With U.S. officials refusing to respond to key questions, Mexico announced the controversial truck demonstration project will begin July 15, with both Mexican trucks operating throughout the U.S. and American trucks allowed to travel south of the border.

WND has obtained a copy in Spanish of a news release issued Tuesday reporting on a press conference given April 24 by Manuel Rodriguez Arrequi, an undersecretary of the Mexican Secretar?a de Comunicaciones y Transportes, or SCT, the Mexican counterpart to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

According to the May 1 release, the Mexican Senate gave approval April 24 for the SCT to finalize negotiations with DOT to set the operating terms regarding what is now being called a “Cross-Border Demonstration Project.”

The news release also stated that as a result of a series of meetings held between April 19 and 27, an agreement had been signed between SCT head Luis T?llez and his counterpart, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, formalizing the terms under which the project will be conducted.

According to the press release, SCT and DOT have agreed that 25 permissions each will be given to U.S. trucking companies and Mexican companies to begin cross-border operations July 15.

Subsequently, 25 additional permissions will be given in each country for additional trucking companies to begin cross-border operations, with the expectation that all 100 permissions will be issued in each country by Oct.15.

Arrequi also told reporters that under the Cross-Border Demonstration Project, FAST/C-TPAT (Free and Secure Trade Program and Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) lanes would be expanded for electronic cross-border truck traffic.

WND previously reported a main goal of the Mexican truck test would be to see if Mexican trucks can enter the U.S. with electronic screening that would permit a 15-second border crossing.

WND also has reported Peters’ announcement that Mexican trucks would enter the U.S. under the test at the same time U.S. trucks were permitted to enter Mexico.

Yet, WND can find no posting on the websites of either DOT or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the FMCSA, of any new agreement signed between SCT and DOT.

WND reported Tuesday that DOT and FMCSA are refusing to return WND phone calls to answer questions, including whether a new signed agreement exists with Mexico to implement the Cross-Border Demonstration Project.

WND also has reported the White House continues to press forward with the Mexican truck test, despite the apparent scrambling DOT and FMCSA have made to answer objections from the trucking industry, from Congress and from the public over the test since the initial Feb. 23 announcement.

Key program elements remain cloudy. WND documented, for instance, that no criminal database exists on a national level in Mexico to verify Mexican drivers admitted in the test have no criminal basis.

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