McALLEN, RGV – International bridges in the Rio Grande Valley must be fully operational to speed up and save money on the transportation of commodities at the border, a local business leader declared in an interview last Tuesday.

In a Facebook livestream with the Rio Grande Guardian last week, Joaquin Spamer, the founder of CI Logistics Group, a major import-export logistics service company primarily involved in the cotton industry, expressed his concern over the capability of Valley bridges to handle increased international trade.

He also spoke passionately about U.S. ignorance towards Mexico.

Spamer said investing in international bridges that help with the easy flow of transportation of goods would save money for import-export companies like his.

“For everything that is in south bound or anything that I bring from north bound, we need more bridges open,” Spamer said. “We need the city of Pharr to go ahead and invest and do what they’re doing, as far as making the bridge crossing bigger. We need that. We need the Anzalduas Bridge open and we need it open as soon as possible. We need the Donna Bridge open for commercial traffic as soon as possible.”

The businessman explained that the merchandise and trucks used for transportation could be worth thousands of dollars, and delays in bridge times affect profits.

“The reason is that when you have a truck coming from Michoacán with a load of avocados, that it could be worth $60,000 and you’re bringing that load in a brand-new truck with a brand-new reefer that together they probably cost $150,000,” Spamer said.

“And you have a physical movement of the truck and the merchandise that together they’re worth probably $210,000, and that physical movement of that particular good, it takes 12 hours to arrive from Michoacán to the border. And you cannot have that good waiting six hours at the bridge. It’s killing everybody. You have trucking companies that cannot go they just go one or 1.5 times around back and forth to Michoacán, they’re losing money.”

Spamer emphasized fast flowing transportation of goods is crucial for any import-export company, and with trucks making multiple trips across the border every week, bridges must match the high speed industry.

“It’s not efficient,” Spamer said. “You need to have the transportation companies going back and forth three times a week and in order to do that you need to be able to cross the bridge in half an hour, 45 minutes, an hour at the most. You need to be able to load cotton or whatever you’re loading back, loading fast and go back fast into Mexico. That’s what we need to do.”

The consequences of local international bridges not fully operational are already driving large companies to transport goods through Laredo, taking away business from the Valley, Spamer said.

“My personal opinion is that, as an importer and as an exporter, we need to have all the bridges that we already have here open at full capacity,” Spamer said. “It doesn’t make sense to have all the money that was invested in the Anzaldua Bridge without being able to use it, doesn’t make sense. The Donna Bridge it’s exactly the same. We need to have all the bridges open as soon as possible.”

Spamer said he loses money when trucks that carry merchandise are forced to wait in long lines at the border, and if the Valley intends to grow, the city must continue to invest on bridge infrastructure.

“I cross the bridge every day,” Spamer said. “I send trucks southbound everyday and I bring trucks northbound everyday. When I have a truck waiting in line for four, six, eight hours, I’m losing money. It’s just as simple as that, I’m losing money and the Pharr Bridge needs to get bigger. It needs to get wider; they need to solve the problem that we have in the Mexican side of the bridge. They’re doing a good job on the U.S. side, but its not going to be enough. You have a bridge that barely handles what we have today. The traffic that we have today and if we intend to grow, if we want to double in size in this region, we’re going to need the other two bridges open. It’s as simple as that.”

Ignorance Towards Mexico

In the interview, Spamer spoke on what he thought was the biggest problem facing the region, U.S. ignorance towards Mexico at the local, state and federal level.

“We have a big problem in the U.S. regarding Mexico, a huge problem,” Spamer said. “I believe it’s the most important one, it’s ignorance. You have a lot of economic leaders that they don’t even understand what Mexico means. You have a lot of economic leaders, a lot of businessmen here at the border, here in McAllen, here in Hidalgo County that doesn’t understand Mexico at all. They for some reason they have this predicament that everything south is bad, they don’t understand it.”

The CEO believes it’s in the best interest of the region to continue to make trade with Mexico, an economic power house that he says is booming, especially Reynosa.

“I think that ignorance that is the biggest problem we have here in regard to Mexico, and Mexico is doing great,” Spamer said. “It’s the 12 largest economy, of course there’s a lot of challenges, of course we have security issues, of course there’s a lot of issues on the Mexican side the same as the United States, but Reynosa still grows. They’re building one million square feet of warehouse space in Reynosa. The maquiladoras are responding despite everything. There is 16,000 new positions for employment in Reynosa, so it’s working.”

Instead of working together, Spamer says the U.S. tends to blame Mexico for their problems because of how it’s the easiest thing to do politically.

“Mexico is… the punching bag of the U.S.,” Spamer said. “Every time you have a problem in the States, they bring some problem in Mexico and the one in the States gets really small. Definitely we have problems in Mexico, but there is a lot of problems in the States and instead of working together, the U.S. likes to blame Mexico for everything and Mexico thinks that’s unjust, but Mexico is the easier one to blame. You have a problem, blame it on Mexico. It’s easier.”

RGG LIVE: A discussion about trade between the U.S. and Mexico with Joaquin Spamer, founder of CI Logistics Group.

Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Tuesday, August 1, 2017