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Mexico's drought, heatwave and water shortage are so bad even police are blocking traffic in protest

Drought strangles Mexico

Mexico’s drought, heatwave and water shortages have gotten so bad that even police blocked traffic in protest Wednesday.

In recent months, residents of some Mexico City neighborhoods have regularly taken to forming human chains to block boulevards to demand water. In April, complaints about contaminated water sparked a weeks-long crisis in one upscale neighborhood.

Normally, police seek to redirect traffic, but on Wednesday some officers were themselves manning a protest blockade, near the capital’s iconic Independence Monument.

The officers stood blocking six lanes of traffic, saying their barracks hadn’t had water for a week, and that the bathrooms were unusable.

“We don't have water in the bathrooms,” said one female officer who would not give her name for fear of reprisals, adding that conditions in the barracks were intolerable. “They make us sleep on the floor,” she said.

The lack of water has worsened longstanding tensions between police officers and their supervisors over issues like sexual harassment and unfair working conditions.

“The bosses have water in their offices, but we're not allowed to go in there,” said the female officer. “They don't give us solutions. Today they brought in a water truck, after they saw the news media show up.”

In the midst of record temperatures and a severe drought, many buildings in the capital have to get water brought in by tanker trucks, but they have been in short supply and are expensive.

About 85 percent of the country was expected to see highs of at least 104 degrees (40 Celsius) Wednesday, with about a third of the country reaching 113 degrees (45 Celsius) or more.

Almost 40% of the country's dams are below 20% of capacity, and another 40% are between 20 and 50% full. Mexico City has been forced to reduce water supplies because the reservoirs that feed the city are drying up. Some stores are running of mineral water.

Nationwide, authorities have had to truck in water for everything from hospitals to fire-fighting teams. Low levels at hydroelectric dams have contributed to power blackouts in some parts of the country.

Consumers are feeling the heat as well. On Monday, the nationwide chain of OXXO convenience stores — the nation’s largest — said it was limiting purchases of ice to just two or three bags per customer in some places.

Meanwhile, the heatwave has been so bad that in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, howler monkeys are falling from the trees due to apparent heat stroke.

At least 138 of the midsize primates, who are known for their roaring vocal calls, were found dead in Tabasco since May 16, according to the Biodiversity Conservation of The Usumacinta group.



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