Study shows the surprising reason why Mexico's narco-war failed, and why the USA may be to blame
Sharp decline in corn prices has forced farmers to turn to drugs to stay afloat.
Latin American farmers are increasingly turning to drug cultivation to make ends meet as corn prices drop and farmers become strapped for cash.
The report reveals that Mexican farmers have been driven into the hands of the cartels by NAFTA, among other pressures.
It's economic common sense, however the cultivation of drugs is generally illegal and morally wrong. Yet faced with the possibility of failure, many farmers feel they have no choice but to turn to the cartels to make ends meet. People cannot be expected to starve themselves and naturally tend to opt for immoral means of support if no other can be found.
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The study, called "From Maize to Haze" done by political scientists at New York University, says that between 1990 and 2010 the price of corn fell 59 percent. This decline has led farmers to switch from maize to marijuana and opium.
This shift in production causes cartels to fight over the fields and farmers themselves, increasing the violence in Mexico. It also leads to an increased supply of drugs in the United States.
It also explains why Mexico's war on drugs, which intensified in 2006, was a massive failure. The farmers themselves were the unaccounted factor in the battle, fueling the cartels with a virtually limitless supply of raw materials for processing into dope.
Finally, the North American Free Trade Agreement, combined with the likely involvement of the CIA and corrupt agents on both sides of the border, and you have a recipe for drug disaster.
NAFTA in particular opened Mexico to cheap corn and other food from the U.S. where crops can be grown on an industrial scale, thus competing with smaller farmers across Mexico.
The report shows that government price manipulation of crops can have unintended consequences in other sectors of the economy. Although people are not logical as individuals, in the aggregate they tend to make reasonable economic decisions --when understood from their individual perspectives.
Although the switch to drug production and the subsequent violence has been very expensive for Mexico and the United States, it is lucrative for the farmers who now enjoy unprecedented profits from drug cultivation.
The other aspect of this issue is that returning these farmers to legitimate crop production could prove difficult now they have had a taste of drug profits and cartel influence. Nor are the cartels likely to release their grip on the farmers and fields they now control.
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