About a month ago, Guatemala (and many other Latin American democratic, free nations), was graced with the presence of G.W. Bush. President Bush was here to make deals for purchasing Guatemala's corn to make ethanol.
In the days after Bush flew home, the price of corn increased by 20-25%. "Wonderful!" you may think, "Guatemalan's will be able to make more money."
Problem. This is what Guatemalan's eat, what they fill their stomachs with. From the Washington Post:
The ancient Mayans believed they were created by gods who mixed their blood with ground corn. They called themselves "Children of the Corn,"Thanks to the US ethanol market, corn will be turned into a cash crop like sugar, coffee, tobacco, leatherleaf, and other non-essential products.
The same thing is happening in Mexico right now.
Slightly different cause in El Salvador. When I was there a year ago, they told me that when the country adopted the US Dollar as its official currency, the price of tortillas basically quadrupled. The equivalent of a dollar, before the currency switch, could buy about 35 tortillas; it now buys 9. In neighbouring Guatemala a year ago, a US Dollar could buy 45 tortillas; now it can buy 34-37 of them.