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Pharr Bridge crosses 70% of this country’s produce

There has been some talk recently in political circles, both on the U.S. side and on the Mexican side, about closing down all ports of entry along the U.S./Mexico border, including commercial traffic. Currently, the border is closed to all non-essential travel, which obviously doesn’t include commercial traffic. In a recent post at the RioGrandeGuardian. com, Texas’ U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez, whose district includes parts of the Rio Grande Valley, said that he would condone the closing of an interstate, an airport, or the ports of entry (international bridges) in his district if “it saves lives and it is going to keep us healthy; absolutely I would agree with those types of measures.” That same story cites some Mexican officials who are concerned that U.S. citizens traveling south (e.g., to maquiladoras) might bring the coronavirus with them. They noted that Mexico has far less cases of COVID-19 than the U.S., without apparently taking into account that the U.S. is currently testing more people than Mexico, and Mexico only recently, March 24, enacted measures that might slow the spread of the virus. For example, no gatherings of more than 100 people. On April 2, with 1,510 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 37 deaths, Mexico finally started closing hotels in Mexico City. On April 3, 1,688 cases and 60 deaths were confirmed by Mexican authorities. So, which country, the U.S. or Mexico, currently presents the bigger problem to their respective neighbor? One of the biggest problems facing such a shut down (ports of entry) at a bridge like the commercial crossing south of Pharr, is that approximately 68 percent of the produce consumed in the entire U.S. crosses north at the Pharr/Reynosa Bridge. According to Pharr Bridge Director Luis Bazan, currently, there are no plans to shut down the bridge. “We are essential,” he said. “It’s almost 70 percent. You’re looking at about 67, 68 percent of the nation’s produce coming into the U.S. via the Pharr Bridge. We are the number-one port of entry for produce in the U.S. That data comes by way of the Texas International Produce Association.” Obviously, some produce and citrus are still grown in the U.S., but not enough to currently supply the U.S. given Mexico’s climate. According to Bazan, the Pharr Bridge is still moving ahead with planned expansions. “As a matter of fact, we are trying to break ground for a couple of our infrastructure projects inside the port,” he said. “We’re trying ...

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