REYNOSA, Tamaulipas – Elected officials in three of the northern states in Mexico want stricter enforcement at the border in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The mayor of Matamoros and three state senators from Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Tamaulipas are calling for further restrictions on who can cross the region’s land ports of entry, noting that COVID-19 is far more prevalent in the United States than Mexico.
“It is important that in Mexico, and particularly at this border, we implement restrictive measures because United States residents and citizens are crossing every day to Matamoros to shop, go visit the doctor and their family and that means a greater risk for the families of Matamoros,” said Matamoros Mayor Mario Alberto López Hernández, in a recent news release.
The United States recently announced restricted travel across the U.S.-Mexico border and U.S.-Canada border. Trade and commerce is still permitted and encouraged. U.S. citizens and legal residents can also cross but Mexican and Canadian visa holders are now being denied entry into the U.S.
Three state senators want similar restrictions for U.S. citizens. The lawmakers are Verónica Martínez García of Coahuila, who represents PRI, and Ismael García Cabeza de Vaca of Tamaulipas and Víctor Fuentes Solís of Nuevo León, who represent PAN.
The three senators say they agree with their respective governors but want the border restrictions to go further.
The governors of Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas – Miguel Riquelme, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón and Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, respectively – met recently in Saltillo, Nuevo León.
The objective of the meeting was to strengthen existing coordination in the fight against COVID-19. The governors agreed to stop promoting tourism in their states during the Semana Santa (Easter) season. They also agreed to ask “paisanos” not to come home to Mexico while the threat of the coronavirus is so pervasive.
According to El Mañana of Reynosa, the three governors agreed to: establish mass detection methods for infections; make joint purchases of supplies to care for the sick; coordinate actions with the Ministry of National Defense, as part of the implementation of Plan DN-III; emphasize prevention with the countrymen who return from the United States, in the face of contingencies; Guarantee the protection of doctors, nurses and the personnel who are exposed due to their functions; and report on the number of infections at the state and regional level.
“After the World Health Organization declared the United States the new epicenter of COVID-19 and given the border that our region shares, we made a call to the government of Mexico so that the border states are called to regulate criteria and actions to prevent this situation,” the three governors said in a joint statement.
Enlace MX reported on the remarks of the three state senators. “Now it is senators who are asking to close the border,” ran the headline in the news organization.
Martínez García, the state senator for Coahuila, García Cabeza de Vaca, the state senator from Tamaulipas, and Fuentes Solís, the state senator from Nuevo León, said they support the calls made by their governors to limit cross-border transit by land or air as a preventive measure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The governors’ proposal, which we widely support, is to restrict the passage of people arriving from the United States, in order to avoid COVID-19 infections. It is also important that our countrymen and compatriots do not cross the border during Easter,” Enlace MX reported Sen. Fuentes Solís as saying.
Sen. Martínez said she supported Gov. Riquelme’s announcement about the need to mount awareness campaigns to prevent Mexicans residing in the United States from visiting border states during Easter, particularly caravans.
“At this time of the COVID-19 pandemic we must be aware that for Easter we will very possibly be entering Phase 3, as announced by the Ministry of Health, so we call on the federal government to consider actions for health and safety reasons,” Martínez told Enlace MX.
Sen. García said the time for action is now. In fact, he said Mexico was likely “going late” with the announcement, given that “the United States has become the country with the most cases of contagion in the world,” Garcia told Enlace MX.
More and more state and local leaders along the border are beginning to show high concern for the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in stark contrast to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who, by comparison, has seemed perfunctory and devil-may-care in his daily press conferences. Indeed, in public appearances AMLO has continued to shake hands with the general public, something health experts are advising against.
“If I come here wearing a mask, if that’s how the president is, how are the people going to be?” AMLO said, at a recently political rally. “I have to keep the people’s spirits up.”
In the weeks and days ahead it remains to be seen how the different levels of government will respond to an ever-changing dynamic in the saga of the COVID-19 virus.
Meanwhile, it was reported Sunday that the Governor of Tabasco, Adán Augusto López, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be observing quarantine measures. Also, an additional positive test for COVID19 was reported in Matamoros.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows state Sen. Verónica Martínez García of Coahuila.