Last weekend thousands of farmers protested against a new $1.4-billion brewery in Mexicali/Mexico. The farmers fear that the new plant of US-beverage group Constellation Brands will use too much water in an area where water in general is a rare commodity. They claim a fallow of more than 61,000 acres of land in the Mexicali Valley due to the lack of about 460 million cubic meters of water a year. Main nuisance is the construction of an aqueduct with a capacity of 20 million cubic meters (706 million cubic feet) of water a year, which is according to the protesters mainly destined for the brewery. The project is financed with 500 million pesos ($26 million) by the government, while urgently needed funds for local irrigation projects have not been granted for years.
Edgar Guillaumin, Constellation’s vice president for external affairs in Mexico, can not understand the protests: “We have been in a long conversation with the state government about how the city could provide water. The message is very clear: The city has enough water to provide to us.” The brewery stresses the fact that the Mexicali site was chosen because of the valley’s plentiful water and its proximity to the US-border. In addition, once at full capacity the brewery will only need 7 million cubic meters of water a year, which is less than 1% of the valley’s water supply.
In fact, the water supply seems only to be a trigger for the protests but not a real obstacle to the whole project. Most protesters are angry that farmers had to beg for state subsidies for years without any success and an US-American company easily receive funds for producing a product, which will by nearly 100% be consumed outside the country. US-President Trump’s verbal attacks on Mexico do also not help to alleviate the conflict.