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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Who Actually ‘Owns’ México’s Water?

Our guest columnist this week, the British economist Guy Cowman-Sharpe, has been investigating labor conditions in the Mexican state of Querétaro.


With issues of drought affecting as much as two-thirds of Méxicos municipalities, water protests are becoming more and more visible. Querétaro offers no exception to this trend. Local activists have been organizing daily demonstrations and sit-ins outside the state government building in Querétaro’s Plaza de Armas since March.

Demonstrators have been protesting the ongoing issues around water provision to Cadereyta and Maconí and other communities across the state. These issues stem from a massive water infrastructure project started in 2006 to provide water to Querétaros booming industrial center from the springs of the Moctezuma River, 123 kilometers away.


A verbal agreement with the State Water Commission promised these communities roadworks, electrical infrastructure, and access to drinkable water to make up for the disruption caused by the project. But today, 14 years later, many people in these communities are having to walk up to three hours to access water from streams while drinkable water flows in pipes through their lands. Ten private companies in the state, meanwhile, are hoarding more than 39 million cubic meters of water per year, according to Méxicos National Water Commission.


Querétero’s governor since 2018 has been Luis Nava, from the rightist, neoliberal PAN party. In May, Querétero state lawmakers voted to increase the pace of including private providers in the states water provision. Freshwater Action Mexico, an NGO network pushing for water rights, has criticized that move on three fronts: a lack of inclusion of human rights or water justice in the proposals, the absence of a plan to deal with the climate crisis, and the use of a private-company subcontracting provision as a form of backdoor privatization.