Protesters in Mexico are fed-up with the relaxed approach to the United States border in Ambos Nogales, demanding stricter coronavirus screening. USA Today reports that protesters have gathered to block the Mexico-bound lanes at the Arizona-based border, voicing their disapproval of the Mexican government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A small handful of demonstrators decked out in face masks and carrying signs used vehicles as a makeshift blockade on Wednesday. Their signs told United States residents to "stay at home," while other signs addressed Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador directly. The number of confirmed cases of the virus sit at over 450 in Mexico with six deaths, while the United States now has the most cases of any country with over 80,000 cases and 1,150 deaths, There are reportedly more than 400 cases in the state of Arizona alone, heightening concerns for Mexico residents on the other side of the border.
Speaking with USA Today, one of the protestors explained why they resorted to a blockade. "There are no health screenings by the federal government to deal with this pandemic," said Jose Luis Hernandez. "That's why we're here in Nogales. We've taken this action to call on the Mexican president Andrés López Obrador to act now." He called the blockade Obrador's "first warning."
His group, Sonorenses por la Salud y la Vida, has said that if their demands are not met, they will stage another act of protest. They have called for a temporary ban on visits from the United States for tourism and "minor medical procedures," and for Mexican health officials to increase screening efforts of those crossing the border. "This is for your health. This is for your family," Hernandez 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 we're here."
While the United States and Mexico governments did agree to restrict travel along the border last week, few controls have been put in place to enforce such restrictions. Nogales police officers were on site to redirect Mexico-bound traffic, and in a statement the department said to anticipate more demonstrations in the future.