Laredo and Nuevo-Laredo is an international metropolitan area along the US-Mexican border, which is comprised of three cities and 12 towns in addition to the urban areas of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. The Nuevo-Laredo area constitutes one county and three municipalities; Webb County in Texas and the Nuevo Laredo Municipality in Tamaulipas, the Anáhuac Municipality in Nuevo León, and the Hidalgo Municipality in Coahuila in Mexico. The Nuevo-Laredo region is also often referred to as the Laredo Borderplex or the Two Laredos.
According to census data collected in 2010, the population in this region is 636,516. Four international bridges and an international railway bridge connect the Two Laredos. Airports are also highly active on both sides of the border.
History of the Laredo Borderplex
The area that makes up Laredo today was once part of a region called Nuevo Santander in New Spain. In 1755, Don Thomas Sanchez founded Villa de San Augustin de Laredo in this region. The name was derived from a town called Laredo in Cantabria, Spain. In 1840, the area became the capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande but was then again brought under Mexican rule. Texas Rangers occupied the land during the Mexican-American War in 1846, after which the area was ceded to the US by a treaty.
In the town of Laredo, a referendum was held in which the majority of people voted to petition the American military, who controlled the area, to return it to Mexico. The petition was declined, and as a result, many people migrated over the Rio Grande to Mexico and set up a new town by the name of Nuevo Laredo.
Laredo is situated on the north bank of the river Rio Grande. It is a city in Webb County in Texas, US, and derives most of its revenue from trade with Mexico through Nuevo Laredo. The population in Laredo was 260,000 in 2019. 95% of the people living in Laredo are either Latino or Hispanic.
Founded in 1755 by San Agustin de Laredo, Laredo was named after a town in Spain. The town of Laredo was established under the orders of José de Escandón. In the early days after it was established, the people who settled there found that the river bottoms were suitable for farming but that the rest of the land was so high as to make it impossible to be irrigated by the river. Due to a lack of rain, the principal way of earning livelihood became raising livestock, including cattle, goats, and sheep.
By 1760, Laredo had its resident priest. By 1768, the Commissioner had raised Laredo to the status of a town. In the same year, the first local elections of Laredo were held. The first public school was established in 1783. The years 1810-1820 presented the greatest threat from Indian raids. The people of Laredo felt the central Mexican government was neglectful of their needs. When insurgents rose against Mexico, Laredo was proclaimed as the capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande in 1840.
Armed forces quelled the revolt. Laredo witnessed marching troops throughout the 1840s conflict between Mexico and Texas. Laredo was claimed and occupied as part of Texas in 1846. When the Rio Grande was established as the border between Mexico and the US, some townspeople were left on the other side in Mexico. Many joined them, and the town Nuevo Laredo was set up.
In 1881, the Laredo Times was established. The Rio Grande and Pecos Railway was established in 1882. In the same year, the first public school was established. In 1863, the telephone industry was inaugurated, and water mains were laid.
According to data collected by the American Community Survey in 2019, 68% of people in Laredo have completed high school, whereas 19% of the people have a bachelor’s degree from a college. The school drop-out rate is 32%. There are 23% of people who possess an associate degree.
Laredo handles 40% of the trade between the US and Mexico, and its economy majorly revolves around import, export, and industrial warehousing. Laredo has four bridges that cross into the Mexican states, providing ease in trade. Apart from trade, another important source of income is through retail sales. There are dozens of shopping centers that attract tourists from all over.
Lying just across Laredo, Nuevo Laredo is located in the Tamaulipas state of Mexico. The city has a cattle industry and produces natural gas. There are a lot of factories in Nuevo Laredo, that process raw materials to deliver consumer goods. In 2010, its population was estimated to be around 373,725. It is connected with Laredo, Texas, through a railway bridge and three international bridges.
The history of Nuevo Laredo goes back to 1755 when the town of Laredo was established. When the treaty of Guadalupe divided Laredo between the US and Mexico, many families moved to the Mexican side of the border to establish the town of Nuevo Laredo. These families identified with Mexican customs, norms, and history, and so chose to be Mexicans.
In 1891, the State Congress of Mexico changed the status of Nuevo Laredo from a village to city and renamed it as “Ciudad Laredo de Tamaulipas.” However, the old name remained popular among the people. After the Mexican Revolution, the name was again changed to Nuevo Laredo.
In 1932, the city suffered from major floods. It later went through commercial improvements. Due to widescale international trade, Nuevo Laredo has grown exponentially. This has also manifested in its culture and economy.
There are a total of 288 educational institutions in Nuevo Laredo, out of which 12 are universities, 13 are vocational institutes, and 14 are high schools. The universities offer graduate and postgraduate degrees.
Just like Laredo, trade has been vital for the economy of Nuevo Laredo. In the very beginning, trade was conducted through horse-drawn carriages, with furs, hides, firearms, and god and silver ores being exported to the US. The construction of the railway bridge in the 1880s allowed both the cities to prosper. By 1992, 70% of the US imports were coming into Mexico through Nuevo Laredo. By the 2000s, Nuevo Laredo was employing over 20,000 people in assembly plants.
Nuevo Laredo is specialized in the international trade business and has developed a logistics and transportation industry, with a chain of hotels and restaurants. Its location makes it the fastest trade route that connects Canada, the US, and Mexico. Nuevo Laredo’s industries include natural gas and tourism.
The cities Laredo and Nuevo Laredo share the same history, as they have developed from a single town. Spread across two countries, the two cities are deeply interlinked due to the trade ties between them. Not only do they rely on each other for their economies, but the relationship between them runs deeper because the people living in the two cities also share the same ethnicity, being Mexican in origin.