January 20, 2007
Here is another reason to be skeptical of using ethanol made from corn to stretch our finite gasoline supplies: Rising demand for corn in the United States has caused tortilla prices to rise so much in Mexico that poor people are having a hard time making ends meet. In response, the government of Felipe Lopez signed an agreement with businesses aimed at putting a lid on the price of tortillas. He puts some of the blame on "price gouging" by wholesalers in Mexico, however, which is an unusual position for a conservative to take. See CNN.com. If only U.S. energy policy were based more on free market principles instead of arbitrary tax breaks and other gimmicks, there would be less pressure on the government of Mexico to respond to the resulting distortions by offsetting measures.
This is not surprising: Hugo Chavez has been providing financial aid to Peruvian coca growers, no doubt with subversive political intentions. This was made public by Congresswoman Elsa Malpartida, one of the leaders of the coca growers movement who are gathering at a convention in the north central city of Tingo Maria attended by Defense Minister Allan Wagner. See La Republica (in Spanish).