Change trains: Mexico favors N. Mexico over Texas

Posted at 1:39 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 14:39:17-04

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government is snubbing Texas and moving a proposed border rail link to New Mexico after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott backed up border crossings with state inspections in April.

Mexican diplomats met Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and touted a rail line linking Mexican seaports on the Pacific with the San Jeronimo-Santa Teresa crossing in New Mexico, about 20 miles (36 kilometers) west of El Paso, Texas.

Mexico had considered a route through Texas, but in recent days officials have said they can no longer rely on that state. Abbott had required all commercial trucks from Mexico to undergo extra inspections, tying up traffic and causing millions in losses.

Roberto Velasco Álvarez, Mexico’s director for North American affairs, wrote in his Twitter account about the meeting in Washington.

“There is a regional vision and management of migration, legal pathways and more development options, as well as advances in infrastructure with New Mexico that will allow us to develop immediate alternatives to commercial traffic that currently passes through Texas,” Velasco Álvarez wrote.

Mexico’s Economy Secretary Tatiana Clouthier was more forceful last week on the fate of a proposed rail line linking the Pacific coast port of Mazatlan in Mexico’s Sinaloa state with the U.S. and Canada.

“There is a very important project that will hopefully be finished soon that will connect Sinaloa and, we used to say Texas, but I don’t think we’re going to use Texas anymore because we cannot put all our eggs in one basket and be held hostage to those who want to use trade as a political issue,” Clouthier told a business conference.

“So we are going to look for another connection point because we cannot go through again what we went through a few weeks ago,” she said.

Some truckers reported waiting more than 30 hours to cross during the state inspections. Others blocked one of the world’s busiest trade bridges in protest.

Abbott, who is up for reelection in November and has made the border his top issue, fully lifted the inspections after reaching agreements with neighboring Mexican states that outline new commitments to border security.

But those Mexican states have little authority or manpower to intercept drugs or migrant smuggling — the two issues Abbott cited in implementing the inspections, though state officials found little of either — so the agreements were seen as a way of pressuring Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to act.

López Obrador, has described Abbott’s actions as “vile.” But Abbott hasn’t backed down, and has said he is considering invoking defense powers by declaring that Texas is being “invaded.”

On Monday, López Obrador brushed it off, saying, “Now that there are elections, some politicians in the United States are making accusations.”

“But how are they going to talk about an invasion?” Lópz Obrador said, referring to the fact that Texas — like much of the rest of the U.S. Southwest — once belonged to Mexico.

Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mayorkas had expressed concerns regarding the scheduled May 23 lifting of Title 42, the pandemic-era health rule that denies migrants a chance to seek asylum.

“His perspective is just that there could be a problem with increased (migrant) flows, and for that reason we are going to work regionally” on the issue, Ebrard said.

Ebrard also said Mexico continued to argue for Cuba and Venezuela to attend the upcoming Summit of the Americas in June in Los Angeles. The Biden administration has suggested that Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua are unlikely to be invited.