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Calculating The Cost Of Thursday’s Border Shutdown

Teachers across Mexico have been protesting a proposed education reform bill aimed at weakening the country's powerful teachers' unions. On Thursday, a group of teachers in Tijuana blocked the commercial border crossing for an hour and a half, leading manufacturers to decry economic losses from the delay in delivering their merchandise to the U.S.

Unlike the 24-hour civilian crossing, the commercial port between Tijuana and San Diego is only open about eight hours a day. Each day, about 3,000 big rigs packed with Mexican-made merchandise use the port to cross into the U.S., said Gabriel Merino, president of Tijuana's main manufacturing association.

"You're talking about 375 trailers per hour that are going across the border," he said.

Shutting the port down for 90 minutes, as the teachers did Thursday, has a ripple effect on all the trucks in line, so figuring out the exact cost of delaying all that merchandise is tough.

"But most companies have a just-in-time delivery schedule and if you don't get there on time, you get penalties that could be up to $5,000," Merino said.

Multiply that by a few hundred trucks, and you're talking millions of dollars. Merino said he'll be taking legal action against the teachers to deter future blockades. But for their part, the teachers got what they wanted. They finally allowed traffic to begin flowing again after Baja California's education secretary agreed to meet with them.

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