MEXICO CITY, Aug 12 – Mexico’s president said on Wednesday that U.S. brewer Constellation Brands should put a planned $1 billion plant in the country’s water-abundant, but poor, south, rather than in the dry northern border city of Mexicali.
The project to build the brewery in Mexicali was this year rejected in a public referendum promoted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and blemished by low voter turnout.
Opponents of the project have said the plant poses a threat to the local water supply.
Lopez Obrador said the federal government would not issue permits to build the plant anywhere in Baja California, the arid state in Mexico’s northwest where Mexicali is located.
“I’ve already spoken with plant’s directors, we agreed that they were going to look for options, but not in Baja California,” said Lopez Obrador at his daily press briefing.
Constellation brews several brands of Mexican beer, including Corona and Pacifico, exclusively for the U.S. market, making the border location attractive from a transport perspective.
Instead, Lopez Obrador urged the company to look for options where water is plentiful, mentioning locations in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Tabasco.
“70% of the country’s water is in the southeast,” said Lopez Obrador, who has made a top priority of developing the country’s impoverished south, including his home state of Tabasco.
His administration is developing several large-scale public projects in the south, including an $8 billion oil refinery in Tabasco and a 1,470-km (913-mile) rail line connecting tourist hot spots in Chiapas to the Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean coast.
Constellation did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Steve Orlofsky)