State and National News

What are we, chopped liver? Three Mexican states were recognized this week at the Madrid International Tourism Fair. The Spanish magazine Excelencias, which specializes in the tourism sector, handed out Excellence in DavidQuePasa_2009.jpgTourism awards to Oaxaca, Nayarit and Jalisco.

Oaxaca was singled out for its culture, gastronomy and artisans. The state of Nayarit was awarded for its Social and Environmental Responsibility program. In Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta was recognized for the restructuring of their Convention & Visitors Bureau.

There were 50 winners in various categories, and we couldn’t even nab one of them. Obviously they hadn’t see our wet T shirt contests on Medano Beach, or our streets in the gallery zone that are caving in. Sigh. Maybe next year.

We won! We Won! Los Cabos tops the list of most expensive places in Mexico. Monterrey and Cancún are next, while Tlaxcala comes in as the cheapest. With the Federal District, (Mexico City),  providing the baseline at 100%, Los Cabos scored 107% with the other two coming in at 106% and 103%, respectively. Housing and related costs are blamed for putting Los Cabos in first place. The annual study looks at 42 locations in the country and compares the costs of 182 products and services, grouped under several categories: housing, food, public transit, education, entertainment, clothing, personal care, domestic goods and health.

Another Mercer study that came out in October ranked La Paz, Monterrey and Colima as thae best cities in which to live.

Where is the press? Leaders of the PRD pollical party in the state of Morelos aren’t taking any chances: they want to know if there are any possible crooks among their candidates. The state party president handed over a list of 700 election candidates to the federal Attorney General’s office, asking that it check to see if any are under criminal investigation. The candidates are seeking the party nomination as state or federal deputies, mayors and council members to run in the June 7 elections. “We want to avoid the infiltration of the party by organized crime,” explained the president.

Can you imagine that happening in the United States? The press there strips every candidate buck naked examining them for any tiny indiscretion of their past. Here, much of the press doesn’t care, and the rest are bought off with expensive “ads” in the newspaper.

That was only tried once with the GG. The federal agency Fonatur called us wanting an ad. We zoomed out and sold them a $400 ad and felt pretty good about it. Turns out they were buying our silence on a big indiscretion during a week when their bosses were in town. We didn’t print the story only because we didn’t know about it. The kicker is, they never paid for the ad! We were pretty naive to all this stuff. Now, nobody even offers us money. Sigh.

Turtle popsicles. Environmental officials have blamed hypothermia for the death of some 150 green sea turtles discovered along a 12 mile stretch of beach north of here in Guerrero Negro. Profepa said unseasonably cool temperatures are the likely cause of the deaths. Inspectors found no signs of injury other than the work of carrion eaters, and estimated the sea turtles had been dead for several days. Carrion eaters. Oofa. Not a pretty image. Green sea turtles usually live in shallow lagoons but like other marine turtles they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and beaches where they lay their eggs. They are listed as an endangered species.

It was the third time this year that dead marine life has been encountered in that area. Last month 14 dead gray whales were found but their deaths were not considered out of the ordinary in comparison with other years. Well, whales die. Turtles die. People die. Big sigh. 

It’s Carnaval time! La Paz will celebrate carnival this February 12 to 17, with the theme Ancestral Plumage. There will be parades, costumes, live music and street dancing along the malecón (concrete boardwalk), every evening. Several blocks will be closed to vehicle traffic as dozens of food and beer booths are set up to cater to the hungry and thirsty crowd – it gets noisy too, but it is a great photo and mingling with the locals opportunity. The live shows feature a major Mexican singer or musician each night, ending with the El Recodo ranchero band and the crowning of the queen on Tuesday, February 17.

More taxpayers. Nearly 40,000 new people have signed up to pay taxes in our state in the past six months, reports the SAT, Mexico’s tax management agency. The increase is a result of the mandatory use of electronic facturas (invoices) that became law last year. Most of the state’s new taxpayers who came in front the cold are based in Los Cabos, which, according to sales tax figures, generates $16 billion in sales in a year. The new taxpayers are mostly small business owners, who in the past were working under the tax authorities’ radar.

Now that they have been forced into the system, it’s not all bad for them, as they can access benefits such as free medical, free child care, a very generous housing program, and a retirement fund. They pay taxes on a steeply sliding scale, with poor people paying very little for these benefits, although to hear them wailing you’d think they were being shelled with mortar fire.

New whale watching spot. The small fishermen’s village of Puerto Chale, 80 miles north of La Paz, has obtained approval of Semarnat, Mexico’s environmental ministry, to offer whale watching tours to local and foreign visitors. Whale watching is closely supervised as the huge mammals are a protected species in Mexico, and have made our Southern Baja state their favorite place to mate and give birth to their calves. Yup, we’re such a romantic place.

To get to Puerto Chale coming from the south, you take a left turn at Km. 133 and drive on a dirt road for nearly 15 miles. How do I know that? Well, I own a 2,000 sq. ft. piece of land there, merely 200 yards from the ocean. The area is mostly an estuary, full of mangroves, birds and, lucky for me, shrimp and fish. It is a small community with a population of about 50 families – or some 300 people who live on shrimp fishing all year long. It is a rich ecosystem and an interesting place to visit.

Turtle refuge established. The Ulloa gulf, located at the northernmost tip of our state on the Pacific side, has been elected as a refuge for loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), an endangered species, thanks to the efforts of several ecology organizations.

The gulf is the site where in the past three years at least 3,500 sea turtles have been found dead, mostly for still unknown reasons. Some died trapped in fishing nets, though.

Nearly 5,000 acres of protected area will now serve as their refuge, stated the Semarnat, Mexico’s environmental ministry last week. The loggerhead is originally from Japan and swims 6,000 miles to arrive in our state in the summer only to deposit eggs in the sand. This is a big event in mama’s life, since she worked on obtaining sexual maturity for 25 to 30 years. That’s a long puberty.

 The eggs and meat are favored by Mexican men with a limp dick who haven’t heard of Viagra. The Mexican government has been trying to discredit this legend for many years. Well, maybe it works?

 Copper mine starts engines. Canadian mining company Baja Mining can finally catch its breath as the company’s troubled $1.83 billion El Boleo copper mine in our state finally began production last week. The Vancouver-based company, which now only owns 10% of Boleo, struggled to find money to keep the project alive until Korea Resource Corporation (KORES) came along, buying a majority stake in September last year. Output at the mine, over 18 months behind schedule and $750 million over budget, is expected to ramp-up by July. Baja Mining was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange on but its shares started trading on the Toronto Venture Exchange three days later.

Nevada welcomes Baja ranchers. Attendees to the 2015 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering had an opportunity to learn more about Southern Baja’s vaquero (Mex speak for cowboy) culture last week. An event titled “The Life and Legacy of Ranching in Baja California Sur,” is part of a cultural exchange, which annually brings ranchers from across the globe to participate.

Fermín Reygadas, a professor at Southern Baja’s state university and curator of this year’s exhibit, said he hoped visitors will take away a greater understanding of the people and Baja’s unique landscape.  The exhibit featured paintings and photographs of country life in Baja, which has remained largely unchanged since its settlement. In addition, an entire replica Baja ranch was erected.

We made the cut. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed the 15 finalists for its 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow awards last week, and we’re on the list! These awards provide the highest accolade for sustainability in the global travel & tourism industry. RED Sustainable Travel, a La Paz based travel agency, has been selected as a finalist from a field of 158 applicants for the Innovation Award, together with ABTA Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism, and Trip Advisor Green Leaders. ,