SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- On November 9th, Mexicali Resiste led dozens of activists, including representatives from Alcohol Justice, in a march on alcohol giant Constellation Brands to save three compatriots from dubious charges filed in Mexican court. These charges stem from Mexicali Resiste's work four years ago to prevent Constellation, a U.S.-based corporation with offices in San Francisco, from acquiring exclusive water rights in the drought-stricken Mexicali Valley. This trial is just the latest salvo in an ongoing struggle against Big Alcohol's takeovers of dwindling aquifers, a struggle that already has a body count. The trial is currently scheduled for the 16th of November.
"We can't pretend that alcohol harm is just a physical thing that happens to drinkers," said Cruz Avila, Executive Director of Alcohol Justice. "When Big Alcohol gets involved, it becomes economic harm. Political harm. It's another incarnation of the oppression and exploitation that has cast a long shadow over the US and its neighbors."
"We ask Constellations Brands to stop their plans to build gigantic breweries in water starved regions," stated Brenda Villanueva, Program Director - Pueblo y Salud. "This precious natural resource would best be used by the people for drinking and growing food instead of making more alcoholic beverages that are saturating and harming our youth and other members of our community."
"We denounce the criminalization of the Mexicali Resiste Activists for choosing to protect the most sacred element for survival and a dignified quality of life – WATER," said Mayra Jimenez, Advocacy Manager at Alcohol Justice. "We denounce Constellation Brands for commodifying water in a region that is experiencing severe water shortage. This is an environmental catastrophe!"
The stakes are high, both for the protestors themselves and for impacted communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. For the members of Mexicali Resiste, they are being confronted with charges that the Mexican government deemed important enough to justify detention during the trial, which may last several years. For indigenous and community groups fighting water monopolization in Mexico, it adds state sanctions to existing efforts to chill resistance.
"The objectives are to instill fear in those who have not yet become protestors," stated Mexicali Resiste member Jesus Galaz Duarte, one of the three scheduled to be tried on Tuesday, in a statement posted to YouTube.
"Choosing to criminalize fighting for human rights is a crime against the people," added Jimenez. "Government officials that condone this degree of corporate extraction are complicit in crimes against humanity on both sides of the border. We STAND UP and FIGHT for JUSTICE because we are all Mexicali Resiste."
Yet water still stands alone among resources. It is the only one that the human body requires to survive. The loss of water supplies, therefore, forms an existential threat everywhere it occurs, often taking the form of civil unrest.
"You cannot ignore what this means for the future of both countries," said Avila. "Every country, even. Justice for the Mexicali Resiste members, safety for the residents of Mexican border states, accountability for Big Alcohol, and access to water are not separate issues. They are different faces of one issue, and it effects everyone in the west."