By RICARDO CASTILLO
Wet Politicking in Dry Chihuahua
There was a faceoff this week between farmers and the National Guard (GN) at the La Boquilla reservoir on the Conchos River, which feeds into the Rio Grande at the Ojinaga-Presidio border.
The GN, in charge of safekeeping the dam, had to withdraw from the facility on Tuesday, Sept. 8, to avoid confrontation with about 3,000 group of farmers wielding the sticks and stones.
The protesters, incited to confrontation by large landowners on both sides of the Conchos River, took over the dam and demanded that Mexico not comply with what was established in the 1944 Water Treaty Between Mexico and the United States.
The protesters want Mexico to refuse to comply with the treaty because it is “our water.” (See Thérèse Margolis’ Sept. 1 article in Pulse News Mexico for background.)
Compliance, however, is necessary as explained by the director general for North America of Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE) Roberto Velasco, who discredited the argument of the Chihuahua farmers.
“We are not giving away Mexico’s water to the United States,” Velasco said at a press conference Wednesday, Sept. 9.
“We are sharing the water of two transborder rivers (the Río Grande and the Colorado), and our country has received the amount that corresponds to us. We still owe 378.7 million cubic meters and we can no longer delay that commitment.”
This is a federal government compromise that must be met in October, but the farmers want to postpone delivery of the water, which is stored at La Boquilla dam.
Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral said previously to this week’s protests that the truth is that there is a lot of water poaching going on along both sides of the Conchos River by farmers, who hoard water through illegal means.
What is undeniable now is that there are politicians mingled among protesters as the time to deliver water to the Río Grande comes on the eve of elections for governor in 2021.
Among the politicians calling for a protest was former Chihuahua Governor Fernando Baeza Melendez (1986-1992), who now owns large amounts of farming land on both sides of the Conchos.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) accused Baeza Melendez of having won his position through the then-mighty Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), “through imposition and electoral fraud.
Baeza Melendez staunchly denied these allegations with indignation.
After the Tuesday incident, in which the National Guard used teargas to contain the protesters and temporarily abandoned the La Boquilla reservoir, a couple who had participated in the protest was gunned down in their truck as they returned home.
Immediately in social media, the GN was blamed for the murder.
Members of the National Guard said that they were attacked by an armed group in a separate incident, and shot the assailants in self defense, killing one and wounding another.
The GN denies any involvement in the death of the murdered couple.
Meanwhile, AMLO has Chihuahua politicians on edge.
The majority are from the PRI and the currently ruling National Action Party (PAN).
This makes it seem that with upcoming state elections, they are going to go against the federal government and the National Water Commission, which controls the La Boquilla dam.
Consequently, this looks more like the beginning of an inner Mexico political brawl, not the end.
Slackening Plane Lottery
With four days remaining to the special Mexican Lottery raffle of 100 prizes of 20 million pesos in cash to be carried out on Sept. 15, National Lottery Director Ernesto Prieto Ortega said that at last count of sales on Sept. 7, only 63.58 percent of the 6 million individually numbered tickets on the block had been sold, that is 3,815,200 “cachitos.”
The raffle in named after the Boeing 787 Dreamliner presidential plane bought by former President Felipe Calderón for $230 million and used only by former President Enrique Peña Nieto.
AMLO has expressed disdain for the luxurious plane and prefers to travel on commercial airlines tourist class.
Prieto Ortega said he hoped for the traditional last-minute surge in buying lottery tickets in order for the government to break even on the raffle.
Electoral Officials Jailed
Four National Electoral Institute (INE) former officials were arrested on a warrant issued by a federal judge.
The four stand accused of “improper use of their attributions” while officials in an “irregular” food for employees contract worth 105 million pesos.
The INE’s internal control watchdog filed suit against them with the Fiscal General of the Republic whose agents carried out the arrest.
Quintana Roo Archeological Sites Reopen
Four northern Quintana Roo Maya archaeological sites are among the first to reopen to the public after being shuttered for the past six months.
The sites are the world-famous Tulum pyramid, which faces the Caribbean, Cobá, San Gervasio and Muyil.
The reopening will be held at high noon Monday, Sept. 14, at Tulum under pomp and circumstance ceremonies attended by Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquin and National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) Director Diego Prieto Hernández, among other official tourism personalities.
The sites may be visited under the rules of the “new normality,” meaning keeping a safe distance and wearing face covers to prevent covid-19 contagion.
(And remember, if you are visiting Quintana Roo and do not know Spanish, Quintana is pronounced Keentana, and Roo is with an o sound as in row, not u; don’t forget to roll the “r.”)
BlackRock Bid Nixed
A lone bid to build the Tulúm-Cancun railroad section of the Tren Maya tourist train was declared deserted on Tuesday, Sept. 8, by the project controlling National Tourism Fostering Fund (Fonatur).
Fonatur turned down the only bid made by a financial group headed by international trust fund operator BlackRock.
The decision by Fonatur Director Rogelio Jimenez Pons came as a surprise as Fonatur, particularly after he declared the BlackRock bid proposition “insolvent.”
A new bidding for Section 5 of the Tren Maya railroad is to be summoned in the near offing.
…Sept. 11, 2020