The D.O. of Mezcal in Mexico: A Tool of Exclusion for Small Producers.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Marie-Christine RENARD, Universidad Autonoma Chapingo, Mexico
David Rodolfo DOMÍNGUEZ ARISTA, Universidad Autonoma Chapingo, Mexico
The mezcal is a Mexican traditional distilled beverage, with centuries long historical roots; it is a craft production still elaborated in a traditional way mostly by small producers in several states of the country, which makes the difference with the tequila –also a mezcal- produced by industrials and distributed by large corporations. Since 1994, the Mexican State, through the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, granted the mezcal a Denomination of Origin, in such a way that instead of being a tool of democratic development, it has produced exclusion: it does not take into account the territorial –biological and cultural- specificities of different mezcales (a generic name as “wine”), neither does it distinguish cultural and regional differences. It is designed following administrative delimitations that exclude a large numbers of traditional small producers, now forbidden to use the name mezcal for their drinks. The D.O. throws those small producers into illegality. The case shows how the definitions of D.Os. are a representation of political power since the mezcal producers included in the D.O. do not allow it to be enlarged in order to include all the genuine mezcal producers. At the contrary, supported by the State institutions and going further in the politics of exclusion, they have tried to forbid to the producers not included in the D.O. the use of the name “distilled from agave” or to oblige them to use a totally unknown name, “komil”. The paper would explore alternatives of recognition of the quality of the mezcal not included in the D.O. Those alternatives depend on the organizational capacity of small producers, the negotiation they engage with the institutions of the Mexican State and the social relationship they acquire with others actors in the beverage chain.