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SEPTEMBER EXTRA: 2016

 

Citizens march on Akumal

to carve out a beach access

Hoteliers say fundamental rights violated;

Tulum municipal council OK faulted

By Staff
The disagreement over beach access in Akumal continued in August when community cooperatives, guides and pobladores, with the blessing of a Tulum municipal council resolution, tore down a reportedly private fence and chain-sawed several palapas to open a public path to the beach while police and private guards stood idly nearby ostensibly to preserve the peace.

Private interests that claim ownership of the land in question did not interfere but they disagree with an apparent belief by the citizens that municipal approval for the action was sufficient to support the destruction. Tulum’s hotel association said the municipal council resolution falsely  legitimized the invasion and fueled “a climate of violence and aggression, caused legal uncertainty and violated fundamental private property rights affecting tourism.”

Those who claim to own the land say the destruction was illegal because the land in question has always been privately owned and because the action that was taken would have required approval by a state or federal judge. “They essentially took the law into their own hands,” said an observer.

Club Akumal Caribe claims ownership of the land. The cooperatives had earlier alleged that a public right of way to the beach had existed on land claimed by Centro Ecologio Akumal, but have switched that view to the Club Akumal Caribe, noted the observer.

There were other protests by pobladores and cooperatives earlier this year, including roadblocks and some property damage, in a quest to maintain a public access point in reaction to access limitations being mandated by private interests. Those destructive activities were spawned by the reluctance of municipal, state and federal agencies to take responsibility in forging a legal resolution, say neutral observers.

Some observers note what happened in Tulum earlier this year when i6 renters leasing homes or businesses were evicted without notice by a force of 100 men who unceremoniously emptied their premises with a questionable court order. However it was reported last week that at least one Tulum lessee had received court approval to return to the property. It was also reported earlier this month that some 4,000 families could be affected by a major land ownership conflict that has developed in Veracruz over uncertain land titles.

It is unknown as of this writing what findings or actions governments might take in the ongoing Akumal dispute, which is said to be damaging the local tourism economy.

 

Commerce Corner…

‘Social Sirens’ grows businesses

via Internet design, media presence

By Staff
A relatively new company in town is helping small and large businesses merge with the 21st Century world of electronic communication, advertising, social media, website building/maintenance and related guidance designed to showcase products and services and enhance the customer base.

In nearly two years of operation on the Riviera Maya, Social Sirens Media Works of Puerto Aventuras and Playa del Carmen, offers a comprehensive range of skills including photography and aerial (drone) video, graphic and website design, video editing, computer savvy, advertising strategies and business development to a growing number of clients.

Staff, which has a propensity for helping small to medium sized local business find their way onto the Internet, includes co-owners Doris Hernandez, a native of Yucatan and a licensed graphic designer, photographer and illustrator, and Andrea Salazar, a California born college educated major in technology development who is also a 20-year tech marketing veteran.

Rounding out the staff is Samy Krazem, an aeronautical engineer, photographer and drone operator experienced in computer programming and technology who is also the company’s technical guru. Together, the staff is fluent in Spanish, English, French, Arabic and Kabyle, the latter a dialect of northern Algeria, said Ms. Salazar, company spokesperson.

“We love working with them,” said Mikael Sidenius, owner of Riviera Elite, a tour company dealing in yacht and catamaran rentals. “From the beginning, the team has been able to understand our message to clients and our market. It has come up with wonderful graphic designs at no extra fee. We’re excited to be working with the team on future promotions and advertising.”

Social Sirens services clients at their place of business, said Ms. Salazar, to better capture the ambiance, the employee spirit, the products and services and transform the perceptions into today’s electronic advertising and communications that attract the attention of a wider audience, visually and verbally.

Realizing the important local link between bi-lingual skills and prosperity, Social Sirens gladly works gratis helping the Friends of Puerto Aventuras, FOPA, maintain its fund-raising website. FOPA fully funds daylong classes in English for local pupils and follows it up with scholarships for higher education.

For more information, personal service and contact to help your business grow, check out the Social Sirens website by clicking on the logo in the sponsor column at left.

 

Unique design…

 

 

Akumal dinner raises $82,413MX

for Red Cross ambulance service

Sustaining the service means saving lives

By Staff
Akumal’s Red Cross ambulance fund grew by $82,413MX ($4,292 USD) at an August 26 dinner event described by volunteer coordinator Marieke Brown as a “fantastic success” made possible by Turtle Bay Cafe owners Jen and Bart Smith who donated the entire evening’s dinner proceeds.

The event’s receipts were considerably above the $66,000MX collected last year from a similar event, both of which were infused with growing enthusiasm for the cause, entertainment and, in plain language, “great eats” and bonhomie. Extra contributions over and above the ticket price by dozens of dinner guests and donors who could not attend were mentioned by Brown who thanked all those who worked and came to the rescue so to speak.

Brown has noted that having emergency “rescue” service available 24/7 often means the difference between a life or death event: That’s what this funding is all about. Red Cross crews, including the ambulance, have been stationed in Akumal’s main beach area since December 2014 despite the fact the Red Cross district of Tulum is not able to support it financially.

It would take an ambulance from Tulum more than 30 minutes to reach Akumal, a response time that is unacceptable if the implied speed in “rescue” is to be achieved. Hence the efforts and donations by community members and friends elsewhere to assure the service remains.

What have the donations accomplished so far?

Brown reports the Red Cross crews have responded to 220 emergencies and calls for medical assistance, many of those cases life-threatening, such as near drowning and heart attack where speed and efficiency are primary requisites.

Brown said The community needs to raise 65,000 pesos a month to support its own Red Cross emergency service, while room and board for the crews and basic ambulance maintenance is furnished by Secrets Hotel. Some funding stems from repeat monthly donations totaling (so far)  24,840 pesos ($1,293 USD) from 11 businesses and individuals. This amount has been augmented by one-up donations and fundraisers to achieve the monthly 66,000-pesos total.

Brown has compiled a line-item list of costs and revenues, a commendable effort that goes a long way in assuring that donors know their contributions are well spent. Contact Brown for a summary of expenditures and donors at marieke@akumaldirect.com

Below: Enjoying the event.

 

The Mail Bag…

A distant eulogy

Dear Editor:
I/we miss our “family” and friends of beautiful Puerto Aventuras. Among them being the always philosophical, observant, knowledgeable and captivating Frisbee (and his dear friend Daisy).

Frisbee taught me so much about the importance of respect for all of nature and the amazing powers of a greater spirit that has “gifted” the earth with so much to be thankful for, to care for and to share. Frisbee is forever and still walks,flies,drifts within the community of Puerto.

His physical form may be different but his spirit will be the same. So, HI FRISBEE! Nice to see/feel you again and thanks for your eternal journey, now with fewer restraints.

Signed/ Denny Wall, Minnesota

 

The Roundup…

Mountains of rubbish continued to pile up in Puerto Maya across the highway this month because, supposedly, the current municipal administration leaving office at the end of the month can’t afford to repair a score of inoperable trucks. So much odiferous garbage left lying along the streets put residents at risk of sickness and can possibly attract disease-bearing vermin. Residents are hoping for better service from a new administration… The resort was not spared from this problem despite payment by the Colonos for several trucks to fill the municipal gap. The administration released an emergency advisory last week asking residents to temporarily refrain from setting out their rubbish. There was so much rubbish piled up in some Playa del Carmen neighborhoods that firefighters were called out to remove some of it, but not enough, said residents…Oddly enough,  the profusion of garbage contributed to some rather severe flooding from rain in Puerto Maya  last weekend as storm drains were obstructed by rain-swept garbage … Finding out precisely why  the municipal treasury lacked funds to repair some dozen broken collection trucks that left Puerto Maya without service for more than eight days would go a long way in preventing a similar problem in a new municipal administration and points to a  perceived need for Puerto Aventuras to have its own mayor….

Expats happy in Mexico – Mexico ranked fourth in expat satisfaction in a survey by the InterNations guide for expatriates worldwide. Expat views on security dropped somewhat, but ratings usually exceeded the international norms on other fronts including finances, cost of living, housing costs and ease of settling in and finding friends. The US came in 26th and Canada 12th.

Theft of electricity by manipulating the meters has been discovered in eight cases in Puerto Aventuras and roughly 400 cases in Playa del Carmen, particularly in the so-called “invaded” neighborhoods of the ejido lands west of Highway 307. The CFE said the theft of the government-operated electrical system is considered a federal crime…

A double fatality was reported last week on Highway 307 near Puerto Aventuras when two passengers in a car were ejected and instantly killed when the car hit the median and flipped several times. The driver was seriously injured and had to be extricated from the twisted metal by firefighters. Police said speed and alcohol were involved… Two bicyclists and  pedestrian were also killed in two separate incidents along the stretch of Highway 307 this week…

A crocodile attacked a Houston, Texas man while he was spearfishing in a Cancun lagoon last week. Jonathan Schoeneman, who had been working as a diving instructor for10 months and enjoyed fishing, was seriously injured and hospitalized with severe injuries and placed in an induced coma. He improved after surgery, said hospital officials, and plans to return to Houston for recovery…

Tulum day of snakes – Firefighters responded to three calls about snakes invading populated areas and homes in one day this week. One of the boas was captured while nesting under a boat being repaired. It weighed an estimated 20 kilos and measured in at 2.20 meters long. The boas, which feed on small animals, were released into the wild…

Shootouts killed 11 suspected members of warring Zeta drug cartel factions and one innocent bystander on Sept. 3 along a major highway in Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo, Texas, in a confrontation with Mexican soldiers. The highway, which handles about half the export-import cargo between the US and Mexico, had to be closed temporarily, said the city’s mayor. Soldiers seized a truck and a cache of high-caliber automatic weapons…

Thousands marched in Mexico, including some in Playa del Carmen,  in opposition to gay marriage in a challenge to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s proposal to allow it. The nationwide protest was organized by a coalition of the National Front for the Family…

 

Nature Watch…

Scientists theorize rabbits helped

sustain ancient Mexico civilization

By Staff

People 70 and over may remember the rabbit coops that sprung up in neighborhoods during WW II as reaction to food rationing fueled by the necessity to feed the troops and provide some protein at home that, as we were told, tasted like chicken.

Since then we’ve depended on the larger, commercially bred and fed animals, among other sources like fish for protein, thus relegating the rabbit to the annals of what now seems to be historical trivia… except for the fact that the rabbit and hare apparently supported a long-ago civilization here in Mexico providing protein, fur clothing and bones for shaping into tools.

Scientists studying the ancient, pre-Hispanic archeological digs of Teotihuacan, which means “the place where men become gods” was among the biggest cities on earth some 2,500 years ago. It had an estimated 100,000 inhabitants on a planet that counted a total estimated population of only 200 million. The site is located 30 miles north of modern Mexico City.

Researchers using modern tools available to science have been able to hypothesize that since Mexico’s terrain at the time was somewhat devoid of larger edible animals suitable for breeding, rabbit husbandry became an economic force as well as a source of basic necessities and then some.

 

Analyzing rabbit bones found at the site, researchers using stable carbon and oxygen isotopes were able to weave the importance of rabbit husbandry into the tapestry of a society that believed in eight gods and occasional human sacrifices.

 

So what’s the connection? Well, some visitors here in the Yucatan see the abundant agouti, or Tzereque, and usually describe them as a cross between squirrels and rabbits…or pigs… or…? The Yucatan has an estimated 125 species of small mammals – including the Eastern Cottontail and forest rabbit, or “tapeti” and several varieties of squirrels. Natural crossbreeding could have happened during all those years and maybe the Tzereque is a mammalian link to the rabbit of the past.

Teotihuacan was completely abandoned in 700 AD and the reason remains a mystery. But the legacy is that in the absence of thousand-pound cattle or 250-pound hogs, little things mean a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

The End – Previous edition  below

SEPTEMBER, 2016

Around Town …

PA’s youth club sailors

shine in national Olympics

 

*Team wins five of 24 medals

  Young sailors from Quintana Roo have piloted the state to second place nationally in the 2016 Mexican National Olympiads. Five of the total 24 medals won at the recent event, or 21 percent, were brought home by members of the Puerto Aventuras Youth Sailing Club located in Phase 4, reports club founder and commodore Daniele Gracis.

The competition included four categories of vessels. Three categories from Puerto Aventuras were entered in the races.

The local club’s winning sailors, and their boat class, are Alex Torres and Rene Galicia in Optimist, Keyla Hernandez in Laser, Marcelo Melgarejo and Greece Hernandez in windsurfing. Also adding to state points were Ana Laura Rojas and Carlos Muniz of Club Puerto Cancun.

The Youth Sailing Club is made possible in part by donations to sponsor some of the sailors. The club has brought several major regattas off the shores of the community in the past several years that has helped the local economy.

*Colonos helping condos collect fee
  The Colonos has issued a notice that owners of condominiums who are in arrears in maintenance fees will be obliged to fess up before they will be able to get or renew 
their gate pass. As of August 22, 2016, any owner who wants a gate pass will have to present a “no-debt” letter from their condo administration to the Colonos before a pass will be issued. The non-payment of fees, although not a widespread practice, has for some time vexed condo managers and offended on-time owners who are considerate of their neighbors by assuring funds are sufficient monthly to pay debts to vendors and maintenance servicemen.

*Push for PA mayor continues

Solidaridad’s City Council was seeking a special council session if necessary to vote on a bid to create a mayoral position for the growing  Puerto Aventuras community and its delegation.  So far, the outgoing municipal president has sidestepped the move, said Councilor Emilio Tamargo, who sponsored the proposal.  Estimates of the Puerto Aventuras population ranges from 15,000 to 20,000 depending on who is counting.

The community on the west side of Highway 307 has been active recently, blockading the highway in a squabble over absent electrical service for several days causing major inconvenience to residents and more recently, complaining about poor medical service from the IMSS( Social Security System) over lack of services sufficient to keep up with the population growth. Complainants say the current level of medical services is the same as it was 20 years ago when the population was less than half what it is today. Hence the push to empower the delegation with a mayor to assure the delegation receives its fare share of tax dollars and services…

*That’s a lot of rubbish!

  One resort resident wrote to the Colonos complaining that trash had not been collected for seven consecutive days during August, while Poblado residents were demanding relief as garbage outside for collection went uncollected and rancid from the heat for as much as two weeks.

It wasn’t the only complaint being registered with the resort’s Colonos about the on-again, off-again collection situation directly attributable to the municipal government’s ultra-slow payments to the collection company. Others have complained in vain directly to the municipal government, the administration of which is about to change.

  Colonos General Manager Armando Rincon said even extra payment to the collection truck driver didn’t help the situation. With any luck and a new municipal administration, perhaps the situation will improve when the high season comes along. Meanwhile, the Colonos has been sending notices to residents about separating garbage from recyclables and not putting barrels out for collection on Sundays. Similar problems were reported even on touristy 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, which has left restaurant owners there screaming for relief… *Recycle your stuff at the skate park between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 2, and help improve the rubbish collection situation…

*Ubiquitous ‘Frisbee’ dies

From Acapulco to Puerto Aventuras

By Staff
  We’re told his name was Alex Romy to some, or Alejandro Vega Oscoi, depending on who you asked. His age was reportedly somewhere in the 80s, and anyone who visited Puerto Aventuras resort for more than a day in the past several decades or so likely saw the bi-lingual thin man with the weatherworn face, known simply as “Frisbee”, roaming along the resort’s pathways cradling his beloved dog Daisy in his arms and often darting in and out of al fresco eateries for snap-chats with familiar faces, of which there were many.

To most ex-pats and snowbirds, he was an enigma, but some longtime residents managed to wheedle from him  selective bits of his past, such as being an Acapulco fishing boat captain to the Hollywood stars of the day , a skilled Frisbee flinger, thus earning his nickname, and water skier along Acapulco’s beaches. PA restaurateur Peter Metrick tells the Pelican that when he landed here in his sailboat 27 years ago, “Frisbee” was on the dock to handle the ropes saying “Welcome to Paradise,” thus beginning a quarter century friendship that sadly finds itself interrupted.

Metrick and others described Frisbee as a willing purveyor of homespun philosophy to any who would listen. “He will be missed for his always happy ‘yeah, yeah, everything is well’” said PA developer Roman Rivera Torres. Resident Hal Harper said Frisbee loved his aging dog more than anything and hoped some kind person would care for her. But as it happened, Metrick told the Pelican a few days after Frisbee’s death, Daisy followed him way over yonder.

Frisbee’s inevitable departure brought together numerous friends and acquaintances on August 26. They convened at Hippo’s Restaurant, then retired en masse to the Chac-Hal-Al jetty for memorial words, fireworks and reminiscences.  

Metrick said “Frisbee” shared a rhyming couplet with him years ago, and Metrick now passes it on to the community: “The spirit down here in man, and the spirit up there in the sun; In reality are only one spirit, and there is no other one.” 

For many, Frisbee was a welcome village fixture to the extent that his passing drew many in the community together to remember his being with eulogies, balloons, music, fireworks and – appropriately – Frisbees.

Scenes above from Frisbee’s commemoration. 

 

*Delegation combats zika

The political  delegation in the poblado reports that some 78 buildings in the poblado and Puerto Maya will be certified for the 4th consecutive year for assuring the properties have been cleaned and maintained to prevent the spread of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, carrier of zika, chikungunya and dengue. The group urges private property owners to do the same by removing standing water, pruning vegetation and getting rid of junk…    

UK warned citizens about Riviera

Maya “travelers disease” outbreak 

By Staff

About 270 UK visitors at luxury hotels in the Riviera Maya were allegedly infected with cyclosporiasis from June through August, 2016, prompting the UK Office of Public Health to urge its citizens to use extreme caution when dining in Riviera Maya eateries.. The affliction, also known as “traveler’s diarrhea,” was reported by visitors to the Maya Riviera from England and Scotland who stayed at various hotels.

The warning was issued after reports to UK health authorities by travelers who complained of frequent diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, flatulence, bloating, low fever, loss of appetite and weight, all symptoms of cyclosporiasis.

In a timely response, Mexican health officials investigating the complaints opined the route of infection may have been a fecal-oral pathway from previously contaminated food, even from the point of harvest. It is estimated that in 2015 that Riviera Maya hosted about 304.5 thousand visitors from the UK, a significant contribution to the local economy.

Now authorities are wondering why only British visitors were affected, since no Italians, Canadians, Spaniards, Americans or tourists from other markets reported any sickness. In addition, a handful of zika cases have been reported in Cozumel.

 

Added international flights hold

promise of competitive fares

By Staff

  An agreement hammered out in 2015 to allow more international flights between Mexico and the USA became effective August 21. Basically the agreement allows more flights between the two countries, a by-product of which is more competition and, if economic theory holds, more competitive fares.

Both countries hope to encourage and facilitate, they say, an international aviation system based on market competition in an effort to achieve fair consumer pricing through competitive rates. The agreement allows airlines of both countries to cooperate with one another on point-to-point routes and schedules.

The agreement also involves the rights of each country to impose taxes on users that are fair and reasonable. Meanwhile, airlines are readying additional seating and flights for the upcoming fall and winter high seasons.

 

Allegations of state corruption

slow bank loans to governments

Compiled by Staff 
  Tourist-rich Quintana Roo, the home state of Puerto Aventuras and environs, is among four Mexican states where recurring allegations of political corruption have prompted Mexican banks to curtail nationwide lending to the country’s indebted state governments.

The four culpable states – that also include Veracruz, Nuevo Leon and Chihuahua – have accounted for close to half of the 70 percent jump in local government liabilities between 2010 and 2015, which stood at 536 billion pesos ($28.52 billion) at the end of last December.

Ironically, voters in those four states were apparently convinced of the criminal allegations during the recent election process to oust the PRI party of President Enrique Pena Nieto after decades of control.

The reduction in loans to state governments has been significant in the first half of this year with commercial banks agreeing to only 11 loans to state and municipal governments totaling $451 million USD, less than during the same period in 2015, when 32 loans went out, according to finance ministry figures.

"We now have more cautious policies to avoid cases of over-indebtedness," said Armando Acevedo, in charge of local lending at Grupo Financiero Interacciones, (GFI) a major lender to states and municipalities whose rating was downgraded by Moody’s in June citing rising asset risks from the bank’s excessive exposures to Mexican regional and local governments."

Moody’s did the same to Veracruz and Chihuahua, while Quintana Roo, home to tourist hubs Cancun and Playa del Carmen, had its outlook lowered by Standard and Poor’s.

While the Mexican federal government denies the existence of a problem and that new laws have tightened lending rules, Luis Robles Miaja, board president of BBVA Bancomer in Mexico, said, “"What we have done is be much more careful about which states we’re lending to."

Governors of the four states accused of corruption by the opposition political party before the election campaign have denied the charges.m

The Round-up…

Pricing propane – Quintana Roo has the second most expensive propane gas in the nation, second only to Baja Sur. The price here was reported in the local press as 14.01 pesos per kilogram after a decrease of 2.55 pesos. Then the Ministry of Finance, which oversees LPG pricing, said the price is supposed to be 11.55 pesos. The Federation said it is now monitoring distributors to assure they are charging the set price. Meanwhile, we were told that Zeta Gas has initiated an automatic payment process with local banks for those who might be interested in the convenience of auto-pay. This can be checked out with Zeta office personnel located in Centro Maya near the Soriana supermarket…

Missing money – Solidaridad’s city council is demanding the outgoing municipal administration  explain what happened to 22.9 million pesos that the state congress found is missing from the 2015 city books. The demand is part of a council clamor for more transparency in Solidaridad’s municipal government…

High crime in Q. Roo – The regional military commander on the Yucatan reports that of the three states comprising the Yucatan Peninsula, Quinta Roo has the highest crime rate, most of it centered in the urbanized areas of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The other two states are Campeche and Yucatan.

Aguacan water company fought back against complaints that it was responsible for recent sewer overflows on 5th Avenue. Aguakan inspection showed, it said, that cause was the failure of some restaurants to use and/or clean grease traps, causing blockage which caused the overflows onto the street…

Taxi driver union “Lazaro Cardenas del Rio” has been awarded the “T” distinctive service emblem from the state Tourism Secretariat for a 2-year initiative to improve the safety and service of taxis in the area and set new operating standards for tourists and locals alike…

Akumal shocker – Beachgoers here were reportedly discomfited when observing private armed guards apparently protecting the beach access area. There have been clashes this year over the beach access issue including blockades and property damage. The guards have a similar military appearance as those stationed at Sam’s Club in Playa del Carmen… Meanwhile talks are continuing to forge agreements on beach access and use between interested parties while also preserving the turtle population…

Hurricane Earl, the first of the Atlantic season to flirt with landfall in Puerto Aventuras, decided to woo Belize instead and spared touristy Mayan Rivera of potential economic loss from physical damage and an extended lull in the flow of tourist dollars. But Veracruz took a hit with damages and at least six deaths of 40 reported nationwide from mudslides caused by excessive rain… No major problems reported in Puerto Aventuras and its immediate environs…

Three killed in Tulum crash and two injured last week when a truck whose driver lost control of the truck sideswiped a car… Also, a 23-year old person and a one-year-old child were killed this week outride the Catalonia Hotel and Spa when the driver of a car fell asleep and crashed into parked vans on the 307…

Bicycle Club expresses concern in Playa del Carmen after a biker who tried to stop a thief from stealing his bicycle was stabbed to death on 30th Street as the month of August began. In a statement, the club said while bicycle theft is a daily event, murder during the theft is rare and beyond the pale… Another fatal stabbing was also reported on the same weekend in the Akumal puebla when an unidentified man was found outside a house with hands tied behind his back and 18 stab wounds…

Electric rate hikes by the Federal Electric Commission (CFE) have totaled 10 percent in just a month, causing complaints from business and the general public because the increases impact consumer costs so heavily, particularly the ability of the poor to make payments and buy food… This while the peso lost more ground, coming in at 19.15 pesos per $1 USD on August 2, increasing worries about inflation….

Big oil Exxon, Chevron and Hess have teamed up to bid on 10 crude oil drilling rights in Mexican gulf waters when bidding begins Dec. 5. Mexico hopes to raise $44 billion from the sale. Foreign producers haven’t drilled in Mexican waters since 1938. The Pena Nieto administration has ushered reforms in the nationalized oil industry that has opened Mexico to foreign oil investment…

Code of honor? A spike in the murder of entire families, mothers, fathers and children by warring drug gangs in several Mexican states created one newspaper headline that the gangs were “breaking the code of honor” – a suggestion that resurrects the real world view that there is no honor among thieves to begin with… Meanwhile, a young priest in the embattled metropolitan area of Monterrey is inviting troubled youth to join the “Gang of Christ” as a better alternative to criminal gangs…

The body of a former mayor of a town in Yucatan State was found decomposing on the shore of a Valladolid cenote last week after he had earlier been reported missing. The police say it appears that he had been tortured and assumed murdered in an act of “reckoning”.

Sargassum sickness? – As sargassum continues to pollute area beaches, particularly in Playa de Carmen, there are reports that, in addition to the putrid odor of the decaying weed, is a growing number of reports of fishermen and workers handling the weed and complaining about sores, rashes, skin infections and a type of mange… Meanwhile, with it’s economy caving in, Venezuelans entering the jungles to sift for gold in watery pits are returning to urban areas are spreading malaria to a degree not seen in many years…

Addiction and pregnancies are reported as the two main causes of school dropouts in Solidaridad… Use of moto-tricycles as taxis in the PA poblado has opened up a debate concerning their safety and liability coverage in an ongoing investigation of their unlicensed use as public transportation. There are also complaints the trikes are undercutting licensed taxis…

Colectivo rides to Tulum, Puerto Morelos and Cancun could increase by the time snowbirds arrive in the fall. The taxi unions say they already have permission to raise prices as the cost of gasoline remains comparatively high. A ride from Playa to Cancun is currently 34 pesos, according to reports…

 

Nature Watch…

Pioneer in dolphin ‘dialogue’

dies, leaves lasting legacy

Dolphin Discovery helps build on dolphin research

By Staff

Louis M. Herman died at 86 in early August. Now it’s up to organizations like Dolphin Discovery to continue his seminal work in furthering man’s understanding of and communication with dolphins.

Who was Herman? He was among the pioneering researchers to open a dialogue with dolphins in the belief dolphins had the ability to retain and respond to sight and sound signals, much like the ones displayed daily at Dolphin Discovery sites here in Puerto Aventuras and at other Caribbean locales.

Born in New York City, Herman earned a doctorate in behavioral psychology specializing in the decision-making process, then drifted into the study of animal language and oceanography, receiving sufficient support to create the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Hawaii where, after 20 years of research, proved that dolphins were cognitive cousins of chimpanzees and in one arguable way, even more advanced.

In 1997, his research took a severe blow when two disgruntled lab employees released the two dolphins, Puka and Kea, involved in his study of eight years. Ironically, the men said they did so in part because the dolphins deserved to be free. But Puka and Kea, who had come to understand short sentences like “fetch the ball,” were presumed to have starved or been eaten by sharks because they were unprepared in captivity for life in the wild.

Dr. Herman continued the research with two other dolphins and ultimately showed that dolphins, like some monkeys, could process language fundamentals, that is, grasp word meanings expressed by sounds or symbols. The research also discovered dolphins, like humans, display a short temper when they are wrong and strive mightily to be correct, particularly when being right is followed by reward.

The Encyclopedia of Linguistics reported, when Dr, Herman retired in 2006, that he and his team were responsible for “virtually all of what is currently known and accepted” about the ability of the dolphin to understand the basic semantics of artificial language.

The exploration of dolphin communication and understanding continues in universities, private research groups and at award winning Dolphin Discovery sites where the company opens its facilities to researchers continuing to expand the book of knowledge opened by Dr. Herman.

The End – Previous edition below

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