Editor’s note: For more than one year, residents of Mexicali have been organizing against the construction of a brewery and aqueduct by the U.S. company Constellation Brands. If completed, the facility would produce beer for export to the U.S. and consume seven to thirty million cubic meters of water annually. (A city of one million uses around 20 million cubic meters.) Earlier this month, members of Mexicali Resiste began blockading aqueduct construction. On January 16, state and local police forces attacked the blockade and an hours-long confrontation ensued. While the blockade was successfully defended, at least five were arrested and ten injured. Below is a translation of the statement released later that day by Mexicali Resiste.
#Mexico: At least 5 people were arrested and 7 injured during clashes between police and protesters at the #Mexicali site where beverage company Constellation Brands is building a plant, Jan 17. #MexicaliResiste #WaterIsLife #WaterCrisis
Background: https://t.co/EnwWZFJcBr pic.twitter.com/QWOzgYArAd
— ubique (@PersonalEscrito) January 22, 2018
To the citizens of Mexicali, Baja California, and Mexico
To regional, national, and international media,
To the three branches of government in Baja California and the Mexicali city council,
Compañeros and compañeras,
Today’s events are proof of how far our governments will go when the interests of our so-called representatives come into play. After all, it’s not our interests that are threatened by stopping construction of an aqueduct that will feed 7, 20, or even 30 million cubic meters of water to a foreign-owned multinational factory. Our interests — that is, the interests of families from Mexicali who seek peace, health care, education, housing, land, and freedom — are doubly trampled upon: In addition to building corporate projects designed to steal from us, our supposed representatives do it with public money. Year by year, they continue taking land from those who got it in 1937.
A few hours ago, we saw the fiercest confrontations that the Mexicali resistance has seen to date. At around 4:00 PM, municipal and state police, supposedly under orders from the CESPM (the State Commission for Public Services in Mexicali) and the local government, but clearly in service of Constellation Brands, the corporation behind the plant, arrested Jorge Benítez, Javier Guillén, José Luis Pozos and two as-yet unidentified women. As of 6:00 pm, we don’t know where they have been taken. What’s more, men and women in the resistance suffered injuries to their heads and bodies. Those hurt include Tania Gallaga, José Fierro, and Carlos Bernal, among others. Today, we have seen our blood spilled for trying to defend what belongs to us, to our children and grandchildren.
As a result of the clashes, demonstrators were not the only ones to suffer injuries. A member of the press was hit in the head with a rock earlier in the morning. After this compañero was injured, it has been stated repeatedly in various media outlets that the demonstrators attacked the press, and a radio announcer, Cosme Collignon, went so far as to say that “Mexicali doesn’t need them” in reference to the demonstrators. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are a peaceful movement, and although some demonstrators don’t have good relationship with certain members of the media and make this known verbally, no demonstrator has physically attacked a representative of the media during their work or reporting.
Despite the fact that we’ve already stated that we are a peaceful movement, we will not allow ourselves to be pushed to the side, allow our dignity to be trampled upon, and let the wealth of a group of multimillionaires allow them to do to us as they please. Thus, we are also a movement of Resistance. We carry our rage and our rebellion close to hand and aflame in our hearts. The governments must know that we will not allow these injustices to be perpetrated on the people without consequence. The governments must know that every action of power will also be met with a citizen reaction. The betrayal that Francisco Vega, Gustavo Sánchez, and Francisco Rueda are carrying out from their seats of power is the same as that suffered by Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, the same that betrayed the values of our Revolution and our Constitution, the same that gave the order to kill the students in ’68 (in the Tlatelolco massacre), and it’s the same that is selling Mexico, that is selling Baja California, bit by bit to foreigners. Therefore, we will hold the following individuals responsible for anything that happens to any compañero or compañera within any of the resistance movements: Francisco Vega, Francisco Rueda, Gustavo Sánchez, Ulises Méndez (the Chief of Police), and Hugo Tafoya (Ulises Méndez’ right-hand man.)
Night has fallen on this January 16th. We are here in Rancho Mena, in the ejido of El Choropo, at mile marker 8 on the San Felipe highway — protecting the water and, above all, protecting that which belongs to all of us, that which every human being deserves for the simple act of being born. They’re not leaving us any other option.
Death to the bad government!
— Coordinadora1DMX (@Coordinadora1DM) January 22, 2018