In Brief: Mexican farmers occupy dam to stop water payments to U.S.

According to the Washington Post, 2,000 protesters gathered at La Boquilla Dam on the Conchas River in Chihuahua, Mexico, earlier this month to dramatize the plight of farmers who depend on water slated to be sent north to repay debts to the United States.

Mexico and the United States have sent each other billions of gallons of water annually to irrigate farms along the border under the terms of a treaty signed in 1944. Mexico sends water north from the Rio Grande and Conchas Rivers, while the U.S. deliveries to Mexico come via the Colorado River. The United States wants Mexico to pay off a shortfall of more than 100 billion gallons by Oct. 24. However, Mexican farmers stress that the extra payments are depleting the reservoirs they desperately need for irrigating their crops.

The controversy has sparked a political fight between Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and opposition politicians ahead of legislative elections next summer. According to the Washington Post, the president, who is committed to paying the entire water debt, has blamed outside forces for fomenting the farmers’ uprising. On Friday, he named 17 current and former opposition party officials he said were working with private businesses to incite the takeover at the dam.

Read more on this story from the Washington Post.

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