Washington: All these days there was this talk about the ‘Wall’ being built across the United States-Mexico border. It was US President Donald Trump’s main election campaign and the wall would prevent the entrance of illegal Mexican migrants. However, now with coronavirus spreading rapidly across the US, it is the turn of the Mexicans to play hardball.
Mexican protesters have shut a US southern border crossing amid fears that untested American travellers will spread coronavirus. Residents in Sonora, south of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico as of now since they closed a checkpoint for hours Wednesday. They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to ‘stay at home’.
Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and the US over 65,000. The US reported more than 16,000 cases of coronavirus infections Thursday, the largest in any country including China and Italy.
The border is supposed to be closed to all except ‘essential’ business, but protesters said there have been little enforcement and no testing by Mexican authorities.
The blockade was led by members of the group ‘Sonorans for Health and Life’, who called for medical testing to be done on anyone who crosses from the US into Mexico.
Jose Luis Hernandez, a group member, was quoted as saying by the ‘Arizona Republic’: “There are no health screenings by the federal government to deal with this pandemic. 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 Mexican president has been criticised for his response to the pandemic, as has US President Donald Trump. Hernandez said the demonstrations Wednesday were a ‘first warning’ to Lopez Obrador, popularly known by his initials, ‘Amlo’.
The group has called for enforcement of the crossing ban on all US or Mexican citizens for tourism or medical reasons, including those who cross the border every day to attend school or work in the US. Authorities must also conduct medical testing on Mexicans deported from the US, they said. The group has vowed to block the DeConcini checkpoint again after shutting it down Wednesday afternoon.