Rail blockade ends in Chihuahua, Mexico

Railways in the Mexican state of Michoacán continue to be affected by protesters

After more than 60 days of protests, a railroad blockade in the Mexican state of Chihuahua has ended, according to the Confederation of Industrial Chambers of the United Mexican States (CONCAMIN).

The release of the tracks in Chihuahua took place Sunday, several days after the Mexican government reached a deal to settle its water debts with the United States.

While the rail blockade in Chihuahua is over, an ongoing protest in the central western state of Michoacán is in its 25th consecutive day, interrupting connectivity to the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. 

CONCAMIN asked Mexico’s federal government to intervene in the blockade in Michoacán state.

“The industrial sectors of the country believe in Mexico. We invest and work every day in favor of economic growth, for which we require the total reestablishment of operational certainty, essential for the continuity of supply chains and the proper functioning of economic activity in Mexico,” CONCAMIN tweeted Monday.

Teacher and student protesters in Michoacán began blocking railways over the summer, demanding the payment of bonuses and allocation of jobs for recent graduates of local universities.

More than 17,000 railcars and 31 trains have been stopped due to the blockade, preventing the transport of around 5,000 containers and more than 1,700 vehicles, according to the Mexican Association of Railways (AMF).

Officials with shipping company Maersk, as well as officials from Kansas City Southern de Mexico and Ford Motor Co. said the blockades in Michoacán state are disrupting their commercial operations.

Denmark-based Maersk is the world’s largest shipping container carrier and has operations at the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas. 

“We ask our customers to consider that the delay in platform assignment times at port and internal ramps is expected, as well as the movement of trains to their final destination,” Alexandra Loboda, managing director for Middle America Maersk, told FreightWaves on Oct. 6.

The rail blockade in Chihuahua had been in place since mid-August as part of protests from local farmers and ranchers. They opposed Mexico’s water payment transfers to the U.S. from La Boquilla dam, as part of a 1944 treaty to share water from the Rio Grande River along the border.

As part of the new agreement, Mexican officials told farmers and ranchers it will use other dams in states such as Chihuahua, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas to provide water to cities along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Farmers and ranchers in Chihuahua had blocked railways in several towns, using stones and cars in some places. The blockade interrupted commercial trains carrying agricultural goods, as well as shipments of construction materials, beer and auto parts.

The disruption to commercial cargo in Chihuahua cost the Mexican economy more than $20 million in lost trade with the U.S., according to CONCAMIN.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact