Customs defuses Miami trucker protest

Customs defuses Miami trucker protest

A protest by truckers in Miami scheduled for noon today was called off at the last minute after talks with U.S. Customs officials regarding new enforcement procedures.

An estimated 1,600 to 1,700 truckers, including independent owner-operators and employees of freight and courier companies, were expected to take part in the protest planned at Miami International Airport.

The demonstration would have snarled traffic just as Miami residents were celebrating the victory of the Florida Marlins in the World Series. The protest also coincided with a conference on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Lenny Feldman, a Customs and trade attorney with the Miami firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, said truckers were angered by Customs' decision to start enforcing procedures for imported shipments moving in-bond after arriving in Miami to a warehouse before being shipped out of the United States.

Feldman said the procedures have been on the books for years but that Customs recently decided to start enforcing them as a means of enhancing security. Under the rules, truckers were required to seek additional documentation from Customs to ensure that shipments were properly validated. That extra step has created huge delays for the truckers. If a shipment is rejected, a trucker who normally handles six or seven loads a day may only be able to do one move, he said.

Truckers canceled the protest after Customs officials met with brokers and forwarders in an attempt to resolve the issue, he said.

Feldman said the in-bond procedures would not apply if carriers have interline agreements, such as the accord between Lan Chile and Lufthansa Cargo under which the Chilean carrier transfers freight from Latin America at the airport to Lufthansa for shipment to Germany.