Constellation Brands

Mexicali brewery referendum unconstitutional: bar association

The association claimed that the results of last weekend's vote were not legally binding

The Mexican Bar Association announced its legal opinion on the legality of a referendum to halt construction of a brewery in Mexicali, Baja California: they say it’s unconstitutional.

Nearly 37,000 residents of Mexicali and surrounding areas voted overwhelmingly to reject Constellation Brands’ US $1.4-billion plant over the weekend.

The association said in a press release that the consultation violated four articles of the Mexican Constitution, making it illegal to force the company to halt construction.

Calling the vote a “participatory exercise,” it also claimed that the results of the referendum were not intended to be legally binding.

“… its results cannot be binding because that would mean that the [permits] already issued could be revoked by a groundless participatory exercise, … without due process, resulting in the violation of article 14 of the Constitution,” it said.

Citizens of Mexicali have protested the plant for years, citing the threat they say it poses to the area’s water supply, though construction is now 65% complete.

Constellation Brands claims that the plant will not negatively affect the water supply and will create 32,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Although the National Water Commission and the Environment Ministry had both stated that their inquiries revealed that the plant would not negatively affect the water supply in Mexicali, they will not issue future permits as a result of the referendum.

A Heineken bottling plant located in Tecate, which gets its water from the same aquifer the Mexicali plant would use, is currently increasing its output by 25% and has received no opposition at all from the public.

The Bar Association urged federal authorities to comply with the Constitution and the international trade agreements that afford certain rights to Constellation Brands, “strengthening our deteriorated state of law with justice.”

Seeing Constellation Brands experience so many problems completing the Mexicali brewery, the governors of Nayarit and Tabasco have both recently invited the company to visit their states to find more welcoming investment opportunities.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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