What’s Going On In This Country

January 9, 2017
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Hop on the bus, Gus. Who doesn’t love starting the new year by paying more for gas? Prices have jumped 15% to 20 %  and will stay this high until March when price controls come off. Fuel prices will then be set by the market rather than by go­vernment decree. This change is part of the federal government’s sweeping energy reforms. 

The higher prices will be the result of eliminating government subsidies, higher oil prices, and the weak peso. And if paying more at the pump wasn’t enough, there are also concerns about the possibility of price gouging in regions where there are fewer gas stations, meaning less competition. 

 Price controls will first be eliminated in Baja California and Sonora at the end of March, followed by a buncha other states we don’t even care about. 

More golf Diamante has debuted The Oasis short course, a 12 hole layout designed by Tiger Woods and his cleverly named TGR Design company. This is the 15th course to open in Los Cabos. 

This new course comes two years after he unveiled El Cardonal to ho hum reviews. Tiger, and his pal baseball legend Roger Clemens, played the inaugural round on The Oasis last month.  

The Oasis occupies the site of the former 12th13th hole on the well regarded Davis Love Dunes Course. Fine, for this little course, they tore up one of the best courses in Cabo. 

 This course has12 par 3’s ranging from 41 to 143 yards. It can also play as a three-hole course featuring a 374-yard par 4, a 143-yard par 3 and a 540-yard par 5. Each layout can be played in about an hour. We hear, but it is not confirmed, that there are several holes with windmill features, as every kiddie course needs.  

Tiger says his goal was to design a fun and playable course, and that designing it brought him back to his roots, learning how to play on a short par 3 course in Long Beach, California. He also wanted a course that has a family friendly design and appeals to golfers at all ability levels, from novices to experts. So, grab Junior and your clubs and go show him how it’s done. 

We miss you already Criminal problems, mismanagement, and lack of investment have sent cruise lines looking for destinations that have more advantages to offer than Mexico. 

Although Cabo regularly sees cruise ships in port, (as many as three a day), other destinations are not so lucky. Some haven’t seen a cruise ship in more than three years! 

Before 2008, Mexico was the leading destination of the industry, according to the Mexican Association of Cruise Line Providers, and had the largest number of cruise ship visits per year. But that’s no longer the case, thanks to increased insecurity and deteriorating or outdated infrastructure. 

Not even the country’s busiest cruise port, Cozumel, has been spared the downturn. According to the Communications and Transportation Secretariat, that town saw 1.1% fewer ships during the first five months of 2016, compared to the same period last year. 

Other ports haven’t fared as well either: Huatulco, Oaxaca, and Ensenada have all seen declines15.8% and 10.5% during the same period, respectively. And poor Guaymas, Sonora, has gone for months without a cruise ship docking in its harbor. 

It’s even worse for other ports. Tampico in Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Dos Bocasand Seybaplaya, Campeche, have had 41 months go by without a cruise ship blaring its horn in their ports. 

Here’s some good cruise news: Cabo was the only destination that reported an increase in visits. It was a meager 1.1% increase, but hey, we’ll take it. 

Tampico is the best example of what’s wrong with Mexico’s harbors: even after several cruise lines showed interest, the harbormaster and the federal government didn’t have the money needed to dredge the depth needed for ships to dock. 

Safety is the biggest issue in Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. Both cities have lost some allure to cruises lines since they’ve stopped providing inland day trips for ship passengers, a precautionary measure due to violence in the Sinaloa and Jalisco states. 

To no one’s surprise. The massive explosion at the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec was started when a youngster lit up a rocket, according to one witness. A single was all it took. The chain reaction explosions that followed continued for 20 minutes, witnesses said, killing 35 and injuring as many as 50. There are reports that a dozen people were missing. The market itself was completely destroyed. 

Before the accident, it was one of Mexico’s largest fireworks markets, with 280 stores. It was also supposedly one of the safest in Latin America.  

The head of the State of México Pyrotechnics Institute, an agency that monitors the production and sale of fireworks, said eight days before the blast the market had high safety standards for the spacing between stores, designed to prevent exactly the type of chain reaction that caused the explosion. 

But, this is Mexico, so while there might well have been adequate spacing by design, there wasn’t in practice.  

The director of Tultepec’s pyrotechnics promotion office has admitted that days before the blast, vendors had moved into the 20 foot spaces between stores. Vendors had been moved out of those spaces but moved back in so they could maximize their sales during the busy Christmas season.  

Druggie Christmas. Members of the Cártel del Noreste (CDN) played Santa and delivered truckloads of toys and Christmas dinners on December 26 to some of the poorest neighborhoods in Nuevo Laredo, over on the mainland. 

Children reportedly got two presents each, and the women were given blankets and a Christmas dinner that included turkey.  

Stickers attached to each of the gifts read: “This Christmas, let joy be your best outfit, your smile the best gift, your goals the best destiny and your happiness my best wish. CDN wishes you all a Merry Christmas 2016.” 

It’s enough to make your Grinchy heart swell, isn’t it?