August 27, 2023

Borderlands: Mexico’s truckers plan nationwide strike, blockades


Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Mexico’s truckers plan nationwide strike, blockades; $142B announced for Texas transportation infrastructure; Del Monte Foods moving to Port Freeport; and border airport adds commercial cargo operations.

Mexico’s truckers plan nationwide strike, blockades

A massive strike and protests by cargo truck drivers on roads across Mexico are planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, according to members of the Mexican Alliance of Carrier Organizations (AMOTAC).

They said the two-day demonstration could include as many as 300,000 truckers and spotlights a host of demands: improved road safety, lower operating costs, a ban on double tractor-trailers, simplified vehicle registration, protection against extortion from authorities and more.

The strike, scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday, is expected to include blockades along main highways, potentially disrupting both domestic and international freight shipments.

AMOTAC, which said it represents more than 75% of the commercial cargo, tourism and bus passenger vehicle fleets in the country, aims to keep the demonstrations peaceful, according to a news release announcing the protests.

“We regret the inconvenience and the traffic that could be caused on the country’s highways, but the authorities force us to take these actions due to their lack of interest and commitment to our sector, they have forgotten that through transport we move the merchandise necessary for the development of the industries,” the news release said. “We are a sector that generates jobs, as well as a very important economic benefit for the country.”

Danger from cargo thieves is one of the major issues truck drivers in Mexico face, AMOTAC officials said.

“Every day we suffer from assaults, robberies and murders from both the carriers and drivers who use the roads, without the National Guard commanders ordering the necessary actions to stop this situation,” Valentin Romero Trujillo, an AMOTAC spokesman, told El Financiero.

According to data from Mexico’s Ministry of Security and Civilian Protection, cargo theft cases totaled 5,470 from January through July, a 10% year-over-year increase. The states with the most reported cases were in the center of the country, including Mexico State, Puebla, Michoacan, San Luis Potosi and Jalisco.

Jorge Canavati, a principal at J. Canavati & Co., a San Antonio-based freight forwarding company, recently told FreightWaves that road insecurity across Mexico has been a major issue for years.

“Cargo theft is a big problem. The violence is a big problem,” Canavati said. “The insurance rates for cargo are just going up and up and up.”

Other major demands include reducing the cost to use toll roads in the country and ending abuses and extortion by state and municipal police, AMOTAC officials said.

“The [toll] fees are excessive. We have roads in terrible condition, the roads we have are disgusting and we are paying a very expensive toll that really harms the truck,” Romero Trujillo said.

Romero Trujillo said if the government does not negotiate during the two days of demonstrations, AMOTAC could continue to extend the strike and blockades.

Texas announces $142B for transportation infrastructure

Texas recently announced an investment of $142 billion in transportation projects focused on safety improvements, congestion, connectivity and road preservation over the next 10 years.

“This plan will not only connect Texans from every corner of our state, it will also bolster our economic growth and ensure Texans and businesses continue to thrive for generations to come,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release

Improvements to Mines Road/FM 1472 in Laredo are included in the funding. Mines Road is near the World Trade Bridge, the busiest commercial land border crossing in North America.

Also included in the funding is $237 million for the International Bridge Trade Corridor along the Texas-Mexico border. 

The corridor will be a 13-mile, six-lane divided nontoll highway that will connect international bridges located between the towns of Pharr and Donna. The aim of the project is to improve the movement of people and goods from the international bridges in the area.

Del Monte Foods moving to Port Freeport

Del Monte Foods Inc. (NYSE: FDP) is moving its importing operation from the Port of Galveston to Port Freeport in southeast Texas.

The food production and distribution giant will relocate to Port Freeport in 2024 after the completion of modifications to the port’s Velasco Container Terminal, which will add more than 500 refrigerated container plugs, according to a news release.

Del Monte Foods recently announced it would be moving its import operations to Port Freeport, joining Chiquita and Dole as produce importers at the facility. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Del Monte ships will offer weekly calls to Port Freeport, importing bananas, pineapples and plantains, serving a large portion of the Texas market and beyond.

After the relocation is completed in 2024, Port Freeport will be the only U.S. port with the “big three” multinational green fruit importers at the same terminal: Del Monte, Dole Fresh Foods and Chiquita Brands International Sarl.

Del Monte is based in Walnut Creek, California. The company operates six production facilities across the U.S. and two in Mexico.

Border airport adds commercial cargo operations

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin offering services for international shipments at Del Rio International Airport in South Texas on Friday, the agency announced.

The airport’s commercial air cargo service will be part of the Port of Del Rio and aims to offer a new route for international trade. The air cargo service will be offered seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Del Rio is on the Mexican border, about 152 miles west of San Antonio.

Watch: FreightWaves asks: is trucking a commodity?

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The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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