Que Pasa In Baja?

December 12, 2016 Edition
BY: OLIVER QUINTERO

City workers protest. About 1,000 Ensenada government workers broke havoc while they were protesting because the city was late paying them. The protesters closed the Reforma street with trash trucks, leaving hapless commuters stuck in traffic for about an hour while things were sorted out.

Meanwhile Ensenada mayor Gilberto Hirata, on his last couple of days in office, was saying that they just didn’t have the money to pay their workers because the state was late in depositing about 1.4 million USD that belonged to Ensenada and were going to be used for that.

The mayor had to travel to Mexico City to ask for another loan to pay the workers and restore city service to a 100%.

New mayor announces Ensenada highly in debt. In the first hours of taking office, the new Ensenada mayor Marco Antonio Novelo announced a financial recovery program for the city. He says that the city is about 75 million USD in debt and that he plans to reduce that during his government.

He plans to save about 5 million every year by downsizing and merging a few government offices. Around 500 city workers are going to be laid off but the number could go up to 800 if needed.

Novelo made a point of focusing his term in improving city services that have been a constant complaint from citizens like garbage pickup, water distribution and road repairs. He already started by negotiating the acquisition of 9 brand new garbage trucks for the city.

The new mayor owns the Las Rosas Hotel north of Ensenada and is the son of Estero Beach Hotel founder. He has lots of experience in the tourism industry so more investment in tourism is expected during his term.

It’s starting to notice. The tourism background of the new Ensenada mayor, that is.

Mr. Novelo has just announced that all the street peddlers selling trinkets in the tourist area will be relocated soon to a new “Artisan Center” that is going to be built specially to house them.

Let’s see how much that lasts, I’m guessing that as soon as these guys are relocated to the artisan center new ones will pop up in the tourist area again. Or maybe they plan to enforce the law and not allow them to sell their trinkets on the street anymore? Let’s see.

Lots of jobs in Baja. Northern Baja has officially the lowest unemployment rate in the northern border, announced Kiko Vega our state governor.

The state has been growing steadily in job creation, adding this year about 62,744 new jobs. We were the fifth state nationally were the most jobs were created.

Most of these jobs are in the manufacturing industry from international companies that decide to set up shop here because of the cheaper labor rates and the proximity to the US.

Not everyone is happy about this though, critics say that the state government has been focusing in bringing low paying jobs and not enough on bringing more specialized jobs that pay more.

Most factory workers make about $60 USD per week, that’s less than $500 a month for a family of four considering both adults work, that’s just not enough to have a decent living.

Price increase on toll road. We were hit last week with a slight increase in the toll road, it was a one peso increase on the Playas and Rosarito toll booths and a 3 peso increase in the Ensenada one. The increase was almost unnoticeable for Americans because the peso lost more ground to the dollar in the last few days. In fact, if you’re paying with dollars the toll booth went down in price!

We made it! Our state’s wine route was featured in the “50 best places to travel in 2017” list from the prestigious publication Travel + Leisure.

Oscar Escobedo, head of the state tourism office, stated that this was the result of the joint effort between the state government and the local businesses.

Escobedo said that the state government strategy has been focusing on bringing journalists from internationally known media outlets to experience Baja. They have been focusing on the local cuisine, wines and beer.

The strategy has brought good results with features about our state being published in Vogue, the New York Times, Food & travel, National geographic, Gringo Gazette and others. We definitely had great exposure this year, especially on that last newspaper.

New protected natural areas. President Peña has just officially declared all the islands on the Pacific Ocean in all the Baja as protected natural areas. Even the Coronado Islands we see from Rosarito and the Todos Santos Island that can be seen from Ensenada are now protected by the federal government.

The Tamaulipas Sierra, a part of the Mexican Caribbean and the deep Pacific were also designated as protected areas.

With these efforts, Peña wants to comply with the UN sponsored “Aichi Biodiversity Targets” in which it is said that countries must protect at least 10% of their seas and 17% of their land. Mexico already surpassed the sea target with about 23% of its oceans being protected and is close on the land target with just about 14%. ,