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Phase 4 beach creation plan
runs into environmental snag
More studies required, says developer
In the May issue, the Pelican reported that a new private, $1.6 million USD protected beach development was planned for the rocky shore of the Puerto Aventuras Phase 4 project between the Barcelo Hotel and the Caleta Chac Hal Al.
Work on the beach project was estimated to begin next month, in September, said PA developer Roman Rivera Torres, and be done by April. But since then, a fly flew into the ointment, and the federal environmental agency, SEMARNAT, has rejected the environmental impact study after seven months of consideration delaying, if not ending, the project.
At question, evidently, is the large man-made reef planned off-shore that Rivera says is “necessary for lowering wave action, detouring sargassum back to the parallel current, and depositing and maintaining new sand in place.”
Delays are nothing new
Rivera, who has become attuned to such delays in the 30-year Puerto Aventuras development, said, “We have not canceled the project. It is only going to take much longer than estimated, with more studies for us to present in evidence.” He said the big rocks and necessary equipment to construct the reef is still at hand but “I don’t see it happening yet in the next four months. It’s incredible in this day and age that the permitting process may take longer than the construction.”
The delay in permitting also seems to be one of the culprits impeding the planned sand replenishment of the Omni Beach area along with delayed funding from housing construction in Phase 4.
As to the new beach in Phase 4, Rivera had filed plans 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 future hotels/condos in that area. While the proposed beach 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.
The beach is planned to replace the flat stone slabs along the water’s edge adjacent to two hotel lots on the Caribbean shore to attract investment and development to 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 are trying to sell with the commitment of completing the beach project.”
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 considerable 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. 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 (rooms) and consists of 38,000 m2.” he said.
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Reveler dies in fall from
Puerto Aventuras building
A man among seven revelers who were drinking on the roof of a rooming house on Coconut Street in the Poblado July 23 died immediately after falling from the roof at about 3 a.m., police reported.
The report noted that remaining revelers had tried to move the body away from the building but became aware of too many witnesses outside the building. Five of the people present were to be made available for arraignment on a charge of murder, noted local press reports. All the revelers were from Chiapas, according to the police.
Poblado residents have complained to authorities in the past about liquor establishments along the newly resurfaced main road enticing drinkers and damaging the image of the community.
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Sargassum scourge continues attack
on area beaches, hurts businesses
Tons upon tons of foul-smelling sargassum is being removed weekly from area beaches by additional work forces and volunteers from such institutions as taxi unions and churches. There is a major effort ongoing to keep beaches clear for tourists, some of whom, according to local reports, have canceled hotel stays to vacation elsewhere.
What everybody hoped was a passing phenomenon, sargassum continues to plague the Mexican Caribbean’s otherwise pristine beaches, causing losses in the tourism industry and calls for scientists and environmentalists to find a way out of the dilemma.
In one rare but scary instance, Paamul Jack, an avid environmental photographer and videographer, videoed a crocodile washing up on the beach in Yan Ten, just north of Paamul, and surfacing amid a wave of sargassum fouling the shore. (See the video at https://youtu.be/eIpv1FpMruw ).
PA is using locally collected sargassum to mulch as eventual fertilizer for the community’s gardens. Some area groups are calling for government research on using the kelp to raise pigs and chickens and other positive uses. Lifeguards at area beaches reported an average 20 complaints a day from foreign and domestic beachgoers who said they contracted itching hives after coming into contact with the kelp’s population of fleas, while a few complained about stings from jellyfish floating in the weed…
“This situation on the sargassum is new and, for tourism purposes, something will have to be done because it seems that these invasions will continue and not be a once in a lifetime event,” says PA developer Arq. Roman Rivera Torres.
“Part of the problem is that the authorities do not know how to allow protections against it and the conservationists say it is a natural process and should be left alone, saying that it will be good for our beaches helping to retain sand. That’s a questionable notion, since, when you bury it, it turns into organic matter that later produces limus (slime),” he said.
“Limus (or limo in Spanish) is the very fine talcum or dust from limestone that combines with organic substances from mangroves or sargassum. People from the area call it “sopluc” because of the way it sounds when you sink your foot in it and pull it out. If stirred, the odor is similar to rotten egg, not a good sensation to step in,” Rivera said.
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Mosquito spraying program begins
The Colonos has begun rainy-season mosquito spraying between 6 and 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Friday until November. The administration notes it will be using a non-toxic product in pools for better protective results.
In tandem, Colonos officials ask residents to do their part to help control the disease-carrying mosquito population by keeping yards clean and free of any type of container that can harbor standing water where mosquito eggs hatch.
“Help us by not throwing rubbish or garbage into the empty lots of the complex as we recently made a yearly cleaning of those lots. And remember that when you help us, the entire community benefits,” the officials said.
Scientists have recently learned that the same mosquito that carries dengue fever can also carry chikungunya, another disease similar to dengue. Dengue fever is the most common cause of fever in travelers returning from the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and South Central Asia. This disease is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes and cannot be spread person to person. Severe dengue can be fatal, but with good treatment, less than 1% of patients die from dengue.
Playa’s General Hospital reported in June that area dengue fever cases were down by 50 percent while some possible Chikungunya cases were suspected in the Chetumal area at that time, according to the State Health Department.
Put dengue, chikungunya away
by keeping mosquitoes at bay
Six dengue fever vaccines are in development, but not yet available. The vaccine that’s furthest in development is a three-dose vaccine for children. The results of a phase III trial were published in July 2014. This study showed that the vaccine appears to be safe, and it prevented dengue infections slightly more than half the time.
Those who had the vaccine but still became infected with dengue had a milder course of the disease than did those who weren’t vaccinated. Although the vaccine is not as effective as doctors would like, it is safe. The company that makes this vaccine hasn’t yet announced any plans to seek approval to market the vaccine.
So for now, if you’re living or traveling in an area where dengue fever is known to be, the best way to avoid dengue fever is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that carry the disease.
If you are living or traveling in tropical areas where dengue fever is common, these tips may help reduce your risk of mosquito bites:
· Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened housing. It’s particularly important to keep mosquitoes out at night.
· Reschedule outdoor activities. Avoid being outdoors at dawn, dusk and early evening, when more mosquitoes are out.
· Wear protective clothing. When you go into mosquito-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes.
· Use mosquito repellent. Permethrin can be applied to your clothing, shoes, camping gear and bed netting. You can also buy clothing made with permethrin already in it. For your skin, use a repellent containing at least a 10 percent concentration of DEET.
· Reduce mosquito habitat. The mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus typically live in and around houses, breeding in standing water that can collect in such things as used automobile tires. Reduce the breeding habitat to lower mosquito populations.
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Oil Painting Lessons at PA’s Information and Arts Center will be offered in a 12-hour course from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays beginning sometime in August. It is open to all ages and levels and directed by Eduardo Stein. Fee is 2,000 pesos and class size is limited. More information available from Gladis del Carmen at 984-802-9047… The PA Library, which morphed into summer hours on July 15 will resume regular daily after school hours on August 24. The library is open only on Wednesdays from 10 to 4 p.m. during the summer break… More prepared foods will be subjected to the 16 percent VAT (sales) tax, officials have announced. They said the addition of more food products, many sold in the area’s convenience stores, is not a tax expansion but a clarification of the existing tax rules…
Cameras needed – The Graphic Design Workshop students in Junior High and High School at Colegio Puerto Aventuras, are looking for digital cameras DSLR as donations or negotiations to purchase. The cameras do not require video. If you can help us, please contact Prof. Guillermo Hernández, head of the workshop at Guillermo@colegiopuertoaventuras.com ….
Best Police Force – The municipal police force of Solidaridad’s Playa del Carmen was described as “one of the best in the country” by speakers at a business association meeting in Playa del Carmen. Pablo Alcocer Gongora, made the comment at a business meeting of a retail group known as Kanak-Servytur, noting that local police serve the public with “correct and wise” decisions, which is why visitors see Solidaridad as a safe destination.”… Mexico’s employment rate shot up by 78,435 new jobs in June, the highest monthly increase reported ever since job statistics were inaugurated in 1997…
The pesky sargassum that has been fouling area beaches and detouring visitors from the shoreline all along the coast has a bright side. It has provided temporary jobs for more than 200 people hired to clean the kelp from the beaches. Meanwhile, business groups have been meeting to discuss solutions to the continuing invasion threatening the tourism industry… An oddity – Playa officials report that tourists from the U.S. and Europe rent more bikes to tour the city than do domestic visitors, causing a summertime 30 percent drop in rentals… Aventuras gangs? – Police and a social agency say they have counted 98 separate street gangs in Playa del Carmen, a city of some 150,000 residents, but added that about 15 of them are in the town (not the resort) of Puerto Aventuras… Fifteen robberies from various condos have been reported from January through June in the resort. In one cash theft on Puerto Aventuras Boulevard, the thief was identified, returned the money and is now banned from getting through the main gate…
A boa constrictor that was trying to cross Boulevard Playa del Carmen was run over by a truck and injured. But it wasn’t left there to die. Three people using sticks helped the injured snake off the highway. Police took the boa to a vet where it was treated and later released into the wilds… More Asians coming? – Don’t be surprised if more Asians begin appearing on Riviera Maya shores. The tourism industry is promoting a direct flight from China to Havana that includes side trips to the Riviera Maya… A Musical Thanksgiving is in store this year for the Riviera Maya as the annual jazz festival gets under way in Playa del Carmen on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, and continues through the 28th…
Q. Roo’s 3.6% unemployment rate is well below the national average, reports the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, thanks to job-training programs implemented in the state. A national survey ranked Q. Roo. the state in which Puerto Aventuras is located, as being among the states with the greatest contribution to economic activity and second in job creation… The City Theater in Playa del Carmen, under construction for three years, was scheduled to become operational as of late July. The theater has cutting edge sound and lighting fixtures and a 36-meter high stage making it able to render first-class performances for area residents to enjoy…
For what it’s worth , four out of 10 adults in Solidaridad are overweight or obese… Bike lanes are being planned for a stretch of Constitution Avenue in Playa del Carmen, acknowledging that bicycles are an important aspect of local travel requiring safety measures. PA also created a bike lane on the resurfaced main road in front of the Catalonia Hotel … For the first time, Air France will begin scheduled service in January from Paris to Mexico City with its 516-passenger A380, the world’s largest passenger plane. Can Cancun be far behind ?… ‘Akumal disagreements continue to flourish over beach access as major hotel prepares to open its doors Nov. 1 …
Playa’s Red Cross agency is adding to summer beach safety in the Mamitas area using a small boat to patrol nearby beaches in support of its safety personnel ashore… Worrisome statistics – The director of the Center for Youth Integration in Playa reports that at least 60 percent of area secondary school children have tried marijuana and that a whopping 90 percent of area 4th graders have experimented with alcohol… Immigration falling – University researchers in Texas and New Hampshire say immigration from Mexico to the U.S., both legal and illegal, has fallen by 50 percent since the peak year of 2003. The drop is attributable to Mexico’s growing economy, they said…
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Q. Roo pioneers licensing
of state real estate agents
As predicted in a previous story from Mexlaw offices in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo has become a pioneer state in formulating and implementing a licensing procedure for real estate agents.
Following an 80-hour course of study, 47 agents were first to be certified this summer and many more are expected to be taking the exam required for licensure going into the future. Certified agents will need to complete continuing studies annually to keep their license in force, according to the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals (AMPI).
The goal of giving agents a legal standing is to promote more certainty in real estate transactions and provide force-of-law protection of sellers, buyers and all principals involved in a given transaction.
Individuals operating in real estate transactions without a license will be subject to monetary penalties. An estimated 1,500 individuals are believed to be working as agents in the state.
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AT&T investing $3B USD
for expansion in Mexico
U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T will invest $3 billion USD to extend its high-speed, mobile Internet service to 100 million people in Mexico by 2018, the company has announced.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said in statements after meeting in Mexico City that the country’s recent telecommunications reform enabled such investments.
AT&T entered the Mexican mobile service business when it acquired Lusacell and Nextel Mexico for $4.4 billion USD earlier this year. Mexico’s sweeping reforms are aimed at increasing competition in a sector dominated by billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil empire.
The presumption is that phone rates will become competitive at some point. For some snowbirds, the hope is that simplified phone plans be developed that take into account the part-time nature of some residents (snowbirds) who are not in the country all year but want to keep their number active.
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New CFE substation meets
area’s growing power needs
The new Riviera Maya Power substation recently began operating at 100%, adding greater capacity in the area to meet higher future demand.
It is worth noting that outages have become much less frequent in Puerto Aventuras, making for a more pleasant and uninterrupted lifestyle.
The new station is responsible for distributing electricity in six municipalities. Although this infrastructure started to operate after a trial period that began last April 26, it began to supply electricity to about 20 area substations in northern Solidaridad about six weeks ago. Benefiting from the expansion are Tulum, Cozumel, Solidaridad (Puerto Aventuras), Benito Juarez, Isla Mujeres and Lazaro Cardenas. The cost of investment was almost one billion pesos, the Federal Commission Electricidad (CFE) said.
This infrastructure has a capacity of 400 000 kilo volts, which makes it the largest capacity in Quintana Roo. It is sited among the Ejido Alfredo B. Bonfil and Puerto Morelos, with its construction ensuring a supply of electricity for the next 15-20 years in the region of continuing growth.
CFE said the launch of Riviera Maya Power may have gone unnoticed to the inhabitants of the region but ensures a vibrant power resource for the area’s predominant tourism industry.
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Reason to study Spanish goes
beyond snow-birding in Mexico
By Suzanne Goldenberg,The Guardian, and Stephen Burgen in Barcelona
The U.S. now has more Spanish speakers than Spain – only Mexico has more. The United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico, according to a new study published by the prestigious Instituto Cervantes.
The report says there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the U.S. plus 11.6 million who are bilingual, mainly the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants, for a total 52.6 million. This puts the US ahead of Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million) and second only to Mexico (121 million).
Among the sources cited in the report is the U.S. Census Office which estimates that the U.S. will have 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, making it the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on Earth, with Spanish the mother tongue of almost a third of its citizens.
By state the highest concentration is in the former Spanish colonies of the south and south-west, with New Mexico top at 47%, followed by California and Texas (both 38%) and Arizona (30%). Some 18% of New Yorkers speak Spanish while only 1.3% of West Virginians do. Perhaps surprisingly, more than 6% of Alaskans are Spanish speakers.
The report – El español, una lengua viva – (Spanish, a living language) estimates that there are 559 million Spanish speakers worldwide, a figure that includes 470 million native speakers and those with some command of the language.
The Instituto Cervantes was established in 1991 to promote the Spanish language abroad and last year had more than 200,000 students registered in its courses. It estimates that 21 million people are currently studying Spanish and here, too, the U.S. leads with 7.8 million learning the language, followed by Brazil and France.
The report adds that two-thirds of Spanish-linked GDP is generated in two areas: North America (US, Canada and Mexico) and the European Union. Between them they account for 78% while Latin America only accounts for 22%. It calculates that altogether Spanish speakers contribute 9.2% of the world’s GDP.
The Index of Human Development ranks Spanish as the second most important language on earth, behind English but ahead of Mandarin. It is also the third most widely used language on the internet, although less than 8% of internet traffic is in Spanish. The report says that Spanish is the second most used language on Twitter in London and New York. It also comes second on Facebook, a long way behind English though well ahead of Portuguese, Facebook’s third language…
(P.S. – Translator and educator Gloria Contreras assembles Spanish classes in the winter season. Reach her at Cel. (52) 984-108-3517 for more information.)
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Like an apple, papaya a day
helps keep sickness at bay
What many snowbirds look forward to when returning for a sojourn in Puerto Aventuras and its en
virons, is the abundance of fruit not as readily available in North America. We often see snowbirds ordering a “fruit plate” for breakfast at local restaurants or grocery shoppers loading up on limes, avocados and papaya, the latter Mexico’s answer to “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,”
According to a popular saying in Mexico and Central America, “a papaya a day keeps the doctor in the distance.” Papaya is a rich source of antioxidants , vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes with important health benefits.
Papaya is known for maintaining the digestive system in good condition. That’s due to the enzyme “papain” that is present in the fruit. Medical Center spokesmen at the University of Pittsburgh say papain may be particularly useful for people who do not generate enough pancreatic enzymes, resulting in symptoms of indigestion such as gas, bloating and flatulence.
This fruit also stimulates intestinal mobility to combat constipation because it has a high fiber content and properties of papain. The World Health Organization recommends taking 30 grams of fiber a day to have a good intestinal transit, preventing constipation problems and digestive complications.
Recent research by students at the University of Karachi, India, found that papaya seeds contain high levels of proteolytic enzymes and an alkaloid called carpaine which has proved effective in killing intestinal worms, parasites and amoebas.
Papaya has about 80 mg of vitamin C per 100 weight grams, which is equivalent to the amount in an orange of over 150 grams. Vitamin C dosage recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 90 milligrams for males and 75 for females.
Papaya is a fine source of antioxidants, vitamins C, E and beta-carotene. High levels of these nutrients can help protect our skin from free radicals, molecules that cause oxidation, muscle cell damage and aging. Let’s hear it for Mexico’s breakfast fruit plates peppered with papaya.
The fruit grows on a tree-like plant, is native to central and northern South America and has become naturalized in the Caribbean Islands, Florida and several African countries. It is a popular ingredient in smoothies and salad plates
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Just in time!
Ban on motorized vessels
in caleta to begin July 1
Site work on 2nd nine golf holes continues
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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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
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.
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.
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
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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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 email@example.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.
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.
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
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
Despite shoreline problems, PA
still first 2 letters in ‘PAradise”
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”.