By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor
After two days of traffic interruption at the Chetumal entrance outside the Navy office (Secretaria de Marina), last Wednesday and Thursday, the municipal government of Subteniente Lopez, Quintana Roo decided to lift a checkpoint for travelers entering and exiting Mexico through that zone.
After merchants of that area staged a traffic road block for several hours last Wednesday and again on Thursday, disputing the checkpoint installed to detect the smuggling of weapons, illicit drugs, cigars and cigarettes, officials decided to lift the checkpoint. The lift, however, is only temporary until officials can work out a more simplified means of conducting the same monitoring process but without having to subject travelers to the time-consuming search process.
Javier Aguilar, who heads the Commerce, Trade and Tourism Unit at the Mexican Embassy, updated the Reporter on Monday saying, “We can affirm [that] because of the works and negotiations between local and Federal authorities with the people from the region, they worked out [something] so that these kinds of incidents won’t be happening again because they realize that at the end of the day, it can hurt the economy on both sides of the border.”
Aguilar said while nothing definitive has been worked out up to this point as to the institution of the checkpoint, it may be introduced on random days to curb illegal trafficking, smuggling and trade.
The merchants had protested that they were registering significant losses because shoppers, primarily from Belize, were not going across to do business as before. On busy days, travelers would have to stand in line, braving the scorching sun for over two hours to be subjected to personal searches. This is after going through the existing customs and immigration processes which can again prove to be time-consuming.
The vendors had grown impatient and caused the road blocks after their requests to officials to remove the checkpoint had gone unanswered. Their roadblocks created bottlenecks that saw vehicular traffic backed up for over three miles on Wednesday night, inconveniencing workers and students who live in Belize and work or study in Chetumal.