By Arnaud De Decker and Jules Emile
July 25, 2021
https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2021 ... ke-cuitzeo
(Al Jazeera) Fifty-two-year-old Augustin Rodriguez stands on the withered grass of his front yard and opens the tap. Water slowly drips from the garden hose the fisherman’s family uses for their daily needs. There is just enough to fill the cooking pot; the rest of the water is for the three goats that are cooped up nearby, next to the makeshift open-air kitchen.
The colourful buildings of San Nicolás Cuiritzeo in Mexico have seen better days. Like the water that has disappeared from the lake that neighbours the village, many of its inhabitants have left to seek a more prosperous life elsewhere. Once a healthy mix of farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, today only about 350 remain.
Augustin shrugs. “We have to be thrifty. The lake has been empty for months. We have to make do with some groundwater that we get from a well a little further away, but that too is almost empty. If it doesn’t rain in the next few days or weeks, we’re in for a big problem,” he says.
His family sits outside, in the shade provided by a skinny tree. Defeated, he steps towards them and wearily sits down on a dusty angular stone, taking a sip from his lukewarm beer. “My brothers and I have been out of work for months. We can’t hold out much longer,” he says.
He wants to show us the seriousness of the situation and takes us to the lake in question, about a kilometre south of his house. Lake Cuitzeo is a natural freshwater lake and the second-largest water reservoir in Mexico. Located 300km to the west of Mexico City, in the state of Michoacan, it is irregularly shaped, with its northern, western and eastern parts interconnected by marshland.
Horses graze while a fire has been set to burn the remaining withered aquatic plants on the lakebed to free up more potential grazing area.
Jules Emile/Al Jazeera