MEXICO CITY (AP) — Defenders of Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe wine-producing valley protested Saturday against unfettered development they say threatens the area’s environment and agriculture.
On Saturday, federal authorities announced they shut down a massive land-clearing project that had bulldozed native semi-desert vegetation on a hillside to create a concert venue.
“Acting on complaints from the public, this morning federal authorities inspected and closed a property where they had tried to install a massive concert forum,” the Environment Department said in a press statement.
Protesters from the group For a True Valley gathered nearby to demonstrate under the slogan “More grapevines, less plunder.”
“This devastation of flora and fauna on more than 20 hectares (44 acres) in the Valle de Guadalupe was done by APM Producciones,” a concert promoter, the group said in a statement. “This is a project which shows not the least consideration for the environment.”
APM Producciones said in a statement that the project had all necessary permits and affected only 4.4 hectares (9 acres). It said the final project would include building housing and planting trees and grape vines.
The company claimed a concert planned for the weekend would go ahead.
But the Environment Department said the developers did not have a permit to change the land use of the property.
The area between Ensenada and the border city of Tijuana has become a victim of its own success as Mexico’s answer to California’s prized Napa Valley. Wine tours, hotels, luxury apartments and entertainment venues threaten the area’s already-scarce water, thin soil and relative calm.
A bit dustier and rougher around the edges than Napa Valley, the Baja California wine country has vineyards clustered along a main highway known as the Ruta del Vino.
The fast-growing wine mecca just two hours south of San Diego is home to hip boutique hotels, an impressive culinary scene and more than 100 wineries.