Saturday, November 26, 2016

2499. The Need to Legalize Cuban Reforms

By Fernando Ravsberg, Havana Times, November 24, 2016
Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
HAVANA TIMES — “Laws are rather the positive, clear, universal norms in which freedom has acquired an impersonal, theoretical existence independent of the arbitrariness of the individual.” (**) This idea wasn´t communicated by a “bourgeois” philosopher but by Karl Marx.
It comes from the father of socialism, whose theory feeds the social, political and economic system in Cuba. In spite of this though, Cuban society isn’t always governed by the law, partly because there are very few laws and those that do exist are voided, a lot of the time, by “notices” and “resolutions”.
For decades, Cuban laws have been “adapted” to political needs in certain situations. Thus things like Cubans being forbidden from staying in tourist hotels took hold, without taking into the account the fact that such a measure literally violated an article in the Republic’s Constitution.
With the reforms set out by Raul Castro’s government, the situation has gotten worse insofar as these changes weren’t accompanied by a legal framework that would warrant laws, procedures, restrictions, duties, rights and legal security.
Independent producers and filmmakers have been demanding laws that the government never seem to end up approving, for years. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
Independent producers and filmmakers have been demanding laws that the government never seem to end up approving, for years. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
But there are more than enough “resolutions” that establish the precise number of chairs a restaurant can have and ban the use of the word “hostel” on hostel signboards. They thereby prove Montesquieu’s maxim when he claimed that “Useless laws weaken the necessary laws.”
And it’s true, this level of “legal” detail doesn’t exist in the things that really matter. Self-employed workers were allowed to hire their own personnel knowing that the Constitution explicitly forbids this, classifying this mechanism as exploitation of man by man.
Thousands of small private businesses have been opened without any legal protection. They operate under the umbrella of self-employed work, which puts business owners and their employees in the same group. They even wanted to create an innovative “classist mix”, bringing owners and workers together in the same union branch.
Employees at these private businesses are completely unprotected. There are no laws that force their bosses to respect their contracts, regulate their rights in layoffs, that sets out the number of hours in a working day, or that guarantees holidays or maternity leave.
The numerous changes that are taking place in Cuba need a legion of lawyers working on creating their legal framework. This must start with the Constitution and then follow up with complementary laws, which are the ones that ensure that these will actually be applied.
A given reforms might be necessary and fair but it aren’t coming with the corresponding legislation. For example, there isn’t a film industry law that lays down rules for the work of independent filmmakers, even though these are the people who are making half of the country’s film productions.
The number of “alternative” media platforms on the internet is increasing and yet we continue without a press law that regulates activity, setting out their duties and rights. Media is handled with verbal commands and, when that’s not enough, somebody is fired or the police intervene.
Marx assured us that without a press law, freedom of press can’t exist. “The absence of press legislation must be regarded as an exclusion of freedom of the press from the sphere of legal freedom, for legally recognized freedom exists in the state as law,” (**) he explained.
Laws aren´t being respected as is made clear by these guaracheras dressed up in the Cuban flag, which is explicitly forbidden. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
Laws aren´t being respected as is made clear by these guaracheras dressed up in the Cuban flag, which is explicitly forbidden. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
Using the flag as clothing is legally forbidden (1), in spite of the fact that the first US cruise ship was received by dancers dressed up in the Cuban flag and it was also the uniform used by athletes at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic games.
The existence, validity and respect of laws transform citizens into equals, no matter what the responsibility, financial situation or IQ of every individual is. Of course there will always be some people who are more equal than others but without laws, this tendency worsens.
Cuban reforms need this legal framework, which shouldn’t be a problem given the fact that the majority of the population approves these changes. However, years are passing by and the numbers of changes are increasing without them being reflected in the Constitution or laws.
The father of socialism understood that law is the only support a citizen has to limit the authority of public officials, influence of the wealthy or the power of the powerful and that’s why he claimed that “a statute-book is a people’s bible of freedom.”
*Cicerón (106 AC-43 AC) Escritor, orador y político romano.
** (MARX,K. “Debatten über Preßfreiheit und Publikation der Landständischen Verhandlungen”, Rhenische Zeitung, 12 mai 1842 [MEW, Vol. I].)

2498. Compañero Fidel Castro Ruz: August 13 1926 - November 25, 2016

By Raúl Castro Ruz,  Granma, November 26, 2016

Dear people of Cuba:
It is with deep sorrow that I come before you to inform our people, and friends of Our America and the world, that today, November 25, at 10.29pm, Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz passed away. In accordance with his express wishes Compañero Fidel’s remains will be cremated. In the early hours of the morning of Saturday 26, the funeral organizing commission will provide our people with detailed information regarding the posthumous tributes which will be paid to the founder of the Cuban Revolution.
¡Hasta la victoria siempre!”

*     *     *
Following the death of Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba declares nine days of national mourning, to be observed from 6am on November 26, through 12pm December 4, 2016. 

Activities and public spectacles will cease during the period of national mourning, and the national flag will be flown at half-mast in public buildings and military establishments. Radio stations and television channels will offer informative, patriotic and historic programming.
*     *     *
Fidel Castro Ruz: A Revolutionary World Leader
By Sergio Alejandro, Gómez, Granma, August 12, 2016
Fidel Castro deliverying a speech in a park in front of the Presidential Palace in 1959, Photo: AP
You can learn as much about a man from his critics as you can from his admirers. Henry Kissinger, U.S. secretary of state under Nixon, described Fidel in his memoirs as perhaps the most genuine revolutionary leader in power at that time.
The former Secretary of State and advisor to various U.S. Presidents was referring to 1975 when - to the surprise of the U.S. - Cuba lent its support to the Angolan independence struggle. In the Cold War geopolitics of the time, the Soviets were opposed to direct involvement, while Washington blatantly supported the racist apartheid regime in South Africa.
Fidel once again demonstrated that the Revolution which had triumphed on January 1, 1959 was motivated by principles and that Cuba was no one’s satellite. The heroism of those Cuban soldiers who fought in Africa and Fidel’s leadership helped to change the history of the continent and, as Nelson Mandela himself stated, end apartheid.
This was the first time a small country in the western hemisphere had sent troops outside of the continent which, to the amazement of many, secured an overwhelming victory. Cuba stood as a reminder that, when motivated by ideals of justice, even a small country can fight against global powers, it was revolutionary.
Cuba had already done what many thought impossible, it had carried out a socialist revolution only 90 miles from the United States. An affront for which Washington has continued to punish the island, using various methods for over half a century.
While the battle against the Batista dictatorship was still being waged in the Sierra Maestra, the revolutionary leader astutely predicted that the true struggle would be against imperialism. However, this clash, which has marked Fidel’s global legacy, is not a futile conflict against a country or a government. It is the struggle against a universal conception:
“It appears there are two laws, two sets of rules and two kinds of logic, one for the U.S. and one for other countries. Perhaps it is idealistic of me, but I never accepted the universal prerogatives of the U.S.” stated Fidel to envoys of the Carter administration in 1978, who traveled to Havana setting conditions for the improvement of relations.
His, a voice opposing those of the powerful, and in support of “the wretched of the world,” inevitably spread like a fine powder across the plains, jungles and mountains of the continent.
The Cuban Revolution and Fidel’s ideas have inspired all those searching for a different world; looking to overcome the contradictions which world powers try to present as inevitable.
At a time when it seemed as though all was lost following the fall of the Socialist camp in Eastern Europe; the light that had been lit in 1959, began to shine even brighter. Defending socialism in order to resolve humanity’s problems, even during the most difficult times in the country’s history, placed Fidel on the short list of revolutionaries who have known how to interpret “the significance of the historic moment.”
Such conviction was never tied to dogmas. In the same way that Cuban weapons and resources supported guerillas fighting against dictatorships across our continent, Fidel – the fighter from the Sierra – knew how to recognize when the time for armed struggle had ended, and that of political transformation had begun.
He has had the privilege of seeing various generations of Latin American revolutionaries come and go, individuals who have had the good fortune of benefiting from his support: from Salvador Allende to Hugo Chávez, to name just two of the many brave regional leaders.
“To me Fidel is a father, a comrade, a master of impeccable strategy,” stated Chávez during an interview with Granma in 2005. The two leaders first met in 1994, where Fidel received the recently freed lieutenant colonel at the foot of his plane's stairway, on arrival in Havana.
Chávez’s 1999 presidential electoral victory marked the beginning of a new era for Latin America and the Caribbean which, as has been noted by protagonists of this process, from Evo Morales to Rafael Correa, would have been impossible without Fidel’s leadership.
Although a counter-offensive is currently underway by right wing forces, attempting to destroy all the gains made over the last decade, there exist concrete examples of the fulfillment of over 200 years of integration efforts, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, founded in 2010.
Much earlier however, in a meeting during the 1993 Sao Paulo Forum in Havana, the Cuban leader had told leftist forces: “What more can we do, what more can the Latin American left do than create a consciousness promoting unity? This should be inscribed on the flags of the left. With socialism or without socialism.”
In addition to his tireless revolutionary work, Fidel’s humanist ideas have alerted many to the major problems facing humanity, from climate change to the possibility of global destruction by nuclear weapons.
No one can look back over 20th and 21st century history, without studying the work and ideas of this Cuban who wrote a small Caribbean island into the pages of “true global history,” as told by the people.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

2497. Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Thanksgiving Address

November 24, 2016 (Thanksgiving Day)

Editor's note: Today millions of households in the United States celebrate the Thanksgiving day after a colonial-setller mythology that has been institutionalized for about two centuries.  Native Americans do not share this mythology as they have a long tradition of their own thanksgiving practices.  What follows is the thanksgiving prayer of the Haudenosaunee People (The Iroquois Nation) with ancient roots dating back to when the Great Law of Peace was brought to the people by the Peace Maker, Dekanawidah (“Two River-Currents Flowing Together”), the Iroquois prophet, statesman, and lawgiver. Today variations of these words are still spoken at all times of the year at the opening and closing of ceremonial and governmental meetings held by the Haudenosaunee.  It is worthwhile to consider this paryer as the cultural and spritual context of the ongoing resistance of the Standing Rock Water Protectors' resistance spearheaded by the Sioux Nation to the $3.7 billion North Dakota Access Pipeline being build by Energy Transfer Partners L. P. for profits backed by the local, state and federal governments in total disregard for the danger it poses not only to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation but also to all life on the planet.  It is even more important to realize how our relationship with Mother Earth and life itself has changed under the anthropocentric capitalist system that a great majority of the American people and even many in the climate justice movement itself consider as sacrosanct.  KN

*     *     *

Greetings to the Natural World

The People
Today we have gathered and see the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds, hearts and bodies together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters
We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms—waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish
We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness and elevate human consciousness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty, and other useful things. Many peoples of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds—from the smallest to the largest— we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds
We give thanks to the powers known as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers
Now we turn to the west where our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightening and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon
We put our minds together and give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, binds all of the female cycles, and governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to all the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator
Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

And now our minds are one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2496. Statement by Climate Justice Groups from Marakech

November 22, 2016
Climate justice protesters in the UN meeting site in Marakech
We the undersigned organisations, networks, and movements gathered in Marrakech at COP22 issue the following collective statement in support of communities and movements around the world in response to Donald Trump becoming President-Elect of the United States of America and its potentially devastating implications for the cause of climate justice.
Record breaking global temperatures are already threatening staple crops in many regions, bleaching the world’s coral reefs, decimating ecosystems, and driving killer droughts and floods that have devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world, fanning the flames of every existing inequality.
All around the world, people are taking action to stop this climate crisis from worsening. We are protecting and defending the places we love—waterways, forests, mountain ranges, our homes and our communities—and building the world we want: a clean, safe and more equal world.The fossil fuel special interest groups looking to take advantage of this election cannot stop this irresistible transformation.
Donald Trump is the face of the broken economic system that has caused climate change —the concentration of wealth, lobbyists and corporate interests. Big business will have a seat at the White House for the next four critical years, threatening the lives of people in the U.S. and around the world.
We all have a responsibility to show President-elect Trump and right-wing populists everywhere that we as climate justice groups and movements stand in solidarity with all people threatened and impacted by his Presidency. Islamophobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, elitism, and climate denialism are an insult and threat to us all.
We are determined not to allow our governments to normalise or accept such a destructive- agenda. They must act in the global public’s interests and protect all of our futures by opposing the planet and people-wrecking policies espoused by Donald Trump.
Governments must begin by committing to their fair share of ambitious action needed to realise the Paris Agreement’s goal of preventing a breach of the 1.5°C target, which would result in catastrophic climate change. We also know that the Paris Agreement alone will not get us off this destructive course. To confront this global crisis we must:
  • End all coal, oil, and gas extraction;
  • Commit to 100% renewable energy, encouraging decentralised energy, owned and built in our own communities;
  • Create a just and equitable transition to a low carbon and more equal economy that protects those already marginalised and impacted by the failed globalised economy as well as those whose livelihoods depend on extractive industries;
  • Act as a global community and welcome migrants, refugees and climate displaced people seeking the right to a safe and dignified life;
  • Win back power for people over big business and ensure they are held accountable for their actions.
We urge U.S. state, city, and local governments to act to confront the climate crisis and confront Donald Trump head-on. The views of one man neither change how the rest of the world sees the climate crisis, nor can they change the reality of what needs to happen to keep temperature rise to a minimum, below 1.5°C. The rest of the world will go on with climate action, thanks to our incredible pressure as global movements and communities at the frontline who are building power.
We call on world leaders to fulfil their fair share of climate action, including delivering climate finance and transferring technology, and prove that they take the crisis seriously. Action is needed now, in the next 4 years—rich countries must ramp up their short-term 2020 targets in line with science and fairness, and support poorer countries to prosper cleanly.
In the international negotiations countries should put an end to the toxic influence of the U.S. which pushes for weak and toothless emission reduction targets. The global community, including governments, must forcefully apply political, legal and economic pressure with real consequences on the U.S. to do its fair share of action.
As global citizens we commit to build a climate movement, whose beating heart is justice, that can break out of its silo and create a broad based progressive movement alongside Black Lives Matter, Indigenous movements, women's movements, student movements, LGBTQI communities, migrants movements, labour movements, and local movements against corporate power and the fossil fuel industry that work together to address the inequalities and injustices that blight our world.
We stand in solidarity with Indigenous land and water protectors in Standing Rock, and climate justice and environmental justice movements that have been rooted in communities across the U.S. as they resist President-Elect Trump’s attempt to back more fossil fuel expansion which will poison our environment, our air and our water. In our communities around the world we will mobilize against Trump everywhere he goes and hold our own governments to account for their fair share of climate action including blocking their plans for fossil fuel expansion.
Now is a moment of great fear and uncertainty, but we cannot give in to despair. People power has resisted great threats and transformed the world before—we must stand together once again for a just and liveable world for all.

Initial list of signatories
  • Action Aid International
  • Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt & Development
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Centre for Environment Justice Zambia
  • Climate Justice Project (US)
  • Corporate Accountability International
  • Corporate European Observatory
  • Earth in Brackets
  • Ecology Collective Association (Turkey)
  • Ecological Society of the Philippines
  • Ecologistas en Accion (Spain)
  • Engajamundo
  • Equity BD
  • Fairwatch (Italy)
  • Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Friends of the Earth England, Wales, and Northern Ireland
  • Friends of the Earth International
  • Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
  • Grassroots Global Justice
  • Human Nature
  • IBON International
  • Indian Social Action Forum
  • Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program
  • Join the Dots UK
  • LDC News Service
  • LDC Watch
  • Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático Peru
  • National Hawkers Federation India
  • Oil Change International
  • Oil Vay: Jewish Climate Action UK
  • Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance
  • Peoples Front Against IFIs India
  • Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
  • P3 Foundation
  • SustainUS
  • Third World Network
  • Tipping Point Collective
  • The Climate Justice Project
  • UK Youth Climate Coalition
  • Worldview— The Gambia
  • Young Friends of the Earth Europe

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2495. Cuba Has Trained for Free 80,000 Need-Based Physicians from Around the World

By TeleSur, November 19, 2016
Medical students from regions around the world that need doctors study in Cuba for free. 
Cuba has trained more than 80,000 doctors from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the United States, Pakistan and China in the last 50 years for free, according to a consultant of the Latin American School of Medicine, ELAM, in Havana.

Luis Estruch, a consultant and professor at ELAM, emphasized how impressive it was that a small Caribbean nation with few economic resources has been able to transform its limited potential into enormous human capital.

"That is the fundamental contribution of Cuba, forming youth through the idea of the community doctor, with their eyes toward the poor, toward preventive medicine," said Estruch.

"For that reason we have to feel proud of everything that the Bolivarian Revolution and the Cuban Medical Mission does," he added.

Cuba began awarding free scholarships to students from across the Global South in the 1960s, many of whom had been affected by conflict and war. Following the 1959 revolution, around 20,000 were granted free education in the country, many of them in the field of healthcare.

The Latin American School of Medicine, or ELAM, was created by leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro in 1999. When ELAM was officially inaugurated in November of that year, 1,527 students from 18 different countries were enrolled for free, according to Estruch.

Today, close to 10,000 students from 122 countries are currently enrolled in the school, all of them studying under free scholarships.

According to Estruch, Cuba has trained around 21,000 Venezuelan doctors alone while Cuban medical practitioners and professors currently teach and even run many prominent medical facilities throughout the world. 

In a similar fashion, according to figures from 2014, since 1969 a total of 325,710 health workers from Cuba had participated in missions in 158 countries. In Africa alone, 76,744 had offered their services in 39 countries.

Among the most important tasks taken up by these doctors was the humanitarian help given to Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak. Thousands of Cuban and island-trained doctors also helped out in Haiti in October after Hurricane Matthew devastated the nation, even though parts of Cuba were heavily affected as well.

Friday, November 18, 2016

2494. Profit from Avocado Imperils Monarch Butterfly's Winter Home in Mexico

By Victoria Burnett, The New York Times, November 17, 2016
Davíd Romero Hernández, 51, center, trimming grass in his new avocado orchard on the edge of Apútzio de Juárez, in Mexico, in October. Photo: Adriana Zehbrauskas for the New York Times.

APÚTZIO DE JUÁREZ, Mexico — The green volcanic hills that tower above Apútzio de Juárez have begun to fill with swarms of monarch butterflies, which return each year for the winter stretch of their celebrated — and imperiled — migration.

But downhill from the monarchs’ mountain roost, in the oak and pine forests that border this small farming town, there lurks a new threat to their winter habitat: a lust to grow the lucrative avocados that are being consumed at record rates in the United States.

Spurred by soaring demand for the creamy fruit, farmers here in the western state of Michoacán are clearing land to make room for avocado orchards, cutting oak and pine trees that form a vital buffer around the mountain forests where the monarchs nest.
“It’s scandalous what people are doing now to grow avocado,” said Arturo Espinosa Maceda, who has for years grown avocados, peaches and strelizia flowers at a farm some 12 miles north of Apútzio. “But it’s mega-business.”

Apútzio sits on the western edge of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a 135,000-acre protected area where the butterflies rest on oyamel, or native fir, trees. The butterflies’ numbers have dwindled sharply in recent years, as milkweed declined in the United States and deforestation affected their Mexican habitat. Each year environmentalists hold their breath to see how many butterflies will arrive in Mexico.

Omar Vidal, director general of the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico, said that conserving the winter sanctuary was “fundamental to the survival of the migration.”

Deforestation “has to be reduced to zero,” he said.

But the avocado boom could complicate that goal.

Americans ate a record seven pounds of avocado per capita in 2015, twice as much as in 2008, according to the Department of Agriculture. Nearly 80 percent of those avocados came from Michoacán, the only Mexican state authorized to export the fruit to the United States by the department, which bans avocados from other Mexican regions over fear of pests. Michoacán doubled its avocado exports over the last seven years to 770,000 tons — worth roughly $1.5 billion.

The bonanza has been brutal for Michoacán’s oak and pine forests, which grow at 5,000 to 7,000 feet — the same altitude as avocados. Between 1974 and 2011, about 110,000 acres of forest across Michoacán’s central highlands were turned into avocado orchards, according to a study by the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

And deforestation is accelerating, experts said. Jaime Navía, president of GIRA, a nonprofit organization based in Michoacán that promotes sustainable rural development, estimated that 65,000 acres — most of it forest — had been converted to avocado growing since that study.

“The damage is irreversible,” he said.

Officials have blamed producers looking for a pretext to turn land over to avocado orchards for a spike in the number of forest fires in Michoacán this year. But forestry experts and farmers said that Mexico’s environmental watchdog, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, often turned a blind eye to abuses. Officials are fearful of powerful interests, they said, especially given that organized crime has links to the industry, or bribes make the officials pliant.

“The authorities need to control this,” said Armando López Orduña, general director of the Mexican Avocado Producers and Packer-Exporters Association.

To offset deforestation, the association has planted a half-million trees since 2009 and hopes to plant another half-million by 2018, he said.

Around Apútzio de Juarez, a town of 1,100 people surrounded by fields of guava and corn, scars on the hillsides and patches of young avocado trees signal the crop’s advance. Some here have farmed avocado for decades. But now, growers from other areas are buying land.

Davíd Romero Hernández, a stocky farmer who was trimming grass in his new avocado orchard on the edge of Apútzio one morning in October, said that the land had been covered with oak and pine. But the owner felled the trees a year ago and sold it to him.
Mr. Romero, 51, pointed to a shorn hill above his plot. That, too, was also covered in forest until a few months ago, he said. Then a farmer from another village bought it.
“It’s the ambition of avocado,” he said.

That ambition could soon increase. Zitácuaro, the municipality surrounding Apútzio, is in the process of seeking certification to export avocados to the United States — a fact that is on the lips of every farmer.

Certification is awarded municipality by municipality, and not all of Michoacán can export avocados. As it stands, some of Apútzio’s avocados are sold to buyers from Uruapan — a town 100 miles west that is the heart of the industry — who pass them off as having been grown there.

Deforestation in Apútzio is a recent problem and far less extensive than in other areas of Michoacán, experts said. But “it is becoming a significant problem,” given the area’s proximity to the monarchs’ habitat, said Edgar González Godoy, director in Mexico of the New York-based Rainforest Alliance.

Efforts to fight deforestation in the reserve focus on about 34,000 acres around where the butterflies roost. Programs run by the World Wildlife Fund and other organizations have helped cut logging from hundreds of acres each year to just 28 so far this year, said the fund’s Mr. Vidal.

But the trees in the reserve’s outer ring play an important role, said Manuel Sarmiento, a biologist and member of the Alliance for the Conservation of Forests, Land and Water, a group of local farmers, environmental activists and residents.

For example, the trees cool the air from Michoacán’s warm western plains as it rises toward the oyamel forests in the center. If the temperature at the heart of the reserve, about seven miles from Apútzio, were to rise, the oyamel could suffer, and thus the butterflies would suffer, too, he said.

Mr. González worries that the lure of avocado will only grow if Mexico succeeds in opening new markets. He noted that deforestation is growing in Jalisco State, another area that hopes it will soon be able to export its crop to the United States.

“Just imagine what would happen if the Chinese started eating avocado,” he said.

In town, residents said avocado had put money into empty pockets. Workers make about $7.50 per day to tend the orchards, and twice that during harvests. A resident can sell an acre to an avocado farmer for about $4,300 — more than that seller would typically make in a year.

“People have more to spend and that lifts us all,” said Fernando Bernal, a butcher, as he hacked slabs of pork from a loin.

But like others in Apútzio, Mr. Bernal worries about water. Apútzio’s supply comes from springs fed by the hills east of town. Pine and oak help water filter through the earth and into the spring; avocado, on the other hand, has shallow roots and consumes a lot of that water.

If people keep cutting down the forest, “we’ll run out,” Mr. Bernal said.

And Apútzio isn’t the only community with much at stake. The hills that stretch north east of here collect water for the massive Cutzamala water system that supplies the thirsty Mexican capital, Mexico City, 100 miles away.

Even Mr. Romero, happily tending his avocado bushes on land once filled with mighty trees, is saddened by the loss of forest. He said that his village, Zicata de Morelos, depends on water that comes from the hills near Apútzio.

“So we’re all affected,” Mr. Romero said. “But people don’t think about the future.”