Culture

Demand For Avocados Is So Strong That Mexican Farmers Are Cutting Down Forests To Keep Up

They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but avocado farmers in Mexico are learning that if they tear down a forest, they can make upwards of $500,000 a year. According to a report by the Associated Press, the popularity of avocados in the United States has led to increased demand in avocados from Mexico, where avocados are more likely to grow year-round. Unfortunately, because avocados are more profitable than other crops, farmers have begun illegally tearing down surrounding pine forests to make room for their avocado trees.

Defo
Credit: CNN / YouTube

The avocado business is booming so much — bringing in more than a billion dollars a year in total — that drug cartels have gotten involved. It’s estimated that the Knights Templar Cartel brings in upwards of $150 million each year on avocados alone. A cartel’s involvement with farmers is pretty straight forward: Farmers are “encouraged” to pay cartels some tax per pound of avocados they grow. If the farmers refuse, they can expect retaliation, resulting in loss of land or even death.

Avocado-related deforestation isn’t the only problem that can affect the ecosystem. Avocado trees can pull twice as much water as a naturally occurring forest, which means that the local ecosystem, from plants to animals, is adversely affected by farmers who depend on the thirsty crop. Not to mention that previously untouched forests are now grounds for chemical dumping and other avocado industry-related issues.

Avocados aren’t the first crop to cause this kind of disturbance among Central and South American farmers. Peru’s quinoa has nearly tripled in price over the last few years, making it too expensive for many of its poorest citizens.

Let’s hope alpaca hamburgers never catch on, otherwise it might not be long before we see this at Burger King.

Alpaca Burgers

If there is a finger to point in this, I’d blame avocado porn, which, depending on your browser’s filter settings, is totally safe for work.

Seriously, anyone who posts photos like these on social media deserves to be locked up.

If they served this at any important global political meeting we'd probably reach world peace a whole lot sooner. #helpingoftheday

A photo posted by HELPINGS • #Health (@thisishelpings) on

Credit: Thisishelpings / Instagram

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the problems facing Mexico’s forests and farmers when photos like these constantly pop up on social media.

Read: Everything About This Burger Sounds Perfect, But It Just Doesn’t Make Sense

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Family Is Planning A Chapo University For Indigenous Students

Things That Matter

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Family Is Planning A Chapo University For Indigenous Students

www.thedailybeast.com

El Chapo may have just been sentenced to multiple life sentences for crimes committed by his drug empire. His alleged billion dollar fortune is being fought over by both the US and Mexican governments. But the former drug lord’s family is hoping to use a large portion of El Chapo’s fortune to fund a university in his home state of Sinaloa.

The drug lord’s family announced that they would launch a university in the drug lord’s home state of Sinaloa.

José Luis González Meza, a lawyer for Joaquin Guzman, revealed in September that “El Chapo” wants his money to go Mexico’s indigenous communities. In an interview, he also said that Guzmán’s family will receive financial support from a range of foundations in order to open the university in the ex-narco’s birthplace.

It will be designed by Guerrero painter Hugo Zúñiga and have several different faculties, he said.

It looks like Mexico’s President is also supportive of the initiative.

González said that he was hopeful that President López Obrador would make the time to travel to Badiraguato and preside over a groundbreaking ceremony during his tour of Sinaloa this weekend.

“What we’re hoping for is that . . . he’ll go to Badiraguato and along with Chapo’s mom, María Consuelo, he’ll lay the first stone and the work to build the university will finally start,” he said.

The president said in February that his government was committed to the establishment of a new public university in the town that will specialize in forestry, while this week he pledged to extend the agroforestry employment program Sembrando Vida (Sowing Life) to parts of the country where illicit crops are grown, including Badiraguato.

But the university is just one of several projects the family wants to develop to benefit the country’s marginalized communities.

Another project will involve the family overseeing the revival of a chain of affordable food markets that will sell meals at 50 percent below cost.

The stores will sell cheap food, coffee, tequila, beer and mezcal. Similar stores had existed during the days Joaquín Hernández Galicia ruled over the powerful oil workers union.

El Chapo’s family want the Mexican government to finance the project through two trusts allegedly left behind by Hernández Galicia. He died in 2013 after spending nine years in prison after troops stormed his home and arrested him on manslaughter and weapons charges in 1989 in what the government described as a crackdown on corruption.

The last plan will develop a pharmaceutical industry which will provide affordable medicine to Mexico before expanding its service throughout Central America.

González Meza claims the family is wanting to ‘provide low-cost food and medicine for Mexicans’ and is not concerned with making money for themselves. Both the association and pharmaceutical company will be headed by farmers and indigenous people.

All of this depends though on when, if, and how much of El Chapo’s fortune is seized by the US and Mexican governments.

El Chapo wants his entire fortune, which is estimated in the billions of dollars, to go to Indigenous communities across Mexico. However, his wishes aren’t likely to be granted according to government officials.

Prosecutors will not disclose how and where they will seek this fortune, but the former head of anti-money laundering for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Duncan Levin, gave the Observer an insight into how they might proceed.

“Forfeiture is part of a sentence,” says Levin. “If there are assets in the US, they can go right after those assets.” He adds that a US law from 1957 provides for any asset partly funded by criminal money to be seized in its entirety. “The way they did business was very pervasive,” he says. So that any business in which the Sinaloa cartel is found to have invested is fair game.

But, according to Levin, “the vast bulk of assets are likely in Mexico” and the search for them “would be greatly helped by working with the Mexican government”, despite current political tensions.

New Study Shows That Mexican Teenagers Are Among The Most Addicted To Their Cellphones

Things That Matter

New Study Shows That Mexican Teenagers Are Among The Most Addicted To Their Cellphones

Unsplash

We don’t need a research study to tell us that we’re more addicted to our phones than ever before. Still, the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism united with nonprofit Common Sense to give us The New Normal: Parents, Teens and Mobile Devices in Mexico,” and the findings are interesting. The survey is based on more than 1,200 Mexican teens and their parents and was led by Dean Willow Bay and Common Sense CEO James P. Steyer. Mexico is just the fourth country surveyed in a global mapping project to better understand the role smartphones play in “the new normal” of today’s family life.

The study found that nearly half (45 percent) of Mexican teens said they feel “addicted” (in the non-clinical, colloquial way) to their phones. That’s 15 percent higher than found in the United States and 265 percent higher than in Japan. Now we want to know how Latino-Americans stack up because this all feels pretty familiar.

1. Checking mobile devices has become a priority in the daily lives of teens and their parents.

Credit: Unsplash

Interestingly, more parents than teens reported using their phones almost all the time. That’s 71 percent of parents and 67 percent of their children reporting near-constant use of their phones. Nearly half of parents and their teens report checking their phones several times an hour. Meanwhile, only 2 percent of the respondents said they never feel the need to immediately respond to a text, social media networking messages, or other notification.

2. Most teens (67 percent) check their phone within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning. For some, their attachment to their phone interrupts their sleep.

Credit: Unsplash

In fact, a third of teens and a fourth of parents check their phone within five minutes of waking up. More than a third of teens (35 percent) and parents (34 percent) wake up in the middle of the night at least once to check their phone for “something other than the time: text messages, email, or social media,” according to the report

3. Parents and teens alike are judging each other’s phone use.

Credit: Unsplash

Somos chismosos by heart, so of course, 82 percent of parents think their child is distracted daily, often several times daily, by their phone use. Over half of teens feel the same way about their parents. Seriously, how much Candy Crush is too much Candy Crush? On top of that, 64 percent of parents believe their child is “addicted” to their phone while 31 percent of teens feel their parent is “addicted” as well. That said, only 40 percent of teens felt their parents worried too much about their social media use, but 60 percent of teens said their parents would be “a lot more worried if they knew what actually happens on social media,” according to the study.

4. If a parent feels “addicted,” they’re more likely to have a child that “feels addicted,” too.

Credit: Unsplash

Half of both parents and teens self-identify as feeling addicted to their phones. That said, three quarters of the 45% parent pool who reported feeling addicted ended up having a teen who self-reported as feeling addicted, too. That means there are about a third of households where everyone “feels addicted” to their device. In a similar vein, that meant that roughly 2 in 5 Mexicans are trying to cut back their time spent on their phone. 

5. Mexican teens’ favorite way to communicate with friends was via text (67 percent)…not hanging out in person.

Credit: Unsplash

Only half (50 percent) of teens said one of their favorite ways to communicate with friends was in person, which narrowly beat social media (49 percent) by just one percentage point. Talking on the phone (40 percent) didn’t come in the last place though. That slot is reserved for video chatting at 22 percent.

6. If they had to go a day without their phone, the majority of respondents said they would feel happy or free.

Credit: Unsplash

While the majority of teens said they would feel at least somewhat happy (73 percent), free (67 percent), or relieved (64 percent), they also expected to feel at least somewhat bored (63 percent), or anxious (63 percent), or lonely (31 percent). Compared to teens, more parents reported that they’d expect to feel happy (79 percent), free (77 percent), or relieved
(73 percent). 

7. The majority of both parents and teens think device use is hurting their family relationships.

Credit: Unsplash

Nearly a third of parents said they argue once a day with their teen about their excessive use of their phone, and that screen use, in fact, ranks third behind bedtime and chores as their regular conflicts. “My parents are very concerned about this,” teen Guadalupe Mireya Espinosa Cortés told Common Sense Media. “They are all the time telling us, ‘Oh, don’t use the phone while we are eating together. Hey, we are on vacation. Don’t use the phone, please’ and I agree. I think there are priorities and we have to be intelligent to know when and where to use our phones.”

Overall, most Mexican families still agree on the benefits of the technology, citing tech skills, access to information, building relationships and keeping in touch with extended families as reasons that mobile devices are worth their while.

READ: Facebook Wants To Add Latinas In Tech To Their Teams And Offer Them A Slice Of Their Big Salary Earning Pie