Thursday, February 12, 2009

Migration Policy Gone Awry: The Gulden Coffee Story, Part II

In 2007, Policy Innovations ran the story of Gulden Coffee, a fair trade coffee business based in New Jersey that imported coffee directly from Colombia. Yesterday, we learned that Gulden Coffee is being liquidated because one of the owners, who had an investor's visa, was not let back in the United States. Ironically, the end of her story in Policy Innovations talked about creating jobs in the United States:

I am proud that GÜLDEN Coffee is an American company, supporting increased trade and investment between the United States and Colombia. It will mean more jobs in both countries. The exchange with the farmer touched my heart, encouraging me to strive even harder to make my family's small business a success that I can share with coffee workers and small producers around the globe.

I spoke with one of the owners this morning to learn they will have to fire all of their employees (half a dozen) and liquidate a company in this terrible economic environment.

With Ana's permission, I am posting her email, which I received last night.

Dear Devin,

How are you? I hope everything is good for you.

I was reading your article about "Is Ethical Capitalism Possible?" and I decided to tell you something that happen to me and my company Gulden Coffee.

On November 2008 I came to Colombia because have to renewed my Investor visa (I am not yet an American residence). I came to your embassy for my interview. Unfortunately on that day I was told by the consul that I was not eligible for that kind of visa. I was also told that the main reason for such denial-decision was mostly related to the volume of my business; apparently such volume was not big enough, as it is required.

On December 23, 2008, following with the consul instructions, I came back to the embassy to apply for the business visa. As I explained to the consul, my main objective now was to go back to the USA and find a manager for my business. Again, the consul denied my application, apparently because of my lack of employment in Colombia. As I was explained by the consul, my profile didn't meet the criteria for that kind of visa. Needless to say, I tried my best to explain the consul why I didn't have employment in Colombia. I told him that the main reason was due to the fact that I have been in the USA since 2000, working hard, building my business and respecting and obeying all the USA laws.

Since that day I am trying to contact the American Ambassador via email and mail, and he did not answer (I enclosed the letter). So we decided to close our company, fire employees and explain to my clients why we are out of the business. I cannot believe that this happen to us. We are good people trying to do business, pay taxes and contributing for American Economy. I am in shock but if USA does not want us, I won't insist any more. I am in Colombia and I will open my business here and trying to build wherever I did in NY.

I want to thank you because you were very nice with us. If you are planning to came to Colombia please don't forget to contact me….I will always remember you…..take care,

Ana Maria Trejos-Gulden

I hope we will hear a happier part III to this story.

1 comment:

Warren Wilczewski said...

How Ironic. I assume that for the next few weeks or months little will be done at our embassies around the world, as the rotation of political appointees (Consuls, Ambassadors) takes place and those coming in acquaint themselves with their new positions. By then it will surely be too late to resurrect the business.

I suppose the only positive take on this story is that Ana will be returning to a much safer Columbia than the one she left, though I doubt this will be much consolation to all those losing their jobs and investments in the company.