Executive Briefings

From Mexico to the U.S., a Nafta Tale of Two Truckers

Raúl García Miranda wants Carlos Flores’s job. Flores doesn’t think he deserves it.

The two men haul goods that travel from Mexico into the United States. Both come from a Mexican border town infested with drug cartels. But Flores got out.

He became a United States citizen, giving him the right to drive through the American heartland and earn good money delivering washing machines and broccoli sent from Mexico. Miranda, a Mexican national, doesn’t have that option. He can make only short trips, back and forth across the border, from a lot on the southern side to truck lots 24 miles to the north.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1993, the United States agreed to eventually let drivers like Miranda deposit their cargoes anywhere. Then the union representing truckers revolted, staging protests at the border and pressuring the White House to abandon the idea.

So ensued a decades-long cage match, waged by American truckers, clinging to a stronghold of blue-collar work, and their Mexican counterparts, desperate to claim territory they had been promised. In 2015, the Obama administration finally allowed Mexican drivers to seek permission to travel beyond pockets of land along the border.

Only a handful now do so. But the fight has entered a new round, with an American president who has shown a special fondness for truckers and their big rigs. The Trump administration has thrown its America First agenda behind the cause in the Nafta negotiations, demanding that Mexico agree to a provision that could, in the future, block its drivers from making deliveries into the middle of the United States.

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The two men haul goods that travel from Mexico into the United States. Both come from a Mexican border town infested with drug cartels. But Flores got out.

He became a United States citizen, giving him the right to drive through the American heartland and earn good money delivering washing machines and broccoli sent from Mexico. Miranda, a Mexican national, doesn’t have that option. He can make only short trips, back and forth across the border, from a lot on the southern side to truck lots 24 miles to the north.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1993, the United States agreed to eventually let drivers like Miranda deposit their cargoes anywhere. Then the union representing truckers revolted, staging protests at the border and pressuring the White House to abandon the idea.

So ensued a decades-long cage match, waged by American truckers, clinging to a stronghold of blue-collar work, and their Mexican counterparts, desperate to claim territory they had been promised. In 2015, the Obama administration finally allowed Mexican drivers to seek permission to travel beyond pockets of land along the border.

Only a handful now do so. But the fight has entered a new round, with an American president who has shown a special fondness for truckers and their big rigs. The Trump administration has thrown its America First agenda behind the cause in the Nafta negotiations, demanding that Mexico agree to a provision that could, in the future, block its drivers from making deliveries into the middle of the United States.

Read Full Article