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Farmers to demand Senate reject water deal

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2002 12:00 am

By Angeles Negrete Lares

The Brownsville Herald

A delegation of Tamaulipas farmers will address Mexicos Senate committee on

water resources today at a special hearing in Mexico City.

The Senate will convene at 9 a.m. to discuss plans to upgrade the countrys

antiquated irrigation system and study the legality of a binational water deal

that delivered 90,000 acre-feet of Mexican water from Falcon and Amistad

reservoirs for use by the United States late last month.

Tamaulipan farmers and Mexican lawmakers questioned if Minute Order 308

agreed on by both countries June 29 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico was legal and

enforceable if the Mexican senate had not approved President Vicente Foxs

endorsement of the deal.

The water transfer came after the debate over the unpaid portion of Mexicos

water debt under a 1944 water treaty reached a boiling point.

Under the 1944 treaty, Mexico is required to provide 350,000 acre-feet of

water each year to the United States from the Rio Conchos basin. The same

accord requires the United States to provide 1.5 million acre-feet of water

each year to Mexico from the Colorado River.

Rio Grande Valley farmers this week penned a strongly worded letter to

President Bush, rejecting the 90,000 acre-foot payment. Farmers on the Mexican

side of the river are as opposed to it and plan to ask senators today to

consider the detrimental effects it will have on them.

Oscar Luebbert Gutierrez, a member of the Institu-tional Revolu-tionary Party,

or PRI, said Wednesday that the purpose of the meeting is to ask

Inter-national Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) officials in Mexico to

explain why they endorsed the deal without the support of the senate.

There is an out clause. Minute Order 308, signed by U.S. and Mexican officials

with the IBWC, provides that if there isnt sufficient rain flowing into

Mexican tributaries of the Rio Grande by Oct. 26, the United States will have

to send the water back to Mexico. The stipulation is of little comfort to

farmers.

We will repeat as many times as is necessary that Minute Order 308 is totally

illegal because the Mexican Senate needs to approve it. The senators know the

agreement is illegal because it affects Mexican farmers by compromising water

that belongs to us, said Mario Garcia Quintero, president of Water District

Users Association No. 25, that serves about 14,000 farmers from Valle Hermoso

to Matamoros.

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