ALFREDO AZCARATE VARELA
THE BAJA POST/EDITOR
Around the grounds here the brewing plant of Constellation Brands was being built in El Choropo, a small community near Mexicali, on the road to San Felipe, the question among some people who are sort of picket lining there is: What is happening in there?, they have been against the arrival in Mexicali of the international beverage company, a huge corporation whose 1.5 billion dollar project was “rejected” through a “popular survey” about the company approval by local residents among Mexicali residents, a very peculiar “democratic” exercise which left more questions than answers.
The rumors contradict each other, while the Company issued a press release two weeks ago stating that the brewery construction had been suspended, and the 750 jobs the company was bringing to Mexicali, the thousands of jobs that Constellation Brands advocates said would be created were by other companies such as FEVISA who would have manufactured the glass bottles, and would have created about 5 thousand jobs, but all those employment opportunities vanished in the haze of a confusing “popular survey”.
The survey rejected the project Constellation Brands was about to bring in Mexicali, which also polarized opinions among Mexicali public opinion, some said the company was going to consume the water that should be irrigating agricultural fields and even would have taken water that the city badly needed, the rejection came from political and environmental activists, some of them were part of a violent confrontation with Police and security guards several months ago, but now some of them are “staying put” outside and around some of the brewery grounds entrances.
November 3, a bus is parking in front of half a dozen activists who are blocking the way for the vehicle, which is supposedly transporting personnel to work in the plant, “Constellation Brands is not fooling us, they are bringing staff, disguised as private security guards, who are taken to the plant to work there side they are really engineers and technicians, who are working inside the brewing facility construction”, says Jorge Benitez, one of the fiercest activists who oppose to the plant.
Far away on the distance, over the dirt road, two white pickup trucks form the FGE (State Attorney Office) are approaching the people standing in front of the bus, they advance next to the irrigation canal, that passes aside the construction site, they stop in front of Benitez, three or four special agents and a Public Minister, who intended to deliver a notification, which is a restriction order for him and the others, requested by Constellation Brands, he refuses to take it and “be served”.
“What the hell is this? A piece of paper?, ok give to me and you will see what I do with it”, Benitez challenges the law enforcement agents of the FGE, “I won´t sign a damn thing”, he says but the Public Minister (MP in Spanish) gives him the document and Benitez is served while he spikes the paper to the ground and threads on it, the special agents approach two or three more people trying to give them the restriction orders, but no one wants to sign them.
Far away from them, there is a man with a blue hoody, the hood on, and wearing a mouth mask, the agents walk towards him and the MP tells him: “You are Rigo Campos, and I bring this restriction order for you” but the other man answers: “Are you sure I am Rigo?” the other man tells him to remove the mask and hoodie, but he doesn´t comply and the FGE representative tells him: “Here is the notification, and you are served”.
The Constellation Brands issue has been around, polarizing the people in Mexicali for more than three years now, the jobs it would create, which would have been created in other companies, Mexican, who would have been suppliers, uncertainty has been there for most of the time and now no one is sure about the company and why so many people think the construction is going on as if nothing had happened.
Activists, such as Rigo and Benitez, have pledged to remain there, next to the grounds where Constellation Brands was (or is still) building the enormous brewing plant, while they might as well wind up in jail, due to the restriction orders which, even they didn’t officially signed them, still hold good and they may soon be removed from the plant whereabouts, their war against the giant international corporation continues, and one can´t help but think: Whose mistake it was, that the company was so hated and rejected by many people in Mexicali?.