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Ford Mexico CEO asks Mexican government to quell railroad blockades

“Providing security and protection to investors, ensuring the free flow of goods” necessary, says Ford’s Héctor Pérez

According to Mexico’s Association of Industrialists of the State of Michoacán, the rail blockade has affected 26 trains and 4,498 containers at the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Héctor Pérez, CEO of Ford’s Mexico unit, said Monday the Mexican government should do more to stop ongoing railway blockades across the country.

Rail blockades over the summer affected operations at Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico, plant, and ongoing blockades in Michoacan state could also affect imports and exports to and from the United States.

“Compliance with the rule of law has to be promoted, respect individual rights and prevent social unrest, providing security and protection to investors, ensuring the free flow of goods both for the export and import of goods,” Pérez said during the 18th International Automotive Congress. 

The virtual congress was organized by Mexico’s National Auto Parts Industry (INA) and continues through Oct. 23. This year’s event highlights the conditions of the Mexican auto industry, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and strategies to improve market conditions, according to organizers.

Two separate railway blockades in the Mexican states of Sonora and Michoacan have disrupted freight flows for companies like Ford and Maersk, one of the world’s largest shipping container carriers.

In July, Ford officials said a blockade by Yaqui farmers in Sonora state protesting water rights impacted work at its plant in Hermosillo.

“The recent blockade of the rail network in the municipality of Guaymas, Sonora, has affected operations at our Hermosillo plant,” Ford said in an emailed statement.

That blockade has since ended, but Yaqui farmers continue to disrupt highway traffic across Sonora state.

Last week, Maersk officials said an ongoing blockade carried out by teachers and students in the city of Caltzontzin in Michoacan state has interrupted connectivity to the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas in Mexico.

“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, said in an email to FreightWaves. 

According to Mexico’s Association of Industrialists of the State of Michoacán (AIEMAC), the blockade has affected 26 trains.

The blockade has also affected 4,498 containers at the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas, with 2,396 containers already loaded but unable to leave the port, AIEMAC posted on its Twitter page Tuesday.

There are 607 containers already loaded, but not yet assigned to a train, as well as 314 containers canceled. The Port of Lázaro Cárdenas also has 1,215 trucks that cannot be loaded because of the blockade in Caltzontzin.

The blockade in Caltzontzin is affecting rail operations of Kansas City Southern de Mexico, and costing the Mexican economy around $18 million a day, according to Mexican officials.

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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 [email protected]