In a seemingly paradoxical turn of events, Mexican protesters on Wednesday blocked incoming traffic at the U.S. southern border, demanding their government do more to restrict American travel into their country.
A group of about a dozen protesters, holding signs and wearing face masks, used two vehicles to block southbound traffic coming out of a U.S.-Mexico port of entry near Nogales, Arizona, according to the Arizona Republic. The protesters said their stunt was meant to highlight the dangers posed by incoming U.S. residents who might carry the coronavirus.
The protesters also voiced their displeasure with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, saying he is not doing enough to protect Mexicans from the deadly virus.
“There are no health screenings by the federal government to deal with this pandemic,” Jose Luis Hernandez, a member of the group, told the Arizona Republic. “That’s why we’re here in Nogales. We’ve taken this action to call on the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to act now.”
The protesters, who identified themselves as “Sonorans for Health and Life,” blocked traffic for several hours and made clear their concern of incoming Americans. Some of their signs explicitly told U.S. residents to “stay at home.”
Hernandez said the blockade was the “first warning,” and that the government should expect more unless Lopez Obrador does more to protect Mexicans from the spread of COVID-19.
“This is for your health. This is for your family,” he said. “Or what do you want to happen? That this becomes worse given the irresponsibility of the Mexican government? Of course not. That’s why were here.” (RELATED: ICE Using Deportation Flights To Bring Home Stranded US Citizens)
The United States has, by leaps and bounds, been harder hit by the coronavirus pandemic than Mexico. As of Thursday morning, more than 68,000 people across the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 990 have died from the virus. Mexico, in contrast, has only seen 475 people sickened from coronavirus, and six have died so far.
The Trump administration announced a closure of all non-essential travel through its northern and southern borders. While Lopez Obrador has worked with the Trump administration on the ongoing closure at the U.S.-Mexico border, he has refrained from adopting the same sort of lockdown orders seen across the United States.
Fearful about hurting the fragile Mexican economy, Lopez Obrador has not executed any wide-scale closure of businesses, and he has continued to hold massive rallies.
“We are still in the first phase,” he said. “I will tell you when not to go out anymore.”
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