MCALLEN, RGV – As first reported in the Rio Grande Guardian, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez wants assurances that the Monterrey to McAllen highway is safe before he votes for USMCA.

To reinforce his message, Gonzalez has sentletterstoMexicanAmbassadorto the United StatesMartha Elena Federica Bárcena Coqui andSecretary of Security and Civilian ProtectionAlfonso Durazo Montaño.

In the letters, the McAllen Democrat urges Mexico to create a timeline for the implementationof the eagerly anticipated Safe Highway program. And he has asked for an assurance that Highway 40 is secured before a vote for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is considered in Congress.

Highway 40, running from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, is part of the Safe Highway program.

“For the United States and Mexicoto continue reaping the benefits ofNorth American trade, each countrymustfulfill its commitmentsto efficiency, security and rule of law,” Gonzalez said.

“Proper implementationofthe Safe Highway program will undoubtablyallow forthe successful implementationof the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and encourage more cross-border commerce. I ask that theMexicangovernment make it a priority to secure Highway 40D all the way to each international bridge connecting Tamaulipas with South Texas.”

McAllen business leaders have, in recent years, voiced their concerns about traveling by road to Monterrey. As the Rio Grande Guardian reported in November 2017, Jesus Gonzalez, owner of the high-end NIU Urban Living store, said the City of McAllen should scrap its Amigos Always marketing campaign and spend the money instead on fortifying the road between Anzalduas International Bridge and Highway 40.

Jesus Gonzalez is not related to Congressman Gonzalez.

Congressman Gonzalez met Durazo in Mexico City in March. During the meeting, he pointed out that Highway40 is a major artery for cargo and passenger vehicles traveling betweenMonterrey, Reynosa, and the United States.

Gonzalez noted that there are currently no protectionguarantees for freight and passenger vehicles leading up to a number of international bridges that connecttheSouth Texas and Mexico. These bridges include Pharr International Bridge, Anzalduas International Bridge, Veterans International Bridge, Starr Camargo Bridge,Donna Rio Bravo International Bridge, Gateway International Bridge and the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge.

“The security and safety of cross-border commerce and travelers from the United States to Mexico remains a top concern as I weigh my voteonUSMCA,” Gonzalez told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Durazo, a former secretary to President Fox, knows the U.S.-Mexico border region well. He was born in Bavispe, Sonora, and earned a doctorate degree in public policy from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. Bárcena, a career diplomat, is from Veracruz.

Alfonso Durazo Montaño

Here is a copy of the letter Congressman Gonzalez sent to Bárcena:

August 26, 2019

Her ExcellencyMarthaBárcena

Ambassador of Mexico to the United States

1911 Pennsylvania Ave.

Washington,D.C. 20006

DearAmbassadorBárcena,

As you know, the newlyrenegotiatedNAFTA or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)andMexico’s recently launched SafeHighway programrepresent two important steps forward in our bilateral relationship.

For the United States and Mexicoto continue reaping the benefits ofNorth American trade, each countrymustfulfill its commitmentsto efficiency, security, and rule of law.Proper implementation ofthe Safe Highway program will undoubtablyallow forthe successful implementation of the USMCAand encourage more cross-border commerce.By helping to secure merchandise that passes throughits territory on a dailybasis, Mexicowill incentivize companies to further invest and export more merchandise without fear of extortion or theft.

I was particularly excited to see your colleagues in Mexico City honor my request toincludeHighway 40D, which connects Monterrey, Nuevo Leon,andtheborder city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, inthis criticalhighway safetypilotprogram.Because this highway links one of Mexico’s major business hubs with the Rio Grande Valley, it is absolutely essential that this program is implemented with great care and without delay. Given the importance of this road for both cargo and passenger traffic, I also ask that your government make it a priority to secure Highway 40D all the way to each international bridge connecting Tamaulipas with South Texas.

These include: the Pharr International Bridge, Anzalduas International Bridge, Veterans International Bridge, Starr-Camargo International Bridge, Donna Rio-Bravo International Bridge, Gateway International Bridge, and the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge. Unless this protection extends all the way to the bridge itself, freight and passenger vehicles will remain at risk. The guarantee of safe passage and the eradication of disruptive, costly, and harmful criminal activity will benefit both of our economies. In my view, the success of this trade deal is contingent upon the success of this program.

I understand the importanceof ratifying the USMCA,however,I amreluctant to support the agreement without a timeline for implementation of the Safe Highwayprogram and an assurance that the roads connecting Highway 40D with our international bridges will be covered by this program.I look forward to working with you to bring security and prosperity to South Texas and Northern Mexico.

Should you have any questions, or wish to meet to discuss this in more detail, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Vicente Gonzalez
Member of Congress

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez

Here is a copy of the letter Congressman Gonzalez sent to Durazo:

August 26, 2019

The Honorable Alfonso Durazo

Secretary of Security and Civilian Protection

Mexico

Avenida Constituyentes 947, Edificio “B”, Planta Alta,

Colonia Belén de las Flores, Alcaldía Álvaro Obregón,

Código Postal 01110, Ciudad de México

C/O Her ExcellencyMarthaBárcena

Dear Mr.Secretary Durazo,

It was nice meeting with you in Mexico City in late March to discuss the importance of securing our trade routes between Mexico and the United States. I appreciate your candor and willingness to work with me to ensure the safe transport of passengers and cargo between both countries through the Safe Highways program, which you recently launched as part of an overall effort to bring more security and prosperity to Mexico.

As you know, the newlyrenegotiatedNAFTA or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)andMexico’s recently launched SafeHighway programrepresent two important steps forward in our bilateral relationship.

For the United States and Mexicoto continue reaping the benefits ofNorth American trade, each countrymustfulfill its commitmentsto efficiency, security, and rule of law.Proper implementation ofthe Safe Highwayprogram will undoubtablyallow forthe successful implementation of the USMCAand encourage more cross-border commerce.By helping to secure merchandise that passes throughits territory on a dailybasis, Mexicowill incentivize companies to further invest and export more merchandise without fear of extortion or theft.

I sincerely thank you forincludingHighway 40D, which connects Monterrey, Nuevo Leon,andtheborder city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, inthis criticalhighway safetypilotprogram.Because this highway links one of Mexico’s major business hubs with the Rio Grande Valley, it is absolutely essential that this program is implemented with great care and without delay. Given the importance of this road for both cargo and passenger traffic, I also ask that your government make it a priority to secure Highway 40D all the way to each international bridge connecting Tamaulipas with South Texas.

These include: the Pharr International Bridge, Anzalduas International Bridge, Veterans International Bridge, Starr-Camargo International Bridge, Donna Rio-Bravo International Bridge, Gateway International Bridge, and the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge. Unless this protection extends all the way to the bridge itself, freight and passenger vehicles will remain at risk. The guarantee of safe passage and the eradication of disruptive, costly, and harmful criminal activity will benefit both of our economies. In my view, the success of this trade deal is contingent upon the success of this program.

I understand the importanceof ratifying the USMCA,however,I amreluctant to support the agreement without a timeline for implementation of the Safe Highway program and an assurance that the roads connecting Highway 40D with our international bridges will be covered by this program.I look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the government of Mexico to bring security and prosperity to South Texas and Northern Mexico.

Should you have any questions, or wish to meet to discuss this in more detail, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Vicente Gonzalez
Member of Congress

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows MexicanAmbassadorto the United StatesMartha Elena Federica Bárcena Coqui.