YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollectionsProtest

Border traffic

March 10, 2002

grinds to halt

during power

rate protest


Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Mexican protesters again plugged the downtown Calexico Port of Entry on a Friday during rush hour.

Traffic to Mexico was slowed to a trickle around 3 p.m. Friday, then ground to a halt for two hours after hundreds of protesters physically blockaded the traffic lanes into Mexico.

The protesters dispersed around 5 p.m. but the lingering effects of the protest kept cars idling on Imperial Avenue until 9:30 p.m., hours longer than normal on a Friday night.


Calexico police Sgt. Carlos Padilla said, "Traffic was backed up to the All-American Canal."

It is the second time the downtown Port of Entry has been targeted by Mexicali protesters. The first protest was Feb. 8. The Mexicali Police Department did nothing to disperse the crowd either time because the protesters were peaceful.

The protesters think their displays will call attention to Mexicali electricity rates, which they think are too high.

While the effectiveness of the protests on Mexican lawmakers remains to be seen, the protesters have had an effect on the Calexico Police Department and thousands of border-crossers who have been delayed or re-routed during both protests.

To keep traffic off Imperial Avenue during the most recent protest, Calexico police officers and California Highway Patrol officers were stationed at the intersection of highways 98 and 111 directing traffic to the Calexico East Port of Entry.

Calexico police Lt. Jim Neujahr said the department will pay overtime for some officers who worked traffic duty during the two hours of the protest.

In addition to the extra time logged by those officers, the department's Imperial Avenue traffic controllers had to work longer than usual.

"The traffic controllers would usually go home around 6 or 7 tonight (Friday) but (the protest) means they'll head home about 9 p.m.," he said.

To keep the effect of the protest to a minimum, the department asked the CHP and California Department of Transportation officials to help provide enough bodies for traffic control so the department could answer calls.

"What we try to do is put (Calexico) officers in different stations so that they can respond to emergency calls. We still do our regular business," Neujahr said.

The Calexico Police Department was tipped off about the protest by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles