Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Chihuahua has paid its share of water debt, governor says as protests continue

Contrary to President López Obrador’s claims, Chihuahua is complying with its obligation to send water to the United States to meet Mexico’s water debt under the terms of a 1944 bilateral treaty, according to Governor Javier Corral.

The governor said in an interview that Chihuahua has met its past obligations and will deliver more water to the United States by October 24, the deadline for Mexico to settle its current debt to its northern neighbor.

Corral said that by then Chihuahua will have delivered 905 million cubic meters of water to the United States during the treaty’s current five-year cycle.

His remarks came after Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote to United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge him to ensure Mexico meets its obligations under the 1944 treaty.

Mexico has to send just over 431 million cubic meters of water annually to the United States but as of last week was 319 million cubic meters short of that target.

President López Obrador has been pressuring Corral to ensure that water is sent from Chihuahua, where farmers have been protesting its diversion from the Boquilla dam to the Rio Grande.

“Instead of helping to comply with this agreement, the governor opposed it,” López Obrador said Thursday, asserting that Corral’s actions are politically motivated as elections will be held in Chihuahua in 2021.

The governor countered that National Water Commission (Conagua) officials are to blame for the failure to keep up with Mexico’s water obligations to the United States. He accused the president of wanting to subjugate and humiliate him and other state governors.

“The president asks blind obedience of his collaborators,” Corral said, referring to remarks made by a government official who resigned this week, “and wants governors to be submissive and silent.”

“He never accepts responsibility and always looks for a culprit elsewhere,” he added.

However, Corral asserted that López Obrador won’t find a willing scapegoat in the government he leads.

One of eight railway blockades in Chihuahua.
One of eight railway blockades in Chihuahua.

“With us, he’ll hit a wall,” he said, adding that the president’s attempts at intimidation might work with other governors but not with him.

“He won’t intimidate me, he won’t keep me quiet. We’re going to respond with respect but also firmness,” Corral said.

The governor asserted that from López Obrador’s point of view,“everyone that is not with him, is against him – a traitor, a hypocrite, corrupt.”

“The country cannot be run with this temperament; the president needs to pause and think about what he’s doing and bring himself back to reality,” he said.

Corral, member of a group of 10 state governors who announced their withdrawal from the National Conference of Governors earlier this month after deeming that López Obrador was a threat to democracy, said López Obrador has no evidence for his claim that the Chihuahua government is involved in the water protests. Those have included the occupation of the Boquilla dam and toll plazas as well as a blockade of railway tracks.

Piles of earth and gravel have been dumped on the tracks in eight locations in the municipality of Meoqui in the month-long blockade, halting cross-border shipments of freight. The leader of one business group said 1.5 million tonnes of corn and wheat are among the trade goods awaiting shipment.

Source: El Universal (sp), Luces del Siglo (sp)

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