How avocados are connected to influx of migrants from Michoacán to border cities like Tijuana

U.S. and World Business News

TIJUANA (Border Report) — There’s been a rise in the number of migrants from the state of Michoacán arriving in border cities like Tijuana, according to José María García, director of a shelter in the Mexican border city.

García blames organized crime for forcing people to displace and flee.

“There’s some groups from the state of Michoacán who have gradually begun accumulating here, people who have suffered a great deal of violence,” García said. “Unfortunately, the violence has grown within these criminal groups.”

According to García, cartels are now resorting to using drones that drop grenades and other explosives into crowded areas.

“We don’t know the motives why organized crime wants to displace so many people. There’s probably something else going on. There’s been a lot of violence there since 2016. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks it has increased.”

The violence is reportedly not generated by drugs, but avocados.

The state of Michoacan produces about 75% of avocados grown in Mexico, totaling about $2 billion per year in sales.

Cartels are trying to gain control of this industry.

Oralia Abrago is from the state of Michoacán. (Jorge Nieto/Special to Border Report)

“My son was shot 10 times,” said Oralia Abrago, who arrived in Tijuana a few weeks ago. “He was a bodyguard for an avocado grower. He went to see about a shipment when they shot him.”

Abrago says her son survived for about a week before he died at a hospital. Days later, two men in a motorcycle drove up to her with a warning.

“They told me I had to drop the complaint and if I didn’t, they would kill me, my daughter and grandchildren,” she said.

According to Abrago, that’s when she decided to flee along with her daughter and grandchildren.

“It’s my only daughter. It’s best to leave, but I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to my mother,” she said. “We went to San Ysidro border crossing but they told us they weren’t letting anyone in and they gave us a number to this shelter.”

According to others who run shelters for migrants, Abrago is one of about 1,500 people who have been displaced by violence in Michoacán in recent weeks.

Abrago now hopes to be able to cross the border at some point.

“I say please open their hearts and let us cross, we’re not going to harm anyone over there, I’ll just dedicate myself to just working,” she said.

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