Food Sunday: Border Clash Sending Farmers North
A sheltered nook hideaway, on the Rio Grande.
It’s long been understood among the traveling public that Mexico is problematic. Police corruption and endemic kidnapping long were reasons to stay away from sites that were off the beaten path. Now, with the gang warfare that plagues our southern border, those trying to make a living by farming also are leaving.
Much of our produce at this time of year has long come from Mexico. Now, that growing is becoming a hazardous occupation, most especially when the produce is shipped.
Progreso already is transporting commodities grown in places like the city of Tampico on Mexico’s Gulf Coast and the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico in multi-truck caravans from Ciudad Victoria in Tamaulipas state to Texas about 300 miles to the north.
The border region is the riskiest area in Mexico, and drivers need the added security, DeBerry said.
Drivers for Edinburg-based Frontera Produce, meanwhile, stay off the most isolated roads and try not to travel at night while bringing fruits and vegetables to Texas.
It has onion growers in the Tampico area, raises pineapples farther south around the state of Veracruz and produces other crops throughout Mexico.
“It’s not good to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Chris Eddy, Frontera’s sales director…Extortion demands by the cartel for safe transfer of agricultural commodities are widely rumored in Mexico but difficult to confirm. Shipments reportedly have been stolen and drivers harassed, though some speculate that drug cartels may not be as responsible for that violence as other criminals hiding behind the drug-related turmoil.
Without legitimate means of employment, the desperate in many countries have turned to kidnapping and extortion. Where industries are declining, crime is an easy second choice. . . .
When farming can’t be conducted profitably in Mexico, it is moving north, and workers along with it. Produce from the Rio Grande Valley, long a staple in markets here, is becoming an ever more crowded field in so many ways.
As Woody Guthrie wrote and Joan Baez sang, “Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?”
The ‘war on drugs’ makes the border hazardous in more ways than one.