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Playing with the good life – English

What financial markets have to do with the suffering of farmers [Guideline].

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Germany, Frankfurt Stock exchange

2024
Stock market speculator

A large fan pushes the stuffy, thick office air against your face.

Sweat runs down your back as you follow the performance of your shares.

Prices on the stock market have been high for weeks.

Way too high.

Looking out of the window

Many experts are already talking about the falsification of the exchange rates, booms and are warning about the great recession.

The value of shares in renewable energies has almost doubled within a few days.

Your arrogant shareholders should be grateful that you always had the right nose in risky business.

Open eyes in shock

The bird flies straight at you and bounces off the screen.

Your gaze wanders to the screen. Damn.

The renewable energy stock price has lost 5 percentage points. That’s way too much. You literally fall out of your chair. Everything points to a financial crash.

Take a breath

Shouldn’t you be investing in commodity funds and coffee instead?

These sectors are speculative but could bring you big profits.

Get into the commodities business
Wait and see
Columbia, Barranquilla

3 months later
María

The old engine rattles to a halt. You get out and check whether the empty coffee sacks are still lying on the bed of the old truck.

The gas station operator is already rushing toward you, pleased about the late customers. “Can I help you?” he asks, “How would you like to fill up? Electric?

With hydrogen? Or do you need a new solar battery?”

Shaking head

Some of your relatives, who have switched to growing coca and doing business with the drug mafia, now have the money to afford electric motorcycles and expensive hydrogen cars.

You yourself have stuck to growing coffee and have to see how you get along.

Smile tiredly

“We also offer bio-fuel now,” the young man continues eagerly, “It’s hardly more expensive than regular gas, but you can do your bit for environmental protection with it.” Environmental protection is for the rich.

You’re already doing your best to take care of your coffee plants. On the other hand, prices on the world market are reasonably stable and you were able to sell your entire crop today.

Fill up with gasoline
Fill up with biofuel
Netherlands, The hague

2 years later
CEO of an oil company

Forests burn, workers load charred tree stumps onto a truck…the first tractors roll over the new soybean field.
The dense, impenetrable rainforest has become a new biofuel production. Images of emaciated families flicker across the screen.

You think of your own children. Is this what the future looks like?

Close video

You took up your position as head of the oil company in difficult times: The financial world is investing like crazy in renewable energy and more and more shareholders are selling their shares.

You were convinced that biofuels were the perfect solution to stop the stock’s plunge, satisfy shareholders’ thirst for profit, and do something for the environment.

Ignore call

You don’t know what to do.

You need to keep the corporation profitable and competitive; after all, 81,000 employees around the world depend on you for their jobs.

At the same time, heavy remorse plagues you as you think of the consequences your decision will cause.

Looking at smartphone

The call came from your good friend who speculates in the stock market. You could convince him to invest in the local region to give the indigenous population a perspective and protect the rainforest.

But will the people trust a person who has been making profits at their expense for years?

Thinking

You could also live on a smaller footing in the future, use all your personal assets for reforestation projects and food aid, and start an educational campaign among customers.

Only the corporation would probably be over and done with.

Keep the corporation running, ask your friend to do the rest
Change life and try to make up for mistakes.
Colombia, Barranquilla

30 years later
Stock market speculator

When your friend told you that she wanted to give up her entire fortune to save the rainforest, you just laughed.

But then the protests around the stock market increased and you had to donate a lot of money to save face.

Way too much money.

Wipe sweat from forehead

Colombia is hot. Way too hot.

You don’t know why all those coffee farmers who come to the gas station to fill up their trucks with hydrogen are in such a good mood.

You haven’t had much to laugh about since you lost your entire fortune in the last stock market crash. You’ve moved to Colombia to start all over again, as a hydrogen fueling station operator. The good times will come back.

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Somewhere in Colombia

5 years later
Stock market speculator

The shareholders fired you.

It was naive to follow the advice of your ex-girlfriend and former CEO of an oil company and invest in environmental projects in Argentina.

No wonder the corporation went bankrupt.

Feed the birds

Damn shareholders…the price of environmental projects recovered after a few months and they are now hitting the roof.

Unfortunately, you’re not seeing much of that money anymore. The big BMW is gone and you’re stuck in a little shack in Colombia.

Clean cage

A small-time dealer hooked you up with this bird farm. It was an opportunity to make a lot of money.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, the demand for luxury birds collapsed. No one could have foreseen that. You were stuck with those rare jungle birds.

Damn animals. They eat way too much.

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Venezuela, Caracas

2 years later
Prime Minister

Natural disasters and bloody uprisings have cost the lives of many citizens in Venezuela.

You ordered the military to take drastic measures to prevent the take-over of chaos in the country.

Read Situation Report

Currently, your government can only hold on because you control Venezuela’s major oil fields.

The demand for oil is great, and at the same time oil exports are the only secure business that brings money to the country. If this collapses even for a short time, the Venezuelan economy will fall into a deep hole.

Inflation will reach uncontrollable proportions and the military could turn away from you.

Thinking about the Chinese offer

The secret services of the USA are only waiting for the first signs of weakness to eliminate you. The critical voices among the people are getting louder and louder, action needs to be taken now.

The Republic of China has offered you a swap: You sell several ports of Venezuela and licenses for oil production, and in exchange Chinese engineers will help install hydroelectric and solar power plants in Venezuela.

And the oil?

The head of a major oil company has also made you a lucrative offer:

They’ll help you extract oil while ensuring that the situation in Venezuela remains stable by putting in a good word with the U.S. government.

Accept the offer of the oil company
Enter a pact with the Chinese
Venezuela, Cáracas

30 years later
Stock market speculator

“再见,” the friendly smiling robot says goodbye as you leave the Venezuelan Stock Exchange. Way too much Chinese.

Addis Abeba, Cairo, Hanoi, Tokyo…Wherever you go, Chinese is the new official language. You can’t stand the strange sound of that language.

Enter Transparent Graphene Tube

You are being shot with supersonic speed to the other end of the city, where you’re met by another robot 400 meters above the ground in your business hotel.

You hate this kind of locomotion. Way too fast, it always makes you sick.

Check in

You let your eyes wander over the massive skyline. The Chinese have invested heavily in their new overseas territory.

In its technical development, Cáracas can compete with world metropolises like Beijing or New York. The country is stable, the citizens compliant. Only the old president, who concluded the first deal with China, has not been heard from for a long time.

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Chile, Santiago de Chile

31 years later
Stock market speculator

Looking back, it was a mistake to move to Venezuela. For 20 years the economy was booming and you were making lots of money. Then the oil was pumped out.

In no time at all, several nuclear power plants were built on the Venezuelan coast. You invested heavily, of course.

Suppress groan

But then the reactors were hit by several hurricanes and a deadly tsunami.

The cooling system of several reactors failed, and a meltdown occurred, nuking the country.

Turn to the side

You managed to get out of the country before Venezuela’s neighboring countries closed the borders because of the unmanageable amount of refugees.

Now you share a bed with two other seriously ill patients. Diagnosis: advanced stage skin cancer.

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In the north of Colombia

2 weeks later
María

The truck – fully loaded with coffee beans – disappears from your field of vision and the setting sun illuminates the harvested plantations.

The last load.

Exhausted, you place the empty wood basket on the ground. With your relatives, you picked each bean by hand.

Enter hut

Your husband sits hunched over at the dining table, feeding the little one. The spots on his skin are impossible to overlook any longer.

Sit at table

You had hoped to finally buy medicine for your husband, but the world price of coffee is so low this year… and once again, you won’t be able to pay back the debt to the bank.

And what if coffee prices fall even further next year?

Looking for a way out

The women at the market have told you about the concept of “fair trade,” which promises farmers a secure income regardless of the world market price.

But you don’t know whether the price will be enough for your husband’s medicine. Another option would be to grow coca instead of coffee.

Your cousin has connections to the drug mafia and would make sure you get a good price for the crop.

Try your luck with fair trade
Switch to coca cultivation
Colombia, Barranquilla

1 year later
María

Joining the coffee cooperative was a good decision, because not only do you earn more, you also have the right to have a say in the cooperative.

In the meetings, you help deciding in which projects the cooperative invests the premiums that you receive when sales in Germany and the USA go well.

With the money you have built a secondary school with good teachers.

Look around

A banner with a Fairtrade seal is hanging on the wall.

The seal means you earn more, but it’s nothing compared to the supermarkets in Europe that pocket most of the markup.

Ignore clamor of voices

The members of the initiative are engaged in heated discussions. One farmer wants to become part of your small farmers’ cooperative. The problem is that you already produce more than the contract that you have made with buyers from Europe allows.

You have to sell the surplus on the world market at bad prices and then there is not enough money for your husband’s medicine.

Adding another member could further worsen the problem.

Make decision

“Silence please!” the chairperson shouts and the noise around you dies down, “We’re going to vote now!”

Don’t risk going back into debt! Vote against it
Show your solidarity, vote for their inclusion
In the north of Colombia

3 years later
María

It all turned out quite differently than you feared.

The demand of fairtrade coffee in Europe is increasing every year.

Your coffee cooperative has joined forces with other similar cooperatives around the world.

Continue

Together, you were able to negotiate a new contract ensuring that the main fairtrade revenue does not mostly benefit the supermarkets in Europe, but actually reaches your cooperative.

The cooperative now pays for your husband’s treatment, and you have been able to take on more farmers.

Smile

You look to the future with confidence.

The global spirit of solidarity will help you small farmers fight the challenges of climate change and commodity speculation in the financial markets.

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In the north of Colombia

3 years later
María

Things have turned out quite differently than you feared.

The demand for fair trade coffee in Europe has risen sharply and your cooperative has been able to negotiate a new contract that ensures that the main income from fair trade does not mainly benefit supermarkets in Europe, but actually reaches your cooperative.

Continue

You now have the money to support your husband and consider yourself lucky.

Nevertheless, you can’t get the fate of the farmer’s wife out of your mind, whom you didn’t accept into the cooperative back then.

You hope for the best for her, but inside you is the creeping premonition that she is now cultivating coca plantations for the mafia.

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Colombia, Medellín

6 years later
President

You’ve been in office less than two weeks, yet you feel as exhausted as if you’ve been the country’s president for years.

Time and again you receive news of mysterious assassinations and raids on military convoys, behind which you suspect the leaders of the drug cartels.

You have made a frequently heard campaign promise to your voters that none of your predecessors has been able to keep: State control of the drug trade.

Watch outside

American soldiers patrolling the open streets.

The influence of drug cartels and paramilitaries organizing the flow of drugs across the border is now so great that the U.S. military has once again intervened in Colombia.

But the intervention has only led to more violence and deaths.

Reflect

Your biggest problem is corruption within the police and military, and poverty, which has worsened in recent years.

It tempts farmers to collaborate with the drug cartels….

Drugs have been part of Colombia’s history for over 60 years. What to do to finally put an end to it?

Propose a deal to the mafia to end the violence
Break the influence of the drug lords, even if it is life threatening
In the north of Colombia

4 years later
María

Already from far away you see your husband standing at the door waving to you.

Since he has been taking his medication regularly, he is feeling better.

Nevertheless, something unusual must have happened, you can see it in the way he runs his hand impatiently through his beard.

Fastening your step

“You won’t believe it!” he exclaims breathlessly, “The president has been shot!

They say the mafia is behind it…” His voice trails off.

You lower your head and enter the hut. Mixed feelings rise in you.

Thinking of the president

You admired her, she was a brave and intelligent woman. But the new law she wanted to pass would have prevented you from continuing to grow coca and sell it to the drug lords.

The mafia is cruel. But they give you the money to pay for your husband’s medicines and to give your children a good education. Maybe it’s better the way things turned out.

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Germany, Frankfurt

2 years later
Stock Market Speculator

You regret that you sat down on an outdoor place.

It is way too hot here again.

Finally, the waitress brings you a Fairtrade coffee and your favorite newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Tip generously

Your speculative trading has made you rich. Very rich.

You take a sip of the delicious Arabica coffee, open the newspaper and skim the headlines:

Percentage of absolute poor in Colombia continues to rise – U.S. military withdraws from Colombia –

Turn the page

Corrupt elites in Colombia – Mafia bosses out of control….

No wonder this country has no economic growth… – You hear a soft ‘plop’. A bird has shit in your coffee.

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