SAN BENITO, RGV – Matamoros Mayor Leticia Salazar has had a high profile in the Rio Grande Valley in the last week or so, signing a sister city agreement with the City of Brownsville and participating in the expansion of BiNED.

On Tuesday, Salazar will be back in Cameron County again, this time to sign a sister city arrangement with the City of San Benito.

San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez
San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez

The ceremony takes place at the START Center’s Nogales Event Center, which is located at 32611 FM 2520 in San Benito. The event starts at 11 a.m. At 12 noon a lunch will be provided.

“We are honored to have Mayor Lety Salazar visit San Benito for this historic ceremony,” said San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez. “This sister city agreement will open the doors to a lot of things. I am looking forward to freely traveling back and forth between our two cities and increasing the shopping between our two cities. I want to see a lot of cultural exchanges and increased business between our two cities. We have to recognize our families are related. Our people have families that live in Matamoros. There are strong family ties.”

Asked how the agreement came to be, Sanchez said: “It is funny. The same week I was reaching out to Mayor Salazar she was reaching out to me. We both wanted to set up a breakfast meeting at the same time. When I became mayor I reached out to all our neighboring cities, including Matamoros. My message to the other mayors was, working together we can achieve so much more. What is good for Cameron County is good for San Benito. It is also good for Harlingen and it is good for Brownsville. We are much stronger when we work together.”

Sanchez said local communities such as San Benito and Matamoros could also show the federal governments in Washington, D.C, and Mexico City the way. “I think whatever problems the United States and Mexico are experiencing, we can still help each other. We cannot wait for the federal governments to sort things out.”

Last week’s sister city agreement between Matamoros and Brownsville focused on building closer ties in the areas of education, business and culture. Sanchez said the same three areas will be highlighted in the agreement between Matamoros and San Benito. “There will be educational, cultural and business benefits associated with this agreement. There are benefits for both sides.”

Sanchez added that Salazar can help San Benito with one of its top agenda items, developing greater infrastructure on the Mexican side of Los Indios International Bridge. The U.S. portion of the bridge is co-owned by Cameron County, Harlingen and San Benito. An overweight corridor exists between the bridge and the Port of Brownsville. However, an impediment to more truck traffic is the lack of infrastructure on the Mexican side of the bridge. “It is a federal issue on the Mexican side because it is a question of safety for trucks between the interstate and the bridge. It is just open land and there is no safety for the truckers. We would hope Mayor Salazar can get us an audience with the Governor of Tamaulipas. I know there has been some dialogue and I know he is aware this issue.”

Sanchez said San Benito “wants to move quickly” in developing infrastructure on both sides of Los Indios because of an anticipated growth in truck traffic carrying fresh produce from Sinaloa along the new inter-oceanic superhighway that runs from Mazatlán to Matamoros. More and more produce destined for the east coast of the United States will likely cross into the country at international bridges in the Valley.

“I hope we move quickly on developing infrastructure because that bridge is vital to San Benito and Cameron County. It is the shortest connection to the I-69 corridor. We have been in talks with Cameron County and Harlingen about building a cold storage facility next to the bridge on the U.S. side. Right now there is no such amenity. The trucks are coming through the other bridges in Hidalgo and they are backlogged. We hope to alleviate that backlog. We are hoping to tap into that new superhighway. We want to part of the route that takes fresh produce from Sinaloa to Canada.”