JASMINE AND DANIEL: an Immigration Story From Chiapas, Mexico

Chapter Five of The Greatest Story Oversold: Understanding Economic Globalization

"The so-called ‘illegals’ are so not because they wish to defy the law, but, because the law does not provide them with any channels to regularize their status in our country – which needs their labor: they are not breaking the law, the law is breaking them."
—Most Reverend Thomas Wenski, Bishop of Orlando, Florida

Few subjects are more directly linked to globalization than migration—families disrupted from lifelong homes and communities and driven to urban centers or across borders looking for work or food. It happens all over the world. Great Britain is in turmoil attempting to assimilate millions of new “irregulars” (their term for the “undocumented”) that have come recently, mainly from their former colonies.[a] France and Germany are struggling against violent backlashes to Muslim immigrants by skin heads and white supremacy groups. Australia has just passed harsh laws seeking to slow the tide coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka. And Spain, whose southernmost town of Ceuta is the gateway into northern Africa, is building walls and detention centers and doubling its military force to keep immigrants from Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and as far south as Sudan. All over the world poverty—exacerbated by the economic polarization that comes with free-market policies—is forcing people to move just to stay alive.

But the country I know the most about is Mexico, so I’ll start there. Also, Mexico deserves special attention because it arguably sends a higher percentage of its population beyond its borders looking for work than any other country in the world. It is second only to India (a country three times larger) in the amount of money its foreign working citizens send home to their families. In the mid 2000s, this averaged $24 billion a year and was the country’s third largest source of income after oil and illegal drugs.[b]

And I can’t speak about Mexico and immigration without telling the story of Daniel Hernandez and Jasmine Diaz-Perez, two young people whose families I met a few years ago while I was visiting in their home in Chiapas, Mexico. Chiapas didn’t used to come up often in immigration conversations because it was too rural and too far south to send many people all the way up into the United States. That’s all changed now. Since the early 1990s, Chiapas and its neighboring state, Oaxaca, have become the fastest growing “sending” states in the country. In fact, in the years following the implementation of NAFTA (passed, as you may recall, as a tool to help stem the tide of immigration), immigration to the U.S. has nearly doubled, with much of that coming from these southern states of Mexico.

Daniel and Jasmine would have been about seventeen or eighteen when I was there. They had spent their entire lives in a little village high in the mountains about two hours north of the capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, and they had just become engaged. Their parents were wonderful, hardworking people, whose families had lived and loved and struggled in those mountains, growing corn and beans and coffee for generations. However, many of the global economic forces we have talked about in previous chapters hit them hard in recent years and changed their lives forever. With each economic hit, the countryside around them would empty out more of its young people. Great swaths of rural Mexico were—and still are—becoming littered with abandoned ghost towns. In many, only the elderly and those too weak to travel were left behind.

Some went to the beaches to sell tee shirts and Chiclets to tourists. Some moved to the ghettos surrounding major cities to sell themselves as day laborers. More often, they would go to the U.S.-owned assembly plants along the border with the U.S. known as Maquiladoras or go further north across the border and become undocumented, illegal immigrants.

Jasmine’s community had finally gotten to that level. Living conditions had declined terribly, and many in her family and community decided that they too had to go north. Hopefully the men—and it was usually men—would find work and then send remittances home to the others in the family. That was the plan, at any rate, but their options were terrible at best. Typically, if groups like theirs got in, and if they did find work, they would rent a cheap room together in a motel, take turns sleeping and working, eat as little as possible, and then send money back home. It was an awful way to live and it was dangerous just getting there; but if they made it in, one day’s work picking vegetables in Southern California or mowing lawns for a landscaper in Tulsa—even at below minimum wage, even with no benefits—could feed a family of six in Chiapas for a week.

They would live hidden in the shadows in a country that schizophrenically both reviles them and needs them. Increasingly during the last years of the Bush administration they lived under the constant fear of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid, followed by incarceration or deportation or both. In March of 2009, the Pew Hispanic Center released a study showing that Hispanics were incarcerated in our federal prisons in alarming numbers, but with only a small percentage being charged with anything that you and I would consider a crime. The vast majority (81 percent) were there not because of robbery, theft, murder or rape, but because they came into our country and were caught holding down a job.[c]

When people in the U.S. discuss immigration, they by and large address it by focusing their debates on what to do about immigrants once they are in the country. Liberals, typically talk of bringing aid to migrants who have been caught along the border, and crafting a fair route to citizenship for the twelve million undocumented immigrants presently in the country. The opinion of Labor groups had until recently been divided between the old established A.F.L.-C.I.O. and its break-away rival the “Change to Win Coalition.” The older union supported the guest worker program because it limited the number of people allowed in the country, while the younger union argued that it amounted to institutionalized slavery and put a downward pressure on wages and working conditions for non-immigrant workers. In April, 2009, the two came together and proposed a national commission that would manage future immigration. The commission would set the numbers of foreign workers to be admitted each year based on demand in American labor markets.[d] Conservatives on the other hand are generally divided between those in the working class who think (wrongly it turns out[e]) of immigrants as a serious threat to their jobs and those in the business class who think of immigrants as cheap, unprotected labor to work the farms, pick tomatoes, and clean the motel rooms. One group wants to treat them humanely, another wants to treat them inhumanely, and another simply wants to get some work out of them.

“If I kill a dog, I will get in trouble. If I kill you, I won’t get in any trouble. No one knows you are here. You don’t exist.”
 Threats made by a human trafficker to Flor, a 37-year-old survivor of modern American slavery, who came to the U.S. to earn money after losing a child to starvation in Mexico. She was forced to work 17 to 19 hours a day for no pay in a sewing sweatshop. “People feel if you come in illegally, anything that happens to you is your fault,” said Lisette Arsuaga, with the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery& Trafficking. “Slavery is not an immigration issue. It’s a civil rights issue. There’s no justification for making someone a slave.”
---The Kansas City Star, Dec. 12, 2009[f]

But less often people ask the deeper, more complicated question: why are they coming here at all? What drives people, rooted for centuries in their own history and place, to feel compelled to leave everything they have ever known and travel thousands of miles to a strange land in the first place, and in ever larger numbers? Just saying “they want our jobs” or “they want to better themselves” doesn’t really get at the root issues. Millions of young people are leaving their homes and risking their lives for the journey to el Norte.

On the one hand, one could argue that migration to the U.S. has evolved over the last generation as a social movement with a momentum all its own, with millions of young Mexican males seeing the journey as a new rite of passage. But on the other hand, the real engine of growth behind migration is economics, with several specific—possibly intentional—policies of both the U.S. and Mexico that are forcing migration to take place. Two that directly touched the lives of Jasmine and her family were the collapse of coffee prices and the influx of cheap U.S. corn. In our next chapter we will discuss the coffee crisis more fully, so here we will only say briefly that it occurred in the 1990s after the U.S. pulled out of the International Coffee Agreement. The U.S. had supported the Agreement until then because it regulated world production and consumption and maintained a baseline income for poor coffee farmers. When the U.S.—the largest consuming country in the world—pulled out, the Agreement fell apart and more and more countries increased their coffee production until soon nobody was making any money. Production went up while demand stayed flat, and the result was an economic disaster for farmers like those in Chiapas and elsewhere. Coffee has always been a delicate crop to make money on without regulation, because its prices change rapidly on the world market while it is cultivated very slowly by the farmer. For example, in 1997 Brazil suffered a frost, which lowered its coffee production and temporarily raised prices on the world commodity exchange. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of farmers all over the world thought the hard times were over and began planting more trees. But a good coffee tree takes around five years of cultivation to produce the first cherry; and by the time the first of their beans were ready to be sold, the prices had already fallen back down to “normal.” Their new harvests glutted the market, driving coffee prices down even further. It was a catastrophe caused by the conflict between short-term pricing and long-term growing. And the result was one more contribution to the massive population flows out of the rural areas of dozens of countries and into the cities or neighboring countries. From about 1990 to 2002 world prices dropped nearly seventy percent, which means in human terms that tens of millions of poor farmers lost their farms and their homes. In Mexico, it also meant that hundreds of thousands of them began migrating north.

The second major problem, the influx of cheap U.S. corn, was a direct result of NAFTA. Among other things, NAFTA forced an end to the subsidies that Mexico gave its farmers and to the tariffs it used to prevent U.S. corn and other commodities from flooding their market. After both were cancelled, the doors were opened to highly subsidized, highly mechanized U.S. corn; and it came into the country in record amounts, devastating Mexican small-plot farmers. According to the provisions of NAFTA, the U.S. was also required to lower its subsidies to its own farmers, to make the playing field more level between U.S., Canadian and Mexican farmers. But thus far, more than fifteen years later, the U.S. has still failed to do so. Instead, government subsidies to U.S. commodity producers have actually gone up over the years, and today U.S. corn pours into Mexico at prices twenty-five percent less than it costs them to grow it, and far less than any small crop farmer in Mexico can match.[g] During a particularly hard five years, between 1999 and 2004, the income prices paid to Mexican corn farmers fell more than fifty percent, while the price of tortillas to Mexican consumers actually rose 380 percent.[h] As Mexican economist Miguel Picard has put it, Mexican farmers are not competing with U.S. farmers; they are competing with subsidies paid by the U.S. taxpayers.[i]

In theory, the U.S. government gives subsidies to farmers for commodities like corn, wheat, cotton, rice, and soybeans to help boost our exports. They arise from the problem that the U.S. has too many farms producing too much grain and we can’t sell it domestically at U.S. prices. Therefore, our official government policy is that we help farmers export it so that they can make a living, and we do it by subsidizing their production. However, critics have noted that the bulk of the subsidies go to a small number of large corporate farming interests, like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, who because of their size (“economy of scale,” as it is often called), already have a huge economic advantage. So subsidies are just the icing on the cake. Two-thirds of all U.S. farmers receive no commodity payments at all and of those who do—the wealthiest, largest, top ten percent—receive two-thirds of the money.[j] It is also probably no coincidence that the large agribusiness corporations can afford major contributions to members of Congress, while most small farmers survive by working at part-time jobs on the side. And the 2010 Supreme Court decision allowing corporations even more freedom to influence elections and policy will probably not change that. 

This strong belief in God’s preferential option for the wealthy is not unique to the U.S. or even this hemisphere; it is the dominant theological ideology of the wealthy classes of every country on the planet. Our wealthy, well educated trade representatives often get together at international conferences in opulent surroundings, where they work out smooth, efficient trade policies, and then go home without speaking to a single small farmer from Iowa or campesino from Guatemala. It isn’t that they hate poor people or intentionally want to “crush the face of the poor into their poverty” (at least not most of them), it’s just that conditions of the poor and struggling seldom come up unless they are standing outside the gates with pitchforks and sabers demanding some small say in the proceedings.

In 2007, a number of organizations of faith and conscience, most notably the Christian citizens’ movement Bread for the World, made a tremendous effort to finally make changes in some of the subsidy policies. Thousands of members nation-wide met in church basements and parish halls writing letters and making phone calls. They visited their representatives and tried their hands—usually for the first time—at actual old fashioned “lobbying.” Their proposals actually seemed to most to be quite modest. They asked that Congress make a general overall cut in commodity subsidy payments and subsidies to giant corporations in particular, and then to redirect some of the money saved into the enhancement of domestic nutrition programs like WIC, food stamps, and food banks. It seemed only fair and just and the kind of changes that a moral country that cared for its weakest citizens ought to be supportive of.

However, they were met by heavy, expensive, and professional lobbying from the other side, combined with an unfortunate lack of understanding in the U.S. of farm policies and subsidies. Most people did, and still do, believe that a U.S. subsidy for a crop helps our poor struggling farmers. Very, very few people understand just how few and how wealthy are the people who actually receive them. Together these things conspired to make most of the proposals fail. Nutrition programs received some help, which was good, but the distorted subsidy policies stayed basically intact.[k]

Given all of this, it’s not surprising that NAFTA, which was sold as a way of decreasing immigration, wound up actually contributing to it. In the decade between 1994 (when it was first initiated) to 2004, Mexican migration to the U.S. nearly doubled. Mexico today has one of the largest human migratory outflows in the world. Estimates of Mexicans entering the U.S. every year range between 400,000 to 600,000 people.[l] According to the Mexican government’s own reports, unfair competition with U.S. commodities is a major contributor to its losing nearly thirty percent of its farm jobs since the trade pact went into effect. In addition, since 1982 (the start of the first “Washington Consensus,” Neo-liberal, free-market policy imposed on Mexico by the IMF) Mexico has cut its help and aid to farmers by more than seventy percent. All told, that translated into millions of farmers and millions more of their dependents fleeing their fields. It created a massive conversion of farmers to migrants and migrants into cheap labor in the U.S.

Often, when discussing U.S. subsidies, people will ask why the government of Mexico didn’t just fight back as a number of other countries have? Brazil, for example, filed an “anti-dumping” complaint against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization for its subsidies on cotton, and it won. The WTO ruled that U.S. subsidies distorted world cotton markets and harmed cotton-exporting countries like Brazil.[m] Mexico could have done at least something similar to protect its own citizens, but it didn’t. In actual fact, the Mexican government’s policies toward its farmers were even harsher than the provisions of NAFTA required. They had, for example, the option of phasing out tariffs on U.S. corn and other commodities gradually, over fifteen years, which if done well could have at least given farmers time to transition to new crops. Instead, the year after signing NAFTA, Mexico began removing its tariffs on U.S. commodities. It cut its own subsidies and price supports for farmers, and even dismantled the agency whose job it was to stabilize corn prices within the country. The result was that its small farmers received a deep and painful pounding from the onslaught of cheap U.S. corn while its consumers received a wide upswing in the prices they paid in the market.

Why did they do that? Why did the government of Mexico not only not act to protect some of the most vulnerable sectors of its own economy, but also did act in ways that seemed designed to intentionally harm them? Why would they do that?

The long answer to that question is very complicated and arcane. So, before we get to it, the short answer is that there exists in Mexico very powerful commercial corn and tortilla interests for whom the arrival of foreign corn at rock-bottom prices was a gold mine. When a corporation in one country sells corn, or flour made from corn, or tortillas made from corn, or a variety of other corn products, it is not at all a bad thing if a neighboring country sells its basic raw material at a fire sale price. It can, in fact, become a huge windfall.

The main beneficiary of this kind of arrangement in Mexico is Roberto Gonzalez Barrera, the very politically connected and powerful head of the world’s largest corn processing empire, called “Gruma” (acronymn for Grupo Maseca, S.A.). Gonzalez Barrera’s father founded his company in 1949 to produce processed rehydrated corn flour and mechanically produced corn tortillas. But its income was undistinguished until 1989 when Carlos Salinas, an old family friend, became the president of Mexico. That event changed corn production and eating habits in Mexico profoundly.

Mexican corn production and consumption before that time was based on a complicated system that kept tortillas cheap while keeping farmers and tortillarias (tortilla manufacturers) in business. A federal corn agency called “Conasupo” would buy up corn from farmers at a subsidized price and then sell it to the tortillarias at a lower price. Then, to make sure they passed the bargain price on to consumers, the agency put a price cap on how much the tortilla makers could sell the tortillas for. It wasn’t perfect, but everyone made a little money and nobody went broke.

One of the things Salinas did when he became president was to make his brother the head of Conasupo. Under the new leadership the agency froze the amount of corn that would be sold to the tortilla makers and said that orders beyond that that would be filled only by mechanized, mass-produced corn flour, not the traditional hand-produced (and more flavorful) corn masa. It may be a coincidence, but at that time there were only two major producers of corn flour. One was “Miconsa,” a poorly run government enterprise, and the other was called “Maseca,” which happened to be owned by Gruma. Next, the government phased out the program of supplying the tortilla millers with inexpensive corn altogether and instead encouraged them to buy Gruma’s Maseca corn flour. If the millers refused and paid a higher price to get better corn, the Ministry of Commerce wouldn’t let them pass on their higher price to consumers. The millers were trapped. They were forced to buy inferior-tasting corn flour, made by the president’s friend, and which their consumers did not want, or buy the higher priced, but better-tasting, corn masa and be forced to sell it at a lower price. All told, between 1993 and 1995, these measures caused seven thousand Mexican tortilla-making shops to close.[n]

Interestingly, one of the few millers of tortillas that did not go out of business in those days was Grupo Industrial Maseca, or “Gimsa,” which was yet another subsidiary of Gruma. Through its parent company, Gruma, Gimsa cut a deal with the Ministry of Commerce which allowed corn millers to get paid the difference between the market price for its corn flour and the capped price as a “rebate.” The rebate was theoretically for all millers of corn flour, but by that time most of the competition had gone out of business. The only flour-making alternative to Gimsa of any size was the government company, Miconsa, which was later sold off, giving Gimsa a near-monopoly in the market. This “rebate” amounted to roughly 35 percent of Gimsa’s revenue in 1992, or 1.93 billion pesos ($492.6 million). It grew to 43 percent of Gimsa’s revenue in 1994. Today Gruma and its various subsidiaries control 77 percent of the corn flour market in Mexico, for a total global operation of over $1.1 billion.

All of this is complicated and dense-sounding, but the most important “take away” point is that with every twist and turn of government policy, Gruma or one of its subsidiaries made a killing. And at the same time that these policies taking place, NAFTA was being signed and was voted into law. So, at one and the same time the government was signing an agreement to lift tariffs on cheap foreign corn and creating policies to channel it into the hands of the world’s largest corn products producer. Subsidized U.S. corn began to flow into the Mexican market and a two-thousand-year era of Mexican production of its own corn effectively came to an end.

The lifting of the tariffs was a gift to Gruma because it supplied them with cheap corn, from which they made their cheap tortillas, and with which they wiped out tens of thousands of local corn farmers and tortilla producers, who had been their competitors. That in turn forced consumers to turn to Gonzalez Barrera’s products as the few remaining corn flour and tortilla alternatives. In less than one decade his competition had disappeared and his costs had plummeted. It was a perfect storm of benefits for Gonzalez Barrera’s bland-tasting manufactured flour and tortillas.

The Gruma company had yet another windfall in the early 2000s, which once again brought misery to Mexico’s poorest populations. It was when the U.S. was temporarily experimenting with ethanol as an oil substitute which required huge amounts of corn, and which drove up corn prices for the first time in a decade. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gruma is also integrally linked with the Archer Daniels Midland company, which is a major recipient of U.S. corn subsidies and a major contributor to U.S. politicians. In 1996, ADM bought twenty-two percent of Gruma. Today its chief operating officer, and its vice president for planning and business development both sit on Gruma’s board and it mills Gruma’s wheat flour products in both Mexico and the U.S., which ADM then sells under the brand name of “Mission Foods.” Therefore, when the demand for corn for biofuels caused the price for corn products to shoot up, it not only forced hungry Mexicans to switch to wheat products but it also became one more gold mine for Gruma and its U.S. partners. They were poised to win either way the market went, and they did.[o]


None of these secret deals and entanglements were in any way clear to Jasmine and Daniel and their families when they made the awful decision that they would have to leave to find work. All they knew was that nothing was producing a profit at home and to stay was to starve. Eventually the family got together a few thousand dollars—a lot by rural Chiapas’ standards—and six volunteers, all good workers, all young men, and all willing to make the journey to el Norte. The problem with the plan was that Daniel was one of those young men chosen to go and he and Jasmine had just gotten engaged. They said they just couldn’t stand being apart from each other, and they begged to be kept together. Maybe they both could find jobs; maybe they could afford a place together. Maybe they could finally get married… So, young as she was, the family finally agreed and they added Jasmine to the group, and then they all left.

They walked down the mountain from their high, remote community and made their way on foot up the west coast of Mexico. There is another more common method they could have tried. There is a freight train that runs from southern Chiapas up to the Mexican/Texas border, a four-to-five-day-trip. It is illegal to ride on and extremely dangerous. It has been dubbed el tren de la muerte, “The Death Train,” because of the number of people who have fallen off and been crushed under its wheels. In spite of its dangers, every year, tens of thousands of economic refugees, mainly from Central America, take their chances on it and hundreds of them never make it to the end. Those who do, and survive the journey, speak of migrants being thrown into trees, decapitated by power lines, sucked under the wheels, limbs severed. “Se los comio el tren,” their companions would say, “The train ate them up.”[p]

However, for Jasmine and her companions, to gain access to the train would have meant walking due south for nearly two days to the little town of Arriaga where it now begins, and where jumpers can get on, and that would have been time lost from the ultimate journey north. So, instead they walked. They walked north along the spine of the westward side of the Sierra Madre Mountains, occasionally taking a bus, sometimes hitch-hiking, but mainly walking for almost three weeks. Then, exhausted and nearly broke they stopped at the town of Altar, Mexico, about 60 miles south of the U.S. border, where they hired a man named Bolivar Cerbando Morales-Galvez to be their coyote. Coyotes” are those often unsavory, often unscrupulous people who work along the Mexican/U.S. border dealing in bodies. For a fee they will smuggle people like Jasmine and Daniel and their family across the line and into the new world. Whether the families succeed or fail, the coyote still gets paid. Typically, they don’t really care which way it comes out.

There are actually several routes into the U.S. from Altar. The safest is around through the town of Sasabe, because there is less sand and more shade and the journey is not as harsh. Another route is shorter, but straight north through the brutal heat and terrain of the Sonora Desert. Jasmine and her family didn’t have the twelve to fifteen hundred dollars left that a coyote usually charges people, so he took what they had, and then led them up through the Sonora.

But it didn’t work out. They were too weak, the journey had been too long, and the heat was too punishing. After three days they couldn’t go any further. Some wanted to go back, but by that time they had gone too far and couldn’t return. They begged Morales-Galvez to call for help, but he refused. He claimed that his T-mobile satellite desert phone couldn’t get reception in the desert. No one believed him. Finally, about 100 miles southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, most of them collapsed. They couldn’t go any further and Morales-Galvez, who still had his own water and food, abandoned them. Three of Jasmine’s uncles, who still had some strength left, continued walking on ahead to search for help. At a small town called Papago Farms they ran across Border Patrol agents canvassing the area. They turned themselves in and then led the agents back to their friends.

When they got back to the others, they found all of them in critical condition, near death from exposure and dehydration. Two recovered fairly quickly. Two more were in intensive care for several days. Some took more care. But young Jasmine never made it. She died in route in the ambulance. They tried to resuscitate her at the hospital, but she was already gone. Daniel survived, but no one knows where he is. They say he ran screaming from the hospital when he got the news and there’s no word on what happened to him or where he is. He never made it back home. He never contacted anyone about getting a job. He simply disappeared.


I don’t pretend to know how to wade through the complex immigration laws in America. I can’t begin to understand all of the legal, economic, and historical issues that will resolve the unhappy place where we are today.

But what I do know is that people like Jasmine Dias and Daniel Hernandez are not our enemies. They didn’t come here to hurt us, or take our jobs, or soak up our tax dollars. Their story is not just about immigration reform, whereby people who work hard, and play by the rules, and want to make a living and raise their families can have an opportunity to do so; it’s also about trade reform that keeps ordinary people from being driven from their land and their homes to become sweat shop workers or international sources of remittances. They tried to come here because they were hungry, because they were desperate, and because they loved each other.

And I know that little Jasmine died for our sins.

She died so that we could continue to worship a market system that destroys people and cripples families far away from us, so that we can live well here at home—a system that forces prices down so that we can drink cheap coffee, and forces immigration up so that our farmers and industries can have cheap labor. And I know that when they finally brought the coyote to court, in addition to whatever the judge did to him for abandoning all of them to suffer in the Sonora desert, at the end of the day, you and I and all of our families are co-conspirators in his crime.

[a]  “National Statistics Online,” http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1312
[b]  John Gibler, “Mexico’s Ghost Towns: The other side of the immigration debate,” In These Times, May 29, 2008.
[c]  Editorial, “Enforcement Gone Bad,” The New York Times, February 22, 2009.
[d]  Julia Preston and Steven Greenhouse, “Immigration Accord by Labor Boosts Obama Effort,” The New York Times, April 14, 2009.
[e]  Susan B. Carter and Richard Sutch, “Labour Market Flooding? Migrant Destination and Wage Change during America's Age of Mass Migration,” Border Battles: The U.S. Immigration Debates, Social Science Research Council (Mar 12, 2007), http://borderbattles.ssrc.org/Carter_Sutch/printable.html.
[f] Mike Mcgraw and Laura Bauer, “U.S. system to find, help victims of human trafficking is broken,” The Kansas City Star, December 12, 2009. Originally cited in SojoMail@sojonet, 12.17.09.
[g]  Tina Rosenberg , “Why Mexico’s Small Corn Farmers Go Hungry,” The New York Times, March 3, 2003
[h]  Laura Carlsen, “Food Insecurity: The World Needs Its Small Farmers” CounterPunch, October 24, 2006, http://www.counterpunch.org/carlsen10242006.html
[i]  Personal interview, January 29, 2009. See also, Dumping Without Borders: How U.S. Agricultural Policies are Destroying Mexican Corn Farmers (Oxfam U.K., 2003), “They are competing not against U.S. farmers, but against U.S. taxpayers and the world’s most powerful treasury,” p. 3.
[j]  Bread for the World Institute, Hunger 2007: Healthy Food, Farms and Families (Washington: Bread for the World, 2007), p. 3.
[k]  Bill Malone, Shawnda Hines, “Bread for the World Calls 2008 Farm Bill ‘Half a Loaf,’” press release, Bread for the World, May 14, 2008, http://www.bread.org/press-room/releases/bread-for-the-world-calls-2008-farm-bill-half-a-loaf.html.
[l]  Miguel Pickard, “In the Crossfire: Mesoamerican Migrants Journey North,” special report, IRC Americas Program (Silver City, NM: International Relations Center, March 18, 2005), p. 1. These numbers are from before the 2008-2009 recession, during which they slid downward temporarily. By the middle of 2010, the numbers of people leaving Mexico for work in the U.S. had begun to move back up again
[m]  Hunger 2007: Healthy Food, Farms and Families, p. 5.
[n]  “How a Tortilla Empire Was Built on Favoritism,” Anthony DePalma, The New York Times, Feb. 15, 1996.
[o]  Tom Philpott, “Tortilla Spat: How Mexico’s iconic flatbread went industrial and lost its flavor,” Grist Magazine (September 13, 2006).
[p]  The quote is from Megan Feldman, “El Tren de la Muerte: Central American migrants risk life and limb on the death trains to Texas,” The Dallas Observer, July 25, 2007, http://www.dallasobserver.com/2007-07-26/news/el-tren-de-la-muerte/1.