"Mexican Town Protects Forest From Avocado Growers, Cartels"

"CHERAN, Mexico — Regular citizens have taken the fight against illegal logging into their own hands in the pine-covered mountains of western Mexico, where loggers clear entire hillsides for avocado plantations that drain local water supplies and draw drug cartels hungry for extortion money.

In some places, like the Indigenous township of Cheran in Michoacan state , the fight against illegal logging and planting has been so successful it’s as if a line had been drawn across the mountains: avocados and cleared land on one side, pine forest on the other. But it has required a decade-long political revolt in which Cheran’s townspeople declared themselves autonomous and formed their own government.

Other towns, bullied by growers and drug cartel gunmen, struggle on but are often cowed by violence.

David Ramos Guerrero, a member of the self-governing farmers board, says farmers here have agreed on a total ban on commercial avocado orchards, which he contends only bring “violence, bloodshed.”"

Mark Stevenson reports for the Associated Press January 27, 2022.

Source: AP, 01/31/2022