Mexican truckers have postponed the strike that had been planned for this morning, on the grounds that the federal government has agreed to meet some demands and discuss others.
The Mexican Alliance of Carrier Organizations (AMOTAC), which claims to represent 75 percent of the nation’s commercial cargo, announced a three-month delay pending further negotiations.
Other concessions “include the free use of emergency ramps on the federal highway network, the government refraining from fining cargo trucks based on their model year and validating nationally distributed digital licenses for cargo trucks in every state and municipality,” reports Freight Waves.
It remains to be seen how effectively the government will deal with the most important issue: crime. Cargo theft increased by 10.4 percent in the first half of 2023 compared with the previous year, according to Mexico Business News.
States with the most reported cases are the State of Mexico, Puebla, Michoacán, San Luis Potosi, and Jalisco; 86.5 percent of the robberies involved violence.
Freedom House, an organization that monitors international civil liberties, rates Mexico number 1 (the lowest on a scale of 4) in regard to “protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies,” noting, “Mexicans are subject to the threat of violence at the hands of multiple actors, including individual criminals, criminal gangs that operate with impunity, and police officers who are often susceptible to bribery.”
Freedom House also points out that “widespread bribery, limited capacity, and weak coordination undermine the integrity of the lower courts and law enforcement agencies. According to a September 2021 government report, the vast majority of crimes committed in 2020 went unreported, largely because underpaid police were viewed as either inept or in league with criminals.”
Furthermore, “homicides have plateaued in recent years, but remained near historic highs in 2021. Violence linked to organized crime was particularly acute in Zacatecas, Baja California, and Colima, while Michoacán was characterized by intense localized violence throughout the year.” (Michoacán is by far the largest avocado exporter of the Mexican states.)
The fragmentation of large cartels has led to increased violence among smaller ones. “The government’s primary response to insecurity hotspots was the deployment of militarized forces,” notes Freedom House.
This is not necessarily a good thing, because, we also learn, “human rights advocates consistently express concern about a lack of accountability for abuses committed by members of the military, including torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions. Only a handful of soldiers have been convicted in civilian courts for abuses against civilians.”
Mexico boasts many advantages as a nation, including solid economic growth—economic activity advanced by 4.1 percent year-on-year in June 2023, including a sharp rebound by agriculture (4.7 percent versus -0.2 percent in the previous year)—as well as proximity to the United States, with expectation of significant benefits from U.S. trends toward nearshoring.
But it remains far from clear whether the nation—and its government—will overcome the crime and corruption that lie at the heart of truckers’ grievances.