More than 500 people from 18 states around Mexico, representing 125 movements, organisations and Indigenous communities, met in Santiago de Mexquititlan, Queretaro, over February 18–19.
The Assembly for Water and For Life brought together groups that are resisting transnationals and local companies stealing water for their production, while leaving locals without. The companies often use water that is meant for residential use, or from commonly owned, Indigenous lands.
Mexico is currently experiencing a strong dry season and catastrophic drought, but activists have coined the phrase "no es sequia, es saqueo" ("it’s not a drought, it’s plundering") to draw attention to the fact that corporations, with governmental support, are causing the water crisis.
Speakers at the assembly emphasised that water and nature have become objects to be trafficked and exploited, and those who resist that are criminalised, threatened, imprisoned and even killed.
Water was privatised in Queretaro last year. In Santiago de Mexquititlan, Otomi people had to set up 24-hour watches around their wells to stop developers and other companies from using water trucks to steal their water.
The assembly recognised that the problem is global in nature, and called for a global day of action against the plundering of water for March 22, World Water Day. Actions will be held around Mexico, particularly protesting how companies like Nestlé, Danone, Coca Cola, and mega developers are taking water to produce goods like soft drink and bottled water, while small farms and Indigenous lands dry out.
Another national assembly is planned for mid-August.