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Downtown merchants and restaurant owners held a press conference at the Hotel Nelson in Tijuana on Monday, July 20, to voice their apprehensions about the installation of new traffic-monitoring equipment being installed at the San Ysidro border crossing into Mexico.

The equipment, known as sistema de aforo vehicular (or SIAVE), is designed to thwart the smuggling of arms into Mexico. The merchants and restaurateurs are contending that such a system will cause traffic delays of up to four hours daily.

César Sánchez, president of an association of tourist-related businesses, said that the time losses will keep people away from Mexico and will be devastating to the economy. Restaurants estimated income losses would be in the 15 to 20 percent range.

It was suggested that it would be better to increase the number of gates at the Mexican entrance from 5 to 12 before installing the equipment in order to offset expected increased delays.

Some 60 percent of businesses along the traditional tourist corridor have gone out of business since 2001, and those that have survived have a reduction in sales of approximately 80 percent.

Sources: Frontera and El Mexicano

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