On the 9th of June, 2021 a 40 foot container valued at $83,000 and belonging to Hibdon Hardwood, Inc. of St. Louis, MO was impounded by Mexican authorities at the port of Progresso, Yucatan.
The container of wood blanks for musical instruments was emptied and carefully examined and all required documentation was in order. The wood species were examined at a lab in Mexico City and were exactly as was stated on the packing list. The container was cleared for export and loaded onto the ship only to be removed by Mexican authorities who are still holding the container. Today makes one full year since the wood was seized.
No charges were made against us and no explanation was given. After waiting three months, we hired a Mexican lawyer who specializes in customs matters. Our case was presented to a Mexican court 6 months ago. The hearing has been postponed repeatedly as the Mexican officials won’t respond to the court and the judge can’t force them to respond.
Here in St. Louis we contacted our congresswoman, Cori Bush and one of her staffers contacted the US Commerce Department. An employee of Commerce called her counterpart at the US Embassy in Mexico City who, in turn, called Mexican authorities in Progresso who refused to respond. Did this cause outrage at the US Embassy and cause them to employ the full power and weight of the US Government in support of a wronged US citizen? No! The Embassy advised us to hire a Mexican lawyer!
We have tried repeatedly to contact the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, (USMCA) officials which replaced North American Free Trade Agreement, (NAFTA) but they will not respond. To us, this is their responsibility and surely there is some provision in the lengthy treaty to deal with this type of problem when the property of a US citizen is confiscated without reason or explanation.
We have invested time and money in Mexico for over 25 years and over those years we have shipped over 100 containers of wood all properly documented from a sustained yield Mayan forest. This is the first problem we have had.
Our anger with the Mexican government is outweighed by our anger at our own government which seems filled with craven, hapless petty bureaucrats. We have operated our business for 44 years and have played by the rules, paid our taxes and have made payroll every Friday without fail for 44 years. The one and only time we ask our government for help, they fail miserably. It’s really dispiriting.
W.T. Hibdon, President
Hibdon Hardwood, Inc.