In a survey over the weekend, 76.1 percent of the participants voted against the planned brewery of Constellation Brands in Mexicali, the capital city of the state of Baja California in northern Mexico, close to the border to the United States.
Despite the fact that only 36,780 of the more than one million inhabitants of the city participated and the survey did not meet the criteria for a binding citizens' decision, the government declared that it would recognize the result. "One must respect the decision of the people," said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The 1.5 billion dollar project was announced in 2016 and has already been completed to 65 percent. In 2013, Constellation Brands had acquired the US business of the Mexican beer company Modelo, which includes the rights to the popular Corona brand in the United States.
The planned brewery has long been controversial because it was feared that it will deprive the people of the dry region in the state of Baja California of urgently needed water. Two years ago, thousands of farmers protested against the project. Main nuisance was the construction of an aqueduct with a capacity of 20 million cubic meters (706 million cubic feet) of water a year, which was 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 (inside.beer, 27.3.2017).
Federal officials said on Monday the government would not provide the needed water permits to the company but is offering to negotiate a compensation for incurred losses. President López Obrador also affirmed that Mexico will try to help to relocate the brewery to another site where water isn't an issue if this is wanted by the investor.
"Of course investment is important to us, we're not against foreign investment, much less are we going to be against the creation of jobs. But we also have to take into account the opinion of the people and take care of our natural resources. It's not growth for growth's sake. It's growth with well'being and with respect for the environment," President López Obrador said.