President López Obrador has accused United States beverage company Constellation Brands of planning to go ahead and open its new brewery in Mexicali, Baja California, despite the fact that its permits have been rescinded.
In March, Mexicali voters shot down the plant in a referendum, with 76.1% voting against it.
López Obrador told reporters Wednesday morning that he would not allow the American beer, wine, and spirits company to build its plant at the planned site, and that the company should respect the decision of those who voted against it.
Company representatives met with the president on March 31, after which the latter said they had agreed to resolve the issue by conciliation rather than through the courts. He commended them for “rising to the occasion” and said they were an example of good behavior during a conflict.
However, they could have had second thoughts being faced with a US $900-million loss — the amount invested to date in the plant’s construction.
“I told them clearly that the plant was not going to be able to open in Mexicali, but now I have heard — it’s true — that they are looking to reverse [the referendum],” López Obrador said at today’s press conference. “So let it be known to those in Baja California that there is no authorization, there are no permits for it.”
López Obrador said he made clear to the company that he could not respect the commitments made by previous administrations that were based on influence peddling and did not take into account the will of the people. He implied that the Mexicali project had been approved behind closed doors through the influence of lobbyists.
“I explained to them that this was a new government, that they had been misled,” and that while they had accepted the rules in effect at the time they were not “the correct rules.”
He suggested that the southeastern region of the country had better conditions for such a plant and scoffed at what he said were Constellation Brands’ protests about lost jobs in Mexicali. Pointing out that the beer produced at the planned facility would be exported to the United States, he recommended that the plant be installed near one of the country’s Gulf of Mexico ports, such as Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz; Seybapaya, Campeche; or Frontera, Tabasco; with the goal of increasing trade between Mexico’s southeastern zone and the U.S.
The brewery was close to 70% complete at the time of the vote.
Source: Reforma (sp)