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Monthly Archives: June 2016

JULY 2016


Local activism mild compared

to deaths in teacher protests

By Staff
Recent protests in Akumal, Chetumal and Puerto Aventuras, where teargas, Molotov cocktails and property damage came into play, pale in comparison to violent demonstrations and gang activity reported elsewhere in June that resulted in death and injury.

Reportedly, nine people died and 100 were said to be injured in clashes between the police, teachers and “outside agitators” in Oaxaca state. Authorities say teachers protesting education reforms by the Pena Nieto administration barricaded roads that prohibited delivery of needed supplies to area towns.

Unarmed police attempting to dispel the blockade were pelted with rocks. Federal police chief Enrique Galindo said armed officers were sent to the scene only after shots were fired into the crowd and at police by “unidentified people” believed to be outside agitators.

A general infection of ill temper in the national population, an anemic oil economy and resultant peso devaluation, crime and impunity, have combined to fire unrest and activism in the populations of some states. These conditions have been met with peaceful demonstrations gone awry in some sectors of society and have led to the defeat of President Pena Nieto’s PRI party in 7 of 12 states during recent gubernatorial elections.

The ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, met its first defeats in 80 years in the states of tourist-rich Quintana Roo on the Caribbean and oil-rich Gulf states of Veracruz and neighboring Tamaulipas, two political districts riddled with gang violence.

The embarrassing upsets of the PRI fostered the recent resignation of party chief Manio Fabio Beltrones, who is considered to be in the running for Mexican president in 2018.

On the heel of these events, United Nations human rights expert Christof Heyns, author of a 2013 study of Mexico’s public protection sectors showing little change in the protection of the public, said, “Extrajudicial killings and excessive use of force by security officers persist.”

In a follow-up report to the 2013 fact-finding mission, he said in June that protective measures remain ineffective and that impunity and lack of accountability in right-to-life violations remain a considerable government challenge. As though to prove his point, 21 people including three federal officers were shot dead last week in gang violence over a period of only two days in Guerrero state and two journalists murdered during the month in other parts of Mexico.

Around Town…

Shared GoMart/Europea outlet

disappoints some local consumers

By Staff
What was initially billed by word of mouth as the coming of the upscale La Europea wine, liquor and deli outlet in the main gate area has so far turned out to be more a standard convenience store with but a touch of Europea.

That’s the reports coming in from some disappointed residents who were looking forward to a full-fledged La Europea similar to the one in Playa del Carmen with its considerable assortment of wines and exotic deli-cacies.

“There’s just a couple of alleys of wine that I could see,” said one dismayed resident. “It hardly adds to the image the resort seems to be looking for in its main gate remodeling project.”

Said another: “I thought it would be bigger and have a deli section. It does have more local options for wine and liquor and a few Italian items like canned tomatoes.” Another shopper said Europea looks more like an extension of the convenience store rather than the main attraction.

One lamented, “Having been to La Europea in Playa, I would have expected something similar. However, the placement indicates that it is more a convenience store for people stopping to purchase gas. The wine selection is not bad, as well as some liquor products. There was a case in the back that did have pre-packed cuts of cheese, and looked like they were possibly going to expand. However, pre-packed isn’t quite as good as fresh cut at the deli.”

On other fronts, the Colonos reports that the first phase of the Main Gate Project is going at a slower pace than predicted, with a new completion date set for mid-September.

The project – essentially landscaping, roadwork and general site preparation for Phase 2 that will add more lanes through the gate and enhance the security office – hopes to achieve an image of simple good taste and dignity when completed. It was said the gate area as it is looks “diminished” compared to the glitz and pizzazz of the all-inclusive entrances along 307.

In other community developments, the new golf-cart parking lot carved out of a chunk of Centro near the CEDAM museum came up about five spaces short of what had been designed. The Colonos, Centro and developer are expected to explore more potential spaces in hopes of accommodating at least 20 carts in Centro, thus leaving that many spaces for cars.

And to those inquiring about the proposed “doggie park,” the Colonos reports that an appropriate site has yet to be offered by the developer.

“The biggest news is that there isn’t much of it,” said one wag in reference to the diminished numbers of people remaining in the resort during the low season.


Akumal reports jet ski intrusion

over turtle feeding sanctuary

Craft reportedly came from Puerto Aventuras

By Staff
Akumal’s ecological center said two jet skis entered waters over the turtle sanctuary feeding area in Akumal Bay on June 26, a protected area closed to power boat activity.

Amanda Baye, a spokesperson for the ecology center, said the jet skis were not registered and that the drivers refused to identify themselves when asked to do so by center personnel. It was later learned, Baye said, the drivers and presumed owners of the jet skis, were from Puerto Aventuras.

She said the port captain has been briefed and that Profepa, the federal attorney for environmental protection, is being notified.

Only authorized vessels can enter the bay, said Baye, “All other water craft are strictly prohibited from entering the bay in accordance with the port authority.”

The intrusion into Akumal’s turtle sanctuary comes at a time when, two months into the turtle nesting season (May-October), a major reduction in nests, from 913 in 2015 to only 342 so far this season, is reported by the State Secretary of Ecology and Environment (SEMA) for the Xcacel-Xcacelito area.

Turtle populations along the Riviera Maya have long attracted tourist snorkelers and divers, and are an asset to the area’s economy worth protecting, say authorities.


Bill Gates fund aims to end

dengue, zika, threat in Q. Roo

Good news this month was the arrival of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation agent in Quintana Roo with a plan to end the ability of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito to transmit dengue, chikungunya and zika along the Riviera Maya.

Jorge Osorio, the representative, was accompanied by several colleagues to discuss the project with state health officials and agree on a plan to implement the program that could show results within a year. Osorio said it was a “courtesy visit” with authorities and an opportunity to locate potential sites or the project work areas.

The process involves the large-scale exposure of mosquitoes to a naturally-occurring bacterium known as “wolfpack”. Once exposed, the subsequent larvae of mosquitoes the following year are no longer able to spread the viruses, although they will still bite humans, he said.

Osorio explained a need to survey the existing medical infrastructure and a historical analysis of zika cases that have already occurred before implementing the program, which has been successful in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil and Colombia.

While a virus-impotent mosquito will still bite humans, it is interesting to note just which humans they prefer to bite and why.

According to research by Spanish dermatologists and researchers  in Madrid, mosquitoes prefer type “O” blood. The mosquito is also attracted by carbon dioxide exhalations of pregnant and/or overweight people whose conditions increase CO2. And finally, mosquitoes favor perspiration indicators whose odor identifies the source as a blood bearing mammal ripe for feasting.

Commerce Corner

WeRWater pool service, supply

relocates outside the main gate

After four years of operation in a Centro location across from the Omni Hotel and Capt. Rick’s Sportfishing, WeRWater pool service and supply company has moved outside the main gate in the space formerly occupied by the Subway sandwich shop, just south of the gasoline station.

As the only local purveyor dedicated to supplying lines of pool supplies, accessories and services in Puerto Aventuras, the company operated by partners Lucy Wedge and Leliet Duschkin also has a full-time professional pool maintenance technician available to tackle pool problems.

One immediate customer benefit of the new location is ample parking space and ease of loading supplies into vehicles.

Residents “tired of lifting water bottles and agonizing over late or missed water deliveries,” say the owners, “can also consider the option of installing affordable point-of-use Purikor osmosis purifying systems that deliver potable water from the tap.” WeRWater is the local distributor for Purikor and the system for homes and condos is very affordable, the owners say.

Among WeRWater’s other practical supplies are citronella candles that help keep mosquitoes at bay in a time when just one local mosquito specie can deliver dengue fever, chikungunya and the feared zika virus.

Wedge and Duschkin invite the residents of Puerto Aventuras, Paamul and Akumal to stop by for more information about their locally available  pool products, supplies and services at their new location. Information also available at 984-873-5283 and cel. 984-115-4588 and on their website available just by clicking on the WeRWater logo on this page.



Dolphin Discovery named a top

company fourth consecutive year

For the fourth consecutive year, the Dolphin Discovery family of dolphinariums offering entertainment and scientific research throughout the Caribbean área, including Puerto Aventuras, is listed as one of the top 30 Mexican companies in the 300- to-3000-employee category.

The 2016 edition of “Expansion” magazine, which rates companies every year, listed Dolphin Discovery as 17th of 75 companies in its category for this year. The magazine analyzes companies on standards of leadership, resonance, job satisfaction, communication, corporate social responsibility regarding climate, motivation, impartiality, compensation and other aspects of corporate operations and spirit.

Following the announcement, a Dolphin Discovery spokesperson said the company, which is the largest in the world employing dolphins for entertainment and conducting research for the care and conservation of the specie, also maintains high standards of quality in tourism services and employee relations and opportunity.

Dolphin Discovery is a member of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association, which has presented the company and its staff with numerous awards for the care and husbandry of the animals. (Click the Dolphin Discovery logo on this page for more corporate information).

UK’s  close vote to leave EU

could impact tourism here

The euro’s dive against the dollar as a result of the United Kingdom’s popular vote to leave the 28-nation European Union (soon to be 27) had immediate effect on world markets but could also show negative numbers of European and UK tourists along the Riviera Maya in the medium term, reports Dario Flota Ocampo, director of the area’s Tourism Promotion Trust.

He said the UK’s move is likely to negatively affect the purchasing power of Europeans compared to last year because European travel operators are considering using the dollar, meaning  higher travel costs to Mexico.

Ocampo said it’s too early to see a trend but expects one to evolve from ongoing sales for the next winter high season. There was an increase of 6 percent British tourists in the last three quarters, he noted, but said “we will have to wait” to see if the trend continues.     

The Roundup…

A new bakery appropriately called “The Sugar Shack” has opened in the former Mango’s along the Dolphin Walk in Centro. Owner and baker Christina Hurtubise notes the bakery is open Mondays through Saturdays offering cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, muffins and made-to-order treats…

Monthly recycling is Friday, July 1, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the skate park… 

Canada next? – Former Mexican President Vincente Fox, outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s rants, predicts that Canada would be next in line after Mexico for hard times as the result of Trump’s plan to abolish the NAFTA trade agreement between the three countries… Meanwhile, Canada says it will ease visa restrictions on Mexicans Dec. 1 provided Mexico’s administration can keep the floodgates closed…

Unrest in the medical community continued in June as local medical staff protested along with their national colleagues for better working conditions at IMSS hospitals

More jobs – Automaker BMW has begun expanding a new plant in San Luis Potosi for assembly of the BMW Series 3 model for sale in the Americas, joining other car makers taking advantage of Mexico’s growing industrial base, comparatively low wages and tariff-free access to the US market. The company plans to invest some $2.2 billion (USD) in the region through 2019…

And while Trump wants to build his now-famous wall between the US and Mexico, Texas builders are complaining over a lack of skilled Mexican labor it needs to build housing. They say many laborers and craftsmen are leaving the US for Mexico and not returning…

Sargassum is continuing to invade area beaches despite continued efforts at keeping the grassy deposits off beaches where it discourages tourism. The latest effort failed in Playa del Carmen’s Recodo Beach area where private initiative resulted in the placement of nine concrete structures that anchor mesh netting to capture the weed before it reaches the beaches. Various steps have also been taken along parts of PA’s waterfront and appear to be more successful…

Gunshots rang out – at Las Americas Mall in Playa del Carmen June 17 as three gunmen attempted to hold up personnel replenishing cash at ATM machines there. Three people were shot and injured by the bullets in the shootout, the police said, and were brought to the IMSS hospital for treatment. The gunmen ran off empty handed in a red car later discovered in the El Pedregal neighborhood…

Brick and mortar businesses on iconic 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen are complaining to authorities that the proliferation of street vendors is tainting the destination’s tourist image. They say some of the stands blocking strolling space are used as fronts for sale of drugs and alcohol and otherwise harassing passers-by…

Volunteerism has helped Quintana Roo place 6th in the world in keeping beaches clean, reports the local Ocean Conservancy group. Some 8,000 volunteers participated in beach clean-ups during 2015, an increase prompted by continued environmental education, according to the group…

A dozen hotels and homes occupied and run by alleged squatters along part of the Tulum beach were emptied of their belongings without notice by an army of more than 100 men acting on a court order. Squatters said, however, they were not shown the court order or notified in advance or given the chance to negotiate with those who claim ownership of the land…

Modern LED traffic lights with video cameras are being placed along Avenidas Juarez, 115, Constituents, CTM, Colosio, 125 and 10th. The LED lights use 80 percent less electricity, providing savings to the municipality. In all, the new lights will be at 23 intersections, nine of them modernized with GPS to help traffic move better and safer, say authorities.

The term”hot popcorn” was carried to an extreme June 12 when a short circuit in the popcorn machine at the Cinemex Theater in the Centro Maya Plaza spurted flames that ignited nearby flammables, forcing some 40 patrons to evacuate the smoke-filled premises. It was reportedly the second time in a year the machine caused a fire, leaving nearby merchants to urge civil agencies to investigate claims of ongoing building code irregularities…

At least there is talk in official circles about widening and making improvements to Highway 307 from Cancun to Tulum. The state’s Secretary of Infrastructure and Transportation says there hasn’t been funding for improvements in the last five years since the overpass was built in Playa del Carmen. The agency says rights of way have already been established along that road, an expense that would not need to be funded…

Mexico’s mobile phone rates are among the lowest in Latin America since the Pena Nieto administration’s telecommunications reforms were implemented in 2013. Since then, reports the Secretariat of Transportation and Communications, prices have dropped 23 percent, fed by the elimination of domestic and long distance rates to North and South America… 


Missionaries detained for trying

to baptize kids without consent

  Four missionaries of the Mormon Church were arrested and detained in a Chihuahua State town recently after trying to baptize children without parental consent.

The Salt Lake City Tribune reported the men attempted to baptize three brothers from 9 to 11 years old after luring them to the church on the promise of free food.

When the men asked the brothers to change into baptismal clothing, the boys became frightened and ran home to tell their parents. Their father, Estrada Ruiz, contacted police after hearing the boys’ story and police placed the men under arrest.

The local church there, also known as Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, admitted the men clearly failed to communicate with local church leaders about the baptisms of children, which require parental approval. The church told the father the men were to be removed from the area.

There are several Mormon missions reportedly operating in the Mayan Riviera, including one in the Puerto Aventuras poblado that offers children English-language studies.

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication during our monthly schedule beginning in May is the third week of the month for production at month’s end. Thank you.

The end – Previous edition below

PELICAN EXTRA!!! June 2016



Real estate company issues

warning that database hacked

  Investment Properties Mexico, a company with an ongoing construction project in Puerto Aventuras, has issued notice to clients that its database has been breached. Information it says was stolen from the database includes names, email addresses and phone numbers from the company’s mailing list.

“We have reason to believe,” wrote company executive Richard Houghton to people who might be affected, “that the hacker or an associate will try to contact you either via email or phone….to try to discredit IPM and dissuade you from doing business with us.

“We have traced the source of the breach,” Houghton continued, “and appropriately closed it and are working with our providers to add more layers of security.”

He asks that anyone receiving suspicious emails from someone they might know in Mexico but with a questionable topic, to please forward the email, if so inclined, to the IPM website. (See logo on this page)

Tear gas used to disperse mob

blocking 307 near main gate

Breakdown disrupts water flow for 3 days

By Staff
Apparently taking a page from the recent and disruptive Akumal uprising over beach access, residents of the Puerto Aventuras poblado and Puerto Maya housing development blockaded Route 307 adjacent to the Chedraui supermarket for three hours Tuesday evening because of a 72-hour water service shutdown that went on too long.

The blockade on both sides of the highway by 300 or more residents between 5 and about 9 p.m. was responsible for missed flights for tourists trying to reach Cancun airport and ended only when negotiations failed and the police had to use teargas to disperse the agitated mob. By that time, it was reported the service was slowly being restored as the company waited for sufficient pressure to build following a mechanical breakdown.

The event brought Solidaridad Mayor Rafael Castro to the scene 1.5 hours after the blockade began. The mayor tried to negotiate a dispersal for another 1.5 hours without success, which led to the use of tear gas.

As of this writing, 26 suspects had been detained and officials were searching for more individuals responsible for stirring the restive crowd into actions that also included burning four vehicles and damage to a security gate and palapa, actions that have now attracted federal prosecutors. Subsequent investigation alleged that members of the former PA political delegation had incited vandalism.

Poblado residents had also detained and later released three employees of Aguakan earlier in the day in an attempt to call attention to their problem and hasten the return of potable water service so essential to daily life. Local restaurants reported a sharp decline in sales during the unrest as residents remained at home to protect themselves from vandalism.

At issue was the apparent oversight of the Aguakan supplier, which was grappling with a major breakdown, to attempt to inform consumers of the problem and assure them the company was doing its best to repair and return water service as quickly as possible.

The company’s lack of communication, coupled with what the mayor believes were actions by instigators who began making other demands, brought negotiations to a halt and forced police to protect the mayor, his aides, the PA delegate and the three detained Aguakan employees and finally disperse the crowd with teargas.

Spokesmen for the tourist industry generally observed the residents could have used other means to showcase their plight with the slow pace of Aguakan’s repairs without tainting the tourist destination’s image.

The breakdown did not affect the Puerto Aventuras resort, whose developer has the concession to operate and control the resort’s water supply, distribution and sewerage system other than engender empathy for the people who had to make do without water for too long, said one observer from the resort..

Aguakan says it pipes drinking water to the municipalities of Benito Juarez, Isla Mujeres and Solidaridad (poblado and Puerto Maya). It also collects and treats wastewater, a long process that requires technology and expertise that, the company says, insures the communities receive quality service.

Hoteliers ask Pres. Pena Nieto

to intervene in Akumal conflict

By Staff
Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto has been asked by hoteliers from Tulum and Akumal to intervene in the continuing conflict between private and public interests over beach access in Akumal.

In their appeal to the President, the hoteliers say the struggle has taken a more strident turn with road blockades, attempts to destroy fencing and the use of Molotov cocktails, actions that are causing considerable fiscal shortfalls in the tourism industry there.

The base issue spurring the turmoil is and has been the ambiguous law that both gives and takes away traditional rights of a given community’s residents access to the federal zone beach across private property.

In one version of the community’s history, it is noted the law forbids the denial of free resident access to the federal zone through private property BUT, it has a disclaimer that allows private property owners and developments to select where that access will be.

State, municipal and federal agencies have yet to forge a solution to satisfy both sides of the conflict that also impacts Akuma’ls ecological center. For its part, the center says it is striving to protect the turtle population along its reef from overuse by snorkelers and uncontrolled marine service providers.

The non-profit ecology center, on land deeded to it by Akumal founder Pablo Jose Bush Romero, is administered by a daughter, Laura Bush, and 26 other founders.

Q. Roo voters end 80 years

of PRI control in the state

Quintana Roo was among  seven of 12 states voting for governor and other local offices on June 5 that ousted the long-term political control of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of President Enrique Pena Nieto. Mexico pundits are saying the loss sets the stage for the 2018 presidential election which, as in last Sunday’s vote, highlights voter discontent over rampant graft, impunity, corruption, scandals and a sluggish economy.

Carlos Joaquin, a former PRI member who defected from the PRI shortly before the election cycle, ran under a coalition of the PAN and PRD parties to rout PRI nominee Mauricio Gongora.

Asked to comment on the outcome, Puerto Aventuras developer Arq. Roman Rivera Torres replied: “Carlos Joaquin has occupied an important seat in the federal Secretaria de Turismo. I believe he understands tourism and that our economics is based on tourism.”

Nature Watch…









Recording the sounds of the manatee

PA’s dolphinarium offers more

than tourist entertainment

Science and study is in the background

Puerto Aventuras visitors and residents may not realize it, but there is more to the dolphin pools and manatee population here than passive and active entertainment. While thousands of visitors to the Dolphin Discovery sites annually watch with glee the interactions of entertaining dolphins swimming with humans and manatees lazily munching lettuce, there is some serious science and education going on in the background.

Curr3ntly, doctoral student Beth Brady is conducting a rare study of manatee vocalizations here in a controlled environment that she says is perfect for analyzing the various manatee vocal characteristics and repertoire. Their sounds, and when and how they are used help provide insight into their reactions to the environmental pressures and conditions in which they live.

The endangered West Indian manatee like those nourished here, Brady notes, face challenges from climatic and anthropogenic (human influences) sources that need to be understood better if the specie is to be preserved. Brady’s study began in May, 2013, with a dearth of written information on the subject, which will make her contribution that much more important to the understanding and preservation of the large, languid marine mammal.

The distinctive sounds analyzed in the study are of vital importance in estimating the distribution, densities and demographics of the manatee population in the wild, Brady notes. The effectiveness of broader studies depends upon a detailed knowledge of the manatee’s vocal stockpile and how it is utilized in communicating with its own specie.

“Dolphin Discovery has interesting facilities, really helpful to obtain daily recordings of the manatees and collect representative samples of the sounds of the various calls manatees utter. It’s a controlled environment that hosts 4 calves and 3 adults where I can record their vocal behavior-necessary for the investigation”, Brady said.

“My goal is to be able to describe the vocal expressions of the West Indian manatee species. In addition, I am investigating how these calls are used in different size groups, age classes and behavioral contexts”, added Brady.

Brady’s work in Puerto Aventuras is  supported by Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and by Dolphin Discovery of Puerto Aventuras, which has contributed to the study and conservation of marine mammals for more than 21 years. It has sites in Mexico, Anguilla, Tortola, Grand Cayman, St. Kitts, the Dominican Republic, the USA, Italy and Jamaica, attracting more than 6 million visitors a year.

Brady’s study will conclude next February, after which she hopes to obtain her Ph.D. Her study adds to the scientific map and literature designed to assist and preserve the manatee population.

Audio recordings and photos can be downloaded at: http://bit.ly/22nG893

For more information about visit www.dolphindiscovery.org

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication during our monthly schedule beginning in May is the third week of the month for production at month’s end. Thank you.

The end – Previous edition below

Pelican Free Press Newsletter

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