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.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mexico and the Environment

Saturday in Chihuahua a cloud of smoke descended on the city of Cuauhetemoc, Chihuahua. Reports El Diario:
Una capa de contaminación y humo cubrió ayer la ciudad, luego de que se registraron dos incendios en campos menonitas en los que se realizaba quema de rastrojo, método prohibido por la Dirección de Ecología y autoridades de salud.

A pesar de advertencias y multas, es común la práctica de limpieza de predios por medio del fuego, y algunas veces se sale de control, como lo sucedido ayer en el Campo 22, donde las llamas cubrieron una larga extensión de terreno.

I've posted earlier on Mennonites and drilling for water before, with the upshot being that for the colonists it is easier and cheaper to punch wells wherever they want and pay the fines than it is to follow the rules on water rights and use. It appears to be the same with burning weeds and stubble. What seems to be the offense of the Mennonites? American-style agriculture, it seems to me. Potato farmers in Idaho have nearly sucked the Snake River aquifer dry (while simultaneously destroying drinking water sources with pesticides) while Montana looks like a Mordor scene out of LOTR come spring and the burning of stubble fields.

It seems to me that Mexico has the sensible environmental approach to water regulation and air quality while the U.S. falls short. One might be tempted to say that the United States better adheres to the rule of law in environmental matters, but when the rules are bent in the legislatures BEFORE they get to the application then it appears the rule of law is as moot an exercise in the U.S. as it is in Mexico. At least if the laws are on the books in Mexico the hope exists that one day adherence by the population will lead to a better environmental ethic in sensitive areas like Chihuahua.

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