ALFREDO AZCARATE VARELA
THE BAJA POST/EDITOR
First cotton bale of the crop, October 2021, in Mexicali Valley, Mayor Norma Bustamante visited the facilities of BAJAMEX, a cotton processing and trading company, which helps the Valley cotton growers export their crops to Japan, mostly.
Legend has it that Mexicali was once, about a hundred years ago, the biggest cotton plantation in the World, when the Colorado River Land Company leased Mexican land, to foreigners who grew cotton making “a whale of a trade”.
There were Americans, Japanese, Russian a several others leasing land to grow cotton, employing Mexican labor making fortunes, a sweatshop of sorts, and sold their crops through the company, they worked on a widespread surface of about 500 thousand acres sown of cotton.
IN 1937, President Lazaro Cardenas gave the land to Mexicans, and the surface of cotton dwindled a bit, but kept yielding big amounts of money, Mexicali grew and the Valley bloomed thanks to the “white gold” and there are tales of people spending huge amounts of money and throwing big fortunes away with their cotton trade earnings.
In the cotton gin in Algodonera Baja Mex (BAJAMEX) facilities, the first cotton bale in the Valley ceremony took place, which used to be a big thing, the Governor and Federal officers used to attend, it seemed to be forgotten, but this year Mexicali Mayor Norma Bustamante, showed up to lift the spirit of what cotton means for Mexicali.
José Luis Dominguez Becerra, CEO of BAJAMEX, said that cotton has a huge relevance for Mexicali Valley economy, a crop that financially spreads all over the Valley, becoming an important part of many families, but he also took advantage of the opportunity and spoke about insecurity issues and the shape of many Valley roads.
Ms. Bustamante´s presence was relevant because of the cultural and social relevance that the Valley and its cotton crop bring to all the “ejidos” (small communities all over the valley), many issues are of state or federal jurisdiction but her presence says too much, in a Valley that has been forgotten the last few years.