The lament of increasingly expensive limes has become widespread among America’s margarita lovers and guacamole fiends.
But while we in the United States may be upset at the uptick in lime prices — which have jumped to $100 from $25 for a 40-pound carton in just a few months — the increased strain on wallets masks a very grim state of affairs in Mexico, which provides nearly all of the limes consumed in the U.S.
A spike in price — caused in part by heavy rains and a citrus disease hitting a prime lime-growing area in Mexico — has attracted the attention of criminal cartels, which have been looking to exert control over the lime economy.
Reports of extortion, violence, roadblocks, and intimidation have been trickling out of the biggest lime-growing areas of Mexico. These regions also happen to have a large presence of the brutal Knights Templar drug cartel.
The Knights Templar have branched out from drug trafficking and now make more money from mining, logging, and extorting mostly lime and avocado producers. A Mexican government official estimates the cartel earns $800,000 to $1.4 million a week from extortion — and that the organization controls the wholesale distribution center, where lime growers sell their products to the world, and where lime prices are set.
It’s gotten so bad that people involved in lime production have begun to fight back. “For lime grower Hipolito Mora, it was time to organize and pick up arms when a packing company controlled by a brutal drug cartel refused to buy his fruit,” the AP reported in November. Mora, along with other lime growers, pickers, and ranchers, is part of a militia formed to fight against the cartel.
Criminal involvement in produce is not new in Mexico. A 2011 Christian Science Monitor report documents how the drug wars exacerbated a spike in lime prices back then. “Be it extorting farmers, attacking produce trucks, or causing more time-consuming border inspections, criminal gangs are affecting almost every link in the produce supply chain,” the newspaper reported.
So the next time you bemoan the pricey lime in your shopping cart, you may want to dial back your complaints. For Mexicans, that price tag stems from a dangerous and deadly set of circumstances.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."