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Truck drivers staged roadblocks in Mexico to protest spike in highway violence

The demonstrations disrupted traffic on a minimum of nine major Mexican highways

Stock photo of tractor trailer truck at sunset
Stock photo of tractor trailer truck at sunset | Shutterstock

February 21, 2024 9:23am

Updated: February 21, 2024 9:25am

Truck drivers staged a protest last week by blocking crucial Mexican transport routes, causing significant disruptions on vital highways. Their demonstration aimed to address the escalating issues of lawlessness on the roads, contributing to a surge in robberies and extortion incidents.

According to Mexican news outlets, the demonstrations disrupted traffic on a minimum of nine major highways.

The leader of the transport group Amotac, Rafael Ortíz, told local media that additional strikes might be initiated if the government fails to address their demands.

He also emphasized the need for the government to enhance security, pointing out that the insufficient safety measures on the roads result in the tragic loss of one to two truck drivers every month.

Mexico's government issued a statement on Thursday, declaring the road blockades set up by the striking drivers as “unfounded and unjustified.” The statement further noted that Amotac representatives opted to cease negotiations on Wednesday, despite ongoing progress.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, assured that the “blockades” have “political purposes” and said that security guarantees have already been offered on the country's roads. “We cannot allow ourselves to be blackmailed,” he commented at his daily press conference.

Amotac, the leading drivers' group in the strike, issued a statement urging the government to prioritize road safety and eliminate fees for transiting specific highways and municipal tolls for loading goods, among other requested measures.

Mexico's government reported reaching agreements with various groups to enhance safety measures. These include reinforcing federal inspections of double-articulated tractor-trailers and deploying 600 National Guard officials along with 2,000 radio patrol cars.

Official data for 2023 reveals a total of 13,848 reported robberies in both federal and local jurisdictions, signifying a 4.6% increase compared to the 13,220 incidents reported in 2022.

Highway robberies in Mexico are on the rise, with an average of 1.6 incidents occurring every hour. In 2023, the daily average reached 36 assaults, slightly increasing from the previous year's 38. Alarmingly, 86% of these cases involved highly violent acts.

The roads in the State of Mexico and Puebla are notably the most perilous, according to the data.