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July 2015

Just in time!

Ban on motorized vessels

in caleta to begin July 1

Site work on 2nd nine golf holes continues

By Staff
   Having already given ample notification throughout the winter that the Caleta Chachalal would eventually be closed to motor vessels, the Fideicomiso (Trust) in concert with municipal safety and maritime authorities, have set the specific date of July 1, 2015, for the rule to take effect.

From that day on, motorized water craft are prohibited from entering the caleta. “No power boats and catamarans will be allowed inside,” said PA developer and Arq. Roman Rivera Torres. “Swimmers coming in by land, or dropping anchor outside the caleta and swimming in, kayakers and paddle boarders will always be welcome,” he said. The action follows steps by officials in Playa del Carmen and Akumal to advance the cause of protected areas for swimmers.

“Our Caleta Chachalal is a perfect natural area for swimmers and snorkelers within a well protected natural pool. It is not a navigation route and the fragility of its ecological system as well as its peaceful atmosphere are at peril with the increasing activities taking place today. Swimmers and snorkelers cannot enjoy their activities surrounded by motorized vessels coming in an out and dropping anchors, much less by waverunners at high speed. Both activities cannot take place in the same area at the same time,” Rivera said.

For those reasons, he said, communication and transport authorities and port captains agreed the caleta should be reserved for non-motorized activities for the safety and freedom of the fear of being “run over” by motorized watercraft. “In the end,” Rivera said, “a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere will be preserved for all visitors and swimmers to enjoy a place that “we consider to be a sacred natural sanctuary today,” Rivera said.

Similar actions have been taken by private hotels and developments along the Riviera Maya including at Akumal Bay, Yalku, Bremand and other places, so “our caleta has become a meeting point for more and more service boats and catamarans that service large numbers of people, loud music, all you can drink and loud activities rather than enjoying nature in a relaxed atmosphere,” Rivera said.

Golf Course progressing

What can PA’s golf-playing snowbirds expect to see in the area of the second nine holes stretching into Phase 4 when they return in the fall? They’ll see what is commonly referred to as a primed site, sort of like a tuxedo waiting for a top hat.

“It will all be leveled and from some places you will be able to glimpse a view of the Caribbean from the pyramid-shaped, elevated tees,” said PA developer and Arq. Roman Rivera Torres. He has been grappling with the business end of the project for years in hopes a sale to the next-door Barcelo organization would provide the wherewithal to complete the project sooner than later.

That hasn’t happened. Al least, not yet, but as promised to PA’s invested golfers, the second nine holes will be completed with or without a sale to Barcelo, Rivera said. For the moment, work continues on the foundation and compacting sub soils, on the base of tees, traps and holes that will, by November, be just about ready for the final phases of topsoil, water and grass.

Club house extension

Rivera said the first tee, seen from the main entrance road from the main gate, will be functioning as a driving range ready for use next month. Also, he said construction of the club house extension will begin in two weeks and will include a terrace cafeteria, bar, new bathrooms, BBQ terrace and an additional putting green.

Work will also begin on construction of white concrete golf paths, one fairway at a time, and should take about four months to complete.

The design of the second nine holes is a continuation of the first nine drafted by PGA regular Tommy Lehman’s “Lehman Design Group.” A Minnesota native, he now lives in Arizona. Now for some golf trivia: Which golfer was nicknamed “Boss of the Moss?”  Here’s a list of golfers and their nicknames: The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus; The Walrus, Craig Stadler; Boss of the Moss, Loren Roberts; Little Poison, Paul Runyan; The Big Easy, Ernie Els.

Also, Big Momma, Joanne Carner; Great White Shark, Greg Norman; Mr. X, Miller Barber; Champagne Tony, Tony Lemand and also, The King, Arnold Palmer.

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Assembly request

begets signs to ease

delivery of mail

   Signs indicating block and lot numbers are being posted all over the Puerto Aventuras resort by the colonos administration in response to suggestions at the last annual assembly to help facilitate the delivery of mail and packages.

“Several delivery companies use this information to locate addresses and make their deliveries,” said Colonos officials. “We ask all residents to support this endeavor, such as remembering their blck and lot numbers and noting them on their return address.

 

 

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PA turnout for national vote

disappointing despite a win

Former ‘first lady’ makes bid for 2018 run

By Staff
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and the prevailing PRI party held onto a slim working majority nationally in the lower chamber of Congress in the June 7 national election, this despite a tumultuous and sometimes fatal mid-term election season. Campaigns were marred by the reported murders of six candidates for various offices, by unofficial road blocks and by the burning of government properties in restive states such as Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca where drug cartels and/or teacher unions attempted to boycott and disrupt the elections with violence and intimidation.

Such was not the case in the Yucatan in general and in Puerto Aventuras specifically where the resort turnout was peaceful but disappointing.

The victory nationally gives the president and the electorate another three years to continue reforms – not all of them popular – initiated by Pena and his political allies during the first three years of his 6-year term. His administration’s expansion of the sales tax to Quintana Roo from 11 to 16 percent has confounded small businesses depending on tourist sales.

Second-rate turnout

The election was passive in the Puerto Aventuras resort with a turnout that was second-rate. “In round figures,” said Arq. Roman Rivera Torres, who developed Puerto Aventuras over the last 30 years, “there were 890 registered voters in the resort side of the community, but only 168 showed up to vote.” He said the turnout was better in the Poblado and Puerto Maya. Nationally, voting was a bit better than 50 percent.

“This made us (the resort community) the lowest voting district in the state,” Rivera said. “My candidate, Jose Luis Toledo (Chanito), (a candidate for federal deputy) (House of Representatives in the U.S.) has always viewed Puerto Aventuras as a second home worth caring for and looking after. His disappointment was obvious when he saw the low turnout. It made us the only district where he lost to another candidate,” despite winning the election by a wide margin. “Now that he is in office, we will have to work on regaining some of his confidence,” Rivera said.

For the record, Toledo, in his thirties, previously served as a city alderman, Playa del Carmen treasurer and as deputy chairman of the state’s Great Commission. He lives in Playa del Carmen.

While observers say election forecasters were quite accurate and left few surprises, there was at least one history-making development. A rough and tumble rancher/candidate named Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez became the first independent candidate to win a state governorship. He campaigned for governor of Nuevo Leon with slogans relating to two assassination attempts on his life, the number of bullets that pierced his car and the kidnapping of his daughter, among other untoward events on the rocky road of rough and tumble politics. Some recent homebuyers in PA have told the Pelican the reason they moved here from Monterrey, capital of Nuevo Leon, was to escape that kind of violence.

Looking ahead

The vagaries of politics notwithstanding, it is generally expected that national reforms already implemented and others planned involving the likes of education, energy and corruption will continue along the same path and not have much additional effect on the daily lives and aspirations of expats and snowbirds for the next three years. What happens after that?

For one thing – shades of Hillary Clinton – the wife of a former president says she will be in the running for president in the 2018 election to replace President Pena Nieto who is prohibited by law for another term. Margarita Zavala, 47, wife of immediate past –president Felipe Calderon (2006-2012) and a former congresswoman for the center-right National Action Party (PAN), made the announcement on June 14 via a sparse 2-minute video championing economic improvement and rule of law.

Another first for a presidential race could be forthcoming as well. Mexico’s first astronaut, Rodolfo Neri Vela, 63, scientist as well as astronaut, announced he is considering a run for the nation’s top job in 2018. He was the first and remains the only Mexican to make a space flight. That was in 1985 with NASA. .He said if he does run, he will run as an independent.

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Akumal’s 434-room Secrets hotel

is scheduled to open on Nov. 1

By Staff
   Snowbirds returning in late October or early November will see a marked change in Akumal’s logistics and, perhaps, in the crowds along the beach as the new 434 luxury-room Secrets all-adult and all-inclusive hotel opens its doors to business on Nov. 1. Already the hotel is offering early-bird vacationers a short-term deal of $179 a night.

What this explosion of hotel rooms in the otherwise free-range shorefront means to visiting snowbirds from other villages for its several independent restaurants, snorkeling and other traditional activities is a matter of conjecture at this point. The opening also coincides with the recent designation of Akumal waters from the Caleta Yalquito on the North to the southern limit of the Hotel Grand Bahia Principe, a protected fish sanctuary – meaning no fishing up to 1.5 km from the beach seaward.

The transition toward limited privatization of the beach area and placement of protective buoys has not been without complications as locals battle to preserve access to the beach area and boat service providers show concern for placement of buoys limiting swimming areas.

The hotel has eight restaurants and all the other amenities expected of luxury hotels, such as spa, balconies off each room, three swimming pools, nearby golf courses, fitness rooms, Jacuzzis and more.

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Briefly Noted…

The Paamul property known as “Conchita” just north of Puerto Aventuras has been seized by the government for non-payment of considerable overdue taxes…  Tennis for kids – There is an evening tennis league for children 12 and under now underway at the Golf and Tennis Club court. Get more info from Javier Gutierrez at 998-734-8558 or at tenniscoolcancun@hotmail.com. Eight children have already participated in the league’s first tournament… Two hurricane shelters of 50 in the municipality of Solidaridad are located in the Puerto Aventuras Poblado. They are the Miguel Ortegan primary school at Ciricote and Xiat Streets and the secondary school at Xiat and Ciricote Streets… Waves of sargassum continue to plague area beaches to the point that businesses in Playa del Carmen say the odiferous weed is affecting their profits… More Hotels – The Spanish company H10 and Canada’s largest tour operator, Vacances Air Transat, have chosen Riviera Maya as the site of a new hotel, exactly where was not reported. Also, the Sante Fe Group, owner of the Krystal brand, plans to open a 300 to 400-room all-inclusive hotel on the Riviera Maya, the exact location not specified…

Household items  like washer/dryer, freezer, all furniture, art being sold by couple moving back to the States. More info from Steve or Lisa at 984-127-0869… Solidaridad fires – The municipality has doused 63 brush fires that destroyed more than 4,000 hectares (nearly 10,000 acres) to lead the state in the amount of forest destroyed this year by fire… A pedestrian bridge is being contemplated over Highway 307 near Centro Maya and Playacar and another one on the northern end of the overpass. Too many accidental car-pedestrian deaths, particularly of workers, have been recorded in those areas… Up Front – Mexico ranks third in the world in breast implants, with the USA first and Brazil second… Giant online retailer Amazon expected to announce expansion plans into Mexico this month… A 6-foot boa snake prowling around a school in Playa del Carmen’s Ejido Colony was later captured by police in the nearby jungle as it was devouring a fox. The snake was taken alive and deposited deeper into the jungle… Chinese tourists to Mexico topped 75,000 last year, 25 percent more than in 2013. Now, Mexico and other Pacific Alliance countries are working on simplifying visa requirements and travel planning to increase that number…

A Canadian travel warning has been issued by the government alerting its citizens about the dangers of visiting certain parts of Mexico. But, as in U.S. alerts, tourist destinations on the Yucatan Peninsula are exempted… 10 people shot dead last week at a beer distribution center just outside Monterrey. Drug dealing is suspected. It’s why people from there are moving here where it safe… Area businessmen expressed conflicting views, through various organizations, of the 1-16 dollar-peso exchange rate in June, one side saying the rate is favorable to investment and tourism while another group worried that the rate harbors a looming spiral into the stratosphere of inflation… A 12,000 year old skull believed to be that of a female and possibly the oldest remains found in the Americas was unearthed in Tulum. Scientists reported the find last week and are studying the find to determine its origin…

The City Theater of Solidaridad, which has been under construction for two years is expected to be finished by July 28, the anniversary of the founding of Solidaridad in 1993 when it was split from the municipality of Cozumel. The theater will have multiple uses including perhaps becoming the home of a symphony orchestra… Cancun is planning to implement new regulations governing motorized transport as regards limiting the number of tinted windows per vehicle and the number of riders on motorcycles, rules that Playa del Carmen might want to look at… The World Triathlon competition is set for Cozumel-Playa del Carmen in September of 2016. It is expected to attract 5,000 athletes and 35,000 visitors from 160 countries and will be televised worldwide. World championships were held in Cancun in 1995 and 2002….

Drunken boat captains are being blamed by the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas for some of 40 groundings nationally in 11 years that have destroyed parts of area reefs. That includes 12 strandings in Xcalac, of which half were by drunken captains, said the agency. Xcalac is on a peninsula in southern Q. Roo near the Belize border… Mexico’s timeshare industry expects sales to increase by about 12 percent this year while reporting that Cancun and Riviera Maya took 60 percent of timeshare sales in 2014… Housing subsidies for poor families will be raised 32 percent to 11.135 billion total pesos nationally. Locally, subsidies are available at Puerto Maya among other paces for those who qualify…

Complaints that the Calica quarry explosions to extract limestone threaten wildlife, including the jaguar, and causing deforestation were moderated by the company, which said fauna has not been injured and that reforestation is an ongoing remedy for denuded parcels of land… President Pena Nieto in Brussels announced a deal to renegotiate a free-trade upgrade in order to remain in step with cross-Atlantic trade deals involving the EU, the US and Canada. (Read the Canada-Mexico auto feature on this edition)…

A Mid-June storm flooded some streets in Playa del Carmen as high winds of 50-70 kph felled trees that crushed two cars in separate incidents, sent billboards flying and cut phone service to hundreds of customers. Some 50 trees fell victim to the storm, keeping firefighters busy clearing roads. Torrential rains kept beachgoers away…

Ex business-group head says

casinos could undermine tourism

   The federal gaming commission’s plan to use the Riviera Maya, Cancun and Acapulco in a pilot program for gambling casinos will likely destroy the economic benefit of tourism for traditional businesses, says businessman Cesar Navarro Medina, former president of the south-southeast district the National Chamber of the Restaurant Industry (Canirac).

The federal gaming agency announced in February it would allow hotel-casinos in these areas as a pilot program to gauge the effect of gaming on the larger business and social community. Since then, Navarro claims, voices of opposition are surfacing that the gaming directorate is not taking the social consequences of gambling into account and the negative effect gaming has on traditional tourism businesses.

He said gaming would not be limited to hotel guests and that expenditures would have to be made to prevent “…workers from falling into the clutches of this vice.” He said the Riviera Maya is already a vacation destination and that investment should be in the traditional offerings that have already made tourism a success here. Running casinos doesn’t ensure fiscal success, a lesson learned in the United States where casinos in such places as Atlantic City are shutting down operations.

 

Commerce Corner…

Canada frets over Mexico’s

edge in car assembly plants

What a difference a pay makes

By Grace Macaluso
The Windsor Star
   Windsor, Ontario – Canada’s auto industry specializes in the production of minivans, muscle cars, crossover utility vehicles and pricey nameplates, like Lexus and Lincoln; value-added, mid-and-full-sized vehicles with profit margins healthy enough to offset the higher cost of auto assembly in this country compared to Mexico, where autoworkers earn about a tenth of the hourly wages of their Canadian counterparts.

So, when word surfaced last year that Volvo Cars and Jaguar Land Rover Ltd., were planning to build new plants in North America, Sandra Pupatello, the CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp., mounted separate campaigns aimed at luring the carmakers to the region. In the end, only Jaguar took the pitch from Pupatello and the federal and Ontario governments seriously enough to visit the city to look at a parcel of land near Windsor’s airport.

A month later, however, the British-based carmaker declined Canada’s offer, which, according to sources, would have covered 40 per cent of its investment. The overriding concern: the government’s incentive package, in particular Ottawa’s program of loans, paled in comparison with the advantages of producing vehicles in lower cost jurisdictions, said a source familiar with the discussions. “There wasn’t enough money on the table,” the source said.

Looking at Mexico

While Jaguar, which was purchased by India’s Tata Motors in 2008, has yet to confirm where it will locate its new plant, company executives have said they are considering spending more than $500 million to build a new factory somewhere in Mexico.

Losing a luxury assembler seemingly better suited to the Canadian industrial landscape known for its highly productive, educated and skilled workforce, has been a bitter pill to swallow. “It’s concerning,” said Matt Marchand, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t believe we can’t compete because we can. I think we need to be more aggressive. We have to go back and understand why we haven’t done it.”

Charlotte Yates, principal investigator at McMaster University’s Institute for Automotive Research and Technology, said Mexico has emerged as the place to not only build small cars with thin profit margins, but luxury, value-added vehicles. “Where Canada does have some competitive advantage, that clearly has been eroded by Mexico,” said Yates. “The game has changed.”

Labor gets vote of confidence

In the past two years, eight automakers have opened or announced new plants or expansions in Mexico. Toyota announced plans to move production of the popular Corolla sedan from Cambridge to Guanajuato. The carmaker pledged to replace the Corolla with “mid-sized, higher-value vehicles.” Ford Motor Co., chose Mexico over Windsor for a $2-billion global small engine program, despite an incentive package that included $900 million from the federal and provincial governments and $170 million in cost savings from Unifor.

Daimler AG and Japan’s Nissan Motor Co., unveiled plans last year to invest about US $1.4 billion in a new plant in Mexico to jointly develop and produce small luxury cars. While the decision was based in part on Nissan’s strong presence in that country, it was also a vote of confidence in Mexico’s competitiveness and the quality of its competitive workforce, allowing it to compete against the United States and Canada for highly skilled automotive jobs.

The competitive edge

Add Mexico’s hourly all-in labor rates in assembly plants averaging about US $8 an hour, a one-stop government support for attracting investment, a more lax regulatory environment and free trade deals covering more than 40 countries, and  Mexico’s competitive edge becomes irresistible for carmakers looking to export to the U.S. and across the globe.

In fact, real wages in Mexico have been falling while productivity has been rising, added Yates. “Companies have the ability to make profit in a landscape where wages are held down by a host of factors.”

Sean McAlinden, senior economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., said cheap labor isn’t the sole reason for the automotive procession to Mexico. German carmaker Audi will save $5,000 per vehicle in overseas tariffs when it ships a Q5 SUV from its factory in the state of Puebla, compared with building the same vehicle in the U.S., he said.

Mexico car production up

“That’s more important than the labor cost advantage that Mexico has when it comes to global luxury cars,” said McAlinden. “Any country that has the largest number of free-trade deals will have the highest score at attracting auto plants.” With small cars “it’s all about labor costs,” he added. “But a tariff is a big deal on luxury cars.”

­The latest failed attempt to win a new assembly plant has increased pressure on the federal and Ontario governments to establish a national automotive strategy steered by an auto czar empowered with the resources to target and secure investment. “Canada still has some competitive advantage,” said Yates. “But it needs to move fairly quickly, organizing and co-originating government programs to hit a home run in terms of getting that investment.”

Mexico’s share of North American auto production grew to 19 per cent last year as new Honda and Mazda factories opened. Meanwhile, Canada’s production rose a fraction and its share of North American output fell to 14 per cent, its lowest level since 1987.

While the U.S., in particular the southern states, has done a better job than Canada in drawing new auto plants and jobs, it finds itself in the same boat as Canada when it comes to competing with Mexico, said McAlinden.

Renegotiate NAFTA?

Mexico’s emergence as an automotive superpower has come at the expense of jobs and investment in Canada and the U.S., said McAlinden. It’s time, he added, for a critical review of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Wages in Mexico keep falling despite all the new investment,” said McAlinden. “It has a softer regulatory environment that probably shouldn’t exist. We have to renegotiate NAFTA. There’s too much of an imbalance.” Canada’s automotive trade deficit with Mexico was a record $10.3 billion in 2014, said Jim Stanford, senior economist at Unifor, which represents hourly workers at Detroit Three plants in Canada.

“They buy less from us than they did in 2000,” said Stanford. “It’s a one-way street, and Mexicans aren’t even benefiting. Real wages are no higher than they were when NAFTA was signed in 1994.”Free-trade advocates had argued that Canada would keep high-end vehicles while losing “bare-bones, low skilled jobs,” said Stanford. “But autoworkers in Mexico are quite capable of doing high skilled, high value work. There are still huge labour cost savings for producing an Audi or BMW in Mexico compared to producing it here. “This race to the bottom has been unleashed by free trade and will be experienced in all vehicle classes, whether low end or high end.”

_______________________________________

10 ways Mexico is winning

1. Unionized auto assembly workers in Canada earn about US $50 in wages and benefits an hour compared to about $8 in Mexico. In the U.S., its $58 at General Motors and $38 at Volkswagen’s factory in Tennessee. Wages and benefits at Mexican auto parts plants are even lower, averaging about $4 an hour.

2. Mexico has a network of 12 free-trade agreements that cover about 43 jurisdictions including the European Union, Canada, the U.S., Israel, South and Central America.

3. Mexico’s auto supply chain is growing, attracting powertrain facilities from such automakers as the Detroit Three, Volkswagen and Nissan. Ontario-based Magna International is also a big player, employing 24,000 workers in Mexico.

4. ProMexico, the economic development arm of the Mexican government, offers a one-stop support for investment attraction. Created in 2007, it pools the resources of federal and state agencies, enabling anyone interested in investing in Mexico to quickly access all the necessary information.

5. Mexican auto production more than doubled in the past 10 years and is expected to rise another 50 per cent to about five million vehicles annually by 2022. U.S. production is expected to increase only three per cent, to 12.2 million vehicles, in the next seven years.

6. Automakers now have 18 factories in 11 Mexican states, many built in the past 10 years. In four years, five more will be built, moving the country from the world’s seventh biggest auto producer to fifth.

7. The number of auto producing jobs in Mexico has risen almost 40 per cent since 2008, from 490,000 to 675,000 in 2014. During the same period, U.S. auto manufacturing employment grew 15 per cent to nearly 903,000. In Canada employment in the auto sector, including assembly and parts manufacturing, has plunged from more than 160,000 in 2000 to just under 120,000.

8. Companies in Mexico’s light-vehicle industry perform activities that range from assembly to casting and stamping of vehicles and engines. Currently, more than 48 car and light-truck models are produced in Mexico.

9. Mexico is the world’s eighth largest car, truck, part and component producer. It’s main export market is the U.S. In 2014, nine of every 100 vehicles were exported to Latin America. The main destinations for Mexican exports were Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Chile. Four of every 100 light vehicles exported went to the European Union.

10. In 2010, Mexico overtook Canada as the leading supplier of commercial vehicles to the U.S.

Sources: Center for Automotive Research, IHS Automotive, Government of Mexico, ProMexico, Wards AutoWorld, Unifor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and RBC Economics

 

 

The Mail Bag…

Sargassum and golf

Dear Editor
   Thanks for the read! I was curious if anyone considered using the ‘sea weed’ as part of the golf course project?  It could be a win/win if it progresses the project.

Signed/ Darrell Olynick

Where they’re always glad you came – Latitude 20 Restaurant

 

Nature Watch…

Despite shoreline problems, PA

still first 2 letters in ‘PAradise”

 

By Staff
Despite its shorefront erosion of sand and the recent invasion by the sargassum sea weed, Puerto Aventuras, a residential and recreational jewel in the crown of the Mayan Riviera, remains “Paradise” to optimistic residents who choose to view those local problems through a world window.

What PA in particular and the Mexican Caribbean in general have experienced in persistent beach erosion and the relatively new onslaught of sargassum this year, are natural occurrences that surface in various forms the world over. A few of those events from the shores of our northern U.S. neighbor puts PA’s complications in perspective.

Consider: It took a team of “experts” last month to move a 400-ton, 160-year-old lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, at the turtle rate of one foot a minute. First, the brick structure was raised six feet off the ground and placed on rails, then delicately inched forward . It cost $3.5 million USD to move the iconic (built in 1856) and still-working lighthouse 135 feet over two days. Not a brick was displaced.

Why did the lighthouse have to be moved such a short distance? Beach erosion was the reason, the same natural phenomena that occurs on the Mexican Caribbean coast. In 2013, the lighthouse was only 46 feet way from eroding cliffs of sand and it was predicted that if it wasn’t moved by 2015, it would fall into the sea. While beach erosion in PA causes concern, it is far from the critical erosion skinning shorelines in other places, as the lighthouse move suggests. The lighthouse should be safe for at least another century in it new location. Planned protective devices and replenishment of local beaches here should be completed when permits are granted and funding is accrued. In these less critical situations, patience is a compelling virtue.

Consider: The marvels of technology failed to avoid a May 19 man-made tragedy off the pristine coast of Santa Barbara, California, when a pipeline owned by a Texas company ruptured and spilled some 101,000 gallons of oil over a 9-mile swath of beach and ocean, rendering beaches unusable and threatening wildlife. This occurred despite the company’s findings that a spill from that 10.6 mile section of pipe was “highly unlikely” when it was built it the 1990s. Government analysts are leaning toward a finding that structural corrosion was the cause. Abundant major oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico in the past and the one in Santa Barbra and others elsewhere indicate there is no guarantee of “highly unlikely” in the quest for black gold. So far, the Mayan Riviera may have pesky sargassum washing ashore, but it remains free of tar balls fouling its beaches and killing off fauna.

Consider: Barking sea lions, tons of them, have been driving people and businesses bonkers in Oregon’s port of Astoria where the yelping lions have been disturbing the peace and wolfing an estimated 75 percent of the “smelt” catch away from local fishermen. When not eating, the portly lions throng the docks to yelp about the day’s catch and sun themselves. Locals have tried to keep the lions away with beach balls, electrified mats, chicken wire and colorful tape. A fiberglass orca whale simile was even brought in to scare the lions away, but to no avail. On the plus side, they are attracting tourists.

Consider: While complaints hereabouts target the alien lionfish that is despoiling the local reefs, fishermen in Maine are complaining about another invasive species that meandered into the state’s shores and began to decimate its lucrative shellfish industry. Shellfishermen there say the crabs are “eating their way through our ecosystem” somewhat similar to the voracious lionfish that is threatening the Mayan Riviera’s near-shore reefs.

Consider and compare the myriad problems affecting sea shores in other worldwide places to find out why realists still consider PA as the first two letters in “Paradise”.

June 2015: Red Cross to reopen clinic

 

An added vision for Phase 4 area

Permit sought for man-made beach

to serve hotel guests in Phase 4

By Staff
When snowbirds begin returning in October, there will be less construction noise and dust coming from the heavy equipment that has carved new canals into the Phase 4 landscape. Most of the infrastructure will have been completed, reports developer Arq. Roman Rivera Torres, save for solar street lighting that will be installed along with utilities as “required by occupancy”

As of May, 58 of the roughly 140 lots comprising Phase 4 – all of them with canal front – were sold, he said, and four residences were either completed or under construction. Bikers and walkers who have been enjoying the Phase 4 roadways throughout the construction and extensive landscaping period will notice the improvements as final touches to water, sewer and electrical infrastructure will have been essentially completed and ready for connection to residences as they are being built. The aura of “evolving community” will be more apparent.

Rivera, who was recently invited to go to Madrid, Spain, by the ambassador, said he was encouraged by the incredible amount of investment being targeted from there to the Riviera Maya, including ejido lands in Tulum, the north end of Cozumel and in Akumal, where hotels are already rising up along Turtle Bay, transforming what was heralded not so long ago as a sleepy, free-range fishing village into a potentially robust tourist mecca and fish sanctuary.

Area ripe for investment

Supporting Rivera’s positive outlook was the announcement by the Association of Real Estate Developers that Quintana Roo will attract many millions more in development by 2018, placing the state among the top five development havens in the country, surpassed only by the Federal District (Mexico City), Jalisco, State of Mexico and Nayarit that altogether should attract $18 billion in development.

Already, a comprehensive community with hotels, homes, condos and shopping mall is slowly evolving in the Mayakoba area off Route 307 across from the golf course of the same name just north of Playa del Carmen. Expected projects nationwide include tourism development such as a planned City Express hotel in Tulum and a new private, $1.6 million USD protected beach development planned for the rocky shore of the Puerto Aventuras Phase 4 project between the Barcelo Hotel and the Caleta Chac Hal Al.

New beach added to Phase 4

PA developer Rivera has filed for permits for that project in an effort to provide a man-made sandy beach protected by a 376-meter long (411yards) barrier reef for the use of guests of planned hotels in that area. While it borders the caleta, the private beach will not interfere with the caleta’s use by residents of the general Puerto Aventuras resort community, Rivera said. “I am doing there what I did for the Hard Rock Hotel next door,” he said, somewhat like the beach in the photo above where sand has supplanted a rocky shore.

The beach is planned to replace the stoned shore along two hotel lots on the Caribbean shore to lure investment and development of the area. “The construction of beach and protected area provides an incentive for investors to buy and build,” Rivera said. “While permits are in process, we try to sell with the commitment of doing it. The work should begin in September and be done by April.”

Will use caleta, canal sand

People who use the caleta consistently for swimming and snorkeling have noticed an increase in natural developments that have carpeted the caleta bottom. It has reached the point where, at low tide, water barely reaches the waist of an average-sized person.

Rivera  said some of the sand that will be needed to create the protected hotel beach will be pumped from the caleta and from heavy sand deposits in the area of the south channel. He said there is enough sand in those areas to create the new beach and to replenish the Omni Beach when permits and funding for the Omni project are in hand at some point in the future. Funding for the Omni project will be accumulated from building fees in Phase 4 as homes are built and the fees are collected by the Colonos.

Rivera said, as long rumored, that a Russian investor had placed a down payment on the property but then “disappeared about a year ago. We have a couple of options today for one single hotel. The land allows 590 keys and consists of 38,000 m2.” he said.

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HAPPENING:..

ZUMBA by Fitness With Kayla. 9:30am at Latitude 20° +/- Restaurant every Monday and Wednesday. For more information, contact Kayla at FitnessWithKayla@gmail.com . Kayla Ward, a 3-year PA resident from Virginia, USA, has a degree in Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science and is a certified group and Zumba exercise instructor among other certifications. She is also certified in CPR/AED by the U.S. Red Cross.

 

Wounded Warriors land fish

in 11th successful PA tourney

 

Capt. Rick’s Sportsfishing of Puerto Aventuras teamed up with the Dave Harris Memorial Billfish Tourney last month, their 11th season together, and again invited Wounded Warriors from the USA to participate in what turned out to be quite a catch.

The winning team, fishing from the Reel Screamer captained by “Rambo”, landed two white marlin, three sailfish and four dorado, also known as Mahi Mahi, meaning “very strong” in Hawaiian.

“The tournament is very excited to share this incredible experience with these soldiers who have sacrificed so much for world peace.” said tournament spokesman Don Harris.

Purple Heart recipients participating this year included Justin Gaertner who lost both legs in Afghanistan; Raymond Kusch, who lost his left leg and suffered other major injuries when stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) ; Mark Broda, who suffered multiple shrapnel wounds when a truck bomb detonated in Saudi Arabia; Aaron Estes, suffered life-threatening injuries over most of his body when stepping on an IED in Afghanistan and spent three years in rehabilitation; Tyson Scott, injured seriously by a mortar explosion;  Adam Kiselewski, who lost his left arm and right leg to an IED in Iraq; Brett Bondurant, who lost both legs and suffered fractures to his left arm, both hands and pelvis in Afghanistan from an IED. The eighth warrior asked for anonymity.

 Florida ferry line says Yucatan

service just few months away

 United Caribbean Line lands Cuba permit

By Staff
The ferry line United Caribbean that has been trying to link Florida to the Yucatan was among four shipping lines to receive U.S. permits for ferry service to Cuba as the increasing diplomatic ties with the island nation 90 miles south of Florida continue. More to the point, the ferry service, in a press release, also said a link between Florida and the Yucatan should be established within several months. Here is the press release signed by United’s president Bruce Nierenberg and board chairman Alexander P. Panagopulos:

” United Caribbean Lines is pleased to announce that we have been selected by the US government to be amongst the very first to operate ferry services between the US and Cuba by the U. S. Department of the Treasury.UCL will serve Cuba and the US, reuniting its proud peoples with a service that will only bring immediate prosperity to Cuba, Florida and the region. We aim to deliver only the highest quality services, become the first choice in sea travel and transportation and always delivering more than we promise.

“Plans call for ferry services from several of the main ports in Florida, such as Miami, Tampa, Port Everglades, and Key West, using modern overnight ferry vessels designed for international service. Our final sailing schedules, first voyage dates, and ship details will be issued after completing arrangements with Cuban authorities.Of course, United Caribbean Lines will operate its daily passenger ferry service within the guidelines of the current US regulations for all travel to Cuba.
“We are thrilled that United Caribbean Lines is going to participate in this historic event and will continue to keep you apprised of new developments.We expect to have itineraries, schedules, and starting dates for the ferry service available on the website in the coming weeks. UCL is also working hard to complete its plans for ferry service between Cancun and the Yucatan peninsula in the next few months.”

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Donors, Red Cross reach deal

to reopen local PA facilities

Ambulance, clinic services may resume June 1

After five months of fund-raising and negotiating, the Colonos and other donors have raised sufficient pledges of monthly donations from various local enterprises to elicit a response from the Red Cross. The agency now says it will to re-open the Poblado clinic with ambulance service perhaps by June 1. The clinic remains at the site of the former police station on Calle Vivero, the Main Road into the Poblado.

Red Cross representatives met with Colonos board Chairman Jorge Kaufer and GM Armando Rincon last week in the Colonos office to cement an understanding that led to the pending re-opening. From the Red Cross were Andres Bahnsen, president of the RC Playa del Carmen, CP Teresa Jiminez, treasurer, and Horatio Trinidad, director, who agreed to the re-opening when informed that commitments totaling $50,625 pesos ($3,325 USD) monthly have been received.

Donors include the Colonos, $10,000 (pesos) via GM Armando Rincon; Dolphin Discovery, $5,000 via Mgr. Guillermo Lobo; Hard Rock Hotel, $16,000 via Mgr. Rene Malacara; the Catalonia Hotels, $10,000 total via Mgr. Silvia Ortega; Hotel Omni, $3,000 via Mgr. Hector Pavon; Cafeteria Bamboo, $200, Puerto Aventuras Info, $200, and Dive Aventuras, $500, all three via Nils Van der Haar; Aquanauts, $100, via Nicolas and Jim; Fat Cat, $625 via Anthony Heckendorn; PA Fideicomiso, $5,000 via Roman Rivera Torres and Fishing Charters, $200, via Walter Meade.

The Red Cross closed the Puerto Aventuras operation last December without notice. The action was in response to financial difficulties arising from the opening of a major new facility in Playa del Carmen to service that city’s 150,000-plus population. When it became known the closure might likely be permanent, PA resort residents Tim Howard and Martin Wohnlich visited RC officials in Playa del Carmen to learn what it might take to reopen the PA facility.

At about the same time, a boat fire in the PA resort that badly burned a crewman added incentive to reopen the facility here when it took an ambulance some 30 to 35 minutes to arrive as residents of the Puerto Aventuras Club tended to the fire victim under strained circumstances. Initial estimates on how much would be needed to reopen the RC facility were reached and fund-raising quickly proceeded among some donors in the resort community. Various strategies were discussed for long-term financial support in a dedicated account.

Original estimates of cost were later deemed inadequate by the Red Cross, and on two occasions planned re-openings were postponed. As snowbirds began their flights north, Colonos GM Rincon was left with the task of rounding up more local donors and negotiating with the Red Cross. He received initial enthusiastic support from  Hard Rock Hotel GM Malacara, a PA resident who also hosted several meetings to reach a new cost goal of 50,000 pesos monthly.

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From the Colonos…

Street work starts at Catalonia;

gate pass renewals announced

Smooth bicycle lane part of new surface

 

Reconstruction of a portion of major roadway in front of the Catalonia Hotels and the annual replacement of main gate resident passes have been announced by the Colonos.

Work began on Bahia Xcacel last week removing the brick surface from the Kantenha and Bahia Xaac triangles fronting Catalonia’s Alegria Spa on the north to the marina boat ramp on the south. Drivers who need to use that section of roadway were reminded there will be only a one-way lane open to vehicles during the reconstruction period, which is expected to last several weeks.

Responding to a public request, the Colonos board and GM Armando Rincon have included a smooth bicycle strip along the new road surface similar to the bike paths edging the roadways in Phase 4. Those bike strips have pleased local bikers who enjoy the outdoor exercise and the relative safety of a designated bike lane along a busy road. (Workers smooth out a bike lane in photo at left.)

In another announcement, the Colonos reminds residents the third annual gate pass renewal and security upgrade is under way and, this year, snowbirds who are away until next fall are able to register via a form  available at www.colonos.org . Fill it out and send it via email to atencion@colonos.org  or coordinacion@colonos.org . Year-round residents are encouraged to go to the Colonos office and fill out the form since, after June 30, all current gate cards will be deactivated and residents will have to leave an I.D. at the main gate for access. To avoid inconvenience, fill out the form and be certain you have paid your Colonos maintenance fee. The Colonos asks all drivers to follow instructions for one-way north-south travel during the next, longer and more difficult phase until the end of construction.

Work began this week also on Caleta Xel-Ha in front of the Marina San Carlos Condos and residents in that area were asked to act accordingly to avoid any travel difficulties. The work is expected to last two weeks.

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Mexlaw Primer…

More oversight of real estate

industry on the way in Q. Roo

By Mexlaw
Real estate has always been a key sector in the state of Quintana Roo’s development. Because of its connection to tourism, it has a huge impact on the economy and job market. Therefore, the government of Quintana Roo, in cooperation with a private initiative and several civil associations related to the real estate industry, has agreed on the need of a law that regulates services, requiring developers and investors to perform established and transparent operations.

Consequently, the Congress of the State has approved unanimously the “Law on Provision of Real Estate Services of the State of Quintana Roo” (Ley de Prestación de Servicios Inmobiliarios del Estado de Quintana Roo), which was published in the government’s Official Paper on June 6, 2014, and available on the link www.congresoqroo.gob.mx/leyes

This law states that any individual or business must be certified and registered as a real estate agent before being able to provide their services in Quintana Roo. The registration documents will be issued by the “Quintana Roo Urban Development and Housing Department (Secretaría de Desarrollo Urbano y Vivienda del Estado de Quintana Roo) and will be valid for one year, after which they must be renewed.

The Law on Provision of Real Estate Services defines how individuals, businesses and real estate associations can obtain certification. It also establishes the duties, rights, and the field of knowledge real estate agents will have to possess in order to operate.

The registration process improves oversight of real estate agencies and agents. “The Law on Provision of Real Estate Services defines how individuals, businesses and real estate associations can obtain certification. It also establishes the duties, rights, and the field of knowledge real estate agents will need in order to operate.

More information regarding the new real estate regulations and certification is available from  adriana@mexlaw.ca

 

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Sargassum continues to clog

the Riviera’s sandy beaches

University asked to study alternative uses

Mexico’s maritime zone agency Zofemat, which says it has been removing an average of 10 tons of kelp from Playa del Carmen beaches every day, has contacted the National Autonomous University UNAM to ask for a study of possible beneficial options for use of the prolific sea weed. A local agency spokesman said Zofemat is aware that countries like the U.S. use treated seaweed to make beer and also feed for livestock.

In Puerto Aventuras, sargassum has been collected from the Kantenah Lagoon area in a neighborly cooperative effort with the Colonos, which is stockpiling the weed to be used later as fertilizer on common grounds. In Playa, some students actually baked a cake containing treated sargassum, an option now under study by health officials.

Sargassum has had a negative effect on tourism and a good example was observed in Akumal recently as tourist snorkelers looked for ways to enter the water through mounds of sea weed and sunbathers appeared restless as an unpleasant odor rose from the weed.

One benefit to the occurrence and persistent appearance of the weed along the Riviera Maya shore this year is that, if left undisturbed, it helps prevent the erosion of sand, which is another problem affecting area beaches. The unanswered question now is whether sargassum will continue to dog the Maya coastline or was this year a fluke phenomenon?

 

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Report: Parties, not president,

face mounting criticism

as mid-term election nears

By Staff
The Associated Press reports that an opinion poll carried out by Mexico’s lower house of congress earlier this year showed 75 percent of respondents had little or no confidence in any political party as the nation nears the June 7 mid-term election. The margin of error was 3.9 percentage points.

Mexico’s mid-term elections are usually a referendum on the president’s effectiveness at the half-way mark of his six-year term. But the negative focus this year seems to be concentrated more on the parties as voters prepare to elect 500 congressmen, 17 state legislatures, nine governors and more than 300 mayors.

People are so fed up that parties have trouble giving away pens and T-shirts on the streets, the AP reported, and youthful brigades have organized on the Internet to rip down campaign posters from lamp posts and trees in some Mexico City neighborhoods.

Calamitous events such as the disappearance and presumed deaths of 43 students in Guerrero and recent shootout on a Michoacan farm resulting in 43 deaths have unnerved the electorate, as has the individual murders of several candidates for various offices nationwide.

Political parties get nearly all their financing from tax money, and they are being criticized by voters for their bloated budgets for government cars, trips, bodyguards, advisors, offices and meals, angering people in a country where the minimum wage is under $5 per day, according to the AP report.

Briefly Noted…

The amount of sargassum on the Playa del Carmen beaches in May exceeded the ability of workers to keep the beaches clean, discouraging tourists from going there and undermining profits of shore-side businesses … Rubbish collection was scheduled to be reduced from 7 to 5 days a week according to the latest municipal announcement, but It was reported by Colonos officials that collection was back to the normal 7-day schedule at press time …

A summer movie series free to the public has been launched at the Blue Parrot Beach in Playa del Carmen. Two movies a month will be shown under the palapa on Wednesday evenings at 7:30. The first was shown on May 13 featuring the life of musician Bob Marley. Call the Blue Parrot for dates of other showings … El Nino warming of Pacific Ocean waters is predicted to bring more rain to Southeast Mexico this year and affect weather patterns generally. Snowbirds can probably expect more verdant surroundings on their return to PA…

Travel warnings continue to be issued by the U.S. for several states outside the Yucatan Peninsula. Statistics show 100 U.S. citizens murdered in 2014 and 81 in 2013 and more than 130 kidnapped between January and November of last year. The new warning, again, does not apply to Quintana Roo where snowbirds and tourists enjoy relative safety …

Goodyear Tire Corp. says it plans to invest $500 to $550 million building a tire plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, that will open in mid-2017 and employ about 1,000 people at full production. The plant is projected to produce about 6 million tires a year and be the company’s most technologically advanced facility. The new factory, combined with investments in its existing U.S. and Canadian factories, will enable Goodyear to meet the growing market demand for high-value-added consumer tires in North America and Latin America …

Almost $2.9 million in cash evidently headed for a criminal gang was seized from two trucks in May by police in Tamaulipas. The cash found in hidden compartments included 86 bundles of U.S. currency and some pesos. The drivers were arrested…

Deforestation is being blamed for an increase in the temperature in Quintana Roo, particularly in cities where cement streets and buildings have replaced Nature’s cooler canopy of trees… The International Fe

stival of the Word was observed in Playa del Carmen by painting famous quotes on city walls, providing food for thought to passersby… Highway billboards, particularly on the Tinta-Playa del Carmen federal road, are a distraction to drivers and can contribute to the cause of accidents, says a local architect and expert in visual pollution…

The fertility rate in Mexico has declined from 6.72 children per woman in 1970 to 2.22 currently, reports the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development… A Russian rocket carrying a Mexican communications satellite crashed 500 seconds after launch, failing to place the satellite in orbit… Two people with criminal records were shot dead in Cancun recently in what police describe as cartel assassinations. The pair reportedly sold illegal drugs in the Hotel Zone for one cartel, then switched to another cartel, say police… The kllings of two candidates for local posts in two western states is tainting this year’s national elections. One of the victims was a former vigilante leader battling the cartels in Michoacan…

The new 314-room Hyat Hotel in downtown Playa del Carmen is scheduled to open June 1 after a year of delays. It is expected to generate 500 jobs… Tourism hit a record in Mexico this year according to the Mexican President who noted visitors increased 20.5 percent over last year with China, Peru and Colombia contributing heavily to the increase. Locally, however, reports note that while there were indeed more tourists, they were spending less money in local shops and for services …

The municipal landfill reports an 18 percent increase in the amount of waste generated in the municipality. The report says an average 410 tons a day are deposited there… Estimated 43 gunmen killed  in a battle between federal police and cartel hoods in the state of Michoacan last week, including two policemen …  Camera games — Law enforcers and security personnel aren’t the only ones using cameras. Authorities say a cartel in Tamaulipas used 39 security cameras to monitor the movements of police there…

Nature Watch…

 

New weapon against dengue

mosquitoes being developed

Mosquitoes carrying the dengue, chikungunya or yellow fever viruses may not be long for this world. Scientists reporting in “Science Express”, an electronic science magazine,  say they now know how to transform female mosquito embryos into male mosquitoes that do not “bite”. While yellow fever is rare in these parts, dengue and chikungunya are familiar interlopers infecting victims in the general human population.

The female mosquito carrying the viruses is the key to preventing the aforementioned diseases in humans because only the female is the vampire, biting into flesh to draw blood to develop her eggs, hence infecting victims with whatever virus she is carrying.

The scientists isolated a gene called “Nix” in the Aedes Aegypti mosquito species that, when injected into the embryo of female mosquitoes, more than two thirds of those injected developed male genitals and testes, the scientists found.

While perfecting the process for large-scale use on mosquitoes remains some years away, the hope is that the process will someday be the best weapon yet in battling mosquito-borne diseases. Meanwhile, take already established protections to keep mosquitoes off your body.

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