‘This Is a War’: Cross-Border Fight Over Water Erupts in Mexico

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“These tensions, these tendencies, are already there, and they’re just made so much worse by climate change,” mentioned Christopher Scott, a professor of water sources coverage on the University of Arizona. “They are in a fight for their lives, because no water, no agriculture; no agriculture, no rural communities.”

Since February, when federal forces first occupied the dam to make sure water deliveries to the United States continued, activists in Chihuahua have burned authorities buildings, destroyed vehicles and briefly held a gaggle of politicians hostage. For weeks, they’ve blocked a significant railroad used to ferry industrial items between Mexico and the United States.

Their revolt has alarmed farmers and politicians in Texas. Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican governor, appealed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo final month, demanding that he persuade Mexico to ship the water by the deadline subsequent week, or threat inflicting ache on American farmers.

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has repeatedly bent to President Trump’s calls for on immigration, has vowed that his nation will make good on its water obligations to the United States — whether or not the state of Chihuahua likes it or not.

He despatched a whole lot of members of the National Guard to guard Chihuahua’s dams, and his authorities briefly froze financial institution accounts belonging to the town the place lots of the protesters stay.

For farmers, the federal government’s stance is a betrayal.

Mr. Velderrain, 42, mentioned he by no means noticed himself as the kind of one who would lead a whole lot over a hill to overwhelm a gaggle of troopers defending a cache of computerized weapons. But there he was in a video posted on Facebook, escorting a Mexican common out of the Boquilla Dam on the day he led the takeover, which noticed the National Guard, shocked and closely outnumbered, rapidly give up. Later that day, one protester was shot and killed by the National Guard.

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