A New Corona & Pacifico Brewery May Divert Water from Mexicans in Need
“The government’s intention is to leave us with nothing, without land and without water.”
Since the election of President Donald Trump, the US-Mexican border has been a site of much political jostling surrounding the ongoing US immigration crisis. But another battle is brewing in this contested region, and it’s not about the movement of people.
It’s about the movement of beer.
For the past year, activists in the northern Mexican state of Baja California have been fighting against the relocation of a brewery to their community, The Guardian reports. They argue that the brewery will use up precious water resources and hurt local farmers in the midst of an ongoing drought.
The battle between activists and the state government of the desert region, which has thrown its support behind the proposed brewery, saying it will bring 750 permanent jobs to the community and spark economic growth, began to heat up in early 2017, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The $1.5 billion project was initially proposed in January 2016 by Constellation Brands, which produces beers for consumption in the United States, including well-known brands like Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico.
According to Carlo Bonfante, Baja California’s secretary of economic development, the brewery, slated to be finished by early 2020, would use up about 1.8 billion gallons of water per year, which amounts to 0.3% of the region’s water. Activists contest that the brewery would use almost three times that amount of water.
“They’re managing the water as if it were loot to be divvied up among them,” one local farmer, Carmelo Gallegos, said of the government and Constellation. “The government’s intention is to leave us with nothing, without land and without water.”
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This is not the first time access to water resources have struck controversy in Baja California. In January of last year, a law that would have privatized water and gas resources was repealed after “mass demonstrations,” Telesur reports.
In the state of Coahuila, water shortages in another municipality where Constellation operates led one mayor to announce that, “We have no water for human consumption,” in a 2016 letter to the state governor.
In Baja California, activists have called on “the community and the immigrants of the United States to the different nations around the world” to boycott Constellation products.
“‘Constellation Brands’ Brewing Company insists on depriving us of our own water in order to export it to the United States as beer,” Mexicali Resiste, a local activist group opposed to the construction of the brewery, wrote in an open letter published to the site Latino Rebels. “[W]ater is a non-renewable and vital natural resource for all life in this planet.”
In recent weeks, the battle between activists and local government has heated up, with half a dozen activists arrested in January while protesting outside a construction zone.
Baja California’s governor, Francisco Vega, has nonetheless expressed continued support for the project, saying the country’s National Water Commission “never told the governor to stop investments.”