The Alabama congressional delegation is coming together to demand the Mexican military exit the Vulcan Materials port in Quintana Roo, Mexico. On March 14, Mexican troops seized the Birmingham-based construction company’s terminal on the Yucatán Peninsula, and lawmakers want answers.
A letter to the Mexican government claims the seizure was for the benefit of the Mexican materials company CEMEX. CEMEX personnel were with the Mexican military for the "illegal occupation" of the port, according to Vulcan CEO J. Thomas Hill.
"There is no contract permitting CEMEX's use of Vulcan's port facilities," a press release from Vulcan Materials stated. "Although the companies had an agreement for CEMEX to lease a portion of Vulcan's property, that agreement expired on December 31, 2022, without any renewal. Before the expiration, CEMEX was formally informed that negotiation of a new contract would be necessary. Vulcan has been and remains open to renegotiating the lease agreement."
Vulcan employees were told they had an order to unload CEMEX cement at the port. That order, the letter states, was never produced. What was produced was an order by the Mexican Federal Court for the military to vacate the property.
“The CEMEX ship that was forced into Vulcan’s port finished unloading on Friday, March 17, and left the port that evening,” the letter states. “Despite these events, as of the date of this letter [March 22], Mexican military and law enforcement forces remain on the property and show no sign of leaving. While these events on their own are concerning enough, it seems that this is just the latest in a pattern of the Mexican government ignoring the rule of law.”
SEE ALSO: State Rep. Chip Brown slams Mexican government for 'hostile takeover' of Birmingham-based Vulcan Materials' terminal on Yucatán Peninsula
U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) led the delegation in sending the letter.
“This action by the Mexican military is unprovoked and unacceptable,” said Palmer. “The Mexican government needs to immediately recall their troops from Vulcan Materials’ port and ensure it will not happen again. The Alabama delegation and I have requested a meeting with the Mexican Ambassador, preferably at the earliest possible time. I look forward to receiving a prompt response from Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma.”
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Huntsville), U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) and U.S. Sen. Katie Boyd Britt (R-Montgomery), signed the letter to Mexican Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma.
SEE ALSO: 'Asleep at the wheel': Tuberville calls out Biden administration on seizure of Vulcan port in Mexico; Warns door opened for Chinese influence
SEE ALSO: Britt decries 'unlawful' seizure of Birmingham-based Vulcan Materials' facility in Mexico — 'Mexico should be more focused on going after the cartels than law-abiding businesses'
“Mexico has no right to seize private property from Vulcan, and we must hold them accountable for their actions,” said Carl. “Now is the time for President Biden to show strong leadership and stand up for this Alabama company and for all American businesses operating in Mexico. Perhaps Mexico should spend more of its time and resources going after their violent gangs trafficking fentanyl across our southern border than attacking American companies operating peacefully on Mexican soil.”
Tuberville and Britt previously blamed the Biden administration’s lack of action and leadership on the Mexican border for the takeover, but not all who signed the letter had the same feelings.
“The illegal seizure of Vulcan’s port facility is just the latest example of the Mexican government exploiting President Biden’s weakness, and the situation will only get worse until the President addresses it head on," Tuberville said.
“U.S. infrastructure projects are in jeopardy because of this Mexican presidential administration’s lawlessness, and b/c our White House continues to tolerate it,” Britt tweeted Wednesday.
“I thank the Biden Admin for their partnership & commitment to holding the Mexican government accountable,” Sewell tweeted.
I joined @USRepGaryPalmer and the AL delegation in demanding answers from the Mexican government on their seizure of the Birmingham-based company, Vulcan Materials’ port in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Armed, foreign military occupation of an American company is simply unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/v8fK7esh3O— Robert Aderholt (@Robert_Aderholt) March 22, 2023
The U.S. State Department said it is concerned about the treatment of U.S. companies in Mexico and said the seizure could impact the "shared vision for improving livelihoods in one of Mexico's most economically disadvantaged regions" and that it could impact Mexico's ability to "attract future investments."
The full letter can be read below.
Dear Ambassador Moctezuma,
We write you concerned about the unlawful entry and occupation of Vulcan Materials Company’s Punta Venado port facility by Mexican military personnel for the benefit of the Mexican materials company CEMEX.
As you are aware, on Tuesday, March 14, at 5:44 am local time, heavily armed governmental forces, along with CEMEX personnel, arrived at the Vulcan facility and forced entry into the port. They informed the unarmed Vulcan security guards that they had an order, which has yet to be produced, to bring a CEMEX vessel into the port to unload cement.
On Thursday, March 16, a Mexican Federal Court issued an order requiring the military, law enforcement, and other government entities on Vulcan’s property to vacate the premises within 24 hours. The CEMEX ship that was forced into Vulcan’s port finished unloading on Friday, March 17, and left the port that evening. Despite these events, as of the date of this letter, Mexican military and law enforcement forces remain on the property and show no sign of leaving.
While these events on their own are concerning enough, it seems that this is just the latest in a pattern of the Mexican government ignoring the rule of law. In 2018, Vulcan initiated a NAFTA arbitration against Mexico in response to harassment, illegal land-use changes and the illegal shutdown of operations on a portion of the property. Thereafter, Vulcan’s production and port operations were fully shut down using military force on the orders of President Lopez Obrador in early May of 2022.
With Vulcan’s headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, we write to request the military presence from Vulcan’s property be immediately withdrawn and that you schedule a meeting with our delegation to discuss these troubling events.
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