Mexican Avocado Farmers Arm Up Amid Growing Violence

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

When I think of Mexican avocados, my first thought is that catchy jingle I keep hearing on commercials for them. I’m not a fan of avocados myself, but the jingle certainly works. What the jingle doesn’t do, though, is address the violence endemic in Mexican society these days.

Why would it?

But it’s a problem for those Mexican avocado farmers. A big one. It’s one they’re arming themselves to deal with.

A convoy of vigilantes snakes along a road in western Mexico, vowing to defend their avocado orchards from gangs sowing terror in a country reeling from a new wave of bloodshed.

Armed with assault rifles and other firearms, the masked men travel between plantations and maintain checkpoints in Ario de Rosales in Michoacan state, the scene of a bloody cartel turf war.

Before they began patrolling the area, residents lived in fear of kidnapping, extortion and theft of avocados, according to a member of the self-defense group Pueblos Unidos, which says it has 700 members.

“We need to be armed to defend ourselves,” he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity, wearing a badge reading “Down with injustice, no more dead.”

Previously, criminals “came to do what they wanted to us, and that doesn’t happen anymore,” he added.

The president of Mexico isn’t a fan of such groups, claiming many of them have become criminal fronts themselves, but the truth of the matter was that if the Mexican government was somehow able to shut down the cartels and their violence, none of these groups would have come into being.

Sorry, but it’s true.

Further, let’s also remember what Mexican gun laws are like. There’s exactly one gun store in the entire nation, and it’s located on an Army base. Just being able to enter the store requires a pile of paperwork. That’s before you can even darken the door. Then you get to pick from what’s in the cases and that’s about it.

Meanwhile, the cartels are getting guns through illegal means and not breaking a sweat. Despite every gun control law you can have and still pretend you respect the right to keep and bear arms (Mexico has a version of the Second Amendment in their constitution, though it seems to be largely ignored), and yet, what do we see? Armed criminals.

So, people arm themselves to combat the violent cartels. To do that, though, they have to deal with unsavory people. They have to buy guns illegally too. Is it surprising that some, once into the world of the illegal, would potentially travel further down that path?

It was the Mexican government that made them criminals in the first place.

When you go and buy a Mexican avocado, remember that there are farmers out there struggling to get guns so they can protect their crops and, by extension, their livelihood. They’re not able to do so lawfully without a pile of headaches because of the very gun control policies some here in the United States want to foist on the population.

Criminals will always get guns. Always.

What we can do, though, is make sure good people have the tools to meet them with equal or greater force so that there may be some hope of putting an end to the tyranny of the thug. The violence can be stopped, but it won’t be stopped by slogans or good intentions. It’ll be stopped when the criminals decide violence is a bad way to try and make a living.