Monthly Archives: April 2011

Semana Santa Problems At Los Cerritos Beach

According to the Peninsular Digital, Easter vacationers (foreign and Mexican) were being charged 50 pesos (quite illegally) to access Cerritos beach over the holiday. The article is in Spanish and online translators help but don’t really do it justice. In short, no one owns Mexican beaches, as the country owns them and an entrance fee cannot be charged to access them.

Illegal Entrance Fee – Los Cerritos Beach – Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico

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No Dia Del Tambo In Todos Santos This Year

This is a sad tidbit. For the last several years, the Palapa Society has been sponsoring a fund raiser that involves teams of young kids painting 55 gallon barrels that are later sold as trash cans. This event has raised a considerable amount of money in the past and been a roaring good time. The painting happened in the main zocalo in front of the church and was normally very well attended and quite the scene. I have photos posted from previous years in earlier blog entries.

I hadn’t seen any publicity about the event so yesterday I called Erick Ochoa to ask what the situation was and he told me they were not going to be painting barrels this year. Why? Because they couldn’t obtain enough barrels to make it worthwhile. Wow!

Too late now, but someone out there must know how to get about 30 barrels for charity. Maybe next year.

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Todos Santos Weather Update

I just realized I haven’t commented on the Todos Santos weather in a while. It’s whacko! For the last couple of weeks we have been getting fog from a marine layer offshore that makes it inland about 50% of the time. This is not normal April weather. Last night at sunset, the fog poured in. Very odd.

Southern Californians call this kind of fog “June gloom” since it normally occurs in June. We are getting it in April. Does this mean we will get August’s heat in June? I certainly hope not.

Right now, noon on Friday April 29, the sun is shining brightly behind my house but one block to the west you can barely see a thing, the fog is so thick. The ocean is not visible at all. Blues skies one block east, solid grey one block west.

Global climatic change! Get used to it.

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Help Preserve The Todos Santos Coastline

You may be aware of increased construction activity on our local barrier dunes. There are many reasons to oppose this activity not the least of which is the increased danger of flooding to inland areas during times of hurricanes and winter storms. It also looks really ugly!

A local group is trying to put an end to dune construction and preserve the coast line. They have an online petition available for all to read and sign. Check it out!

Preserve Our Coastline

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Cabo Cortes Project Will Not Go Away

The Cabo Cortes project, just north of Cabo Pulmo, appeared to be dead in the water (pun intended) but it has risen again. There are powerful forces hoping to make huge amounts of money behind this destructive project. The problem is that the development will almost certainly cause massive damage to the coral reef at Cabo Pulmo, the supposedly protected area surrounding the coral reef.

The threat to Baja’s underwater `rain forest’

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. & Homero Aridjis

Thursday, April 21, 2011 at midnight

Coral reefs, often called rain forests of the sea, shelter a quarter of all marine fish. In February, the most detailed scientific assessment ever undertaken of these spectacular ecosystems revealed that fully 75 percent are under threat – the most immediate being local pressures for coastal development.

Cabo Pulmo Bay in Baja California – home to one of these underwater “rain forests” – is facing one of those threats. Among only three living coral reefs in North America, it lies 40 miles north of San Jose del Cabo, on the eastern cape of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. John Steinbeck described this 20,000-year-old reef as filled with “teeming fauna” displaying “electric” colors. When decades of overfishing threatened the reef’s existence, the local community convinced the Mexican government in 1995 to protect it by declaring the area a 17,560-acre National Marine Park. In 2005, the reef became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Fishing was banned inside the park, and today Cabo Pulmo Reef’s recovery is considered a prime example of marine conservation in the Americas. It provides refuge for 225 of the 875 fish species found in the Sea of Cortez, including marlin, manta rays, giant squid and several kinds of sharks. Whales, dolphins, sea lions and five of the world’s seven species of endangered sea turtles frequent its waters. Indeed, the coral reef hosts the highest concentration of ocean life within this 700-mile long arm of the Pacific Ocean that separates Baja California from the Mexican mainland. Ecotourism (diving, snorkeling, whale watching) is thriving among the 150 residents of the coastal town surrounding this spectacular marine park.

But now Hansa Baja Investments, a Mexican subsidiary of the Spain-based real estate development firm Hansa Urbana, plans to build a massive resort complex directly north of the National Marine Park. The developer has proposed what amounts to a sprawling new city on the scale of Cancún: 10,000 acres including 30,000 hotel rooms and residential housing units, at least two golf courses, 2 million square feet of office and retail space, a 490-boat marina and a private jet port.

The construction of the Cabo Cortés project would bring in close to 40,000 workers and their families. This fragile region of desert, dirt roads and traditional small communities would be overwhelmed. Cabo Pulmo Reef would die, killed by saline effluents from the planned desalination plant, chemical fertilizers whose runoff causes eutrophication, and the city’s pollution flowing south on ocean coastal currents straight toward the reef.

In early March, Mexico’s secretariat of the environment and natural resources gave the go-ahead for much of Hansa Urbana’s proposal: not only the marina and land developments, but also a 10.5-mile-long aqueduct and 324 acres of roads and highways. The energy-intensive desalination plant – which would discharge 500 liters per second of salt water – and a sewage treatment plant to deal with an expected 39,000 tons a day of solid waste once Cabo Cortés is going full tilt are not yet authorized, but it is considered only a matter of time, as is permission for the pending jetties and breakwaters.

The government’s approval came despite the company’s woefully inadequate environmental impact statement, which claimed that pollution from the development wouldn’t affect the reef because ocean currents flow only from south to north, away from the reef. Recent studies show the area’s currents move in multiple directions, largely depending upon the season.

In a region of water scarcity, Hansa has been granted a concession of 4.5 million cubic meters per year, meaning it will suck dry the Santiago aquifer, depriving the local population of resources it has depended on for hundreds of years.

In authorizing the deal, the government is violating its own laws, disregarding the rules governing environmental impact assessments in Mexico and ignoring its zoning plan for the entire region of Los Cabos.

It is up to the Mexican government to stand by its 1995 decision to protect this flourishing and irreplaceable marine nursery. The government must cancel its authorization of the Cabo Cortés development. Only then can the Cabo Pulmo coral reef remain a stellar example of ocean conservation and sustainable ecotourism. For Cabo Pulmo and its people, it is wreck or rectify. How does Mexican President Felipe Calderón want to be remembered?

Kennedy is a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Aridjis, a poet and novelist, is the former Mexican ambassador to UNESCO and founder of the Grupo de los Cien environmental organization.

Want to know more? Check out the opposition’s website:
Cabo Pulmo Vivo

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LA Times Video Of The Todos Santos Area

I recently discovered an expanded version of Christopher Reynold’s video of Todos Santos that accompanied his 2010 story for the LA Times. It’s as much fun now as it was the and the extra footage is welcome.

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Subtract 1 Billion Dollars From Carlos Slim’s Net Worth

Yes, he is the world’s wealthiest individual and those of us in Mexico who have to use his telecommunications services know why. He charges a bundle and squashes the competition, legally or illegally? You decide.

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)–Mexico’s antitrust commission confirmed Sunday that it has fined the country’s biggest mobile phone operator around $1 billion on grounds that it used its market weight and interconnection fees to displace competitors.

The Federal Competition Commission, or CFC, said in a press release that the 11.99 billion peso fine against America Movil SAB (AMX, AMX.MX) unit Telcel is equivalent to 10% of the unit’s assets, the maximum fine allowed for repeat offenses.

America Movil, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, said on April 16 that it had been notified of the fine and that it plans to defend its case.

The CFC said its commissioners voted 2-2 with one abstention in favor of the fine, with commission President Eduardo Perez Motta using his tie-breaking vote to uphold the decision. The company has 30 days to seek a reconsideration at the commission, and can also take the matter through the courts, which could drag on months or years.

The ruling followed an investigation of charges filed in 2006 by smaller phone operators Axtel SAB (AXTEL.MX), Alestra, Marcatel, Megacable (MEGA.MX), Protel and Telefonica SA (TEF), according to the commission.

The CFC said it determined that Telcel increases the costs of its competitors by charging interconnection fees to terminate calls on the Telcel network that are above the implied charges for calls made within its own network, or even above the final charges Telcel makes to its own customers.

About 70% of the country’s 91 million mobile users are Telcel customers, giving the company what the commission calls “substantial market power.”

The CFC said Telcel has 30 days to present a proposal for complying with the ruling to desist from the anticompetitive practice.

Mobile interconnection fees are at the center of an ongoing dispute between America Movil, which also owns about 60% of fixed-line company Telefonos de Mexico (TMX, TELMEX.MX), and the country’s smaller phone operators, including cable units of television company Grupo Televisa (TV,TLEVISA.MX).

A coalition of smaller phone companies have joined forces in efforts to bring down Telcel’s interconnection fees from their current 95 Mexican cents (8 U.S. cents) per minute. That fee was agreed by Telcel, Telmex, and Telefonica, but many operators have rejected it as too high.

In its most recent ruling, the Federal Telecommunications Commission set the rate that Telcel should charge Alestra for completing calls on its network at 39 Mexican cents a minute.

Telcel has argued that lower interconnection rates would have a negative impact on investment in the industry, and that the way to lower costs to users is to increase capacity. The company has defended the current rate, arguing that interconnection charges have been falling for a decade.

-By Anthony Harrup, Dow Jones Newswires; (5255) 5980 5176,anthony.harrup@dowjones.com

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