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Mexican fuel protests cause havoc at San Diego-Tijuana border crossings

January 23, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Mexican fuel protests cause havoc at San Diego-Tijuana border crossings

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Protesters overtook the vehicle lanes at one of the busiest border crossings on the U.S. side on Sunday to fight against Mexican gasoline price increases, as they waved through motorists into Mexico after Mexican officials left their posts.

Motorists driving down to Mexico passed by about 50 protestors at the Otay Mesa port of entry, which links San Diego and Tijuana, and many of them honked to show support. The demonstrators held up signs to protest gas surges and other complaints against the government of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Other demonstrations closed southbound traffic for hours at the San Diego-Tijuana San Ysidro port of entry, the busiest border crossing along the 2,000-mile border, and stopped southbound traffic at one of two crossings in Nogales, Arizona, according to Fox News.

Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and California Highway Patrol closed southbound Interstate 5 to prevent access to the San Ysidro crossing, redirecting traffic several miles east to the Otay Mesa port of entry.

Inspections were standard for all travelers coming into the U.S. from Mexico.

The protests, which are unrelated to the election of U.S. President Trump, have disturbed Mexican border crossings for weeks. In early January, authorities in the Mexican state of Sonora fought a three-hour battle to free a rail crossing at Nogales that had been obstructed by people protesting the 20% nationwide hike in gas prices that went into effect on New Year’s Day.

Only a small amount of motorists entering Mexico from the U.S. are stopped for inspection, but Sunday’s protests gave them an open invitation. Firearms and cash from drug sales in the U.S. are often smuggled into Mexico by car.

Protesters said that Mexican customs officials fled within minutes after they arrived at the Otay Mesa crossing. Approximately two hours later, a Mexican soldier stood by, but there were few other signs of any other government presence.

“We’re exercising our right to free speech,” Brenda Cortez said, a 22-year-old college student from Tijuana. “It’s to make sure we are noticed.”

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