MEXICO CITY (AP) – Protesters torched vehicles, a government office and toll booths in northern Mexico, as well as blocking railroad tracks, during a protest over water payments to the United States under a binational agreement.
Mexico has fallen behind in paying for water to be sent north from its levees under a 1944 treaty, but farmers in the northern state of Chihuahua want water for their own crops.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday that the protests were encouraged by opposition politicians for his own purposes and assured that there is enough water for everyone.
“Some are taking advantage, now they are, to bring water to their mill … opposition politicians, in this case politicians from the National Action Party,” said López Obrador.
The president criticized the attitude of confrontation and the burning of federal properties and promised that “the water will not be lacking for the farmers, for the residents.” He added that further west, especially in the Colorado River basin, Mexico receives four times more water from the United States than it does under the treaty.
The state governor, Javier Corral, said that those responsible for the incidents will not go unpunished and argued that the problem stems from inequality in the distribution of payments and “erratic management” and corruption within the National Commission. del Agua that “has transmitted false or at least inaccurate information to the president” and allows what he called “aguachicoleo”, that is, the theft of water through the laying of networks that water unauthorized surfaces.
The protests were apparently centered in Delicias, Chihuahua, a town near one of the levees from where the water is released to the north. Federal forces guarding the dam gates have recently clashed with protesters.
Photos taken in Delicias showed protesters with heavy equipment to drag the trucks of the national water commission onto the railroad tracks, where they overturned and set them on fire. Others, apparently also protesters, set fire to a building where the commission’s offices are located and the flames reached several nearby toll booths.
Under the 1944 treaty, Mexico owes the United States about 500 million cubic meters of water, which it must pay by October 24. To do this you must release water from your dikes. Mexico is behind on payments from previous years and must cancel them quickly.
With the expansion of the crops, Mexico has used 71% of the waters of the Conchos river, which flows north, although the treaty allows it to use 62% of the water and let the rest flow to the Bravo river, on the border .
Mexico has previously delayed payments in hopes that seasonal tropical storms will bring additional water, but when Hanna made landfall in Texas weeks ago, the rains were insufficient to fill the reservoirs in Chihuahua.
The water commission observed that “even when the recent Tropical Storm Hanna occurred in the northeast of the country, the international dams did not have the desired volume recovery and the increase in runoff occurred downstream from the Falcón international dam, which did not made it possible for significant storage to occur. ”