Governor excluded from presidential visit as leaders spar over water payments to the United States


Lopez Obrador visits border touting anti-poverty programs even as Chihuahua farmers refuse to release water to meet international treaty obligations

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – The president of Mexico will visit a Juarez colonia Friday afternoon to tout his anti-poverty programs.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is set to meet with 50 residents at Centro de Salud B clinic in the low-income Tierra Nueva neighborhood of southeast Juarez, said Pedro Torres, a spokesman for the federal government in Juarez. The president is to arrive shortly after noon. The visit to the clinic is the only event the president has scheduled in Juarez, Torres said.

Only a few local dignitaries will be present at the clinic. The governor of Chihuahua — who has found himself at odds with the president over delivery of the state’s water to meet treaty obligations with the United States – has not been invited.

Gov. Javier Corral maintains that Chihuahua already has contributed enough water for Mexico to meet its obligations. He has accused the federal government of mismanaging the nation’s water resources during the past five years.

Lopez Obrador, in turn, accuses Corral of abetting hundreds of farmers who have taken over control of the state’s largest dam and refuse to let the federal government tap into the water. Mexico owes about a year’s worth of water to the United States and has until Oct. 24 to deliver it. The water is meant for South Texas farmers and water districts.

Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral

“I don’t remember that a president has ever come to Chihuahua and not invited the governor” to meet with him, Corral said this week. “We did not want confrontation, but we are being forced to respond to a series of lies, distortion and disinformation.”

Lopez Obrador last month sent his National Guard to take control of La Boquilla dam in Eastern Chihuahua. But hundreds of farmers overran the facility on Sept. 8. That night, the soldiers shot dead a woman and wounded a farmer, and the National Guard pulled out altogether. They haven’t been back to the dam since.

But even if the president doesn’t mean to address the water conflict during his visit to Juarez, the farmers say they will make sure he does.

Farmers’ leader Salvador Alcantar told a Chihuahua newspaper he would be sending a delegation to the president’s event in Juarez on Friday demanding that he drop plans to take their water.

The farmers say they concluded their irrigation cycle on Sept. 30 but that La Boquilla doesn’t have sufficient water for a full spring cycle, much less to give away to the United States.

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