A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
Eduardo Ruiz-Healy, in a column titled "Mexico, less safe than they would have us believe," takes aim at a website citing dubious statistics that indicate that Mexico is inmany ways safer than the United States and Canada. He refers to the howsafeismexico.com website operated by the Black Label Marketing Group, "which has represented travel and luxury brands on every continent." Among other things, the website claims that Mexico's kidnapping rate is much lower than that of Canada; Canada's high rate, however, has more to do with the way it has reported parental child-abduction than with Mexico's kidnapping-for-profit.
Ruiz-Healy uses United Nations and International Development Bank statistics to debunk some of the website's claims, concluding: "The reality is that Mexico is less safe than the people who sponsor these websites — presenting a rose-colored version of our reality — would have us think."
Armando "El Gordo" Villarreal Heredia, 35, could face a 30-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to drug-trafficking-related charges in San Diego federal court, El Mexicano newspaper reported.
Villarreal, detained in 2011, was extradited to San Diego in 2012, where, speaking in perfect English, he denied the charges against him. He was raised in San Diego but wound up working with the remnants of the Arellano Félix drug cartel in Tijuana.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Oct. 27, 2011: Alleged operator for Villarreal arrested, said he got $10,000-$20,000 per kidnapping victim
A last-minute vote by the outgoing PRI-dominated Baja California state legislature to define the boundary between Ensenada and Rosarito has failed. The vote would have benefited Ensenada, whose next mayor will be from the Institutional Revolutionary Party; Rosarito's mayor's post is changing hands from the PRI to the National Action Party.
Ensenada legislator Lizbeth Mata of the PAN justified her abstention on the vote by saying the legislature had not done the groundwork necessary for such a decision. She had, however, voted in June for San Quintín to break away from Ensenada in another hasty vote with political overtones; the decision, vetoed by PAN Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán because of its lack of legal underpinning, was seen as an attempt for PAN gubernatorial candidate Fernando Castro Trenti to gain votes. Castro Trenti lost the July 7 election to the PAN's Francisco Vega.
The new legislature will be more balanced, with the PAN coalition with 12 seats, the PRI coalition with 11 and the Citizens Movement with two.
Mata defends her decision: Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Jailed teachers union leader Elba Esther Gordillo won an injunction as a result of errors involved in the case that put her behind bars, Mexican media reported. But the government will get the opportunity to correct those errors and she remains imprisoned.
Last week, Gordillo's daughter, Sen. Mónica Arriola, left her post as secretary general of the New Alliance Party formed by Gordillo.
Story on injuction, in El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Story on daughter leaving party post, El Sol.
El Mexicano newspaper reported that work on a connection from the Tijuana airport to a U.S. terminal has begun despite a lack of permission from the city of Tijuana. The Grupo Aeroportuario (GAP) — which operates the airport and is engaged in a legal dispute with the city over taxes — says it has federal permission to begin the work, which ultimately involves building a bridge from the airport to the U.S. terminal. GAP spokesman Guillermo Villaba said his company is building the receiving facility for passengers; he said the work will take eight or nine months and then the company will begin thinking about building the bridge.
Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante said permission for the bridge would then be up to Dr. Jorge Astiazarán, who was elected mayor July 7 and takes office later this year. Stories, El Mexicano (PDF).
El Mexicano newspaper had some fun with a story about a man on a peace quest with a burro who was detained in Mexicali on Tuesday. The man, identified as Rubén Ruiz Vega, 31, reportedly was traveling with the burro from Tijuana to Mexico City on a quest for peace. But when he and the burro made camp close to the entrance of Mexicali City Hall, he was detained by police when they found he had a 27-centimeter (10.6-inch) knife and then also discovered an outstanding warrant in a drunken-driving case (which writer Eduardo Villa remarked was not for driving his ass.) Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Tijuana's El Mexicano ran a rare letter to the editor-correction on Monday, from Carolina Bustamante de García, the daughter of Mayor Carlos Bustamante. She, as the designated first lady of the city (her mother and Bustamante are divorced), heads the Comprehensive Family Development system, or sistema para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, also known as DIF. A story over the weekend talked about problems at a shelter for children and said the city DIF had sent children there; Carolina Bustamante pointed out that the agency that does this is the state DIF.
The correction (PDF).
The paper also ran a full-page story saying recent downtown changes are benefitting the Bustamante family's properties. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Authorities said 68 people were apparently killed in Sunday's mudslide at the community of La Pintada in the Atoyac de Alvarez municipality of Guerrero state. That brings the nationwide death toll of major storms Ingrid on the east coast and Manuel on the west coast to well over 100. Manuel turned into a hurricane and landed in Sinaloa state Thursday. Hurricane Ingrid finally dissipated as a tropical depression Tuesday.
Story on mudslide, Frontera (PDF). Story, Associated Press.
Interim San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria visited Mayor Carlos Bustamante at Tijuana City Hall on Thursday. Gloria had also visited Tijuana last month with other San Diego officials to bring the message that San Diego intended to keep good relations with Tijuana despite the trouble that then-Mayor Bob Filner was in. Filner, a strong advocate of cross-border ties who had many Mexicans attend his December inauguration, left office Aug. 30 in the wake of sexual-harassment allegations. One of Filner's last acts was to raise the salary of San Diego binational affairs official Mario López — who heads the office Filner opened in Tijuana earlier this year — but Gloria rescinded the increase. López attended Thursday's meeting. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, Sept. 24: Gloria and López meet with Mexican business leaders in San Diego's Tijuana office. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Aug. 8 U-T San Diego story: "Gloria reaffirms city's close ties to Tijuana."
The Tijuana campus of Universidad de las Californias Internacional has inaugurated a mock courtroom. Baja California is phasing in an oral-trial system, and the courtroom will give students practice for the new legal world that is coming. Mexicali already is using the system, and it is to phased in in Ensenada and Tecate in 2014 and Rosarito and Tijuana in 2015. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). UDCI website.
Update, Sept. 22: Fabio Valdés Bensasson, founder of the Center for Training and Advice for the Adversial System (Centro de Asesoría y Formación en el Sistema Adversarial, or CAFSA) says in a speech in Ensenada that the new system is coming along well. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Aug. 27: Governor leaves implementation of oral-trial system in Tecate to incoming governor
Teachers opposed to educational reforms blockaded the Otay Mesa commercial port of entry for trucks headed north to the United States on Thursday, Mexican media reported. Trucks already within the facility were being processed, the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce said. El Mexicano reported (PDF) that the blockade lasted around two hours.
Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán said the teachers may face legal action, Frontera reported.
Frontera reported (PDF) that at least 40 vehicles belonging to teachers had the air let out of their tires or had their tires otherwise damaged; teachers who discovered this then blocked more trucks from entering the port of entry.
On Tuesday, street vendors ousted from downtown blocked the entry of passenger vehicles entering Mexico from Mexico's new El Chaparral border crossing.
A sandstone statue of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo that long stood at Cabrillo National Monument at Point Loma in San Diego was dedicated in Ensenada on Tuesday — the 471st anniversary of Cabrillo's stop in what is now Ensenada. Cabrillo made it to what is now San Diego Bay 11 days later, on Sept. 28, 1542.
A replica of the original statue now stands at Cabrillo Point; the original created by Portuguese sculptor Alvaro de Bree in 1939 was retired because it was being degraded by marine elements. Thanks in part to efforts by San Nicolás Hotel owner Nico Saad and by architect Claudia Turrent, among others, the 14-foot, 7-ton statue has been loaned to Ensenada by the U.S. Department of the Interior and has been repaired and made more weather-resistant. Saad is the president of Ensenada's Cabrillo Festival Committee.
The statue was installed in the gardens of the old Hotel Riviera del Pacífico. Story, Frontera (PDF). Story, El Vigia. Second story. image by freeimageslive.co.uk - surfside
April 4, 2013 San Diego Weekly Reader story by Joe Deegan: Cabrillo Goes To Mexico
Mention of last year's Cabrillo anniversary ceremony.
Rafael Saavedra, credited with coining the term "Tijuana makes me happy," died Tuesday at age 46 following a Sept. 7 heart attack, U-T San Diego reported. He was a writer and chronicler of the city's nightlife, in addition to being a radio commentator anbd DJ.
U-T San Diego story by Sandra Dibble: "Key Cultural Figure Dies in Tijuana"
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). His Crossfader Network blog.
September 2011: Another writer expands on the "Tijuana makes me happy" theme.
Ensenada residents are using more water than is available, restricting water service to more-distant neighborhoods that are at higher elevations, causing the state water authority to begin rationing.
The State Public Services Commission for Ensenada (Comisión Estatal de Servicios Públicos de Ensenada,or CESPE) said some neighborhoods in the city's southeast will now get water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; other neighborhoods in the same area will get water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; while other neighborhoods in the city's south will get service Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
CESPE media release
Columnist Eduardo Ruiz-Healy blames Guerrero state politicians for the flooding disaster that has befallen Acapulco, the capital, Chilpancingo, and roads and other infrastructure as a result of Tropical Storm Manuel.
Nationwide, flood damage from major storms has caused at least 80 deaths and brought about the evacuation of tens of thousands. Flooding has blocked major highways and shut down the Acapulco airport in the wake of one of the beach destination's busiest weekends (Mexican independence).
Ruiz-Healy said the state has not taken adequate measures since Hurricane Paulina slammed the state on Sept. 9, 1997, when Ángel Aguirre Rivero, then a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was governor. Aguirre now is governor again, but now represents the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). In between the state was governed by the PRI's René Juárez Cisneros (1999-2005) and the PRD's Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo (2005-2011). Ruiz-Healy said that between the major storms, authorities allowed questionable construction in high-risk zones. The columnist said Acapulco has had 11 mayors in the 16 years between storms, the first of which had to resign because of his poor response to Paulina. Ruiza-Healy particularly faulted PRIista Manuel Añorve Baños, who held the mayor's post on several occasions, but kept taking leave from it to run for higher office.
A contributing factor in the mayor's musical chairs is Mexico's system where public officials are not allowed to run for consecutive re-election, and mayors serve only three-year terms. Mayors often say that by the time they figure out how to do things, it is time for the next mayor to be inaugurated. Ruiz-Healy's column, Criteriohidalgo.com
Update, Sept. 24: Columnist Jorge Fernández Menéndez writes that when Paulina hit in 1997, then-Acapulco Mayor Juan Salgado Tenorio was in Las Vegas, and that as the twin disasters Ingrid and Manuel struck, the director general of Mexico's disaster relief agency, José Tapia Franco, was also in Las Vegas. His column, in El Mexicano (PDF).
Ensenada celebrated Mexican Independence Day on Monday with its annual used-book sale sponsored by the Cultural Institute of Baja California (ICBC) at the Ventana del Mar. The used-book sale began 15 years ago with the idea of encouraging more Ensenada residents to read; some studies say Mexicans read an average of one to only a few books a year. The date of the the sale was moved at one point to Independence Day in order to reach more people, state ICBC official Vanessa Verdugo told El Mexicano (PDF).
Independence Day wound up being a sad one for a number of Ensenada business owners, whose second-hand stores in the Valle Verde area went up in flames on Sunday night at the corner of Ambar and Olivos; it was believed that a short-circuit in a shop that sold roasted chickens was the cause of the blaze, El Mexicano reported (PDF). Photos (PDF). Front-page story (PDF). Jump.
Across Mexico on Sunday night, officials shouted the "Grito de Dolores" to mark Mexican independence. It took 11 years from the cry for independence in 1810 for Mexicans to formally achieve their breakaway from Spain.
President Enrique Peña Nieto issued the cry from a balcony of the National Palace on Sunday night; days earlier, police had cleared the Zócalo of teachers protesting education reforms. While most teachers had agreed to leave the square in order for the grito ceremony to take place, some did not, occasioning the forcible removal. Peña Nieto's first grito as president was made in a downpour; El Universal's story of approximately 30 paragraphs about the ceremony that ran in Tijuana's El Mexicano newspaper did not mention the rain until the penultimate paragraph.
In Tijuana, Mayor Carlos Bustamante presided over a grito ceremony, while Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán delivered the grito in Mexicali.
Peña Nieto and Osuna Millán's gritos, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Bustamante's last grito as Tijuana mayor (PDF): Tecate and Ensenada ceremonies, too.
Teachers opposed to education reforms took over toll booths on the Tijuana-Tecate toll road on Wednesday, allowing drivers free passage on the highway, El Mexicano reporters. Teachers also took over toll booths in other parts of the country, the paper reported. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Illegally built shacks along the site of the new Arroyo Alamar freeway were destroyed on Wednesday, El Mexicano reported. The paper said the shacks were on federal property along the waterway, which has been lined with concrete in a controversial project that also saw the new freeway begin to be built on both sides. The paper said the shacks were built about a month ago near Manuel Clouthier Boulevard, also known as "El Gato Bronco." The freeway project will take traffic from the Vía Rápida to the Boulevard 2000; officials say the new road will cut travel time for an estimated 600,000 people.
Other communities that had been built along the banks of the waterway previously were uprooted.
El Mexicano, in an editorial, said the community had to be uprooted for at least safety concerns, and raised the specter of major flooding like that in 1993 that did grave damage in the city.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). El Mexicano editorial (PDF).
2011 story about the project.
A contractor installed thinner windows than specified in Ensenada's remodeled old City Hall, and the city is deciding whether to subtract the difference or require the contractor to install windows of the desired thickness. The window glass was supposed to be a quarter of an inch thick, but the glass installed was only an eighth of an inch thick, El Mexicano newspaper quoted a city official as saying.
At one other former City Hall in Baja California is being used for another government purpose: Tijuana's old City Hall (palacio municipal) now houses the city's cultural agency, in addition to a history museum and the city archive.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Mexico's national soccer team coach José
Manuel de la Torre was fired early Saturday in the wake of Friday's 2-1 loss to Honduras in Mexico City — one of the Mexican team's rare home losses. Tijuana's El Mexicano newspaper claimed that it was the first newspaper to report the news, having it in its Saturday print edition. The new coach is Luis Fernando Tena, who had been an assistant to de la Torre.
Tena will have an immediate trial by fire: Mexico plays the United States in a World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday. Many wondered what took so long to fire the coach; Mexico has fallen to fourth place in regional qualifying and is in danger of not going to next year's World Cup in Brazil.
Story on new coach, in El Mexicano (PDF).
Sunday's story on El Mexicano claim to be first in print with the news (PDF).
Saturday's front page saying de la Torre had been fired at 3 a.m. Mexico City time (PDF).
Saturday's sports section front on loss (PDF).
Gov. José Guadalupe Guadalupe Osuna Millán blamed some of the increase in violent deaths this year in Tijuana on the deportation of criminals to Tijuana from the United States, El Mexicano reported. The number of slayings in Tijuana this year was reported to have now surpassed the number from last year. Many of the deaths, however, are due to a territorial fight between local drug peddlers; when Tijuana had high violent death numbers in the past, they were due to a fight between major drug trafficking organizations over who would control the plaza of Tijuana to move drugs into the United States. The paper said the city has seen around 370 murders so far this year (its online story originally said 400). Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Update, Sept. 12: El Sol de Tijuana quotes Tijuana police chief as saying deportees and political changes were contributing to the increase in homicides this year. It was not exactly clear what he meant by political changes. The story provided year-by-year homicide tolls from the Baja California Attorney General's Office.
|Year||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012||2013 to date|
|Violent deaths in Tijuana||831||651||826||469||364||370|
|% increase, or decrease||n/a||-21.7%||+26.9%||-43.2%||-22.4%||+|
Tijuana's El Mexicano newspaper editorialized against the United State striking Syria over the Syrian regime's presumed use of chemical weapons. The paper cited worries that it will make crossing the border more difficult because of heightened U.S. security, as happened after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks against the United States. The paper said that if the United States does act against Syria, it hopes that measures will be taken to reduce the corollary effect on the border as much as possible.
The page also had a cartoon titled "Nobel Peace Prize" showing Obama about to shoot with one hand the bird of peace he was grasping in the other.
Editorial and cartoon, El Mexicano (PDF).
Teachers in Tijuana did not teach for the second straight day Thursday in protest of the new teacher-evaluation bill passed by the Mexican Congress this week. El Mexicano reported that 85 schools were closed Wednesday and 18 on Thursday. It said teachers came to school but did not teach classes.
Meanwhile, 1,980 high school students who did not get into their school of choice in Tijuana found spots in the Cecyte high school system. Cecyte — El Colegio de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos del Estado de Baja California, or the High School for Scientific and Technological Studies of the State of Baja California — says it has no more spots to offer any prospective students. The Cecyte's 36 schools and 15 satellite campuses are educating 29,000 students this year; 11,000 are new students.
It was unclear how many students have not been able to find a high school to attend.
In Mexico City, teachers blocked road access to the airport, and travelers had to walk long distances with their luggage to get to their flights. Columnist Sergio Sarmiento, in a column titled "Law of the Jungle," wondered where the government was, and said the state had lost its monopoly on the use of force.
Story on teachers' strike, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump. Story on airport access being blocked (PDF). Story on airport access blocked, in Frontera (PDF).
Story on high school students finding schools to attend, El Mexicano (PDF).
Memorial ads have been running this week in Tijuana newspapers for three noted people who have died. One set of memorial ads was for Susana Guakil Faena, the mother of federal Economy Ministry representative David Saúl Guakil, formerly the head of Tijuana's social development department. Memorial ads said she died in San Diego. A second set of memorial ads was for businessman Rodolfo Fimbres Moreno, a member of a family known for its philanthropy. And a third set marked the one-year anniversary of the death of María Elvia Amaya de Hank, the wife of former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon. A memorial mass will be held at the Lázaro Cárdenas high school pool this afternoon (Friday) and a memorial mass will be held for her at a church on Sunday.
Some of the memorial ads, known as esquelas, El Mexicano(PDF).
Arturo González Cruz's esquela for Susana Guakil Faena has the Star of David; David Saúl Guakil was reported to the be the first Jewish councilman in Tijuana history.
Mention of memorial for María Elvia Amaya at high school, Frontera (PDF). El Mexicano article about the memorial (PDF).
Story on María Elvia Amaya's death.
The Senate passed the education bill 102-22 Tuesday. President Enrique Peña Nieto had thanked the Chamber of Deputies for passing the bill Sunday during his state-of-the-nation address on Monday. The bill calls for a system to evaluate teachers; teachers have been holding protests in the capital and elsewhere in an attempt to derail the bill.
Story, El Universal, in El Mexicano (PDF).
A Baja California's electoral institute has begun studying a redistricting for state legislature seats, as district sizes have gotten way out of whack since they were last set in 1997, El Mexicano reported. For example, while Mexicali District 2 has just a little more than 80,000 voters, District 13 in the growing eastern area of Tijuana has more 300,000 voters. The state has 17 districts. El Mexicano indicated that Tijuana would likely gain one more seat, while Mexicali would lose one, saying Tijuana has seven seats but should have eight, and that Mexicali has seven seats but should have six.
The next election for the state legislature is in 2016; on July 7, the National Action Party coalition won 10 directly elected seats and the Institutional Revolutionary Party coalition won seven directly elected spots. Eight other seats were divided up under a complicated proportional representation formula.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Update, Sept. 22: The state spokesman for the Federal Electoral Institute (IDF), Donaciano Muñoz Loyola, says federal redistricting work is likely to end in late October, but that IFE will share its data with the state electoral agency for its redistricting. He said Baja California will continue to have eight congressional districts — three in which Mexicali residents will be predominant, and four in which Tijuana residents will be predominant. Ensenada would be predominant in the eighth district. He said District 7, which encompasses Mexicali, Tecate and the extreme northern portion of Ensenada, is likely to be expanded. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Incoming Baja California Gov. Francisco "Kiko" Vega is inheriting a 6.4 billion peso ($482 million) debt, an El Mexicano editorial said Monday. The paper said Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán came into office with a 2.7 billion peso debt ($203 million).
The editorial said the public works much of the money was spent on may have helped Osuna and Vega's National Action Party stay in power, while also saying that the financial crisis that began in 2008 may have been a factor in the rising debt. It encouraged Vega to spend responsibly.
Editorial, El Mexicano (PDF).
Full page ad from state government touting highway projects completed during Osuna Millán's term (PDF).
The trans-peninsular highway in southern Baja California was closed for 10 hours over the weekend due to damage caused by uncommon heavy rains. The closures occurred in the areas of the Cataviña and San Agustín stream crossings. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).