Opposition to the construction of a brewery in Mexicali, Baja California, continued this week with the blockade of six huge tanks that were en route to the construction site.
Members of Mexicali Resiste and sympathizers have blocked the shipment of the 30-tonne containers on the Mexicali-San Felipe highway in another chapter of the months-long battle.
The tanks were bound for the new Constellation Brands brewery, whose construction has triggered concerns over the effects the plant might have on the local water supply.
The tanks remain parked at the side of the highway, where the project’s opponents have set up a camp.
A spokesman told reporters that after preventing the advance of the containers they discovered the transportation firm didn’t have the necessary permit.
“They’re breaking the law,” claimed Jesús Galaz Duarte.
A second group of Mexicali Resiste members set up a camp at the entrance of the construction site, effectively stopping vehicles from coming and going, while a third camp is located on the eastern side of the site overlooking a farm irrigation system whose water, the protesters claim, was being illegally used in the construction.
The organization has filed a formal complaint.
One member of Mexicali Resiste told the Tijuana newspaper Zeta that envoys from the state government, led by Interior Secretary Francisco Rueda Gómez, met with them yesterday in an attempt to convince the protesters to leave the site, charging that they were obstructing traffic.
The activists in turn asked for all the documentation and permits that allowed the brewery to be constructed site but there was no official response issued.
The state leader of the National Farm Confederation (CNC) also joined the protest. Rigoberto Campos González complained that federal authorities had not acted against the firms that were transporting the large containers, despite the fact they exceed cargo size limits.
He said it was the second time containers of that size had been transported to the brewery. Last March, he said, people’s appliances burned out after the power lines were cut.
This week, he continued, power was cut once again although residents were warned one hour ahead. But “a newborn baby and a child needing a nebulizer had to wait because Señora Constellation had to come through with her tanks.”
Constellation Brands, the third largest beer maker in the United States, filed a formal complaint before the state Attorney General’s office “for attacks on roads and means of transportation.”
The Mexico Resiste camps have been joined by Federal Police officers who are keeping watch over the entrance to the construction site.
Police said in a report that “18 people continue to protest peacefully at the entrance . . . spending the night on the site and installing tents without blocking the road.”
In December, ejidatarios, or community land owners, also protested the construction of the brewery over water concerns.
The brewery’s capacity will be 1 billion liters annually and its water requirements are estimated at 15 million cubic meters per year, or close to 6% of the state’s annual consumption.