About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Menonitas, Mormons, Water Rights, and Crime

Excelsior is reporting that the Mennonites in Chihuahua are starting to feel the pinch of security problems. The coverage is fairly pithy, but here is the video link. CBC carried out a fairly melodramatic mini series about Mennonites and crime (two years ago?) called The Mennonite Mafia. Of course Mennonites have been involved in drug smuggling and the like for some time (ahem, shameless self promotion of my chapter in Martin Nesvig's edited volume on religion in Modern Mexico).

Having been in Chihuahua in May, my larger concern with the Mennonites is more environmental. Seems that there are sections of Chihuahua where there is VERY strict control on drilling wells. Turns out the Mennonites punch wells anyway and then simply pay the fine: They make more on the crops than what the fine costs them.

Water has always been an issue in Chihuahua, but the tension is growing. Ejidatarios, so abusive of their own land, are spilling on to land held by the Mormon Colonists near Colonia Juraez. Last may I met one Mormon farmer who was set to give up his land until a narcotraficante neighbor decided that it was best to have a Mormon buffer between him and the ejidatarios. The squatters were paid a visit (no gun play) by the traficante and the next day the land claim was withdrawn and the squatters were gone.

Water, space, drug violence, religious colonists, etc.... Chihuahua was so much like the Montana that I grew up in I was completely won over by the idea of looking at areas in history according to watershed and rain similarity.

And incidently...the famous Mormon apple orchards are giving way to peaches, pecans and apricots. Climate change, baby.

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