Padre Farns

Franciso Vanderhoff tribute by Bob Thomson

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Franciso Vanderhoff Boersma ended his earthly journey yesterday and what a journey it was. He was proud to call himself a “soixante huiteur”, a student radical in Holland. He was a farm boy who earned 3 doctorates in theology, economics and development. He learned English in a matter of months to teach at the University of Ottawa but when Allende was elected in Chile he decided his true vocation was as a “worker priest”. He went to work in the mines of Chile until 9/11/73 when the U.S. orchestrated a coup. Frans was warned that he was on the hit list of Pinochet and fled to Mexico City. Still feeling “hunted”, he asked Bishop Arturo of Oaxaca if there was work he could do in rural Oaxaca and the Bishop suggested he could assist the desperately poor peasant coffee farmers - the beginning of the amazing development of Fair Trade. He died yesterday in Oaxaca deeply loved and admired by so many locally and globally. He was precious - his wisdom, his humour and his kindness - and I am so thankful to have had him as a friend in my life.

Father Frans Vanderhof dies, founder of UCIRI, precursor of fair trade and organic agriculture, dies

Francisco Vanderhoff Boersma (1939-2024), Catholic priest and founder of the UCIRI, the oldest coffee organization in Oaxaca, died last night - February 13 - at the age of 84. For the Union of Indigenous Coffee Growers of the Isthmus Region (UCIRI), the father of Dutch origin was a social fighter, a pioneer, along with the indigenous peoples of the Mixe-Zapotec region, of fair trade and organic production in the country. .

Through a statement on social networks, UCIRI confirmed the news: “A love story for indigenous communities for more than 4 decades, for justice, for coffee. He was a pioneer and promoter of organic agriculture and fair trade. Outstanding and beloved Father Frans, who with love and humility walked paths where he leaves his mark forever. His presence was always a reason for hope and joy. Goodbye Father Frans, we love you and miss you. Rest in peace".

Frans was a priest of the Sacred Heart (MSSC), he was in Chile between 1970 and 1973 and fled to Mexico, due to the repression of the Pinochet dictatorship; He took refuge in the diocese of Cuernavaca and was very close to Bishop Sergio Méndez Arceo. Frans directed the Center for Ecumenical Studies (CEE). In the diocese of Tehuantepec he collaborated with Bishop Arturo Lona, that is where he founded the UCIRI.

UCIRI, “mother” of all organic coffee organizations, was the first to export coffee to Europe. Frans founded in Holland, with other partners, the first global fair trade initiative with the Max Havelaar seal, to ensure that the majority of the income from its sale reached the direct producer and his organization.

Together with Nico Roozen, Vanderhoff published “The Adventure of Fair Trade: An Alternative to Globalization” and in 2012 “Manifesto of the Poor, Solutions Come from Below.” The text includes Vanderhoff's ideas on the conception and practice of fair trade. He received multiple national and international recognitions.

MANIFIESTO DE LOS POBRES [Manifesto of the Poor] a book by Francisco Van der Hoff Boersma, 2011 76 pages [Spanish]

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