The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2024 41 shelf life of five days so then you would put them on a plane, you ship to the United States, by the time you get there the shelf life is about three days, you put them out on the street, and you try to sell them as quickly as you can before they spoil. So they were complaining to me that these mangoes, when they arrive in the United States, they cost $10 a piece, and they’re being undercut by the Mexican and Puerto Rican and Haitian mangoes. We sat down and did the cost calculation, and what we discovered was that if you took the cost of production, irradiation, including all the expenses related to irradiation, and transportation, including flying them from India all the way to New York City, it came out to $4 each. Importers were taking $6 of profit for every $10 that they sold a mango for. The Indian diaspora wanted their Indian mangoes, they wanted this particular variety, the Alfonso mango, [and] some of the others that are very good, very tasty. So we went back, and we pointed out, well, this high cost is not all because of the expensive irradiation. Sixty percent of the cost is due to price gouging on the part of your importers on the other side, and one of the nasty little secrets about trade between the United States and India is that most of it is a family affair. You have a member of the family in the United States who is the receiver of the goods, collects the money, pays the shipper of the goods, who is a brother or cousin or some other relative, and that’s how the business is done. And if you were to reduce the price gouging, you would be able to sell at a lower price. Of course they didn’t want to hear that, didn’t want to get into that argument. 2021 Reuniting Families of Afghans Fleeing Taliban Rule Returning to the State Department out of retirement from a storied career, Ambassador A. Elizabeth “Beth” Jones took leadership of the office wrestling with the enormous challenges of assisting and relocating Afghan refugees after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Kabul. She tells how her team reunited a family with a son they thought had died in the Abbey Gate suicide bombing. It was one of the most difficult jobs most of us who worked on this have ever done. We were having to invent ways to do it and ways to overcome obstacles all the time. Every step of the way, we had in mind that we’re dealing with the lives of human beings who are potentially truly in danger. They’re having to make heartbreaking decisions about leaving family members behind if they were going to get out themselves. In addition, we were dealing with a huge number of unaccompanied minors who’d ended up in the U.S. in federal care. … At one point, we were told that there was a 7-year-old boy in Kabul whose family had left, and we had to find his family. … He’d been with his family at a gate at the Kabul airport, that there was a huge explosion right next to him, and he then lost his family. He didn’t know what happened to his family. And he looked around, looked around, couldn’t find them, and finally decided Evacuees wait to board U.S. military aircraft at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 23, 2021. U.S. MARINE CORPS