Farmers Claim Mexico Is Stealing Water
Blockade Of International Bridges Planned
by Thomas D. Segel
(PFN) 5/6/02 - Harlingen, TX: A drive through the Rio Grande Valley of South
would normally give you a panorama view of lush green fields and orchards
alive with brightly growing citrus. However, this spring, with its excessive
heat, strong winds, plus another year of a prolonged drought has painted a
far different landscape.
Crops are lying wasted and dead in the fields. Dust from dry land forms a
layer of dirty film every place it is carried by the continuing high winds.
More than an inch and a half of moisture is drawn from the ground each day
by the unseasonably high temperatures which reach in excess of 100 degrees.
All of this would be understood and accepted by Texas farmers in the normal
course of their annual battle with the elements...but, not this year. This
is the year of betrayal by both Mexico and the United States.
In a continuing battle over a long standing water treaty, these farmers
claim they are receiving no relief from the serious drought conditions
facing south Texas. They further claim Mexico is stealing water, which is
rightfully theirs. Added to these very serious concerns is their charge that
the United States government has betrayed them.
Farmers say they could survive the drought, if Mexico would live up to the
1944 treaty, which divided up the waters of the Lower Rio Grande and
Colorado rivers between the two countries. Under the treaty Mexico gets five
times more water from the United States than it supplies to this country
from its own river system.
Instead of meeting the requirements of the treaty, Mexico has dramatically
expanded farming into the deserts of the state of Chihuahua, including a
switch to more water intensive crops. According to Texas farming sources,
instead of providing the promised water to the United States, Mexico has
been using it to grow additional crops and flood markets in this country.
How has the United States responded to these serious charges and concerns?
In talk after talk with Mexican officials, our State Department has bowed
down and accepted the other county's explanation of how the water treaty
should be interpreted.
They have even ignored the fact that Mexico only released two thirds of the
600,000 acre feet of water it promised under Minute order 307, signed by
both Presidents Bush and Fox. At this time there is an estimated water debt
to the United States of 1.5 million acre feet of water. To have a clearer
understanding of this volume, and acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons, or
enough water to cover an acre of land, one foot deep in water.
Farmers now charge that a congressional request for a Department of
Agriculture (USDA) report documenting the economic damage incurred because
of the Mexican water theft was so poorly written it was worthless. The USDA
claimed there just wasn't enough data to do more. Said one farmer, "We
find the information in their report in any pasture full of Bulls." They
further claim the information on economic impact is readily available, but
the USDA choose to ignore the facts.
Rio Grande Valley farmers, who insist the water theft continues, are further
enraged by a report filed by the International Boundary Water Commission
(IBWA), which is supposed to be protecting United States interests. The
report was supposed to analyze Mexico's water use. The IBWA, which is under
the U.S. Department of State, has reportedly "gutted" its report
bureaucrats were afraid of offending Mexico. Farmers charge the State
Department tendencies not to rock the boat have left them high and dry.
While most federal agencies are overlooking water treaty violations, farmers
are claiming more than one billion dollars in economic damage has been done
to our country.
All diplomatic and political efforts have failed to move the water issue.
Mexico claims it is not in violation of the treaty. Saying it is not
required to provide water when it too is in a drought condition, the
situation remains unresolved. Mexico further claims it has five years, under
the treaty, to pay back any water debt. So, "maybe next year". And
these reports are being written and all the diplomats talk...Texas crops die
in the fields.
The ultimate act of non violent protest is about to take place. Farmers in
South Texas have decided they will blockade three of the international
bridges which connect Mexico to the United States. This will mean huge
congestion at the remaining bridges, which already experience long delays
due to increased inspections brought on by the terrorist attacks of
September 11th. The result of such a blockade could mean further economic
damage to the region. It could also mean major losses to Mexican growers who
must get perishable crops to market. However, Texas farmers feel this is the
only remaining thing they can do to gain the serious attention of those
powers in both counties which could resolve their crisis situation.
Comments? Reach Thomas D. Segel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article made possible by a grant from the The Paragon Foundation Alamogordo,
NM Toll Free 1-877-847-3443 http://www.paragonpowerhouse.org/