Frontline World

About the Series

From the producers of FRONTLINE, a series of stories

from a new generation of video journalists.


Stories From a Small Planet

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE WORLD, three stories from a small planet.

In Lebanon, inside the militant Islamic group Hezbollah.

GHASSAN TUENI, Lebanese newspaper publisher: There is a great difference between Hezbollah and al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is a bunch of fools. Hezbollah is not pure terrorist. Hezbollah resorts to terrorism as an instrument, as a tool.

ANNOUNCER: Could they be next in the war on terror?

RICHARD ARMITAGE, Deputy Secretary of State: They’re on the list, and their time will come.

ANNOUNCER: And in Guatemala, the hunt for gourmet coffee.

SAM QUINONES, Reporter: They don’t speak the same language. They don’t have any of the same cultural references. About the only thing they do have in common, really, is coffee.

ANNOUNCER: And finally, Nepal, where Sherpa women dream of climbing Mount Everest.

Lebanon: Party of God

Reported by David Lewis

DAVID LEWIS, Reporter: [voice-over] Julius Caesar called this place Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. Two thousand years ago, the Romans built this temple to honor the god Jupiter. It was the largest temple in the Roman Empire, and the ruins are stunning. But I was almost alone here. Tourists avoid this place because of its more recent history as a haven for terrorists. Just over there, at the top of the hill, the militant Islamic group Hezbollah trained its fighters.

[on camera] We’re in the Bekaa Valley, on our way to Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold. The Bekaa has been famous for many years for having terrorist training camps, where terrorists from all over the world would come, and Hezbollah terrorists and others would train them-- counterfeiting, drug production, like opium and hashish.

Is that a Syrian position there? Syrian?

[voice-over] Syrian soldiers occupy this part of Lebanon. I had to stop at several checkpoints, both Syrian and Lebanese. Those are Syrian guns. They’re aimed at Israeli fighter jets, which cruise over Lebanon at will.

Syria has about 20,000 troops in Lebanon, and they control this town. The late Syrian dictator Hafez al Assad sent his army here during Lebanon’s long civil war, and they never left.

I came here at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy period. People were preparing to break their daily fast. Lebanon has a large Christian population, but two thirds of the country is Muslim.

Hikmat Sharif is a Lebanese reporter who showed me the back streets of Baalbek. This store sells Hezbollah souvenirs, like these icons of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who once dreamed of exporting Islamic revolution here. This is Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s charismatic leader. They sell Hezbollah rally music here and videos of Hezbollah guerrillas attacking Israeli soldiers.

HIKMAT SHARIF: This is Perfume for the Martyrs.

DAVID LEWIS: This is Hezbollah perfume. It’s called Perfume of the Martyrs.

HIKMAT SHARIF: See, that’s the flags of Hezbollah with the pictures of all those people who died.

DAVID LEWIS: Martyrs are what Hezbollah calls their fighters who died attacking the Israeli soldiers who invaded and occupied Lebanon. Their images line the streets of Baalbek. Some of these men were suicide bombers. They would inspire Palestinian militants.

At the edge of town, Hikmat showed me where in the 1980s Hezbollah used to hold Western hostages.

[on camera] So behind that building was where they were keeping the hostages, in houses over there?

HIKMAT SHARIF: Long time ago, they used to keep the hostages here. This is what they say.

DAVID LEWIS: And it was Hezbollah that was keeping them there?


DAVID LEWIS: [voice-over] The U.S. government now considers Hezbollah to be one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist groups, backed by Syria and by Iran.

HIKMAT SHARIF: From the beginning, when the Hezbollah came here to Baalbek, the first place they come to, they come to this area.

DAVID LEWIS: [on camera] This is the Iranian Revolutionary Guards? [crosstalk]

HIKMAT SHARIF: They came here in 1981.

DAVID LEWIS: [voice-over] With weapons and money from Iran, Hezbollah -- which means Party of God -- became a major force in Lebanon in the 1980s.

Suddenly, Hikmat pulled over.

HIKMAT SHARIF: I will talk to him. You film me.

DAVID LEWIS: [on camera] OK. Oh, boy. This is one of the kidnappers? Is that what he said, it’s one of the kidnappers? OK.

[voice-over] Only in Baalbek. Hikmat had spotted a man who had hijacked a passenger plane back in the 1980s.

HIKMAT SHARIF: You’re very lucky. You’re very lucky. This guy kidnapped a Jordanian plane and bombed it.

DAVID LEWIS: [on camera] What?

HIKMAT SHARIF: They kidnap it. They went to many Arabic countries. They bring it back. Then they bomb it.

DAVID LEWIS: [voice-over] Beirut still bears the scars of its 17-year-long civil war between Christians and Muslims, but there are many more signs of change. Today the city is eager to reclaim the reputation it once had as the Paris of the Middle East. In the fashionable restaurants, the tourists are back. This family from Bahrain invited me to join them.

MAN FROM BAHRAIN: Let me give you some wine. We are here just to see the Lebanon because we heard that there’s a new country coming in Lebanon after the war, after the civil war. But something I have to tell you about Lebanon. Lebanon so far has no middle class-- rich and poor, where you can find very rich people who can afford to spend as much as can think of, and poor who can’t even afford to eat.

DAVID LEWIS: This Palestinian refugee camp is not far from the newly Westernized center of the city, but it’s a world away. Here and throughout the country, Hezbollah gained legitimacy as the group that fought hardest against Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. They’re credited with finally driving out the Israelis after almost 20 years of a sometimes brutal occupation and after nearly 20,000 Lebanese had died.

I was able to negotiate my way into this Hezbollah political rally celebrating the anniversary of the Iranian revolution. Ayatollah Khomeini gazed down upon his fellow Shi’ites. They chanted for the destruction of the Israeli state.

DEMONSTRATORS: [subtitles] Death, death, death to Israel.

The secretary general of Hezbollah is Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Instead of the usual rhetoric about Israel, Nasrallah inveighed against the United States.

SHEIKH HASSAN NASRALLAH: [subtitles] The American war on Iraq is not to save the Iraqi people, nor is the goal of this American war the protection of the Kuwaiti people.

DAVID LEWIS: This rally was just before the war on Iraq.

SHEIKH HASSAN NASRALLAH: [subtitles] The Americans are following in the footsteps of the British. It is the duty of all to fight the Americans in defense of Iraq!

DAVID LEWIS: America and Hezbollah have a bloody history. When the United States intervened in Lebanon’s civil war, Hezbollah bombed the U.S. embassy twice. The shell of the embassy annex still stands. In 1983, a Hezbollah truck bomb killed 241 Marines in Beirut. Hezbollah suicide bombers have killed more Americans than any other terrorist group except for al Qaeda.

Next to the heavily fortified U.S. embassy, there’s a memorial to the Americans who died in the Hezbollah attacks. This history took on new meaning after September 11th. Now some in Washington want to go after Hezbollah.

RICHARD ARMITAGE, Deputy Secretary of State: [press conference] Hezbollah may be the A-team of terrorists, and maybe Al-Qaeda’s actually the B-team. And they’re on the list, and their time will come. There is no question about it. They have a blood debt to us and we’re not going to forget it. And it’s all in good time.

DAVID LEWIS: Hezbollah’s backers, Iran and Syria, have long been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror. Hezbollah was designated as a terrorist group in 1995.

[ Trace the rise of Hezbollah]

Ironically, in Lebanon, Hezbollah has been remaking itself as a mainstream political organization. They operate a satellite TV channel which reaches an audience of 10 million people in the Middle East, second only to Al Jazeera.

ANCHOR: Welcome to our news bulletin from Al Manar channel in Beirut.

DAVID LEWIS: It broadcasts news and entertainment, as well as propaganda like this.

Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: We’re going to hunt ‘em down. This mighty nation will not-- [pictures of George W. Bush juxtaposed with Adolf Hitler]

DAVID LEWIS: But in Lebanon, they’ve built a political organization. In recent years, it’s become the second largest political party in the Lebanese parliament. Amar Mussawi is one of their legislators. He started as a Hezbollah fighter. He was badly wounded. His brother was killed by the Israeli army.

AMAR MUSSAWI: [subtitles] What many Americans are not aware of is that Hezbollah is a Lebanese resistance movement against Israeli occupation.

DAVID LEWIS: [on camera] What was your reaction to the attack on the World Trade Center September 11th?

AMAR MUSSAWI: [subtitles] Of course, this was an unacceptable, unconscionable and irrational act.

DAVID LEWIS: [voice-over] Hezbollah has denounced American intervention in the Middle East, but Mussawi’s criticism of America was restrained.

AMAR MUSSAWI: [subtitles] America is a great country with a lot of good people and a lot of good resources. But when you have such a good country, you must adopt a more just and global view of the issues of the rest of the world.

DAVID LEWIS: Hezbollah wants to show off their social programs, to show the world they are more than just fighters or terrorists. They took me on a tour of one of their hospitals, one of the best in Beirut. And they’ve been building neighborhood clinics. Hezbollah runs a network of schools and social service agencies, which has helped legitimize the group throughout Lebanon.

ENGLISH TEACHER: Do you know the name of this room?

STUDENT: It’s a kitchen.

ENGLISH TEACHER: It’s a kitchen! Clap for him!

DAVID LEWIS: For historically poor Shi’ite Muslims, this is real progress. But it’s hard to ignore Hezbollah’s ideology and what some believe is indoctrination.

MUHAMMAD MUGRABI: The children who are educated through their schools are formed in a certain way which is different from other Lebanese children. It is a recipe for trouble for Lebanon.

DAVID LEWIS: Muhammad Mugrabi was one of the very few Lebanese willing to talk critically of Hezbollah on camera.

MUHAMMAD MUGRABI: Hezbollah is supposed to be a political party. In fact, it is an arm of the government. They are not subject to the rule of law and the principle of equal treatment under the law. They are more equal than other Lebanese.

DAVID LEWIS: Mugrabi, a Muslim himself, is a lawyer and human rights activist. He challenged Hezbollah in court but lost.

MUHAMMAD MUGRABI: And this is the way it works with Hezbollah. It has its own authority on behalf of the Lebanese government, and no one can touch it.

DAVID LEWIS: So long as Hezbollah is supported by Syria, their position in Lebanon is untouchable. Syria dominates this country. This makes Lebanon’s independence day celebration a strange exercise in political theater. The only guests were government ministers, dignitaries and the press. Lebanese citizens were not invited. That’s President Emile Lahoud on the right. He’s democratically elected, but doesn’t make an important move without Syrian approval. And there’s General Soleiman, commander of the armed forces, but his troops are overshadowed by the Syrian army. President Lahoud isn’t anxious to talk about Hezbollah or Syria. He turned down my request for an interview.

The parade had a make-believe quality. The same eight helicopters kept flying overhead. And for its closing number, the band played a familiar song, the theme from Monty Python.

I headed south, to an area where the Lebanese army has no authority. This is where Hezbollah holds sway, in the most heavily Shi’ite part of the country. It’s also where they won their greatest military victories against Israel, fighting for almost two decades until Israel withdrew in 2000. Their successful guerrilla tactics became a model for radical Palestinians.

The United States wants the Lebanese army to replace the Hezbollah fighters along the border with Israel, but Lebanon has refused, unwilling to take on the Syrian-Hezbollah alliance. A thin blue line of U.N. peacekeepers stands watch along the border. But as a Hezbollah fighter approached, it was clear who’s in charge.

It’s quiet here now, but as the U.S. pushes all the parties, including Syria, towards a new Middle East peace plan, Hezbollah says they will follow their own path.

Every year, Hezbollah shows off its muscle with a grand display of force on Jerusalem Day. Officially, like Iran, they reject Israel’s right to exist, but the message is also that they’ll defend their stake here in Lebanon.

Throughout my journey, I was told that to understand Hezbollah and its future, I should talk to this man.

Grand Ayatollah SAYEED HASSAN FADLALLAH: [subtitles] The American administration is an Israeli administration governed by the Israelis, not by the American people.

DAVID LEWIS: Grand Ayatollah Sayeed Hassan Fadlallah denies any official role but is considered the spiritual leader of Hezbollah. Allegedly, he’s the man who first gave religious approval to suicide bombings back in the early 1980s. I asked him if he had any regrets about all the blood that has been shed in Lebanon, as well as Israel.

Grand Ayatollah SAYEED HASSAN FADLALLAH: [subtitles] When these martyrdom operations take place during a time of war, then they are governed by the logic of war. I am pained by every drop of blood that is shed, but I believe those who create this climate of war are responsible.

DAVID LEWIS: Fadlallah defends Hezbollah and Palestinian militants as national resistance movements.

Grand Ayatollah SAYEED HASSAN FADLALLAH: [subtitles] I see Hezbollah as a party that is trying to liberate its country and liberate other countries perhaps suffering from occupation. The resistance in Lebanon and the resistance in Palestine are trying to liberate their countries from occupation.

DAVID LEWIS: It all seemed familiar and uncompromising. Except for a moment when Fadlallah seemed to leave the door open to a two-state political solution.

Grand Ayatollah SAYEED HASSAN FADLALLAH: [subtitles] I am sure that if Israel withdrew, that not a single Palestinian would commit any suicide attacks.

DAVID LEWIS: But in their rallies, I only heard a hard line from Sheikh Nasrallah on the U.S. and Israel.

SHEIKH HASSAN NASRALLAH: [subtitles] The intentions of the United States are clear. They wish to control this region and redraw the map of this region. They wish to give more prominence to Israel, to force their own conditions on the Palestinians, Lebanese and others, and to end the Arab-Israel conflict with Israel’s interests in mind.

DAVID LEWIS: This is the public rhetoric the U.S. will have to contend with if it’s going to navigate the tough road to peace in this region.

But when I saw Amar Mussawi, the Hezbollah politician, I was reminded of what he’d told me in private and which, in the world of Hezbollah, passes for some measure of hope.

[on camera] Is there a possibility of peace between Israel and Hezbollah?

AMAR MUSSAWI: [subtitles] Israel has a policy of aggression and occupation. How can you have peace with such a state? If there is no more aggression and no more occupation, then we can talk.

DAVID LEWIS: As for that old blood debt with the United States, there’s little doubt how Hezbollah will respond if the U.S. takes them on.

AMAR MUSSAWI: [subtitles] We will not stand idle if we are attacked. We will defend ourselves with all means possible. Whether it is Israel or the United States, whenever we are attacked by somebody who wants to attack our lands, take our freedom, we will reply.

DEMONSTRATORS: [Jerusalem Day rally] We take an oath to God to uphold our promise! An oath to the One Almighty God!

ANNOUNCER: Coming up later, a journey to the Himalayas, where a team of Sherpa women attempt to climb Mount Everest.

But first, the search for the perfect cup of coffee.

Guatemala: Coffee Country

Reported by Sam Quinones

SAM QUINONES, Reporter: [voice-over] Many people think of Guatemala as the quintessential banana republic, but it’s really more of a coffee republic. For years, it’s been the number one industry here. This is what I’ve come expecting to find, a classic coffee plantation, Finca Dos Marias, a way of life seemingly unchanged since the owners first built this farmhouse 100 years ago, a mail-order design shipped from Sears & Roebuck in boxes.

On the surface, it all seems ideal. But the owner, Mireya Jones, whose great-grandfather built the Finca, says there’s a coffee crisis here. Worldwide, there’s too much coffee, and prices have plummeted. So to keep paying her workers a good wage, Mireya has to subsidize them from family savings. Most of her neighbors haven’t been able to do that and have been forced to abandon their farms.

MIREYA JONES: This is our neighbor’s finca, that had to be purchased or taken over by the government because of the abandonment here. And you can see the difference. Lookit, here are the-- the coffee trees are just literally missing among the over-growth. And it’s so sad because this was a thriving finca, with the same sort of quality coffee as ours.

SAM QUINONES: She sent us to check out her next-door neighbors, the historic Baluarte estate.

[on camera] Oh, man! Look at this house! This is what happens when coffee prices hit historic lows. People just get the hell out. We’re in the middle of a-- of a home that’s just simply gorgeous-- large rooms, hardwood floors, tall ceilings. No one lives here.

[voice-over] Though no one was living in the hacienda, a few hundred of the workers had formed a cooperative and started to farm the land. The competition from huge new coffee plantations in Brazil and Vietnam have driven down the price of coffee, and now they had nowhere to sell their beans. It was piling up and beginning to rot.

FARMER: [subtitles] So we’re looking for markets where we can sell the coffee for a better price and help us solve our business problems.

SAM QUINONES: The crisis has devastated the area. The pueblo of La Reforma is like a ghost town. Once-thriving stores have been left with empty shelves. The only work around here is in coffee. These men are still trying to make a living in the fields.

(on camera): He’s just had to take his kids out of school. No money. They have to work to help maintain the family. That’s-- that’s the bottom line.

WORKER: [subtitles] Of course we’re sad about this, but if we can’t even afford food, how can we send them to school?

SAM QUINONES: [voice-over] And even local farmers with their own fields are trapped at the bottom of the system.

[on camera] He just told me that he’s getting 7 cents a pound for his coffee, way below the cost of what it takes to grow it. And he’s getting that primarily because he has no access to anything besides middlemen.

FARMER: Coyotes.


[ Follow your coffee order]

SAM QUINONES: [voice-over] We found out what it would mean for the people left with no jobs.

[on camera] He wants to leave here. He wants to emigrate illegally to the United States. That’s how tough things are. He just has no other option. He wants to get out of here.

[voice-over] Mr. Lopez wanted to follow the path of many in La Reforma who had made the perilous trip north to try and cross illegally into the United States.

Up the hill at Finca Dos Marias, the workers and their children are still protected. The plantation’s school children greet a group of visiting Americans. They’re coffee buyers and the people we’ve followed here. This is Bob Stiller. He’s the founder of Green Mountain, a Vermont specialty coffee company. On his visit to the finca, he wasn’t expecting Mireya Jones to take him next door to the Baluarte estate. She wants him to listen to the plight of the co-op workers, whose only real hope of survival is to find a buyer like Green Mountain. Unless that happens, many of them will have to leave the farm.

INTERPRETER: They are interested to know what are you going to do because they are in an association of 125 people, and they are completely out of money at this time.

BOB STILLER: [unintelligible] say that we would be interested in the higher-quality coffee, if they’re needing money. You know, we would not be interested in their lower grades. And maybe they could do something with that because cause we couldn’t help them with that.

FARMER: [subtitles] This is our first crop of coffee. We’re praying to God and hoping that you can help us.

JEFF WETTSTEIN, CFO Green Mountain Coffee Roasters: We have purchased much of our coffee for this year, and we will try to buy some amount. And we don’t know how much today. So much depends on the cup quality, as we evaluate it over these next few days.

SAM QUINONES: Bob Stiller is in a tough position. He wants to help these farmers, but he can only commit to buying the kind of high-quality coffee that would appeal to his upscale customers.

BOB STILLER: It’s a very complex situation that really perplexes me, how to help these people. I mean, you have 125 families here, with land and opportunity. They all want to work hard. They want to live a life, and we don’t have an answer. You know, we can try a few things but, you know, is it going to work?

SAM QUINONES: There is some hope for the workers at the Baluarte estate. Later we found out that some of their coffee met Green Mountain’s standards, and Bob Stiller agreed to buy from them. The cooperative will survive another year.

Flying south, our pilot pointed out one abandoned coffee field after another. Coffee was once Guatemala’s number one source of cash. These days, the country gets more money from immigrants in the United States sending funds home to their families. It’s this crisis that has brought Bob Stiller here, together with Nell Newman, who runs Newman’s Own Organics.

We’re on our way to visit an organic cooperative near the shores of Lake Atitlan. The only way to get to our destination was to hike high into the mountains on an ancient Mayan trail. This is one of Green Mountain’s suppliers. They deal directly with these farmers, paying a good price for their high-quality coffee, cutting out the coyotes and leaving more money for the cooperative. Unlike the big coffee producers, they rely entirely on organic farming methods.

NELL NEWMAN: Do they compost? Do they--

Its very different to read a book about how coffee is made and to look at some pictures than to actually physically come here and walk up through the dust, into the jungle and see it.

SAM QUINONES: Because of their growing methods and that they’re a cooperative with no middlemen, Green Mountain will pay them a guaranteed price. It’s a concept called Fair Trade.

LYNSEY BOLGER, Green Mountain Coffee: [subtitles] The main coffee we use in this is from your farm.

FARMER: [subtitles] Except it’s roasted?

LYNSEY BOLGER: [subtitles] Yes.

SAM QUINONES: Before this moment, they’ve never actually seen their own coffee in the package. Green Mountain uses the images of indigenous farmers to sell their coffee in upscale supermarkets. But this is the first time they’ve even smelled the roasted coffee.

Like most Guatemalans, these farmers don’t even drink coffee. Indigenous people in Guatemala drink lots of sweet sodas. They may have tried low-grade coffee before, but this it the first time they’ve tasted what upscale consumers in the States want. This village is doing well. Because of Fair Trade, they feel their children have a future.

[on camera] He has been able to send his son to university -- he’s studying accounting -- in the capital, in Guatemala City.

PAUL RICE: Fair Trade is a model that helps small family farmers in coffee-producing countries to get organized, to develop their own marketing businesses and to take their coffee direct to the market.

SAM QUINONES: [voice-over] This is Paul Rice. He certifies and promotes Fair Trade around the world.

PAUL RICE: Fair trade farmers today are getting a $1.26 per pound, as compared with what the farmers here are telling us they’re getting from local buyers, on average around 20 cents per pound. So the difference is enormous, and that difference, in concrete terms, means being able to stay on the land with your family, as opposed to having to abandon your family to move to the United States.

SAM QUINONES: Here in Mexico, where the coffee crisis affects many more people than in Guatemala, Fair Trade has just begun to take hold in a few places.

[on camera] We’re on a very bumpy, very jagged road leading up to a village called Los Naranjos, Mountains of Oaxaca, which is a coffee-growing area where the buyers on this trip have been buying coffee for about three or four years, I think.

[voice-over] Everyone in this Zapotek Indian village is part of a Fair Trade cooperative.

BOB STILLER: Their coffee is one of the finest produced from the organic Fair Trade, and I’m very excited to be here to thank everyone from my heart for the great work that they do. Gracias.

SAM QUINONES: [on camera] You know, this is-- you’re trying to bring together people who almost literally have nothing in common. They don’t speak the same language. They don’t have any of the same cultural references. About the only thing they do have in common really is coffee. That’s about it, you know? And so it’s really awkward.

[voice-over] But what they do have in common is a need to get to know each other. And if they’re going to be partners, they’re going to have to learn about each other’s strange tribal rituals.

BUYER: [subtitles] When you have the coffee ready, you put in the boiling water. This is called a "French press." You do it like this.

SAM QUINONES: You could see these guys as modern-day conquistadores, this time converting Zapotek Indians to coffee instead of Christianity. But that’s too cynical. One of the by-products of globalization that I like is the strange bedfellows it creates. The growers we met here were quite savvy, pressing the Green Mountain folks for low-interest loans so they could process the coffee right here and increase their profits.

DAVE GRISWALD: Historically, in Mexico, the tradition has been that everybody just-- coffee is coffee. There’s been a tendency to sort of put all those beans together, and now we’re saying, "No, separate out the very best ones. Get them certified for organic because you don’t put chemicals on them and you can sell them for a higher price." But that’s-- that makes it difficult because you’re changing decades and decades of behavior.

SAM QUINONES: That’s what’s happening here, at a mill in the state of Veracruz. They used to process the good with the bad. Now their energies go into sifting out the highest-quality beans. Here on the belt, workers are looking for the one bad bean that can spoil 100 pounds of coffee. These workers are trying to reinvent themselves as quality-control perfectionists.

Teaching the art of perfection is part of Lynsey Bolger’s job. She’s a Green Mountain coffee taster, one of the best in the business. Lynsey treats coffee as a specialty gourmet drink, something like wine. Here she’ll decide if two batches of coffee meet Green Mountain’s standards. It’s a tense moment. Without a Fair Trade price, the farmers will actually lose money on their harvest.

LYNSEY BOLGER: There’s a lot of coffee riding on this particular exercise, to the tune of about 37,000 pounds of coffee. We’re in a position now to approve this coffee or reject it, so it’s kind of the moment of truth.

What we’re looking for is a 75, at a minimum. Ideally, these coffees will score in the high 70s, low 80s. The first sample, I found it to be a little thin, and I actually found one cup that had a very astringent flavor, which I detected as a defect, and I think it was an under-ripe bean.

[subtitles] The first coffee I gave a 74.

SAM QUINONES: It’s a mixed result for the cooperative. Lynsey can only commit to buy half of their coffee. This may seem tough, but they say that over the last two years, they’ve learned from the rigorous process.

[on camera] They’re telling me, of course, that this really helps them determine which is the better coffee, which coffee can be sold at specialty rates to a specialty public, and which not.

[voice-over] It had never occurred to me before how much depends on this, on these careful but subjective judgments and, until I’d made this journey, how much is at stake and how many lives can be affected by the taste of a cup of coffee.

I headed home to Mexico City, where there was one stop I had to make.

[on camera] We’re heading up Insurgentes, not far from where I live in La Colonia Roma. We’re heading to Starbucks.

[voice-over] It turns out Starbucks had just opened their first branch in Mexico-- in fact, the first Starbucks in all of Latin America. Inside the comforting bubble of Starbucks, there’s no coffee crisis, unless you consider the price of a grande latte.

[on camera] [subtitles] A frappucino please.

[voice-over] Not that it usually matters to me.

[on camera] I hate coffee, OK?

CLERK: [subtitles] You hate it?

SAM QUINONES: [subtitles] It’s not for me, it’s for him.

[voice-over] Like me, Mexicans are not big coffee drinkers. But there is a growing middle class in Mexico, and they’re ready to try something new. Starbucks has made a lot of money selling specialty coffee, and they actually sell Fair Trade coffee. But it’s a small percentage of their business, and mostly you have to ask for it. Most of the customers we talked to hadn’t heard of the concept.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s one way some of this coffee money can get back to the people in the fields who need to earn a living from it.

ANNOUNCER: Finally, Sherpa women on top of the world.

Nepal: Dreams of Chomolongma

Reported by Ramyata Limbu and Sapana Sakya

SAPANA SAKYA, Reporter: There’s a fire that burns at Everest base camp, a puja. The Sherpas light incense before every expedition to seek permission from the mountain. They keep it burning as long as a team is on the mountain, to pray for their safety. To the Sherpa people, the mountain is Chomolongma, Mother, Goddess of the Universe. Ever since the first men summited Everest 50 years ago, many have followed in their footsteps. Many have perished. And no Sherpa woman has survived the mountain. This puja is for five Sherpa women who hope to make history.

Along the Everest trail, in the shadow of the region’s most famous monastery, Tengboche, there is a lodge popular with trekkers and mountaineers. It’s run by the eldest member of the team, Mingma.

MINGMA: [subtitles] I try to prove that even without a man, I can succeed.

SAPANA SAKYA: Mingma’s mother remembers her daughter’s birth.

MINGMA’S MOTHER: [subtitles] When I was in labor with Mingma, my body suffered terribly. Right after she was born, I said to my husband, "The baby is here." He looked at the baby and said, "What good is another daughter?" I washed the baby and held her to my breast and she started to feed. I felt sorry for her, so I decided to keep her.

SAPANA SAKYA: Mingma has been a successful businesswoman since her divorce nine years ago. She had planned to climb Everest with her ex-husband, but she says he simply wanted to use her as his porter.

MINGMA: [subtitles] I lost my desire to climb after that. I’m going to climb Everest to prove that women are no less than men.

SAPANA SAKYA: The Sherpa women’s team is confident of making it to the top of Everest, especially the youngest member, Dawa.

DAWA: [subtitles] I think this climb will be easy. We climb these mountains just to graze our yaks.

SAPANA SAKYA: Dawa, like many Sherpa women, did not go to school.

DAWA: [subtitles] I started to work as a child to help my family. I worked as a yak driver, bringing supplies to base camps.

SAPANA SAKYA: Forming the first Nepalese women’s team was Lakpa’s idea. She is the leader. Lakpa is always forging ahead.

LAKPA: [subtitles] It’s difficult for me to walk slowly. When I hike, I like to be in my own world.

SAPANA SAKYA: Lakpa’s distance from the team disturbed Mingma and the others.

MINGMA: [subtitles] That’s not good for a leader. She’s supposed to oversee things.

LAKPA: [subtitles] It’s not that I don’t want to walk with them. But when I walk slowly, I feel more sluggish. So if I walk fast, my body warms up and I feel stronger.

SAPANA SAKYA: Like Mingma, team leader Lakpa was driven to succeed despite the obstacles she faced in her life.

LAKPA: [subtitles] I’m not an educated person. I don’t want to get married. I had a terrible experience once. We weren’t married, we were in love. I have a son. He was not faithful to me. He had many other women. He looked down on me because I was from the country.

If I climb Everest, I can be somebody. I can be famous. I want to dedicate my life to the Himalayas.

SAPANA SAKYA: At 17,500 feet, the women’s team and their male support staff quickly settle in. Their comfort at high altitude gives them an edge over the foreign expeditions.

MALE SHERPA: If this was a foreign women’s team, we would just say "Yes, yes" to orders. But because they are like our sisters, we advise them. Sometimes we even scold them.

MINGMA: [subtitles] All the men teased us, saying it would be hard. But they were all wrong. They said we’d be on our hands and knees across the ladders at the Icefall. But that didn’t happen. We had a great time.

SAPANA SAKYA: Just above Base Camp, climbers must cross the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, a constantly shifting glacier riddled with deep crevasses. But team leader Lakpa doesn’t think about death.

LAKPA: [subtitles] I won’t force things on the mountain. If you worry about death, it will affect your will to continue.

SAPANA SAKYA: The team must cross the Icefall many times to set up camps at higher and higher altitudes.

LAKPA: [subtitles] I’m not thinking about my family. The only thing I think about is whether I’ll make it. I won’t turn back until I summit.

SAPANA SAKYA: Going up is just halfway. The only other Sherpa woman to attempt Everest died on her way down.

The night before leaving to set up the last camp, the team is in good spirits. The Sherpas are well aware of the dangers on Everest.

PHURBA: [subtitles] It’s hard. There might be high winds or deep snow that could make you turn back.

SAPANA SAKYA: For the Sherpas, Chomolongma is in control, not the climber. There are many superstitions. The women’s team has been on the mountain for three days now, setting up Camp 3 at 23,000 feet. Mingma and Dawa descend across the Icefall for their last rest at Base Camp. Mingma tells about her night at Camp 3.

MINGMA: [subtitles] I’m not going up again. I had a nightmare that made me feel uneasy. I dreamt a shopkeeper handed me six bloody chicken heads. And all these monks came to visit me.

SAPANA SAKYA: Sherpas believe that dreams with monks and blood foreshadow death.

MINGMA: [subtitles] Once I had a similar experience, where I had a bad dream and fell very ill. That’s why I don’t want to risk it this time. I’m really sorry, but what can I do? I have two children. There’s no one else to look after them.

SAPANA SAKYA: In the next few days, two other women will drop out, leaving only Lakpa and young Dawa to attempt the summit. The team is camped at 26,300 feet to gather strength for their last push to the peak. Mingma and the other women wait impatiently at Base Camp. They’re confident at least Dawa will summit. But over the next few days, the weather deteriorates and they lose radio contact.

It is clear something has gone wrong. Climbers are descending. Dawa had reached over 28,000 feet, only a few hundred feet short of the summit. She was ahead of Lakpa and decided to wait. While waiting, she became ill and insisted that she did not want to continue the climb. Now she’s regretting her decision. Lakpa is now their only hope.

MINGMA: [subtitles] Hello, Everest summit? Everest summit? Over.

SAPANA SAKYA: At 6:30 AM, they finally hear from the team.

PHURBA: [subtitles] Lakpa has reached the summit. The team’s a success!

MINGMA: OK. OK. [subtitles] Congratulations from Base Camp. We’re all very happy.

LAKPA’S COUSIN: [subtitles] Did you summit?

LAKPA: [subtitles] Yes. We reached the top.

SAPANA SAKYA: Lakpa fulfilled her dream.

LAKPA’S COUSIN: [subtitles] When are you coming down?

LAKPA: [subtitles] I still feel attached to Everest. I’ll stay at Camp Two a little longer.

SAPANA SAKYA: Lakpa has become the first Nepalese woman to summit Everest and survive. After the climb, Mingma went back to running her lodge. Dawa got married, and she’s busy with her 2-year-old baby. And Lakpa became a national hero and then summited Everest a second time. This month, she’s back on the mountain, trying again. She wants to be the first woman ever to reach the summit three times.













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