Avocados. We know them, we love them, and we DEFINITELY eat them. Avocados, one of the most lavish and desirable fruits of the Millennial generation, have boomed in popularity 320% in the United States of America. The avocado industry has boomed in recent years, with the average national price of an avocado reaching an all-time high of $2.10 in 2019. The lucrative industry is predominantly based in Mexico, with the main exporter being the United States, in which 2 million tons of avocados are produced each year by Mexico. Now you might be thinking at this point: wow, Americans sure are fueling the Mexican economy with the surplus of avocados we’re eating. Though that fact may be true, as avocados are directly linked to supporting the livelihood of 111,000 people, we are doing much at the cost of thousands of lives. This remunerative source of income, also known as Green Gold, has attracted cartels, and due to lack of regulations and protection from the government, cartels have started to take over avocado farms, leading to the deaths of hundreds.
The state of Michoacan, located on the southwest border of the Pacific Ocean in Mexico, benefits from the economic boost from the production of 80% of all avocado production in Mexico and equally suffers from a multiplying mortality rate. Michoacán’s problems arise from years before the avocado trade flourished, due to it being a major drug trade point. The family which controlled the state, called the Valencia Family, controlled all of Mexico's avocado trade (though at that time avocados were not prominent), but most importantly had control of Lazaro Cardenas seaport, a major drug trading point, and they attracted jealousy from a cartel group called the Gulf Cartel. In order to accumulate Michoacan, the Gulf Cartel sent over a group called the Zetas to take over, which was successful, plunging Michoacan into a state of never-ending violence. Though the Mexican president Felipe Calderon sent thousands of troops to fend off the Zetas, this attempt proved unsuccessful and broke down all forms of government in the state. Now, due to the nonexistent government in Michoacan after the President’s attempt to fend off the Zetas, several cartels started hovering over Michoacan for power.
Though control of the state was powerful, it was not until the avocado trade boomed that dozens of cartels were attacking Michoacan. From these groups, two prominent cartels took control, the Viagras, and the New Generation cartel. The Viagra cartel charges owners of avocado trees 250 dollars in taxes, a hefty sum in Mexico, and has a form of slave labor, in which avocado farms are taken under control by the cartel and workers are forced to work without pay. If these conditions are not arduous enough, there is constant gunfire between the Viagras and the New Generation Cartel, which once led to the beheading of 17 innocent avocado farmers in one day.
Now though we love avocados - it is time for us to be aware. To be aware of the 17 farmers beheaded for your avocado. To be aware of the fact that every avocado you buy supports the Viagra and New Generation Cartel, who uses that income to terrorize farmers into being slaves. And now, it's time to be aware that it’s your time to take action and even maybe skip that next avocado on your sandwich.