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OCTOBER, 2016

Puerto Aventuras to get a mayor,

a budget, and fiscal autonomy

Residents look forward to better services

By Staff
Solidaridad’s municipal council, after nine years of negotiations and during its final meeting of the outgoing administration, has approved the elevation of the Puerto Aventuras political “delegation” to a “mayoralty” with a budget and spending control.

How much of an effect this will have on the gated  resort community will depend on the evolving implementation of the change, the leadership and the ability of the various neighborhoods, including the resort to work together for common purposes.

PA  developer Roman Rivera Torres said last Sunday the administrative upgrade essentially means greater independence for Puerto Aventuras while still remaining part of and answering to the municipality.  It’s a governing model being adopted throughout Mexico. While it gives smaller communities more control over their needs, it allows the parent municipality to concentrate on its larger population center.

Some fifty residents from the poblado and Puerto Maya attended the meeting last week and applauded the unanimous council approval with gusto. The recent outcries for more autonomy was fanned by lagging services to the community in health care, police protection, schools and, most recently, the deplorable and health-threatening failure of rubbish collection for lack of funds in the outgoing municipal administration’s budget.

Underscoring this problem last week was an accident in Playa that saw a rubbish collection truck veer off the road and crash into a fence because of worn brakes that should have been replaced long ago.

Longstanding grievances expressed by the poblado and Puerto Maya residents include the inequitable distribution of municipal funds. Simply put, they allege they pay more in property taxes, fees, and their share of grants from federal maritime zone, than they get in return for their rapidly developing community of an estimated 22,000 residents.

The area to be governed under the mayor model comprises 2,427 hectares (9.3 sq. miles or 5,997 acres) and includes the resort. And as in any political movement anywhere, the mayor model is being questioned by some in the delegation as a political move suspected to benefit the few versus the many.

Alderman Navarro Emilio Tamargo, who pushed for passage and will represent the resort in the local administration, said Puerto Aventuras generates between 160 to 180 million pesos yearly for the municipality. (At the current exchange rate, 180 million pesos equals just over $9 million USD.) “Among the important parts is that income from taxes, fees and grants generated in Puerto Aventuras will return to us and we will be assigned an initial budget of 220 million pesos ($11 million USD),” Rivera Torres said.

Residents without transportation also say their needs have not been met for local education and health care. They express that hardships abound for those who cannot afford to transport their children to the detached municipal core of Playa del Carmen for education and/or general health care because it is 16 kilometers (ten miles) away.

Rivera Torres characterized the change as vindication for previously  holding off on “municipalizing”, noting that the change to mayor is a better deal for Puerto Aventuras. “ Next year, services including garbage collection will depend on us. By then we should have our own trucks,”  once a mayor and 10-member advisory council is elected from the poblado, he said..

I

 

Around Town…

Gateway to PA’s good life gets

a  facelift, more upgrades coming

But progress on new airport at a standstill

By Staff
The first phase of the main gate landscaping and roadwork project is completed, the Hoo Haa lounge  has re-opened with an 11 p.m. scheduled closing time according to Security. The usual musical chairs of restaurant ownership has or is taking place, the sargassum is being held in check here so far and the proposed airport in Puerto Aventuras remains grounded as the high-season return of the snowbirds nears.

Returnees will find an improved  look just outside the main gate and on both flanks of the entrance. There is a new stone wall on the left side of the gate and improvements and business changes along the right side with  larger roof, more pumps and new sign for the Pemex station and business outlets adding activity to the gate area.

A second phase of work will expand the number of gates by two and improve the Security facility that is part of the gate structure.  Security enhancements will include electronic surveillance and camera updating.  Funding for the second phase will be discussed at the next General Assembly, currently scheduled for Dec. 10, reports Colonos GM Armando Rincon.

*Flights in waiting

– The usual winter crowd will remember it was just a few years ago that optimism reigned for a proposed rail service from here to Merida and Cancun and a new international airport planned for the Tulum area. Both projects were relegated to the federal back-burner as the oil slump and other fiscal disappointments undermined the Mexican economy, prompting the country’s new finance secretary to recently announce a USD $12.7 billion cut in federal spending for 2017.

Nonetheless, the notion of progress was bolstered by the prospect of a new aerodrome in Puerto Aventuras to replace the one in Playa del Carmen, stoking hope it would attract private biz jets to the area, perhaps provide travelers with a shuttle service to the Cancun airport and thereby lend a hand with local property sales, ease of access and local business growth.

Now we learn there have been repeated false starts, legal issues over land ownership and a depleted treasury in the outgoing state-municipal administrations to complete the task with some sense of urgency.

Recent reports in the local press note that reporters accessing the site were met by private guards when they traveled the long, unfinished road to the airstrip only to find “minimal progress and activity” of what the press termed a “white elephant.” It will evidently be left to the new municipal and state administrations to complete the construction and close the existing airport in Playa, which has been termed a safety hazard for the heavily populated tourist area there.

*Taxi operators clash, one driver shot in leg …

An incident with violence erupted in the Puerto Aventuras poblado around Sept. 19 over a continuing battle between the taxi union and a fairly new tricycle taxi business that the traditional taxi union claims is unauthorized and harming profits. The clash has placed several unions and government agencies at odds over which agencies have control over the permitting process.  The violence also included the burning of two of the motor tricycles. One person was detained for questioning in the shooting and the victim transported to the hospital. Both sides later called for calm.

*The garbage collection issue…

… is vexing much of Solidaridad including the Puerto Aventuras poblado, the PA resort and Playa del Carmen. Lack of garbage collection resulted in some 50 families in Puerto Aventuras West to deposit their garbage in front of the political delegation building in the poblado and setting fire to some of the rubbish in protest. The municipal government claims it has run out of money to repair a dozen or so broken collection trucks.

A business and community group coalition is calling on the new municipal government taking over this month  to provide more transparency concerning the municipal budget and expenditures. The Colonos continued to pay for private hauling and is asking for cooperation from residents during this inconvenience. Colonos GM Armando Rincon, who described the problem in the poblado as a “nightmare”,  said municipal trucks frequently missed their rounds which is why the Colonos paid for extra private collections. ‘‘I hope things will improve as the new government takes over,” Rincon said.

*Halloween hoopla

Jim Stubbs, owner of Latitude 20 Restaurant and Lounge says he’s gearing up for the high season starting with the annual Halloween costume party Oct. 31 and the resumption of live entertainment. While the popular and charitable bimonthly Trivial Pursuits  fund-raisers have continued through the summer season and will continue, they will be joined by BINGO games on alternate Sunday afternoons. The next Trivial Pursuit is Oct. 9 … And Jessie Gelato will again host the pumpkin carving contest for kids at 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at the front of Jessie Gelato and The Pub. Participants need to bring their own pumpkin. Jessie’s will be closed until Oct. 10 …  Longtime restaurateur Peter Metrick will be sharing space with The Divot breakfast/lunch restaurant on the golf course that closes at 4 p.m.. He’ll be serving a 4 to 10 p.m dinner menu at the same site as manager of “The Clubhouse” beginning Oct. 24…..The 9th Annual Road race registrations are expected to begin this month for the race day of January 22, 2017. Dolphin Discovery is again the sponsor…

 

Workman fatally electrocuted;

first responder flaws bared

By Staff
A workman was fatally electrocuted in the resort last week while working on a project in the vicinity of Oxxo and the Colonos office, reported Colonos GM Armando Rincon. The worker was identified as Juan Manuel Ovalle.

Rincon said the circumstances reported to him were that the worker, whose clothing and boots were wet from rainfall,  picked up a soaked extension cord that was plugged into a live outlet, causing the fatal charge. Rincon said a witness was on the scene when a forensics agent declared that the man died instantly. A call was immediately placed for the Red Cross ambulance which could not respond, the caller was told, because it was on its way with a patient to Playa del Carmen. The Barcelo ambulance was then called and responded. ( The Playa Red Cross station also dispatched an ambulance from Playa.)

Christi Crawford, a resident living above the Colonos office and witness to the event, had called the main gate security office immediately for a defibrillator. She was asked if she knew how to operate the machine, replying in the negative. The security agent said he could not let the machine go in that case. (Two consistent donors to the Red Cross met the same answer earlier this year when they wanted to check out the newly donated equipment.The denials, then and now, were contrary to agreed upon protocols worked out by the donors and Colonos.)

Rincon reported that Crawford then offered to go to the gate in her car and pick up a security agent with the machine. By the time that was accomplished, 20 minutes had elapsed. “The protocols for using the defibrillator discussed by the Colonos board were not followed in this case,” Rincon said. News of the incident has worried some regular donors who live  in the resort.

Ironically, Rincon said the chief of Security had made arrangements with Costa Med the week before the incident for a  course to train the staff in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Colonos authorities are expected to discuss the response shortfalls later this month.

There was a similar response concern several years ago when a boat crewman was badly burned and had to wait some 35 minutes for an ambulance to arrive while local residents treated him. That incident later became a rallying point for raising funds to return the Red Cross clinic and ambulance, which had moved out of Puerto Aventuras for lack of Red Cross funds, back to the poblado.

 

Phase 4 condo project approved

With federal approvals in hand, developer and Arq. Roman Rivera Torres has begun the pre-sale phase of 44 terraced,two bedroom, two-bath units in four separate buildings that will be constructed over the next 40 months just left of the Phase 4 entrance on Puerto Aventuras Blvd.

The development, “Bliss Point,” will offer units in a price range under $299,000. The site will also feature a marina with pier, two pools and covered parking among other amenities. More information available at the Puerto Aventuras sales office next to the Omni Hotel.

 

Federal beach recovery budget

overlooks needs of Riviera Maya

By Staff
A federal budget for beach replenishment will be shared by Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Holbox in the state of Quintana Roo. Not a peso has been allocated in the Programs and Investment Projects grants for the Riviera Maya, which includes Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Paamul, Akumal, Tulum and a score of independent all-inclusive hotel sites in between.

Businesses that depend in part on beaches as an attraction expressed disappointment, particularly in Playa del Carmen, noting that Playa has the longest stretch of beach that has been badly eroded. One hotel spokesman said not allocating funds to help in Playa’s recovery effort constitutes a major failure of the federal program.

Meanwhile, work has continued, but at a slower pace, on the replenishment project of Omni Beach in Puerto Aventuras, said Colonos GM Armando
Rincon. He noted that cash flow and a work stoppage by authorities who saw men working on the beach caused a lull in progress. “The beach looks good though,” Rincon said.

 

Two Catholic priests murdered

in gang-embattled Veracruz

 

Two Catholic priests were murdered in Veracruz State and their bullet-riddled bodies found along the side of a road in Coatzacoalcos where they were taken after being kidnapped from their church. A sacristan who was with them was injured but escaped the gunmen. And later in the same week, a third priest was found murdered on a roadside in Michoacan state. Police say they  were victims of thieves.

This brought to 15 the number of priests murdered nationwide since 2012, along with a seminarian and a sacristan, during the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto. A church group that keeps a tally of these events reported that 40 priests have been murdered nationwide in the last decade .

Two of those priests were beaten to death by thieves in 2013 in a Ixhuatlan church, again in oil-rich Veracruz state, which, according to press reports, is overrun by crime and violence of bloody turf wars between competing drug cartels.

Pain and outrage over the deaths was voiced by the Mexican Episcopal Conference. Mexico is the world’s second largest Roman Catholic country after Brazil. A coalition of organizations marched on Mexico City recently demanding Pena Nieto’s resignation in the face of perceived widespread corruption in government and drug violence.

Parishioners filled the church to stranding room only in Paso Blanco as others stood outside in the rain looking in windows as a Mass was said. The  Rev. Jose Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz, had served the parish for only one month with the other victim, Rev. Alejo Abor Jiminez, before being murdered.

And in the United States, the city of Chicago reported 90 murders, 384 shootings and 472 total shooting victims in the month of August, 2016, alone and mostly on the city’s south and west sides. So far this year, the city’s murder rate of children 13 and under is 27. Much of the violence there is blamed on gangs. This while the shootings of two Afro-American men by police in Oklahoma and North Carolina, fostered protests.

 

The Roundup

A hit and run fatality was reported Sept. 15 when a Hotel Barcelo employee tried to cross Highway 307 after drinking with friends at a Puerto Aventuras bar, leaving behind a wife and two children, the police reported..

Aggrieved taxi drivers corralled two separate Uber units in and around Playa de Carmen recently for operating without the authority of a recent state law requiring registration. The units were carrying tourists at the time. Unionized taxi drivers view Uber more as “pirates” taking their profits than business competition. protests by several thousand drivers between Cancun and Playa del Carmen have been held…

Two tanker truck accidents along Highway 307 between Playa de Carmen and Cancun blocked traffic for hours in separate accidents and prompted the area Trust for Tourism Promotion to urge the development of strategies to keep traffic moving on alternate arteries around major accidents…

National pushbacks – Thousands of marchers protested in Mexico City to demand the resignation of President Enrique Pena Nieto for his administration’s perceived mishandling of drug violence and pervasive corruption in the system of government. Criticism has also emerged over Pena Nieto’s promotion of the nation’s chief criminal investigator who some accuse of an investigative cover-up of the 43 missing and presumed dead students of Ayotzinapa… And, thousands of marchers from the National Front for the Family, a coalition of religious groups, protested en masse against the Pena Nieto administration’s intent to legalize gay marriage…

While sargassum is a cross that the Caribbean shores of Mexico must bear, the Mexican state of Tamaulipas is contending with the “red tide,” a condition caused by elevated temperatures (global warming?) and excess concentrations of nutrients. As a result, a ban on shellfishing was mandated for the seashore in the northern part of the state. The red tide has intermittently closed some shorelines to shellfishing along the US eastern seaboard for years…

Two taxi drivers were murdered and one severely beaten by thieves in separate incidents overnight on Wednesday, Sept. 29. In addition, a house of ill repute was shot up by unknown assailants and unknown motive but nobody was injured, the police in Cancun reported…

 

Nature Watch…

Animal welfare congress slated

 

image From Dolphin Discovery – Cancun, Q. Roo, Sept. 21, 2016. For the second consecutive year, the Mexican Association of Habitats for the Interaction and Protection of Marine Mammals (AMHMAR) and the American Humane Association (AHA), will present the Second Multidisciplinary Animal Wellness Congress Mexico 2016. It is a forum whose first edition was held in October 2015, and proved to be a forum for reflection and respectful discussion, diverse and inclusive in regards to the wellness of all types of animals, a topic that has gained significant relevance in contemporary society.

In the second edition of this Congress to be held on October 5 and 6 at the World Trade Center in Mexico City, the planners have brought together national and international experts including scientists, academics, technicians and activists offering a broad and well-informed spectrum on trends and ideologies in speeches aimed at the growing public interested in the wellness of animals under the care and influence of mankind.

Constan Rodrigo, president of AMHMAR , said, “The Second Multidisciplinary Congress of Animal Wellness 2016 is a gathering that seeks to expand knowledge and dialogue related to the wellness of all types of animals in Mexico, starting with parents, students, zoo technicians, professionals in animal health as well as decision makers such as legislators and public officials.”

“This is a topic of complete relevance that can generate heated discussions, and that is why this is an inclusive and plural gathering, where opinions can be heard on dissimilar views on animal wellness discussed within a framework of respect and tolerance, which should ultimately contribute to the animals’ quality of life,” he said.

For more information about the program and to get registered,  visit the website www.congresobienestaranimal.org or call: (01998) 800-75-51.

 

The End – Previous edition below

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