Skip to content

Mexico City residents clash with police over water

Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena has brought to our attention an emerging water war in Mexico City. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, “People of Ameyalco Mexico put their lives on the line to protect their ancient source of water.”

VICE News reports, “Mexico City’s reservoirs consistently rank amongst the most contaminated supplies to any world capital. …Mexico City has serious problems with water shortages. One in three homes has no access to running water, forcing them to depend heavily upon water trucks called pipas, which refill homes’ water tanks at exorbitant prices. Seventy-four per cent of the capital’s water is pumped from underground, causing the city itself to sink.”

There is clean drinking water though “from a volcanic spring in San Bartolo Ameyalco, an otherwise impoverished town on the hilly southwestern outskirts of Mexico City, in the borough called Alvaro Obregon.” Juan Ramirez, the “leader of a group in San Bartolo Ameyalco intent on keeping their water supply local” says, “Now the government wants to pipe our town’s water directly into rich households and leave us with its contaminated filth. We are not going to let that happen.”

The Associated Press explains, “Mexico City officials [say they want] to extend the municipal water system into the village, purportedly to supply underserved areas there. …[They] say they are trying to bring water into the area for 20,000 people who don’t have service, not take it out. …But many residents suspect the city wants take their spring water to supply the explosive growth of apartment blocks, offices and shopping centers that have sprouted in the upscale developments nearby. Developers were allowed to create a huge satellite city known as Santa Fe in the hills, despite the fact that adequate road, mass transit and water lines did not exist.”

The VICE article notes, “Mexico City’s government sees the international business-aimed satellite city of Santa Fe, a high-end urbanization zone rapidly built upon a dumping ground with no prior water infrastructure, as a pillar of the local and even national economy. Although the details of the plan remain murky, San Bartolo Ameyalco residents are rightly suspicious of any scheme to divert their pure water to the international corporate offices nearby.”

Photo from Athens Indymedia.“Since the government’s announcement in April 2013 that the spring would be connected to a wider network covering the borough, residents of San Bartolo set up camp beside their main supply tank to defend their precious resource. …[On May 21], Ramírez along with approximately two thousand other residents of Ameyalco attacked a police force of fifteen hundred riot officers who were guarding the final construction stage of a pipeline that will connect the town’s volcanic spring to Santa Fe, one of the most affluent districts of the Mexican capital. …The residents beat back both police and pipeline engineers, leaving at least 100 police officers injured, 20 seriously. Residents said dozens were injured on their side, and authorities arrested five people.”

“A series of marches are planned for the coming weeks. In recent days, members of various related or completely unrelated social movements in the Mexico City metropolitan region have sent messages of support to San Bartolo, signaling a wider fight in the public political sphere in Mexico related to the spring.”

For more on this situation, please read Town of Ameyalco, Mexico Resists To Save Their Water, Mexican village clashes with police over natural spring water, and Over 100 injured in Mexico City protest.

Photo from Athens Indymedia.