WASHINGTON, D.C., March 22, 2023 — U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today joined U.S. Representative Gary Palmer (AL-06), Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and Alabama’s congressional delegation in leading a bipartisan letter to the Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, Esteban Moctezuma, regarding the ongoing militarized seizure by the Mexican government of Vulcan Materials Company’s Punta Venado port facility in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
“This illegal military occupation of an Alabama company’s private property is now in its second week,”said Senator Katie Britt. “We are calling on the Mexican military to immediately withdraw from Punta Venado. President López Obrador’s conduct is unacceptable and must not go unanswered by President Biden. Key infrastructure projects in Alabama and across the Southeastern United States are in jeopardy because of this Mexican presidential administration’s lawlessness – and because our White House continues to tolerate the behavior. I will continue to stand up for Alabama’s and America’s economic and security interests.”
Joining Senator Britt, Rep. Palmer, and Senator Tuberville on the letter were Reps. Aderholt (AL-04), Jerry Carl (AL-01), Barry Moore (AL-02), Mike Rogers (AL-03), Terri Sewell (AL-07), and Dale Strong (AL-05).
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Ambassador Moctezuma,
We write you concerned about the unlawful entry and occupation of Vulcan Materials Company’s Punta Venado port facility by Mexican military personnel for the benefit of the Mexican materials company CEMEX.
As you are aware, on Tuesday, March 14, at 5:44 am local time, heavily armed governmental forces, along with CEMEX personnel, arrived at the Vulcan facility and forced entry into the port. They informed the unarmed Vulcan security guards that they had an order, which has yet to be produced, to bring a CEMEX vessel into the port to unload cement.
On Thursday, March 16, a Mexican Federal Court issued an order requiring the military, law enforcement, and other government entities on Vulcan’s property to vacate the premises within 24 hours. The CEMEX ship that was forced into Vulcan’s port finished unloading on Friday, March 17, and left the port that evening. Despite these events, as of 3:30 pm ET on Tuesday, March 21, Mexican military and law enforcement forces remain on the property and show no sign of leaving.
While these events on their own are concerning enough, it seems that this is just the latest in a pattern of the Mexican government ignoring the rule of law. In 2018, Vulcan initiated a NAFTA arbitration against Mexico in response to harassment, illegal land-use changes and the illegal shutdown of operations on a portion of the property. Thereafter, Vulcan’s production and port operations were fully shut down using military force on the orders of President Lopez Obrador in early May of 2022.
With Vulcan’s headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, we write to request the military presence from Vulcan’s property be immediately withdrawn and that you schedule a meeting with our delegation to discuss these troubling events.
Due to the urgent nature of the issue, we look forward to your prompt response.
The letter comes after Senator Britt on Sunday released a statement about the situation, drawing international attention to the military occupation. She delivered remarks about the subject at a meeting of the Birmingham Business Alliance on Monday and discussed the events on-air with Birmingham-based WBRC and WERC on Tuesday. This week, Senator Britt’s office has been in touch with the White House, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, and colleagues in the U.S. Senate to elevate the topic in hopes of reaching a resolution to the military occupation.
Senator Britt in February traveled to Mexico City and discussed the issue of increasing, illegal aggression by the Mexican government towards Vulcan with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard. Senator Britt also discussed the matter with senior U.S. Embassy personnel in Mexico City at that time.