The port of Lazaro Cardenas, on the west coast of southern Mexico, is controlled by Hutchison Whampoa, the same giant Hong Kong shipping firm that owns the ports at both ends of the Panama Canal. Chinese-made goods will be carried by Kansas City Southern Railway de Mexico directly to Kansas City, where freight will be distributed east and west and on to Canada.
Kansas City Southern was originally a belt railway around Kansas City but, after buying various Mexican rail companies and tracks, KCS controls a 2,600-mile artery from Lazaro Cardenas to Kansas City. KCS President Michael Haverty was one of five U.S. businessmen who met with President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at their March summit in Cancun, Mexico.
Mexico was at first expected to pay for the big, expensive machines to conduct high-tech gamma-ray screening for drive-through inspections of containers, but Mexico declined the honor. SmartPort has applied for a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (i.e., to get the U.S. taxpayers to pay for the machines).
The Kansas City City Council has already earmarked $2.5 million in loans and $600,000 in direct aid to SmartPort, which would build and own the facility and then sublet it to the Mexican government. The cost could go as high as $6 million because Kansas City has an existing lease that runs through 2045 on the same property with the 107-year-old American Royal, which uses that land for its annual livestock/rodeo/barbecue event.
The last piece in finalizing this project is getting the U.S. State Department to approve the Mexican operation on U.S. soil by signing off on what is called the C-175 document. It has already been approved by U.S. Customs.
Meanwhile, NASCO (North America's SuperCorridor Coalition Inc.), another nonprofit business organization, has taken on the mission of building an "international, integrated and secure, multimodal transportation system" from Lazaro Cardenas through Kansas City and up to Winnipeg, Canada. This will allow Mexican trucks to haul goods along a 12-lane superhighway through the heartland of the United States.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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