Monday, April 15, 2024

Farmers blockade Culiacán’s airport in protest over grain prices

Farmers blockaded Culiacan’s Bachigualato International Airport in Sinaloa on Tuesday as protests by farmers escalate over the price of grain. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, operations at Culiacán International Airport remained suspended.

About 200 farmers from across the state blockaded entry roads to the airport, demanding that the government raise the guaranteed minimum price of grain. Protesters want the price to be 7,000 pesos per ton of corn, 8,000 pesos per ton of wheat and 6,500 for sorghum. 

Culiacan airport protest
The airport blockade is the latest escalation in an ongoing protest by farmers over grain prices. (Twitter)

They also called for the implementation of a government purchase program for the 3.5 million tons of grain that currently do not have a place in the market. 

As Mexico’s largest producer of corn, Sinaloa has been hard hit by global volatility in grain prices, with prices collapsing over 50% in the last 18 months as Ukrainian grain supplies have returned to market. 

While the government’s Segalmex food security agency guarantees prices to small-scale producers, medium- and large-scale growers have faced financial setbacks. 

Protests took place across several other regions of the Sinaloan capital, despite temperatures reaching 42 C (107 F). The newspaper La Jornada also reported similar protest activities in Sonora, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Guerrero y Michoacán, where farmers eithers blockaded key streets or took over tollbooths. 

Segalmex workers at a warehouse
While the Segalmex agency guarantees prices for small growers, larger producers are left at the mercy of a volatile global grain market, as the war in Ukraine wreaks havoc on international supply. (Segalmex)

State and federal security forces erected blockades to try to prevent farmers from reaching the airport. However, protesters bypassed the barriers and successfully blocked access to the airport, forcing its closure. 

“There are 13 arrivals and 14 departures that have been affected by grain farmers who have blocked the Culiacán airport,” Cristóbal Castañeda, Sinaloa’s public security minister, said on his Twitter account

He added that around 2,500 passengers had been impacted as of Tuesday, with dozens of flights rerouted to nearby airports. 

In May, farmers met with the Interior Ministry to discuss a rise in guaranteed grain prices. However, Baltazar Valdez, president of the Campesinos Unidos group that represents the farmers, said that the government has been unresponsive, forcing them to occupy the airport to pressure officials to come to the negotiating table. 

Protesters have previously carried out smaller-scale road blockades on Culiacán’s main avenues. On June 6, farmers from Sinaloa agreed to create a national front dedicated to protesting grain prices, threatening to begin massive protests if the federal government does not meet their demands. The day after, they held a sit-in outside the National Palace in Mexico City to demand President López Obrador guarantee higher prices for grain. 

Updates can be found here

With reports by Aristegui, La Jornada and La Lista

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