While AMLO denounces a “political boycott” against him, Chihuahuan farmers say that this debt is leaving them without water.
CHIHUAHUA Mexico (Agencies) – On October 24, 2020, the five-year period for Mexico to comply with the obligations agreed with the United States under the International Waters Treaty, or Treaty of 1944, ends. In 2015, the country closed the five years with a debt of 324 million cubic meters of the liquid, so, between 2015 and 2020, it must pay that, plus the 4.3 billion cubic meters that correspond to it in each cycle.
On Tuesday, September 15, the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, sent a letter to the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, requesting his support in guaranteeing Mexico’s compliance with the agreement. In the letter, Abbott denounces that, until August 29, 2020, Mexico had paid 1,765 million 729 thousand 087 cubic meters of water. In that sense, the country still owes 329 million 860 thousand 913 cubic meters to the United States.
Abbott described to Pompeo the situation within the Mexican dams and assured that Mexico could pay the debt. “Mexico can meet its obligations since, until September 7, they had 1,456 million cubic meters in internal reserves and, until August 29, 216 million cubic meters of liquid in international reserves.”
To comply with the diplomatic obligation, the National Water Commission began to draw water from the Las Vírgenes, La Boquilla, and El Granero dams in Chihuahua. This measure sparked a series of protests among farmers in the state. The demonstrations reached their highest point between September 8 and 9, when a group of producers took over the La Boquilla dam guarded by the National Guard. That night, the elements of that institution killed one person and left another seriously injured.
The commander of the National Guard, Luis Rodríguez Bucio, said that the attack occurred when a convoy of the National Guard carried three detainees from La Boquilla and was intercepted by 4 vehicles to stop them. In his version of events, one of the elements fired to repel the attack, and two people were injured, a woman died, and her companion was taken to hospital. The farmers say it was an arbitrary execution.
Since then, López Obrador clung to a narrative in which he assures that Chihuahua’s conflict is motivated by officials’ political-electoral interests and former officials of the PAN Party. “There are people of good faith, but the movement leaders are lazy and take advantage of others,” he said.
This Friday, AMLO assured that, although Chihuahua’s state must comply with its obligation under the Treaty, that does not mean those producers will have a shortage for their irrigation activities. He also said that, if that were the case, he would speak to President Trump “to tell him that Mexico cannot deliver.” He assured that it is possible to resort to the “solidarity of other states of the country” to satisfy the water demand and denied a default by Mexico”.
Although he declined to make predictions, the president said his administration is committed to meeting the water debt to avoid retaliation from the United States, such as tariffs or penalties. That’s the kind of measure Pompeo could use to threaten Mexico in the scenario of a default.
Abbott’s letter to the secretary of state is motivated by “Texas’s dependence on water from the Rio Grande.” In the document, he assures that, if they do not receive the quota that corresponds to them, they would have to limit irrigation water distribution for their farmers. That is the same thing that Chihuahuan producers denounce.
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