Avocados, deforestation and cartels go hand in hand in Mexico
CHERÁN, MÉXICO — En las montañas de pino del oeste de México, donde los taladores arrasan con laderas enteras para plantar aguacate, los habitantes han tomado la lucha contra la tala ilegal por su propia mano. Dicen que el aguacate les reduce el suministro local de agua y atrae a los cárteles del narcotráfico en busca de dinero por extorsiones.
In some places, such as the indigenous people of Cherán, in the state of Michoacán, the fight against felling and illegal plantations has been so successful that it seems as if a line had been drawn in the mountains: avocados and clear lands, by aside, and pine forest on the other.However, a political uprising of a decade in which the residents of Cherán have declared their autonomy and formed their own government has been necessary and formed their own government.
Other villages, harassed by producers and armed groups of the cartels, continue to fight, but they are usually intimidated by violence.
David Ramos Guerrero, a member of the Autonomous Agricultural Board, affirms that farmers have agreed to a total prohibition of commercial avocado plantations, which, he says, "all it brings is violence".
"They are allowed three, four, five or up to a maximum of 10 plants for only edible use for the community, but as a business it is not allowed," he said.
The reason is evident.During a patrol tour, Ramos Guerrero observes a practically deforested valley in a neighboring municipality.Avocado trees ranks are formed on the bare slopes that were previously full of pines and firs."This is an island.Around Cherán everything is invaded of avocado, ”he laments.
Those who have traveled the fresh mountain of pine forest and firs in Michoacán knows that the cups of the pines serve as protection against heat and evaporation.The thick carpet of fallen pine needles serves as a sponge, absorbing and storing moisture.The roots of the pines prevent water and earth from falling down the slopes.
But the first thing the avocado producers do is create ponds that retain water for their orchards, draining the streams that were previously used by the settlers in the mountain areas.Then the drug trafficking cartels arrive to extort avocado producers.
"We have realized that avocado all it does is absorb all possible water of what our forests produce," says Ramos Guerrero.
Cherán, who began his autonomous government experiment in 2011 with the blockade of roads used by illegal tarators, now uses backhoes to make ditches along the forest exploitation roads.On the avocados, Ramos Guerrero states: “We intervene in a friendly way, first through a dialogue, and if no agreement is reached, it is now used.So the door goes, and avocado plants are started or cut off ”.
If farmers do not agree to stop planting avocados, it is when the forest patrols of Cherán come into action.
Traveling in a pair of pickup type trucks through the forest, a community police force made up of men armed with AR-15 rifles confine an ax and then a chainsaw to two men who talrate trees.Men will probably be returned to tools with a warning to ask for permission for next time.The patrols find previously cut and hidden pine trunks between the weed.
Salvador Ávila Magaña, 65, remembers what it was before Cherán was built in 2011.He was thrown out of his lands before the threats of the taverors, who then talled them.
"Already to the last (we were) threatened that, if we were step back on there, they were going to‘ lift, "said Ávila Magaña."If we were going on the stock market.Several people died and delivered them with time in pieces ".
But despite the fact that his 18 -hectare plot (45 acres) had been completeThe one that was at the time a sustainable forest practice for the extraction of resin or cosmetics.
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"We made an agreement with the community members who did not sow avocado, pure trees that produce a good air," he said.