We have all experienced the wonders of Mexican cuisine from homemade margaritas to corn tortilla tacos piled high with roasted pork, avocado, cilantro, and onions with lime on the side. Anyone who wants to make authentic Mexican food, whether in a restaurant or at home, has to have avocados and limes which creates a constant demand for two of Mexico’s main exports. So how could anything so beautiful and pure help fund Mexican drug cartels?
In his book Narconomics, journalist Tom Wainwright uses his extensive knowledge from his time as the Mexico correspondent for The Economist to give readers an in-depth explanation of how the Mexican drug cartels run like huge American corporate conglomerates such as Walmart. For example,The Caballeros Templarios cartel makes a huge profit from
For example,The Caballeros Templarios cartel makes a huge profit from the production limes, avocados, mangoes, and tomatoes because of the power they have in the state of Michoacán. Cartels have also been found to have influence over mango, whiskey, and corn tortilla production.
The cartel controls the farmers and the availability of the produce and, consequently, the prices of the product – a business model that led to the Great Lime Shortage of 2014. The money made can then be funneled into other various illegal ventures such as cocaine production and money laundering. Mexican drug cartels are quite literally an example of how to run a successful organization in the “cut throat” world of business.
It’s easy enough to avoid buying clothing from companies that use child labor or making sure that your food is from a sustainable source, but what the fudge are we supposed to do to avoid supporting the people responsible for the deaths or “disappearances” of 164,000 Mexican citizens? When roughly 95% of the limes used in the United States come from Mexico, is there any way to avoid inadvertently funding cartels?
The bad news is that there is nothing individual American citizens can do besides remain educated and aware of the issue. In an interview with NPR, Wainwright uses Switzerland as a successful example for how legalizing drugs could help undermine cartel influence, but the government is too intertwined with the cartels for this to be a realistic solution.
Now go forth into the world a more educated individual, and think twice next time you take a taco to the face.