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NAFTA, drugs…. and publishing

3 February 2014
blowfish 017

Four manuscripts in process, another torn apart and being edited, and three eBooks being prepared for release.

The good news is that Editorial Wisemaz has a lot of works in progress.  The bad news is that so much work has fallen in my lap that I don’t have the time (or energy) for much posting here.

While I catch up… there’s this, via Sterling Bennett, on the effects of NAFTA and the U.S. narcotics trade, by  Laura Poy Solano, translated by Mariana Silva.

According to leaders of the region, the Michoacán countryside is in very poor conditions, besides the fact that it is one of the three states with the most agricultural and forestry activity. The lack of safety and support for agricultural production has caused hundreds of families to migrate.

In separate interviews, Francisco Jimenez, from the Plan de Ayala National Coordinating Committee (CNPA), and Victor Suarez, from the National Association of Companies that Commercialize Agricultural Products (ANEC) stated that, due to lack of financing and “devastation” by the extortions of organized crime,

“many small farmers are growing crops for self-consumption, The threat is so big that not only their harvest and their soil are in danger, but also their lives.”

Jimenez, who is a national leader of the CNPA, pointed out that lime and avocado production are not the only ones that have been affected in the state.

“all agricultural production has to pay a fee [to organized crime]. Day-laborers have to surrender 20 pesos [US$1.50] from their daily 80 pesos [US$6.00] income. Landlords have to pay 120 pesos [US$9.00] for every hectare [2.5 acres] under cultivation each month, besides a minimum of a thousand pesos [US$75] for every hectare of corn. Lastly, warehouses have to pay at least 100 pesos [US$7.50] for every ton of corn.”

Farmers have no government support for production, and the retail prices for crops and vegetables are low. Moreover, there are no government policies to help the agricultural sector. All of this is happening 20 years after the North American Free Trade Agreement ( NAFTA) was signed, and the result has been

“ migration of thousands of farmers from their land and their communities, and the arrival of narcos that control the food production.”

He pointed out that it has been two decades

“since the government last considered agriculture as a priority, and the void has been filled by organized crime groups. For the last twenty years, there has been no public investment in agriculture; the sector has not grown, and the retail prices of the crops have been lower than the production costs. The sector has not been profitable and it has been unable to provide job opportunities for the young.”

All these factors, he explained, affect all states, but Michoacan suffers from it the most because of organized crime, since it controls the rural economy of the area. They do it by charging farmers a cuota to grow, harvest, transport and sell their products. A farmer has a production cost of 18 thousand pesos [US$1,350] per hectare of corn. If he produces six tons of crops, he will receive that same amount, but also have to pay the extortion fee.

Michoacán is one of the main producers of avocado, limes and strawberries. It also produces cereals and forage, which represent 68% of its crop area. Fruits and vegetables are grown on 26%, but they represent a 70% of the income from agricultural production.

Jimenez stated that organized crime not only affects farmers, but all the productive areas.

“The Knights Templar takes 8 pesos [US$.60] for every 2 pounds of beef produced in the state, and they take 5 pesos [US$.37] from butchers for every 2 pounds sold. It is estimated that in each of the 113 Michoacan municipalities, 1.5 million pesos [US$112,500] is gathered from the payment of cuotas.”

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