Abel Bautista looked out at the vast pastures around him and frowned. “Once,” he said, “there were lines of people here for the harvest.”
Now, instead of coffee, these verdant hills near the Honduran border with Guatemala boast few trees and almost none of the eager workers, like him, who once picked them.
Times are so hard here in his hometown that Bautista, a 40-year-old farm worker, recently made the long, perilous trek with a 15-year-old son across two national borders in a failed attempt to enter the United States. More than a dozen others from his extended family, including a teenage daughter, have made similar journeys in recent years, most successfully crossing the Rio Grande.
One nephew and his infant son, family members say, disappeared along the way.
It’s not just that cattle have replaced the more labor-intensive coffee crop in this highland corner of the third-poorest country in the…