Mexican officials say they will reroute a proposed train line out of Texas
From Texas Standard:
In response to Governor Greg Abbott’s decision last month to step up border inspections, Mexican officials announced plans to reroute a rail link through New Mexico instead of Texas.
Abbott agreed to stop the increased inspection after nine days, after reaching security agreements with the governors of four Mexican states. But he has also received criticism from those left and right who say the inspections, which have resulted in long wait times for commercial vehicles, have been financially devastating.
Waco-based economist Ray Perryman said the nine days cost Texas more than $4.2 billion in goods and services. Alfredo Corchado covers Mexican-American issues for The Dallas Morning News. He told the Texas Standard that Mexican officials were likely looking for ways to protect their country’s economy and were sending a message to Abbott. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity:
Texas Standard: Can you tell us about the plans for this railroad that was supposed to run through Texas, but apparently won’t?
Alfredo Corchado: I think the key word is “intention”. This is a comment that Mexico’s economy minister made last week. And the quote is, “We’re not going to use Texas. We cannot leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostage to someone who wants to use trade as a political tool. But I think a project like this – it’s a billion dollar project – it can take three, five years and a lot can happen between the United States and Texas.
What I find interesting is how the rhetoric has changed. I think when Abbott started these audits, the feds didn’t say much. The focus was really on the state governments along the Texas border – in Chihuahua, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. But suddenly the rhetoric really changed. On Sunday. You had the Foreign Minister of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard, who is a potential candidate for the presidency. He also called Abbott’s action an extortion scheme. It’s interesting, what is developing south of the border.
So this piece of infrastructure, this rail line that was supposed to go from the western end of Mexico to Canada. How important is this case economically or even in terms of the status of the larger Texas-Mexico relationship, in your opinion?
It’s huge. People I spoke to said it was billions of dollars of investment. The plan has always been, although there has never been an official announcement, to connect Mazatlan to Laredo and on the I-35 corridor to Austin, Dallas, to Canada.
But they’re also very concerned about the rhetoric Abbott uses against immigrants, and they’re concerned about words like “invasion.” It is feared that this could also lead to another attack, like what we witnessed at the Walmart inn El Paso in 2019. Many victims or Mexican citizens, so talking to officials they are very concerned about the rhetoric. They are very worried that their business will be held hostage.
When you look at this proposal from Mexican officials that you’ve spoken to to move this rail line, how much of that potential move is motivated by retaliation for you know, the recent blockade at the border that we’ve seen, and how much is driven by the need to ensure the reliability of this type of infrastructure between these two countries?
I think they are concerned about retaliation, because let’s remember Governor Abbott said he would do it again. But when you look at the infrastructure on the Texas side — Laredo, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley — nothing compares to, say, a Santa Teresa in New Mexico, which the Secretary of the Economy alluded to. It’s a very small port of entry. So I think it’s a combination of both. It’s ‘hey, Governor Abbott, you have our intention. Let’s get your attention. And I think in two or three, four years, a lot can happen in between.
You contacted Governor Abbott’s office about this. Did you get an answer?
No answer for the moment.