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Mexican authorities withdraw from Vulcan facility

Mexican police and military forces have withdrawn from a quarry and port facility owned by Birmingham-based Vulcan Materials, the company confirmed to Alabama Daily News Monday.

Two weeks ago, authorities breached the gates of Vulcan’s Punta Venado port facility, which prompted outrage from the state’s congressional delegation and calls for the Biden administration to step up pressure on the Mexican government.

U.S. Sen. Katie Britt said news of the withdrawal came after she and other members of the delegation met with Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States, Estaban Moctezuma, at the Mexican embassy in Washington. The meeting came upon the congressional delegation’s bipartisan request and letter sent last week.

“I am happy to hear that Mexican governmental forces have now heeded our request to withdraw from Vulcan’s port facility, following a nearly two-week unlawful takeover,” Britt said in a statement.

“There was never a legitimate reason for Mexican military and law enforcement personnel to forcibly occupy this Alabama company’s private property. I personally reiterated my objections to this unacceptable behavior to Ambassador Moctezuma today at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., and asked him to convey to President López Obrador that aggression towards American interests will not be tolerated.”

A Vulcan Materials official confirmed the withdrawal of Mexican forces to Alabama Daily News by email late Monday.

Last week, the U.S. State Department said it was “concerned about the fair treatment of our companies in Mexico” adding that  “cases like these have the potential to impact our ability to achieve our shared vision for improving livelihoods in one of Mexico’s most economically disadvantaged regions. It also impacts Mexico’s efforts to attract future investments.”

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken went further saying, “I am very concerned about that situation” and “the potential for a case like this to have a chilling effect … on further investment or engagement by our companies as they see what’s happening.”

Over the weekend, Mexican President Andrés López Obrador pushed back on that criticism, claiming he was defending Mexico’s environment against Vulcan’s crushed rock quarry on the Caribbean coast, The Associated Press reported. However, Mexican authorities already had shut down Vulcan’s quarrying activities last May, and López Obrador did not explain how seizing the port would protect the environment.

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