Several Mexican truckdrivers
temporarily held up traffic near the Colombia Solidarity International
Bridge June 12 in an attempt to send a message to U.S. inspectors, the Laredo
Morning Times reported.
Mexican and U.S. officials
stood ready to respond when they learned of flyers announcing a demonstration
that would be held at the Colombia and World Trade International Bridges
against the Texas departments of Public Safety and Transportation.
The flyers appeared
to be printed by an alliance of Mexican tractor-trailer owner-operators
who were urging other Mexican drivers to put a stop to alleged harassment
they receive during bridge safety inspections.
An official of the Policia
Federal Preventiva said that the demonstration proved to be small, but
resulted in 17 tractor-trailers holding up traffic in Nuevo Laredo near
the Colombia International Bridge.
The Mexican officer
reported the tractor-trailer drivers formed a line honking their horns
and came to a halt about 45 minutes around noon, but were eventually forced
to move on by law-enforcement officials.
Capt. Mario Salinas
of the Department of Public Safety said the demonstration never reached
the U.S. side of the border. Salinas said after DPS inspectors interviewed
numerous drivers crossing the bridge, they concluded several small drayage
companies initiated the protest after they were put out of service for
"This problem goes
back a long way," he pointed out.
Salinas explained that
at the initiation of NAFTA in 1995, safety inspections for tractor-trailers
were implemented at the International Bridges.
In efforts to assist
the transit companies, DPS began to meet with Mexican officials to offer
classes that would provide information as to their new equipment regulations
on tractor-trailers, Salinas said.
"But back then,
we had less manpower at the bridges, and the small companies would see
us there for only a couple of hours and would ignore the mandates," he
said. But manpower has significantly increased, inspections have become
more intense and transportation companies are now feeling the consequences,
Salinas said he did
not know what kind of statement the drivers would be making by trying
to park on the bridges.
"Holding up the
bridges would only hurt their own commerce," he said.