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San Diego Mayor-elect Bob Filner, who has pledged to make binational relations a cornerstore of his mayoralty, on Monday attended Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante's state-of-the-city address.
Filner arrived shortly before the event began and afterward posed in front of the old Jai Alai Palace where it took place with leaders of the city's culture and arts agency. It seemed appropriate, as the day before Filner's election, he had said, "The border should be the most vigorous, active, exciting, dynamic place to be.... We should be celebrating this binational culture."
Also attending from San Diego were Mayor Jerry Sanders, who will be succeeded by Filner on Monday, Dec. 3, council member David Alvarez, and San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce leader Jason Wells.
Photo: Mayor-elect Bob Filner stands with (from left) Hilda Sánchez, Mónica Montenegro and Carmen García after Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante's speech on Monday night. All three women work for Tijuana's Municipal Institute for Art and Culture.
Attracting the greatest media attention before and after the event was former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon. One of the biggest applause lines of Bustamante's address came when he congratulated Hank Rhon and the Tijuana Xolos for the soccer team's having reached the championship of Mexico's top soccer league. The Xolos, sponsored by Hank Rhon's Caliente Group, will host Toluca on Thursday and then travel to Toluca for the second and final game of the home-and-away series.
Photo: Jorge Hank Rhon (left) stands with Arturo Aguirre, who has taken over many of the duties of Gregorio Barreto, the transportation businessman who died in July. Hank Rhon's red shirt carried the logo of the Tijuana Xolos soccer team.
The theme of Bustamante's address was "Trabajo que se ve," or "Work That You See."
During his speech, he noted that Tijuana's crime rate has dropped dramatically, and again lamented the recent travel warning the State Department issued for Baja California. But although the travel warning says "You should exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night," Bustamante said that the warning told Americans not to visit Baja California. This continued a week of Baja California government officials misinterpreting the travel warning.
It was surprising to see top government official Alcide Roberto Beltrones with so little hair. Although it has been denied that he has been suffering from a major illness, Zeta reported in September that two of his aides had shaved their heads, which often is a symbol of solidarity with people undergoing treatments that cause them to lose their hair. Photo, Frontera (PDF).
El Mexicano's sometimes unreliable Cicuta (Hemlock) column reported that he had prostate cancer. Beltrones, the government secretary, is the brother of federal Chamber of Deputies leader Manlio Fabio Beltrones, also the former governor of Sonora state. Alcide Roberto Beltrones played a major role in the ceremony: He spent much time trying to get people to stop interrupting National Action Party Councilman Erwin Aréizaga, who painted a negative picture of Bustamante's administration, and also trying to get Aréizaga to finish his talk. Council members representing various political parties were supposed to take five minutes. Areizaga's talk went much longer, in part due to the interruptions; PRI council member David Ruvalcaba later spoke 10 minutes without interruptions.
Update, Jan. 23: Columnist José Aguirre says Beltrones may become the new customs director for Tijuana. His column (PDF).
David Navarro, Tijuana's top urban development official, came in for high praise from Bustamante. Navarro has been suffering from pancreatic cancer. Update, Jan. 19: Navarro resigns post.
Frontera photo page showing San Diego Mayor-elect Bob Filner and outgoing Mayor Jerry Sanders in one photo, and former Mayors Jorge Hank Rhon of the PRI and Héctor Osuna Jaime of the PAN together in another photo (PDF).