CEMEX has reportedly reached a temporary deal to use Vulcan Materials Co.’s port facilities at Punta Venado in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, potentially defusing a legal battle that recently became a flashpoint for U.S.-Mexico relations.
The companies are still working on a long-term agreement, according to CEMEX spokesman Jorge Perez.
“Vulcan owns the four parcels of property that make up its Mexico operation, including the port facilities. Likewise, Vulcan lawfully holds the port concession. Use of Vulcan’s private property by third parties, such as CEMEX, requires Vulcan’s authorization,” the company insisted in a statement.
“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,” said Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) “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 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.”
Vulcan has said it hasn’t had access to the facilities since CEMEX employees entered earlier this month escorted by Mexican military. That dramatic seizure, captured on video, drew criticism from several U.S. senators, who called it an example of “misguided and counterproductive behavior” by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Operations at Vulcan’s nearby quarry had been shut down since last year in a feud with Lopez Obrador, who accused the company of extracting materials without the proper permits. He reiterated that position last week, accusing Vulcan of “ecocide.”
The White House weighed in, with an official from the National Security Council saying the administration was aware of the reports and is always concerned about the fair treatment of U.S. companies. Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Esteban Moctezuma, met with lawmakers from Alabama, where Vulcan is based.
“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 should be a real concern to the federal government in Mexico,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.