La Paz Bankruptcy Spreads Misery

Corruption and incompetency goes beyond the city

Cities here are more like our counties. They are very large and include several or more smaller cities than the city they are named after. La Paz is about 60 miles from La Paz but they are still in the same tax territory, just as Cabo San Lucas is in the tax/governing territory of San Jose. Both of these satellite towns are represented at their capital by a delegate, but listening to that delegate is not mandatory. Donating all the tax money they collect is mandatory.

In the past couple of months, due to corruption and mismanagement, La Paz City Hall has had its electricity cut off, forcing them to bring in a generator, and then its copiers and printers were rolled away. La Paz is desperate for money and sees outlying towns as their cash cow.

The little beach town of Los Barriles, an hour and half of twisty miles from La Paz, and one hour north of San Jose, is being raped by La Paz. Tax money flows from Los Barriles to La Paz, but never comes back in expenditures for the town. Los Barriles is relatively prosperous, due to all the Gringos living there, building large homes and spending large amounts of dollars, but the little town is chronically short of funds. They have no money for street maintenance, nor safety services.

And now, as if La Paz were not rapacious enough, they have just passed a law which legalizes their take from their five outlying areas from 22% to 24%. That is a somewhat silly law, however, as these days La Paz is taking almost 100%.

The most urgent part of Los Barriles’s distress is their medical/ambulance services. They aren’t as concerned about police, as nobody in Southern Baja has an adequate police force, and anyway, there isn’t enough crime there to worry about. It’s a tranquil little beach town.

The federal government takes care of the national health insurance program, used by any Mexican who pays taxes, but like most arms of that system, there is no ambulance service connected to it. Often the totally voluntary Red Cross pitches in, but in Los Barriles the local voluntary ambulance service is in crisis over something as simple as gasoline. For an ambulance, they use a pickup truck with a camper on the back. It’s a big pickup, and costs $90 US for enough gas to haul an injured person to La Paz hospitals and come back. They simply do not have this money. They have the camper truck free and clear, they have the good hearted volunteers willing to leave their jobs when called, but they simply can’t gas up to go.