An internal document shows a planned “inland port” in Kansas City anticipates an increasing volume of Mexican truck traffic, despite claims it will be restricted to railroad transports from south of the border.
WND has obtained, via a Missouri Sunshine Law request, an internal spreadsheet analysis prepared by the port project, Kansas City SmartPort, indicating that “with marketing,” it projects that in 2010 a high of 508 trucks per day would pass through a Mexican customs facility located at the port. The volume would grow to a projected high of 881 trucks per day in 2015.
As WND has reported, KC SmartPort plans to utilize deep-sea Mexican ports such as Lazaro Cardenas to unload containers from China and the Far East as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement super-highway plan.
The plan would include the hotly contested allowance of Mexican trucks on U.S. roads, WND has reported, but Tasha Hammes of the Kansas City Area Development Council has insisted the port will be restricted to railroad traffic.
Internal KC SmartPort e-mails obtained by WND show that both Kansas City and Mexican officials were concerned that enough truck volume would be processed through the Mexican customs facility to make the project economically viable for Mexico to maintain a customs staff on site.
A Jan. 13, 2005, e-mail from David Eaton, the president of Monterrey Business Consultants in Monterrey, Mexico, who is credited with first proposing the Mexican customs facility, stresses the need for success:
Other communities such as Dallas and San Antonio have requested that Mexican Customs put facilities in their communities. Mexico has determined that our project will be the Pilot and others will not be approved until it is determined that this works … as Ken Hoffman [outside counsel to KC SmartPort] said … we need to make sure this works! [ellipsis in original]
An e-mail dated Jan. 10 from Jose M. Garcia, representative of Mexico’s Ministry of Finance in Mexico’s Washington, D.C., embassy, asks KC SmartPort President Chris Gutierrez to be more precise. Garcia wrote:
The statistical data show in the study hardly offers us a list of potential users (targets), those that we (Mexican Customs and USCBP [U.S. Customs and Border Protection]) must attract and convince to move their cargo through [KC SmartPort] and be cleared by US and Mexican Customs. This list will be used for our promotional efforts.
Replying to Garcia’s e-mail, Erendira Rodriguez of KC SmartPort affirmed Jan. 17 that “SmartPort has $400,000 specifically to market the [Mexican customs] facility and the increased exports of U.S. products to Mexico. The marketing will not start until there are more assurances that the facility will open.”
KC SmartPort consistently has maintained to WND that the Mexican customs facility was intended to be for outbound exports to Mexico only and would separate from the Lazaro Cardenas-to-Kansas City corridor. In a June 29 e-mail to WND, Hammes of the Kansas City Area Development Council emphasized the distinction:
The proposed KC Customs Port and Lazaro Cardenas to KC Corridor (made possible by KCS [Kansas City Southern]) are two non-related, separate efforts that KC SmartPort is supporting. (One is rail, the other truck. There is no crossover between the corridor and the proposed facility.)
Yet, that contention is inconsistent with a U.S.-Mexico Freight Flow Analysis presented on the KC SmartPort website. According to that study, conducted for KC SmartPort by MARC [Mid-America Regional Council], the dominant mode for hinterland trade export to Mexico was rail.
As the MARC report noted on page 5, “For the SmartPort hinterland, grain products were the largest export commodity group. Manufactured and intermediate goods were the top import commodities.” And, again, “Turning to exports by mode, rail is forecast to grow faster than truck which reflects the predominance of bulky and lower value commodities in the export trade with Mexico.”
Still, KC SmartPort argues the Mexican customs office is for outgoing trucks only and that only the Kansas City Southern railroad will be used to import goods that enter Mexico via the port of Lazaro Cardenas.
Hammes wrote in her June 29 e-mail to WND: “Mexican trucks will NOT be coming to KC or utilizing the facility.”
Even more emphatically, she stated a paragraph later:
The containers that come in through the port of Lazaro Cardenas will enter the U.S. on a U.S. railroad (Kansas City Southern) NOT a Mexican Railroad or via Mexican trucks. The LC to KC corridor is a rail corridor ONLY. As I stated earlier, this is nothing new other than the fact that KCS acquired the Mexican railroad that served the port of Lazaro Cardenas last year.
But the KC SmartPort internal e-mails indicate otherwise. A Jan. 13 e-mail from David Eaton noted: “The authorities agreed that the [Mexican customs] facility will be BOTH TRUCK AND RAIL from the beginning.”
Other internal e-mails reveal a determination by KC SmartPort and KC city officials to control their public relations message.
When an Associated Press report hit the wires Jan. 30 revealing a scandal in Mexico that could affect Kansas City’s Mexican customs facility, it prompted a flurry of e-mails within KC SmartPort.
A Jan. 30 e-mail from KC SmartPort President Gutierrez to outside counsel Hoffman noted with apparent alarm: “The Associated Press story has reach 30 markets now. Many of the stories have appeared in the last day.”
On Jan. 31, Gutierrez broadcast an e-mail to more than 50 respondents, including Kansas City Council members and a Kansas City Southern railroad spokesman, in which he dismissed the AP article, advising that the scandal was only Mexican “presidential election campaigning with one party stirring up things on the other parties and vice versa.”