BROWNSVILLE, RGV – U.S. Reps. Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez have written to the speaker of the House to express their “grave concern” about transnational criminal organizations negatively impacting the flow of cross border commerce and tourism.
The two South Texas congressmen have requested Nancy Pelosi’s assistance in “securing a firm commitment” from the Mexican government to “guarantee the protection” of highways between the United States and Mexico that used for trade and tourism.
Their concerns come as Pelosi contemplates bringing the United States-Mexico-Canada to the floor of the House for ratification. USMCA is the successor trade pact to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Gonzalez has made his support for USMCA conditional on Mexico improving security along its trade routes into the United States.
“Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and every president before him for more than a decade has promised to clean up crime in Mexico to no avail,” Gonzalez said.“We can no longer afford to be silent. This trade pact is critical to our economy and we need to get this right or risk standing in the way of our own economic success.”
Vela agreed. He said: “Security along trade routes is essential to the success of any trade agreement. We must continue to work with our Mexican partners to address trade in a comprehensive manner—that includes addressing security issues—for the continued prosperity of both of our economies.”
In a news release, Vela and Gonzalez cited a story by National Public Radio that highlights a new report by Mexico’s Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection. The report says 2018 was Mexico’s worst year of violence by far, with a 15 percent increase from 2017 and a recorded 33,341 homicides.
The two congressmen note that the Transported Asset Protection Association has reported more than 4,000 incidents of cargo theft during the second quarter of 2018, a 27 percent increase from 2017.
They also note that the State Department recently issued travel advisories urging American citizens traveling to Mexico to “exercise extreme caution due to crime, kidnapping, violence and robbery in every Mexican state bordering the United States.”
In the joint news release, Gonzalez said the safety of people and trade in the border region has remained a top priority. He pointed out that he has pushed U.S. and Mexican officials to include security commitments with operational plans like the Safe Highway proposal.
“Mexican leadership still has yet to produce proper timelines and implementations plans for this pilot program which would secure six highways throughout Mexico, including Highway 40D, which connects to international bridges along the U.S. – Mexico border,” the news release stated.
Gonzalez added: “I am pro-trade, but we can no longer afford to be silent. This (USMCA) trade pact is critical to our economy and we need to get this right or risk standing in the way of our own economic success.”
Here is the letter Congressmen Vela and Gonzalez sent to Speaker Pelosi:
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