In a second incident within one week Mexican activists in the country's northern border region broke through defences and seized control of La Boquilla dam, Chihuahua Province 4 February in an attempt to stop water diversions to the United States that are required as "payment" under a 1944 bilateral water treaty between the countries.
Nearly 3,000 farmers and residents of four Chihuahua municipalities clashed with the National Guard at the dam, while farmers elsewhere in the state stopped transport in both directions on major arteries.
The National Guard had been called out in early January to safeguard operations as the National Water Commission (Conagua) planned to open the sluices of the dam to fulfil the treaty requirements.
Chihuahua farmers claim that payment of the “water debt” will leave them with insufficient water as the dam is now only at 65 percent capacity. A farmer’s association has called for seizure of La Boquilla dam in order to protect “farmers’ assets”.
A local politician, who has supported the protest, claims that Conagua’s planned diversion of approximately one billion cubic meters of water would have a devastating effect on the state of Chihuahua and that there is not enough water for both local use and fulfilment of required deliveries under the agreement.
According to Mexico Daily, Luis Aguilar, a National Action Party (PAN) lawmaker in Chihuahua, declared that the federal government is “committing an abuse” against the state and warned that the National Guard could remove the protesters and open the sluices of the dam “by force.”
Federal government officials maintain that compliance with the treaty is paramount.