The success of Mexican avocado exports, which reached 358,000 million dollars last year, has helped many producers from rural areas escape poverty, especially in the state of Michoacan. Unfortunately, it has also drawn the attention of drug cartels, which have been extorting avocado farmers and often charging them for every kilo they export.
Avocado producers, fed up with the situation, have taken up arms against the cartels and have taken to the streets to demonstrate. The governor of Michoacan has promised to establish a new anti-extortion unit, but we still have to see if it works. While these intimidations have been a problem for years, a recent wave of media attention has sparked a debate about whether it is ethical to buy "blood avocados," now considered a "conflict product." However, proposing a boycott on avocado consumption in order to fight the cartels would only harm the income of farmers, already punished by drug traffickers.
According to some reports, the cartels themselves have taken over avocado plantations. It is true that organized crime groups in Mexico launder money in a wide variety of businesses in the country, as evidenced by a blacklist written by the United States Department of the Treasury. They also 'invest' their profits in the United States, as revealed by an infamous case of cartels that hid money in American horse racing. This does not mean that the whole sector should be punished for these actions.
At the same time, there are worrisome problems of deforestation and excessive use of water due to the production of avocados in Mexico, but this is also the case with many crops and that requires the application of environmental legislation, not attacking all farmers, including those who do obey the rules.
Another measure that would help reduce the crime developed around avocado cultivation would be for the United States to authorize the importation of avocados from more areas of Mexico. Currently, there are few municipalities that are certified by the United States Department of Agriculture to export, which has caused avocado crops to concentrate in Michoacan. However, despite the negative aspects, avocado production in Mexico has been a source of benefits for the producing regions and has offered an alternative to the drug trade and the cultivation of opium and marijuana.