After a threat was made to a U.S. plant safety inspector received, the U.S. has suspended all imports of Mexican avocados.
This Saturday before the Super Bowl, temporary suspension was officially confirmed, when it is usually the biggest time of the year to sell the product. Avocado exports were the victims of drug cartel turf battles and extortion of avocado growers.
Last time the U.S. lifted a ban on Mexican avocados was in 1997, and the ban was placed in 1914 to prevent all of the diseases and pests. Since avocados also grow in the United States, the inspectors always make sure to check the exported avocados so they don’t carry diseases that can get onto U.S. crops.
“U.S. health authorities…made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, received a threatening message on his official cellphone,” the department officially said. Michoacan is the only state in Mexico that has they authority to export to the United States. This is not the first incident in Michoacan. In 2019, Department of Agriculture inspectors were “directly threatened”. In 2020, a Mexican employee working for APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) was killed in Tijuana. According the Mexican officials the man was mistaken for a policeman by drug traffickers.
“Facilitating the export of Mexican avocados to the U.S. and guaranteeing the safety of our agricultural inspection personnel go hand in hand”, this was the U.S. embassy’s response. “We are working with the Mexican government to guarantee security conditions that would allow our personnel in Michoacan to resume operations.”
Photo Cred: Daniel Becerril / Reuters