February 01, 2010

Arturo Cantun reporting.......

Belize bus operators are facing some inconveniences in travelling to the nearby Mexican city of Chetumal.  Love News understands that since last week Tuesday Mexican custom officials have been implementing a border entry regulation where large vehicles such as buses, trucks, and cargo containers will only be scanned using gamma rays and allowed into Mexico between the hours of 9am and 7pm on weekdays and between 9am and 5pm on weekends.  Since Tuesday, when the regulation was implemented, Belize buses were not allowed into Mexico until 9am, but on Saturday things escalated when the bus drivers and operators decided to block the entry into Belize at the foot of the Belize Mexico Friendship Bridge to Mexican taxi and mini bus operators. This is when uniformed Corozal Police were called in to calm the situation. Corozal Police report that some six to eight bus drivers and operators were planning to place tires at the foot of the bridge on the Belize side in order to block the entrance to Mexican public transportation. After the police dialogued with the bus drivers the bus drivers decided not to continue with their plan but express their dissatisfaction in the way they were being treated. Later that morning however the buses were allowed to cross into Chetumal. Love News caught up with a bus driver who told us about his concern of the situation.

Bus driver

“I have been working with Tillett’s for nine years and we never had this problem, I know we Belizeans with Mexico we have a good relationship. What we want to know is why we can’t cross this border because this will affect the people. We charge them $4.00 from Orange Walk to Chetumal and the poor people, things are hard right now. Right now when you reach the border you have to pay 70 pesos or 50 pesos sometime, even the taxi man chance you because some people don’t know the price of taxi they will chance you, I hear it is supposed to be 50, sometimes they charge you 60, 70, 80 pesos and I think that is wrong.  We want to know what is going on.  We really want someone to intervene in this and see what is going on, maybe a minister or the Ambassador to represent us.”

Love News tried to get clarification from the Mexican officials at the border but there was no one to go on record and explain the changes in the entry process of buses and trucks into Mexico.  We however spoke with Public Relation Officer at the Mexican Embassy in Belize  Marcelino Miranda, who told us that the regulation has been in place since 2006 but it was not until this past week that it was decided to be implemented.

Marcelino Miranda; Public Relations Officer, Mexican Embassy

“These rules are not new; they have been in place since 2006.  It has been a whole process of modernization of the Mexican border especially at Customs and now most of those rules are being enforced.  Bus owners were informed previously that we have this time table for all buses, you have to understand this is a rule that has to apply to everybody and we are not talking about a special regulation for this border, we are talking about a national policy of Mexico that has been applied in all borders, all Mexican borders.  All the rest of private vehicles they can go into Mexico, they can cross the border 24 hours a day.”

Arturo Cantun, Reporter

Anything is being considered, because what we understand from the buses is that they have early runs to the border and on weekends they also have excursions that will extend outside the time.

Marcelino Miranda; Public Relations Officer, Mexican Embassy

“We were informed that there are some runs that are in place outside of this time table.  Here at the Embassy of Mexico we welcome bus operators to contact us and to talk about these rules that are being enforced and we can explore other ways in which they can accommodate and they can fit this time table.”

Arturo Cantun, Reporter

Sources tell Love News that an exception was being made for Belizean buses to enter Mexico at anytime of the day, but because certain buses were caught smuggling contraband into Mexico this practice was discontinued and the decision was made to implement the regulation in place for all Mexican entry points. Love News understands that for now bus runs heading to Chetumal will continue and buses will remain at the border until they are allowed to pass into Mexico.