In a Mexican region already plagued with drought, an international corporation is building a beer factory that would consume 20 million liters of drinking water every year: the same amount that would normally quench the thirst of some 750,000 people.
The Mexicali Valley is also an agricultural region, but water scarcity has put its crops and the city’s water supply at stake. In such a scenario, it’s no surprise the population is rising up against a project that would drain public water into a factory intending to brew beer for export.
February 13 marks the first anniversary of the movement’s “Black Monday.” This time last year, activists and organizations opposing the project clashed with authorities: 14 citizens were arrested, but not before they had won a massive show of support from civil society.
After a year of struggle, repression, arrests and legal battles, the movement is now calling for an international boycott on the Grupo Modelo and Constellation Brands project, especially in the United States, home of the factory’s target market.
Several actions have been taken to defend the public water supply, in the start of a growing civil resistance movement. Now, organized under the banner “Mexicali Resiste,” that increasingly visible resistance movement is becoming a watchdog for human rights in the region.
“If companies can operate everywhere they want because of free trade, then we will also be international activists and promote the boycott to Grupo Modelo in the United States,” Jesus Galaz, spokesman for the Mexicali Resiste movement, told teleSUR.
Grupo Modelo is one the two most popular beer producers in Mexico, along with Cuauhtemoc-Moctezuma. One of Modelo’s beers, Corona Extra, is the most popular Mexican beer abroad. The company in charge of producing and distributing their export beers in the United States, however, is actually Constellation Brands – and it’s Constellation which intends to begin operations in Mexicali soon.
Constellation Brands is a Fortune 500 company which produces and commercializes beer, wine and spirits. In 2015, the firm was promised private exclusive access to public water, categorized as “home use” water, via what opponents call “various shady, undocumented agreements” between the company and Baja California’s public servants, including Governor Francisco ‘Kiko’ Vega.
A drinking water direct line was promised to the company in a confidential document, which prohibited any of the involved parties from discussing it publicly.