Port of Brownsville garners foreign interest - "The concern is ... that the level of their involvement will be such that people who may not be friendly to us may be able to get into the country."


(Note: It's all about who Controls and is not as transparent as it appears at first glance. There are global power players involved whose names are never mentioned.)


February 26, 2006


By Chris Mahon cmahon@brownsvilleherald.com

The Brownsville Herald

Brownsville, Texas


To submit a Letter to the Editor: dfullerton@BrownsvilleHerald.com

Just before news broke that the Arabic Dubai Ports World was seeking to control operations at several United States ports, the company it was taking over sought to do business at the Port of Brownsville.

“At the Tampa Steel Conference (three weeks ago), some folks from P&O Ports had expressed an interest in business opportunities here,” said Peter Zavaletta, chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District, which runs Brownsville’s port.

Port Director Bernard List told port administration of the proposal from the British company at BND’s board meeting on February 15.

Zavaletta objected to any proposed deal with a foreign company. The proposal and the BND meeting occurred just days before a political brouhaha erupted in Washington, D.C., over port security last week.

Since it was not an action item, the board did not move on the P&O proposition, and has not since.

P&O operates shipping terminals at several American ports. A division of the company also operates loading and “terminal services at all Port of Corpus Christi facilities,” according to the company’s Web site.

U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, and dozens of other lawmakers from both parties criticized the Bush administration, which approved the sale of P&O to Dubai Ports of the United Arab Emirates after a government panel determined that the deal posed no risk to national security.

The White House has argued that United Arab Emirates has been a valuable ally against terrorism.

But Ortiz and other lawmakers argue that Dubai Ports is a government-owned company with ties to the September 11 attacks and should not be allowed to operate points of entry into the country.

At the BND meeting, List told board members that P&O representatives “exchanged ideas with us, and they want to come visit us and talk about our future indermodal facility. They're very, very excited.” What’s intermodal?

After List’s comments about the British company, Zavaletta raised concerns about the prospects of a foreign-owned company operating terminals here.

“The bottom line is, no matter who you are and where you're from, you fall under Homeland Security and all the federal agencies they're related to (when entering the U.S.),” List said in a phone interview Friday.

He said that in the shipping business, which is by its nature international, foreign-owned companies that operate in America hire local labor and still go through customs inspections.

As it stands, he said, there are no containers that come through the Port of Brownsville, which primarily receives large industrial equipment.

The concern is not that they will take over port security,” said Cathy Travis, spokeswoman for Ortiz, “but that the level of their involvement will be such that people who may not be friendly to us may be able to get into the country through an operational (arrangement).”

Travis said that Congress was not advised beforehand of the Dubai Ports deal before the White House approved it.

Dubai Ports has delayed the takeover at the ports so questions about security could be answered.


Copyright 2006, BrownsvilleHerald.com.