HIDALGO, Texas (Border Report) — A day before Mexican Independence Day, the governor-elect of the northern Mexican border state of Nuevo Leon announced with glee that 10,000 workers from his state will be getting coronavirus vaccines in South Texas as part of a new binational project.
All deemed essential industrial “maquiladora” employees, workers will be bused over 100 miles to receive the vaccines at the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, which is across from the neighboring state of Tamaulipas.
This new project comes after thousands of workers in Tamaulipas were bused over the same bridge and received vaccinations in the United States earlier this summer.
“This is just one example of what we can do if we work together, Mexico and the United States,” Nuevo Leon Gov.-Elect Samuel Garcia said in Spanish as he stood at the foot of the international bridge.
“The only solution to this pandemic is to get vaccinated,” Garcia said.
As Garcia spoke, one driver headed south on the busy bridge to Mexico shouted from his window: “Viva Mexico!” Garcia smiled and yelled back his appreciation and then spoke about the significance of announcing such a binational agreement on the eve of Mexico’s Independence Day, which celebrates the country’s independence from Spain.
“This is an initiative for the economic development for the maquila industry. This is an initiative for the essential workers in the maquila industry for Nuevo Leon,” said Juan Olaguibel, superintendent of McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge & Anzalduas International Bridge. “The route will be to Hidalgo where they will be vaccinated and go back to Nuevo Leon. It is a binational effort and thanks to the mayors and Gov.-Elect Samuel (Garcia) he has blessed this project and given this support.”
Busloads of workers began arriving Wednesday. They received the vaccines on the buses without having to get off before they quickly turned around and returned to Mexico.
“They will cross back in 15 minutes,” Garcia said. “And get home in time to enjoy supper.”
This is similar to a vaccination program begun in July with Mexican officials and Hidalgo County, where maquiladora workers from the industrial city of Reynosa, just south of McAllen, were bused across this same bridge to get vaccinations using vials that were about to expire.
That project was originally slated to vaccinate 1,500 workers from Tamaulipas, but on Wednesday, Hidalgo County officials told Border Report that they ended up supplying COVID-19 shots to 10,600 workers from Reynosa over a period of 30 days.
Mayor Dr. Armando O’Caña, of the town of Mission, Texas, praised the project, calling it “an international partnership” and said “it’s exciting to think about the future business partnerships and endeavors that could soon be coming to our area and their area at the same time.
“A partnership between our two regions will promote more jobs, increase tourism and help small business, especially during our pandemic,” O’Caña said. “Our Rio Grande Valley welcomes you and your delegation with open arms.”
In July, El Paso County vaccinated more than 1,000 Juarez maquiladora workers at the Marcelino Serna port of entry to launch an effort to vaccinate between 30,000 and 50,000 employees of the U.S.-run plants in Juarez in the weeks that followed.