What's Going On In This Country?

June 12, 2017
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

A sign of things to come? Mexico City signed an agreement with Airbnb that will charge travelers who book through the site a 3% occupancy tax.

The agreement is in response to complaints from hotels about Airbnb not having the same regulations as they do. Oh come on, they’re just scared that Airbnb is going to take away their business.

And they should be scared. Airbnb has 5,500 hosts registered in Mexico City, and helped 143,000 guests find places to stay, a 174% increase over the previous year.

Airbnb says it intends to expand the tax throughout the region, which is now its fastest-growing market. Cabo Airbnb-ers, you’ve been warned.

Why not name it Donald Dump? A Mexican businessman who was offended by the insults from Donald Trump directed at Mexicans is taking advantage of a boo boo Trump made in registering his trademark.

Trump registered his name in Mexico in various sectors such as construction, tourism, hotels, real estate and financial services but forgot about toilet paper. So now, lawyer Antonio Battaglia is about to release a brand of toilet paper called Trump, which advertises with slogans such as "Smoothness without borders" and "This is the wall that we will pay."

Battaglia's application to brand his toilet paper was approved by the Mexican government. The paper is expected to go on sale later this year and 30% of the proceeds will be donated to migrant support programs.

Battaglia says he respects the Mexican laws protecting Trump's trademark but there is no direct link between his t.p. and Donald Trump or his image.

Mexico wins! Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco won his third award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which just wrapped up. Bravo!

His film, Las Hijas de Abril (April’s Daughters), won the top prize in the Uncertain Regard category, which is for films that tell their stories in non-traditional ways.

April’s Daughter is a drama about a 17 year old girl  who has got herself in a family way, as they used to say. Living in Puerto Vallarta with her half-sister, the wayward girl has not wanted her long-absent mother, April, to find out about her, ahem, indiscretion.

Mexico wins again! An 18-year-old Mexican surfer earned the country its first individual medal at the World Surfing Games.

Jhony Corzo was crowned the men’s world champion surfer at the tournament, which was held recently in France. It was the first-ever individual medal for Team Mexico, and propelled the team itself to its first-ever medal, winning copper for fourth place overall.

Not too bad, considering it was Corzo’s first trip to the International Surfing Association World Surfing Games. The kid’s been surfing for most of his life, starting at the young age of five.

More immigrants in Mexico. The number of immigrants sneaking into Mexico increased by 120% between 2000 and 2015, totaling 1.2 million.

Immigrants aren’t a large proportion of Mexico’s population, but their numbers are growing at a surprisingly high rate. Well, we’re surprised.

Just to compare, Canada’s foreign population increased by 42% during the same period, rising 5.5 million. The number of foreigners in the United States increased from 34.8 million to 46.6 million, a 34% hike.

Mexico’s migrants come from Central America, which is seeing a lot of gang activity lately.

Beach parks coming to Cabo. Did you know that all of the beaches in Mexico are public? The problem is, big hotels and resorts that are built right on the beach try to privatize them by cutting off access to anyone who’s not a guest. But now, the federal tourism authorities are trying to turn the tables by creating public beach parks so everyone, especially Mexican residents who can’t afford hotel stays, can enjoy their own beaches.

Cancun was the first city to build a public beach park, which opened in December. The park cost $750,000 USD and has averaged 2,000 visitors a week.

The park was funded through a joint investment by the federal Tourism Secretariat (Sectur) and the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur), and guess what? Los Cabos is on the list to get one too. No word on when or where, but we’ll keep you posted.

Hunker down! Mexican weather forecasters predict 27 hurricanes will visit us during this year’s hurricane season, 16 here in the Pacific and 11 in the Gulf of Mexico.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was informed of the prediction by National Water Commission (Conagua) director, said they are ready to respond and protect the lives of Mexicans throughout the country in the face of the storms, yessiree Bob, don’t worry about a thing. Well, they did do a pretty good job of helping us when the last Big One hit.

CFE, a tough cookie CFE is the federal electrical utility, and they can only be pushed so far. Two weeks ago Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos, was cut off, and now it’s Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz’s turn.

The municipality has run up a debt of more than $2.7 million USD with the CFE, and so they have cut the line. As the hot weather arrives, neighborhoods have little or no A/C. Gasoline is pumped with electricity, so that will soon be a problem. As will pumping water.

The municipal administration filed for an amparo, or injunction, against the CFE’s service cuts, claiming that access to the electrical grid was a human right. The government is also arguing that cutting off power will lead to a rise in kidnappings, extortion, theft and acts of torture.

Former governor Javier Duarte was supposed to have fixed some of the problems with an infrastructure project in 2014 but the water lines and wells drilled have proven defective. As Duarte sits in a Guatemala jail awaiting extradition for corruption charges, lines are collapsing and the wells are not functioning.

Let’s not let ourselves get too smug, only a few years ago our capitol city of La Paz was cut off by CFE and City Hall was being run off generators. And when Hurricane Odile hit us several years ago, the Los Cabos municipality had not paid their Pemex bill and many of the emergency vehicles were out of gas.