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America's demand for avocados linked to escalating crisis in Mexico

The escalating crisis of deforestation in Mexico, primarily fueled by the US’ soaring demand for avocados, is a concern that Climate Rights International (CRI) squarely attributes to the inaction of both US and Mexican federal governments, as well as local authorities in Michoacán and Jalisco. 

Despite having the capacity to intervene, these governmental bodies have failed to take effective measures, according to CRI.


In a recent report CRI identifies two key issues at the heart of local environmental authorities’ failure: corruption and violence. In Michoacán, for instance, the State Prosecutor’s Office’s unit tasked with investigating avocado-related deforestation is reportedly plagued by corruption. 

This situation allows those responsible for deforestation to operate with impunity, mocking the powerlessness of the forest commission, as per a forest official’s statement.

Violence and threats

Additionally, any resistance to avocado growers is often met with violence or threats, effectively silencing both governmental authorities and local communities who have tried to hold these growers accountable. The situation is further complicated as criminal syndicates vie for a share in this lucrative industry, valued at billions of dollars annually.

The consequences of such resistance can be severe, with instances of kidnapping and even murder of community group members reported.

Drastic measures 

CRI criticizes the US government for its role, highlighting that it “routinely certifies illegally deforested orchards to export to US consumers.” This lack of adequate action from the authorities meant to safeguard the land and communities has led some locals to take drastic measures.

In Cherán, Michoacán, frustrated residents ousted the local government in 2011 due to rampant illegal logging and violence, establishing their own governance and police force to enforce anti-deforestation laws. Michoacán eventually acknowledged the authority of this self-established government.

Avocado imports 

CRI emphasizes that localized responses alone are insufficient to tackle such pervasive problems. In its report, CRI outlines several recommendations, including a call for both the Mexican and US governments to enforce deforestation and avocado cultivation laws effectively. One key proposal is for the US to ban the import of avocados cultivated on illegally deforested land.

Despite these recommendations, as recently as last year, the US sanctioned avocado imports from Jalisco without implementing deforestation safeguards. 

Deteriorating situation

CRI warns that if decisive action is not taken soon, the situation will continue to deteriorate, especially given the ever-increasing American appetite for avocados.

“Urgently enacting and implementing such regulations and policies is essential to averting climate catastrophe, and to protecting the rights of populations where the commodities are produced,” officials from CRI concluded.

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