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Who benefits from higher tortilla prices?

23 January 2007

Fred Rosen (writing in Sunday’s Mexico City Herald) sees two lessons from the tortilla crisis:  Mexico needs open markets and Mexico needs controlled markets.  In the meantime…

… when all is said and done, the tortilla crisis illuminates the fact that the future of the Mexican family farmer looks grimmer than ever. Max Correa, secretary general of a campesino group called the “Central Campesina Cardenista,” estimates that “for every five tons bought from foreign producers, one campesino becomes a candidate for migration.” The importing of the proposed 450,000 tons of white corn, he told a press conference last week, is likely to eliminate more than 100,000 jobs in the rural sector.

Meanwhile, the general popular response seems to be somewhere between resignation and cynicism.

The cousins who run a family owned tortillería on the outskirts of Cuernavaca where a good friend of mine buys her tortillas tell us they will not be raising their prices. “It´s still eight pesos for a dozen, just as it´s been for the past six months,” says one of the cousins as she places a dozen fresh yellow tortillas in a customer´s basket. “The flour we buy,” says another cousin, “comes from corn grown by local campesinos, mainly for self-consumption. The problem is not with the price of corn grown by local cultivators. They have gotten nothing from these price increases.”

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