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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Here's a tourism ad campaign for you: "Yucatan. No drug-related killings in 2009 or the first half of 2010."
Nobody's actually putting those words into advertising. But as the drug wars worsen and debate persists about the risks of travel in Mexico, Yucatan is the only one of Mexico's 31 states that can make that claim, according to a recent report. Lying on the Atlantic coast, Yucatan includes the city of Mérida (in photo above) and draws many visitors with its pyramids, historic hacienda hotels and Mayan culture.
Its relative safety shows up in the Trans-Border Institute's 2010 Mid-Year Report on Drug Violence in Mexico, written by Angelica Duran-Martinez, Gayle Hazard and Viridiana Rios.
"It didn't surprise me," Rios said of Yucatan's clean slate. As a non-border state, she said, "Yucatan is not a particularly good place for drug traffickers to do business. Yucatan is pretty peaceful." For that matter, she added: "Mexico is actually pretty peaceful, if we compare it to other countries." (For a country-by-country ranking, which indicated that Mexico is safer than more than a dozen other Latin American countries, see the end of this post.)
In fact, the institute's interim director, Charles Pope, said that for all the miseries visited upon Mexico since the drug war began in late 2006, the number of tourists killed in Mexico by narco-violence seems to be zero or maybe one, depending on whom you consider to be a tourist.
The debatable case, Pope said, is Agustin Roberto Salcedo, a 33-year-old El Monte educator who last winter was visiting his wife's hometown in Mexico — Gomez Palacio, in the state of Durango, far off the beaten tourist path. On Dec. 30, Salcedo and his wife were in a local bar when unknown gunmen burst in and took him and five other men away. The six were later found dead at the edge of town.
As that case and the institute's new state-by-state analysis both illustrate, some parts of Mexico are in big trouble that's getting worse. But elsewhere, entire states, such as Yucatan, remain largely unaffected. The new report may help prospective travelers look more closely at parts of Mexico that they're considering.
Because the Mexican government doesn't make public many details of drug violence, the Trans-Border Institute — part of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego — used the pages of the Mexican newspaper Reforma as the principal source for its report, analyzing results for the first half of 2010.
Among the findings:
– Following last year's daunting drug-violence figures in Mexico (6,587 deaths), the authors found a further surge in the first six months of this year. As the numbers grew, they found, violence increased in the already perilous states of Chihuahua (1,491 deaths) and Sinaloa (1,127), and states including Durango (457), Tamaulipas (338), Nuevo Leon (279) and the State of Mexico (288) showed increases too.
– Nearly half of all Mexico's drug deaths in the first half of this year (2,618 of 5,775) took place in the states of Chihuahua (which includes the infamous Ciudad Juárez and lies across the border from New Mexico and Texas) and Sinaloa (which includes Mazatlán and lies just southwest of Chihuahua, along the west coast of mainland Mexico).
– The state of Tlaxcala (Mexico's smallest state, just east of Mexico City) recorded no drug-killings from January through June 2010, three in all of 2009 and one in all of 2008. Tlaxcala's namesake colonial capital and pre-Columbian sites draw a trickle of international tourists. Recently, there have been reports of high-profile drug arrests and forced prostitution.
– Baja California (which includes Tijuana, Ensenada and the northern portion of the Baja peninsula) tallied 178 drug-related killings, a rate of 5.62 per 100,000 inhabitants, from January through June. That was a slight increase from the 174 such deaths in the previous six months, but much lower than the 443 drug deaths reported in the second half of 2008.
– Baja California Sur (which includes Los Cabos and La Paz) tallied 6 drug-related killings, a rate of 1.06 per 100,000 inhabitants. That January-June total was an increase for the state, where just one drug-related death was reported between January 2008 and December 2009.
– The west coast state of Jalisco (which includes Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara) tallied 205 drug-related killings, a rate of 2.92 per 100,000 inhabitants. That January-June total was a marked increase from the 126 such deaths in the previous six months and the 86 deaths in the six months before that.
– The east coast state of Quintana Roo (which includes Cancun) tallied 29 drug-related killings, a rate of 2.2 per 100,000 inhabitants. That January-June total was up from 13 in the previous six months and 14 in the six months before that.
– The west coast state of Guerrero (which includes Acapulco) tallied 434 drug-related killings, a rate of 13.81 per 100,000 inhabitants. That January-June total was up from 325 in the previous six months and 313 for the six months before that.
– The central state of Guanajuato (which includes the cities of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende) tallied 39 drug-related killings, a rate of 0.77 per 100,000 inhabitants. That January-June total was down from 59 during the previous six months and 87 in the six months before that.
Readers should bear in mind that Reforma's numbers are considered conservative by many. The newspaper counts 23,000 drug-related killing since the drug war began in late 2006, while the Mexican government has estimated 28,000.
As for how Mexico stacks up against the rest of Latin America, Rios pointed to a comparison compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, based on figures for all homicides (some for 2008, some for 2007, some for 2006), supplied by government agencies.
If you line up the listed Latin American countries from 1 to 20, from most violent to least, Rios noted, "Mexico is number 14," with 11.6 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Sure enough, these countries reported higher homicide rates: Paraguay, 12.2 per 100,000; Nicaragua, 13; Panama, 13.3; Suriname, 13.7; Ecuador 18.1; Guyana, 20.7; Brazil, 22; Belize, 34.3; Colombia, 38.8; Guatemala, 45.2; El Salvador 51.8; Venezuela, 52; and Honduras, 60.9.
Among countries with lower reported homicide rates were Canada, 1.7 per 100,000; Peru, 3.2; Argentina, 5.2; the U.S., 5.2; Uruguay, 5.8; Chile, 8.1; Costa Rica, 8.3; Bolivia, 10.6.
– Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times staff writer
Photo: The main square at Merida in Mexico's relatively peaceful Yucatan state, which didn't log any drug-related killings in 2009 or the first half of 2010, according to a recent report. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Hurricane season runs from June 1st until November 30th. While each year experts make very educated predictions concerning the number and severity of storms for each given season, hurricanes can still wreak a massive amount of devastation and chaos on any area despite today’s advanced warning systems.
Hurricanes are a force no one can fully guard against. As mere obstacles in the path of these intense storms, we and our homes and belongings are at its mercy; yet there are steps we can take to prepare ourselves and increase the likelihood that we and our loved ones will weather the storm safely. The most important thing any family can do is to be prepared before a storm is set to arrive. It is never too early to have a full and
properly equipped emergency kit. The two most obvious items to have in your kit are food and water for 3 to 7 days. One gallon per person per day is the basic guideline recommended by experts. The emergency food supply should be non-perishable items along with a manual can opener. The kit should also contain any special food that family members may need, such as baby food or food that allows for any allergies.
Since there is never any way to determine how long an emergency kit will have to last, other items besides food and water must be included. A fully stocked first aid kit, which also contains any special medicines or prescriptions, can be a literal lifesaver in the aftermath of a hurricane. Be sure to pack flashlights, batteries, and a radio to stay in touch with what is going on around you. Don’t forget the needs of the family pets also. They too need adequate food and supplies. Keep a crate or leash on hand in case you need to evacuate with the pets. Your supply kit should also contain important paperwork that needs to stay dry and within reach. This may include copies of medical records, insurance policy papers and banking documents. Tools are also a good idea to have in your kit. You may be able to repair minor damage to your home, preventing further water or wind damage before you are able to get any help.
Once it has been determined that a hurricane could possibly make landfall and affect your area, there are steps you should take immediately. Your vehicles should be completely full of fuel. You never know when an evacuation order will be given or exactly how many miles away you may need to flee. All cell phones should be fully charged in case power is out for an extended period of time. You may also want to keep a supply of cash on hand. If there is no power for days, cash machines and banks will not be able to accommodate your money needs. Do your best to secure your home and belongings. Use plywood on windows, secure boats and outdoor furniture, use fasteners on the roof to help prevent damage and lock up everything you possibly can.
While these items and tips can help make life a lot easier when a hurricane is coming, there are steps you should take long before the season even starts. It is vital that you
and your family discuss a comprehensive evacuation and communication plan. Each member should know to get in touch with a common contact far from the area. This will let one person know exactly where and how everyone else is in case family members are separated. Also, plan a meeting safe spot for all members to converge upon when it is safe.
Once you have made all the proper preparedness plans that you can possibly make ahead of time, stay informed. When a hurricane is on the way, stay tuned to your local authorities. Listen to multiple sources, such as radio, television and internet warnings. If the local authorities are telling your area to evacuate, follow their directions. If you can stay in your home, stay in a small interior room. Close all of the other doors and keep shades and curtains closed to minimize any glass dangers. Stay as low as possible also.
While it is impossible to guarantee you and your home are 100% safe and sound during a hurricane, taking the time to follow these simple tips can decrease damage, loss, and certainly the headaches that the storm is sure to leave behind.
Things to Remember After a Hurricane Passes
1. Stay out of damaged buildings or homes until they are properly inspected for safety
2. Never attempt to cross flood waters.
3. Stay away from stray or loose animals
4. Stay away from mosquito infested areas, like standing water. These are prime conditions for disease.
5. Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning dangers from generators, camp stoves, ect.
6. Boil water or drink bottled water. Never drink water that smells or had unusual color.
7. Be on the lookout for mold. Remove any water-logged carpets or furniture as soon as possible.
By La Huerita
Once upon a time, in the youthful days of a now famous resort town in The Baja, I ran across some friends in the local supermercado and we stopped in the middle of the aisle to chat. The conversation turned to a new restaurant they had discovered outside of town, run by a local family in a converted house. I was assured that I simply HAD to try it.
The directions to this new establishment went something like this:
“Well, you take the main road out of town (watch out for the traffic cop lurking behind the last stop sign, he’s a devil for ticketing gringos). About five or six miles past the sewer pumping station you’ll see a turnoff on your right. You’ll know it’s the one because you’ll see Pacifico bottles lined up on the fence. Don’t turn there, it’s just a landmark for you.
“A mile or so past the fence with bottles on it is the place where the depository used to be, you know, the one that burned down a couple years ago? OK, so half a mile from that you’ll see a dirt turnoff on the left side of the road. That’s the one you want. You’ll know it’s the right one because there’s a pink house near the corner with a pig in a dog harness tethered to a tree in the front yard.
“Turn left there, drive past the pig a few hundred yards and on your right you’ll see a turquoise house with orange trim, and they’ve set up tables under a big palapa in the front yard. That’s the place!
“Order the chicken enchiladas and a chile relleno. They’re AWESOME!”
So a couple of days later hubby and I headed out for a new dining adventure. We made it past the sneaky cop at the stop sign, past the sewer pumping station, past the fence with bottles on it and the charred area where the depository used to be and found the pink house with the pig in front without any problem. Triumphant, and salivating for possibly the greatest dinner of our lifetime, we pulled up in front of the house/restaurant with the big palapa in front. It was closed.
What to do? Well, we were hungry so back to town we went. We decided to stop at a popular restaurant we liked, found an empty table in a back corner and placed our order (chicken enchiladas and chiles rellenos!).
We waited about half an hour for our meal to arrive, kicking back in our chairs and enjoying the buzz of the place. When our food finally arrived— it wasn’t what we had ordered. DH found himself with a fine looking mixed plate, and I had chile Colorado con carne.
Laughing a little, we shrugged and dug in. It was very good, though maybe not as good as a meal near the pig place might have been.
The moral? Welcome to Mexico. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Visit the authors website for additional articles and information: http://rptides.blogspot.com/
In a press release on the company's website, www.mexicana.com, the airline pledged to assist passengers to the best of its abilities. Passengers who have already flown a leg of their journey are advised to consult the company's website for further information. The company notes that priority assistance will be provided to "minors traveling unaccompanied, passengers traveling with children under age 3, and special needs passengers." Individuals who have not yet begun their journey on one of the Mexicana airlines are recommended to make alternative travel arrangements.
The Department of State advises all travelers with reservations on Mexicana, MexicanaLink or MexicanaClick to consult the company's website for additional guidance and contact information for the airline. Passengers who may become stranded in the middle of their journey and who require assistance beyond that provided by the airline should contact their nearest Embassy or Consulate. While the U.S. Government cannot provide immediate repatriation assistance, it can assist with alternate arrangements as appropriate.
For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate. The numbers provided below for the Embassy and Consulates are available around the clock. The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. You may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at: ACSMexicoCity@state.gov The Embassy's internet address is http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov/.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
We Have Live Entertainment!!:
Sat. 9/4 We're Rockin' With Karaoke With Mac & Nan From 6:00 - 10:00
Sun. 9/5 Issac Plays With His New 3 Piece Band From 4:00 - 6:00
SAVE 20% on you 2nd meal when you show you Baja Good Life Club Card
Let's Rock The House At Rumors!!!
September 5, 2010
Come wine and dine at this romantic event on the spectacular cliffs of the Castillos del Mar Hotel. Enjoy paella from the fine hotels and restaurants that specialize in this dish. Opening the doors at 2pm, we invite you to enjoy a fashion show featuring Nancy Cornejo and Ivan Rodriguez designs, followed by music from Gina y Los Traviesos, Los Moonlights, and headliner: Antonio De Carlo.
September 3-5, 2010
The World Cup might have come to an end earlier this summer, but that does not mean there is not more soccer to enjoy. This tournament has been voted one of the largest amateur soccer tournaments in the world by Guinness World Records, and the Baja California Chapter has picked Rosarito to hold this event!
For more info, visit: www.copatelmex.org
On Saturday, bring the whole family and join us for Olympic Games, where parents and children will compete in numerous events, including: three legged race, relays, long jump, and more. Sunday evening will conclude this lineup of events with a party on the beach; we will be serving up tacos, hamburgers, and hot dogs.
ROSARITO BEACH - The Rosarito Ensenada 50-Mile Fun Bicycle Ride(R) is named an “Official Event” of the 2010 Bicentenario.
Bicyclists are getting ready to roll on September 25 at the historic bike ride that attracts thousands of riders from around the world.
Rosarito Beach Mayor Hugo Torres, whose city hosts the event said: "The ride is one of the signature events for Rosarito and this region of Baja. It attracts excellent people and creates a great atmosphere. We are greatly looking forward to it."
The Rosarito-Ensenada ride has been called the Original Party on Wheels. Revelers in costume roll along, tossing candy to children along the course. Beach cruisers strap boom boxes to their handlebars. Parents tow children in bike trailers. And racing teams form pace lines, trying to beat the official record of 1:52:54 set in April of 2007.
In addition to the tourism revenue that is generated for the local Baja California economy, the Rosarito Ensenada Bike Ride also benefits the people of Baja with its 'One Way Ride Program,'" Foster explained. "Participants have the opportunity of making a positive difference on the life of less fortunate people, by donating a gently used bicycle at the event." Many riders volunteer to bring a bike for donation to the Start Line or Finish Line Fiesta, and event organizers distribute the bicycles to charity organizations. (For more information, contact event organizers through the website at www.RosaritoEnsenada.com.)
U.S. citizens can register to ride for a reduced price of only $35 USD (available online through September 22, 2010 at www.bettersignup.com), or they can register on the day of the event at the Rosarito Beach Hotel for $40. Mexican citizens can register in advance for $300 MXN at local Baja bike shops and gyms, or on the day of the event for $350
MXN. The event also offers commemorative t-shirts, cycling jerseys, and a free finishers medal for each rider.
"Transportation packages are available from the United States for anyone who doesn't want to drive," Foster said. "Our tour partner buses riders and their bicycles, and because they return to the United State through the rapid SENTRI lane, our riders enjoy a quick trip
back across the border." Round-trip bus rides from San Diego's Balboa Park are available with early online registration for $89 USD. Many hotels offer special rates and are also participating in the Border Fast Pass program which can cut border waits in half, especially on the weekends.
Shuttles are available on the event course from the finish line to the start line before and after the event. So if participants stay in Rosarito Beach, they can take the shuttle back to Rosarito after the event, or if they stay in Ensenada, they can take the shuttle to the
start in Rosarito before the ride.
The Finish Line Fiesta is free for participants and spectators, overlooking the Ensenada harbor with panoramic views of the cruise ships at sunset. Live rock-n-roll, jazz and salsa plays into the night while local chefs serve their best. The Finish Line Fiesta is located
at Hotel Corona, on Boulevard Lazaro Cárdenas, just south of the giant Mexican flag.
Foster continues to see an increase in event attendance compared to years past. "The media is finally reporting that crime has declined and that Northern Baja has never been as dangerous as other areas like Arizona and Texas," said Foster, who expects 5,000 cyclists next month. "The corridor from Rosarito Beach to Ensenada is safe for tourists, and Baja remains a beautiful and affordable destination for travel with friends and family."