but insignificant shared value for producing countries.

The coffee that the Guatemayas and the 25 million other farmworkers from the coffee belts produce with much sacrifice is exported as green beans to developed countries, where it is roasted and sold as 'FairTrade ' in the high street for between € 1 and € 4 per cup. A cup of so-called 'fair trade' coffee includes less than €0.01 to help eradicate the poverty of producers. In some parts of my Guatemaya only one in 20 girls finishes high school. Even so in the kingdom of Spain and in Europe they call that 'Comercio Justo' or 'Fair Trade'. As a former journalist and now as Queen of Spain you know that the dictionary of the Real Spanish Academy has a very clear definition of the word justice. It is not one where producers starve and their children are malnourished and cannot attend school, while on the other hand the few people who profit from their work accumulate tens of billions of euros in profits, added value and taxes in developed countries as a result of the work of peasants from the former colonies.

It is inconsistent that Spain and the European Union talk about partnership with Latin America when that relationship is so unequal that it fails the most basic shared value test in every cup of coffee drunk and served by: King Felipe and Queen Letizia, President Rajoy, the Ministers, the Parliament, MEPs and every official representing Spain and the European Union at the UN, the FAO, the OAS, the World Bank Fund International Monetary Fund, the OECD, etc. My daughter Isabel is Spanish. She is five years old. She is very concerned to see other children homeless and hungry. She does not understand much about economics or politics but you do. For Isabel and all children in Spain it would surely be a reason to be proud to know that their Queen led the most arduous and successful war against poverty and hunger, leading by example and daring to change the course of history.

As you know, because you are an extremely well informed person, I have proposed the eradication of poverty with a transparent shared value system (Shared Value, Prof. Michael Porter and Kramer) and put an end to false and cruel promises of charity to end poverty or with fake "Fair Trade". My proposal is to create a global fund to eradicate poverty with compensation of at least 10 cents per cup of coffee, tea and cocoa consumed in developed countries. Those 10 cents per cup would be invested on the very same communities that produce coffee, tea and cocoa. It is an easy business model that would and can end hunger and poverty and create a rural middle class where only hopelessness reigns today.

I understand the instances I will also address to President Mariano Rajoy, hoping that he and his ministers understand that the relationship with partners must respect the human rights of every girl and boy in rural communities and elsewhere in the world and that these rights are being violated by not even taking into account the production cost of many products.

Doña Letizia, I ask you that each coffee, tea and cocoa served in the Casa Real and in the Kingdom of Spain does not contribute to perpetuate poverty and hunger as it has been since colonial days. Even at a time of strict austerity Spain must compensate with a minimum of 10 cents per cup those who work so hard so that we can enjoy a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa every morning.

Transparent shared value in every cup of coffee, tea and cocoa and everything eaten and drunk by Queen Letizia, FAO Ambassador for Nutrition, anywhere in the world, must be an example for all the other heads of state and government in Europe and in other developed countries, and for all citizens worldwide to understand that small actions to fight poverty and hunger are much more effective than development assistance, and than the empty words to the wind of those who have never suffered hunger or poverty.

Doña Letizia, every cup of coffee, tea and cocoa CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. This is easy with a transparent shared value business model supported by consumers and by people like you who want to change the world to benefit the poorest.

If you are interested in our proposal to change the world please write to us info@cafeforchange.org