Hoffa Backs Bid to Block Mexican Trucks

Hoffa Backs Bid to Block Mexican Trucks

Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa hailed a congressional call to strip provisions mandating cross-border trucking with Mexico from the North American Free Trade Agreement, linking Mexican trucks to the threat of cross-border drug violence.

"Mexican trucks are not only a danger on our highways, but they're the No. 1 way drug traffickers smuggle illegal narcotics to hundreds of American cities," Hoffa said.

In a statement, Hoffa supported a group of 78 representatives, mainly Democrats, who in a letter this week demanded the Obama administration renegotiate NAFTA to eliminate its Mexican trucking mandate.

The group, led by Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk, warning that Congress is unlikely to approve any cross-border trucking program with Mexico.

U.S. and Mexican officials this week said they are working on a replacement for the cross-border trucking demonstration project Congress shot down in March 2009. That led Mexico to slap $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on 90 U.S. products.

LaHood and Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transport Juan Molinar Horcasitas this week announced plans for a "working group" to consider "next steps" toward reviving cross-border trucking after a meeting in Monterrey, Mexico.

"The solution to this dispute is not to open the border, but to reopen NAFTA," Hoffa said.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.