[ View the story "Blood Avocados" on Storify] Blood Avocados
AJAMStream· Tue, Nov 26 2013 15:16:54
The Michoacán region of Western Mexico has become a
for Mexican drug cartels. The cartel Knights Templar, formerly
, has turned its attention to avocado farms, taxing farmers based on the volume of their exports. The Knights Templar, or
1,500 pesos per hectare of planted avocado for domestic sales and 3,000 pesos ($250)/hectare for exports.
Mexico's president Felipe Calderon, who held office from 2006 to 2012, made an effort to halt drug-related extortion, in part by
Mexico's relationship with the United States. He also
military troops to keep the peace between the cartels and local farmers. Many in the region
that the military has only been partially successful, as extortion continues.
This map shows the Michoacán region.
In response to cartel control, farmers and local families have
vigilante groups to fight back against the cartels, gaining control of many villages, which they call "
." In this video, the leader of one such citizen group calls on others to join her cause.
At the 1:15 mark, activist Nestora Salgado Garcia says "
Please, gentlemen, unite. If there aren't going to be police here with us, we need your support for a united town. You know that in unity there is strength. I am asking for your support, asking for the support and union that we need in order to defend our children with everything we have."
Palabras de Nestora en Buenavistaarmagedonmaya
Some community vigilante groups
on social media. This image is from the group "
For a Free Michoacan
On their Facebook page, the group posted photos and videos of members.
Photos from Por Un Michoacan Con... - Por Un Michoacan Con Libertad | FacebookFacebook
Using similar language, the group in the video below, which identifies itself as the "Jalisco Cartel New Generation Warriors," asks permission for their vigilante activities from the government.
The narrator states the following at 1:35: "
The people are tired of all of these injustices. They don't speak up out of fear, but we, who are originally from the area of Michoacán, we are witnesses to all of these aberrations that you, the Caballeros Templarios [Knights Templar] , commit. We, the Guerreros del Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, are fighting this cause. Not to govern the Michoacan area, but to end all of these ills that are interfering with the peace and tranquility of these states - and so to recover our houses, our land, and our livestock."
GUERREROS DEL CARTEL DE JALISCOBorderland Beat
Drug cartels are not "nameless, faceless goons." According to Yale Professor Rodrigo Canales, they are actually very successful at public relations.
Rodrigo Canales: The deadly genius of drug cartels | Video on TED.comTED Talks Up to 100,000 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico in the last 6 years. We might think this has nothing to do with us...
In this video, a leader of the
Templarios defends his organization's activities, saying they are trying to make Michoacan safe for everyone.
"La Tuta" líder de Los Caballeros Templarios envía mensaje en redes socialesGrillonautas2
The Stream community's immediate reaction to the cartel's reported link to avocados was to boycott the produce.
Instead of interfering in wars in the Middle East we should focus more on the enemy so close to our border line and free Mexico from the cartels :) boycott their products is more peaceful venue.Suzan Mu-adi
@AJAMStream As a consumer,I don't know how much more I can do other than boycott them. Hurts the farmers,but hopefully,helps long term.Hend
However, as some commented, studies and past events have shown that this tactic is
Boycotting the food is not going to affect the cartel(s) much at all. Let law enforcement deal with it.John Chapman
@AJAMStream consumer vs state is different from consumer vs drug cartel. I'm sure they'll find another lucrative way to keep a strong arm.Roxanne
Others commented on the drug cartels' diversification, with some advocating drug legalization as a way to limit the cartels' power.
we could start by ending the frivilous drug war, legitimize some of these drugs and take the money right out of the cartel's hands. but our politicians don't go by what's logical, they go by wherever their ugly snouts can sniff the most cash.Jacob Villin
@AJAMStream @CanalesRo our drug laws just put billions of dollars into the hands of drug lords. Prohibition DOES NOT WORK.victor ramõn