Mexican truck drivers have blockaded bridges at the border with the United States to protest against an order by the Texas governor, Greg Abbott,
to increase safety inspections that has snarled traffic at ports of entry and led business groups to warn of supply chain disruptions.
“Yesterday it took me 17 hours to cross into the United States and return,” said Raymundo Galicia, a Mexican driver participating in a protest at the Santa Teresa bridge connecting San Jerónimo, Chihuahua, to Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
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It is the third bridge in the bustling Ciudad Juárez-El Paso area to be blockaded by drivers who have seen their pay plummet since lengthy wait times began last week.
Traffic at a fourth bridge connecting Reynosa to Pharr, Texas, was also halted on Tuesday by drivers who parked their trucks and began barbecuing on the Mexican side of the port of entry, according to photos sent to Reuters.
“I get paid the same whether it takes me an hour or 10 hours to cross, so this is affecting us a lot,” Galicia said, noting he and his co-workers would target more bridges if delays continued.
The slowdowns began after Abbott, a Republican, ordered officials last week to conduct vehicle safety inspections at entry ports to uncover smuggling of people and contraband.
The new measures have infuriated industry groups, which have warned of shortages of perishable products over the Easter holiday weekend.
“This plan is … exacerbating our already disrupted supply chain, and will cripple an economy that relies so heavily on cross-border trade,” the US representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat whose district includes most of El Paso, tweeted on Tuesday.
Mexico’s National Chamber of Freight Transportation estimated the delays at the Pharr bridge alone caused economic losses of $8m a day and called on Abbott to withdraw the order to prevent a “collapse in international cross-border trade”.