The Desagüe de Huehuetoca, as the colonial project to drain the Basin of Mexico was known, was designed to prevent flooding in the imperial City of Mexico by desiccating the lakes that surrounded it. Begun in 1607, the Desagüe sat not in the city itself but in the midst of an agropastoral district in the northwest quadrant of the basin, with pueblos de indios, haciendas, and ranchos as its neighbors. The drainage curtailed everyone’s access to and usufruct of land and water for cultivation and animal husbandry in this district by diminishing their access to these inputs. However, by additionally fixing what and where land and water were to be, the Desagüe had broader impacts on the indigenous economy, which, dependent on the seasonal inundation and recession of waters and on the ecosystemic resources of the lakes, suffered reduced access to both sustenance and marketable goods.

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