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Border & Immigration

Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge reopens after blockade is disbanded in Mexico

Over 100 trucks wait in line at Nuevo Progreso International as commercial traffic was rerouted to open land ports when Pharr-Reynosa International was shut down by a protest blockade in Mexico.
Michael Gonzalez
/
Texas Public Radio
Over 100 trucks wait in line at Nuevo Progreso International as commercial traffic was rerouted to open land ports when Pharr-Reynosa International was shut down by a protest blockade in Mexico.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott met with Nuevo León Governor Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda to sign an agreement that brings to an end additional inspections at the international bridge that Texas shares with Nuevo León.

Abbott signed a similar agreement with the Governor of Chihuahua Maru Campos on Thursday. The order put in place by Abbott last week to carry out additional inspections of commercial transport vehicles at international land ports continues at other Texas-Mexico border crossings.

The delays caused by the inspections have resulted in shocking logistical disruptions with millions of dollars in daily losses in what trade groups are calling a “supply chain crisis.” Hundreds of Mexican commercial transport drivers are also finding themselves sitting in parked cabins without access to food or water for days on end as inspection times have increased from hours to days.

A blockade organized by truck drivers in Mexico to protest the delays caused by Abbott’s order came to a head in Reynosa just as Abbott and García Sepúlveda signed their agreement in Laredo. Blockade organizers began to close additional bridges in a plan to block off the entire land port trade block between Texas and Mexico.

A map showing International land ports on the Texas-Mexico border.
Pablo De La Rosa
/
Texas Public Radio
A map showing International land ports on the Texas-Mexico border.

The move came as blockade organizers grew frustrated with other drivers who were circumventing the blockade through other ports of entry. Hours later, organized criminal elements began to set fire to trucks in Mexico, according to Milenio, in an effort to disband the blockade.

Mexican media channels widely reported that “the cartel” had put an end to the blockade as men armed with automatic weapons doused trucks with gasoline before setting them on fire.

Earlier that morning, sources on the ground in Mexico described talks between blockade organizers and Mexican officials, as office administrators at Pharr-Reynosa and Anzalduas bridge said they were “waiting to find out more about a situation on the Mexican side" when asked if bridges were opening that day.

A blockade organizer told Milenio the blockade would not be brought back in consideration of the safety of the drivers. Pharr-Reynosa International opened lanes for commercial traffic shortly after.

The press conference on Wednesday revealed little detail about how Nuevo León planned to increase security in Mexico or if Abbott would address the economic impact of inspections at other commercial bridges that Texas shares with Mexico.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the states of Coahuila and Tamaulipas are currently seeking agreements with Abbott.

Colombia Solidarity International bridge connects Nuevo León and Texas. Governor Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda promised to provide additional security in an agreement signed with Governor Abbott this week.
Nuevo León Governor's Office
Colombia Solidarity International bridge connects Nuevo León and Texas. Governor Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda promised to provide additional security in an agreement signed with Governor Abbott this week.

Operations at Colombia Solidarity International in Laredo and bridges connecting Texas with Chihuahua returned to normal. Abbott said U.S. inspections would remain normal as long as those states continued to increase security on the Mexican side of the border.

But border leaders in the U.S. continue to press Abbott to terminate the additional inspections, which The Department of Homeland Security has called “unnecessary”.

The Texas Border Coalition (TBC), a nonprofit coalition of border mayors, county judges, and economic development commissions, said in a letter to Abbott that the inspection measures causing economic harm to countless businesses were ineffective.

“We share (Abbott’s) concerns regarding criminal activity along our border and recognize border security as an essential part of trade circularity.” said Cameron County Judge and chairman of the Texas Border Coalition Eddie Treviño. “However, we believe that there are more effective security measures that can be taken with the use of modern technology.”

TBC said in the letter that Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge is the number one conduit for fresh produce imports to the United States while El Paso’s Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge ranks third in cargo crossings for the entire country.

El Paso’s Mayor Oscar Leeser described the continuing duplicate inspections on Thursday as “a devastating blow.”

“The efficient flow of trade on the U.S.-Mexico border isn’t only critical to Texas, but to the entire United States,” said Leeser in a release. “Any delays will continue to burden the supply-chain issues our country is already facing, and affect our state and nation economically in a negative manner.”

Leeser said in the release that the number of commercial trucks that have been able to cross in El Paso had decreased an estimated 55% to 90% over the last three days.

Trade with Mexico generated more than $650 billion in economic activity for Texas in 2021.