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Droughts In Mexico May Negatively Impact The Beer Industry

Northern Mexico has dealt with one of its most devastating droughts in decades, but brewers throughout the dry, parched landscape continued to expend water in their factories. After all, people around the world still needed their Corona and Tecate -- both of which had helped make Mexico the world's biggest international exporter of beer.

Protests Began, Even As Beer Production Continued

In the large city of Monterrey, the pipes of a towering brick Heineken plant continued to pump water -- even as protests and fights began in lines at water distribution sites. The situation quickly led to a protest forming outside of the Heineken office in July, in which a group of activists blocked the front door of the office.

“You’d open the tap and there wouldn’t be a drop of water,” said Blanca Guzmán, who participated in the Heineken protest. The factories, however, “produced and produced and produced.”

The President Of Mexico Wants To Halt Beer Production

In July of this year, eight of the 32 states in Mexico underwent moderate to extreme droughts, causing more than half of the country's 2,463 municipalities to face water shortages, says the National Water Commission.

As a way to tackle the problem, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador swore to terminate beer production in the country's north, where most beer facilities operate. He hoped to move production to the less drought-plagued south.

“This is not to say we’re not going to produce any more beer,” said Obrador in a news conference. “It’s to say we’re not going to produce beer in the north. That’s over.”

But The Mexican Government Is Part Of The Problem

However, the Mexican federal government may be responsible for the issue of the factories guzzling water. As the government has handed out water use permits to industrial entities, it hasn't heeded local environments and the effects that the permits may have on local households.

“Giving out concessions based on market criteria has created these problems,” said Iván Martínez Zazueta, a PhD student in geography who has called for a hold on the beer industry in Mexicali, a Mexican border city.

Others Believe The Beer Industry Isn't To Blame

Supporters of breweries say that complaints about the beer industry are uncalled for.

Regarding the President's decision to terminate beer production -- which has yet to come to pass -- José Luis Luege, a former chief of the National Water Commission, claimed, “It was one of those declarations that the president makes in the morning that is totally off base, but that generates real damage to the economy,”

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