SCAA announces Ethiopia as The Event Portrait Country

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has announced that Ethiopia has been chosen as the Portrait Country of The Event, to be held in Seattle in April. The announcement comes following a report that the SCAA originally chose Uganda as the Portrait Country but then retracted the offer due to the country’s poor human rights record. “The SCAA takes human rights very seriously,” said Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director of the SCAA told GCR Magazine. “Though our sympathies are aligned with the coffee producers in a country rather than any government, we ultimately decided the sponsorship of Uganda was too controversial to proceed, and the portrait country sponsorship might actually do more harm than good.” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni drew widespread criticism from the international community in August 2014 when he introduced even harsher penalties to the countries existing Anti-Homosexuality Act. Museveni’s controversial change banned the promotion of homosexuality and enabled life sentences to be imposed for various same-sex acts, including touching in public. Despite the fact that it was overturned, the country is still receiving considerable condemnation from human rights group for its treatment of its gay community. The abolishment of the Museveni’s new laws, which the Constitutional Court ruled were illegally introduced, appears to have come too late for the country’s coffee farmers. The SCAA said it is now looking at other ways to promote Uganda’s coffee industry. The association said in a statement this month that it is excited to announce Ethiopia as the 2015 Official Portrait Country Sponsor. The SCAA said that the partnership would play a pivotal role in the overall theme of the show. “They (the Portrait Country) will not only introduce attendees to the coffees of their homeland, they (will) also present a significant cultural component to the show in the form of entertainment, presentations and local gatherings,” said the SCAA. The SCAA said that for the third year Starbucks would be returning as the Official Host Sponsor of the Event.

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