The construction crane where protesters are on hunger strike. The construction crane where protesters are on hunger strike.

Protesters climb crane at BC brewery site

Protest against Constellation Brands project continues in Mexicali valley

The protest against a new brewery in Baja California escalated to new heights yesterday: two people opposed to the project climbed to the top of a construction crane and began a hunger strike.

The international beverage company Constellation Brands said two people entered the Mexicali valley site illegally early yesterday and climbed to the top of one of the cranes being used to build the US $1-billion plant.

The company said it evacuated 60 workers from the area for safety reasons, and would take legal action against the protesters.

One of those said on social media that they had initiated their hunger strike after inattention on the part of authorities to local concerns about the amount of water the brewery will consume.

Filiberto Sánchez Gurrola said they were asking for “the people’s solidarity” and that climbing the crane was the only option left after authorities offered no response to petitions by opponents of the project.

“. . . we are pacifists; this is our only way of protesting.”

Accompanied by his son Cristian, Sánchez has raised the Mexican flag, a white flag of peace and a banner reading “Fuera Constellation,” or “Get out, Constellation,” on the crane.

Local residents have banded together as Baja California Resiste, an organization that has been trying to halt the brewery’s construction.

Initially they protested a state government plan to build an aqueduct to provide the brewery with its water needs, but the sate backed down on that project in June. The company said later it had identified an alternative means of obtaining the water.

Opponents claim there is not enough water in the region to meet the plant’s needs, which the company estimates are in the neighborhood of seven million cubic meters a year. Other estimates put the figure at 15 million, which is equal to about 6% of the state’s annual water consumption.

The brewery is scheduled for completion in 2019 when it will supply Corona and Modelo brand beers to the United States market. Its initial capacity will be five million hectoliters a year, or 58 million cases of 24 12-ounce bottles.

Source: Reforma (sp), Zeta Tijuana (sp)

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