Let Them Eat Tortillas

With protests against the insurgency operation in the Iraq (the war was over three years ago – we’re there at the request of, and to lend assistance to, the constitutional elected, internationally recognised government) in the Washington and against the banning of Catholic conscience in London, you may have missed the protests in Mexico City.

According to the BBC:

Tens of thousands of Mexican farmers and trade unionists have joined a march in Mexico City to protest against the rising price of tortillas.

The price of tortillas has risen by over 400%. Now this may not seem like a big deal for the occasional Taco Bell patron, but for poor Mexicans, tortillas are the staple source of calories. And whose to blame for this crisis? The US, of course.

Mexico’s Economy Minister blames the dwindling supply of corn on increased ethanol production in the US. Mexico got used to lots of cheap corn under NAFTA. Mexican tortilla companies got used to a very healthy profit margin. Now they’re not getting the corn.

But that’s the thing about free trade. It’s free. It’s just as free to sell corn for ethanol as it is to sell it to giant Mexican tortilla companies.

No, it is the responsibility of the tortilla companies to take an ethical approach and temper their profit opportunities. The Mexican President worked out a voluntary cap on prices, but tortilla makers have been ignoring it. There have also been accusations of unfair speculation and monopoly practices. They may have to shrink the traditional enormous divide between rich and poor in Mexico just this once.

But tradition being the power force that it is, this is unlikely. As is the case with so many corrupt economies around the world, the US will probably have to come in and bail out the situation. So they will be vilified at the same time they are saving the victims. Sound familiar?

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