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 sent letters to Mexican Ambassador to the United States Martha Elena Federica Bárcena Coqui and Secretary of Security and Civilian Protection Alfonso Durazo Montaño.

In the letters, the McAllen Democrat urges Mexico to create a timeline for the implementation of 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 Mexico to continue reaping the benefits of North American trade, each country must fulfill its commitments to efficiency, security and rule of law,” Gonzalez said. 

“Proper implementation of the Safe Highway program will undoubtably allow for the successful implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and encourage more cross-border commerce. I ask that the Mexican government 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 Highway 40 is a major artery for cargo and passenger vehicles traveling between Monterrey, Reynosa, and the United States.

Gonzalez noted that there are currently no protection guarantees for freight and passenger vehicles leading up to a number of international bridges that connect the South 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 vote on USMCA,” 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 Excellency Martha Bárcena

Ambassador of Mexico to the United States

1911 Pennsylvania Ave.

Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Ambassador Bárcena,

As you know, the newly renegotiated NAFTA or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and Mexico’s recently launched Safe Highway program represent two important steps forward in our bilateral relationship. 

For the United States and Mexico to continue reaping the benefits of North American trade, each country must fulfill its commitments to efficiency, security, and rule of law. Proper implementation of the Safe Highway program will undoubtably allow for the successful implementation of the USMCA and encourage more cross-border commerce. By helping to secure merchandise that passes through its territory on a daily basis, Mexico will 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 to include Highway 40D, which connects Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, and the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in this critical highway safety pilot program. 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 importance of ratifying the USMCA, however, I am reluctant 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 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 Excellency Martha Bárcena

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 newly renegotiated NAFTA or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and Mexico’s recently launched Safe Highway program represent two important steps forward in our bilateral relationship. 

For the United States and Mexico to continue reaping the benefits of North American trade, each country must fulfill its commitments to efficiency, security, and rule of law. Proper implementation of the Safe Highway program will undoubtably allow for the successful implementation of the USMCA and encourage more cross-border commerce. By helping to secure merchandise that passes through its territory on a daily basis, Mexico will incentivize companies to further invest and export more merchandise without fear of extortion or theft.  

I sincerely thank you for including Highway 40D, which connects Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, and the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in this critical highway safety pilot program. 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 importance of ratifying the USMCA, however, I am reluctant 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 Mexican Ambassador to the United States Martha Elena Federica Bárcena Coqui.