A small group of protesters in Mexico blocked the southern border crossing between the twin border towns of Ambos Nogales on Wednesday, with demonstrators calling on the Mexican government to institute stronger COVID-19 screenings for people coming from the US.
According to USA Today, fewer than a dozen people participated in the demonstration, with protesters wearing face masks and carrying signs telling US residents to “stay home.”
Protesters blocked the DeConcini border with their vehicle, refusing to let the driver pass.
While the demonstrators want Americans to “stay home,” their main message is to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who faces increasingly stringent oversight of his handling of Mexico’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the US and Mexico have agreed to largely close their borders during the coronavirus outbreak, protesters said the Mexican government did not do enough to screen people who were allowed into.
Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has not shown much love for Mexico. But on Saturday he and his partner López Obrador agreed to work to keep trade and cargo flowing across the border even when they mostly closed it.
Jose Luis Hernandez, a protester with Sonorenses por la Salud y la Vida (Sonoran for Health and Life), the group that organized the demonstration, said the demonstration was a “first warning” for López Obrador to increase screenings on the border and inside Mexico.
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Since the outbreak began, Mexican leaders have been pushing for a business-as-usual approach, telling residents in a video earlier this week that Mexicans must “continue normal lives.”
“Don’t stop dating,” he said. “If you can afford it, keep your family out for food. It will strengthen the people’s economy.”
López Obrador also stressed that not everyone who cares about coronavirus needs to be tested.
Despite presidential guarantees, Hernandez told USA Today that residents were concerned that insufficient health checks were carried out “by the federal government to deal with the pandemic.”
“That is why we are here at Nogales. We have taken this action to call on Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to act now,” he said.
He and other protesters called on the government to take actions similar to those implemented by the US government at the border.
Among the group’s demands is for the Mexican government to institute a temporary ban on tourists and medical visitors.
They also asked Mexican health officials to strengthen screening for all people crossing the border, with anyone wishing to enter Mexico to be expected to be screened for symptoms of COVID-19.
A man walks past Customs and Border Protection agents at the San Ysidro entry port in Mexico-USA. the border as seen from Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on March 21, 2020. The population of Mexico has asked the country’s government to hold stricter film screenings for those who are allowed into the country.
Guillermo Arias / AFP / Getty
“This is for your health. This is for your family,” Hernandez said. “Or what do you want to happen? That this is getting worse considering the irresponsibility of the Mexican government? Of course not. That’s why we’re here.”
On Wednesday, dozens of people reportedly waited outside a testing laboratory in Mexico City hoping to be tested for the corona virus.
So far, Mexico has reported 475 confirmed cases of coronavirus since it first saw the infection in late February. However, many are worried that the number could be much higher, given the government has not done extensive testing.
According to Reuters, on Wednesday, Mexico tested 2,445 people who had negative results for the corona virus. The country’s health ministry said it was monitoring 1,656 other cases.
Newsweek has contacted Mexican officials for further comments.