A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
By David Gaddis Smith
Officials from Tijuana and Tecate signed an agreement Saturday to establish a boundary between the two municipalities. Officials said it took a century for the localities to come to terms.
Tijuana appeared to get the best of the deal because it got developed property that can bring inhuge amounts of tax revenue, but many Tecate officials and residents said they were happy with the agreement. The ceremony was held in Tecate's Morelos Park in the Valle de las Palmas area, and the first speech during the ceremony came from Ricardo Hernández, (left) a leader of the Citizens Front in Defense of the Territorial Limits of Tecate. He said that although some members of his group were dissatisfied with the agreement, most thought the deal was acceptable. (See YouTube video of his speech below)
It took two mayors from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to make the deal — Carlos Bustamante of Tijuana and Javier Urbalejo Cinco of Tecate. Both were elected a year ago. The National Action Party (PAN) has governed Tijuana 18 of the past 22 years (but only six in Tecate). Indeed, the National Action Party on Saturday held a party to celebrate its 22 years in power in the state; in 1989, former Ensenada Mayor Ernesto Ruffo was elected the first National Action Party governor in the state, and in the country, for that matter. Gubernatorial elections will be held again in two years.
In photo, Tecate Mayor Javier Urbalejo Cinco signs a symbolic copy of the agreement, which already had been signed by Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante (left). Both are wearing PRI red power ties. Behind Urbalejo are top Tijuana government officials Alcide Roberto Beltrones (blue shirt) and Yolanda Enríquez (red shirt), the sindico procurador. Council members of Tijuana and Tecate also signed the pact.
Under the deal, Tijuana is to get the more developed area of Valle de las Palmas, the Autonomous University of Baja California facilities in the area and half of the El Carrizo dam reservoir. If the deal is approved by the state legislature, as appears likely, Tecate would get the agricultural area of Valle de las Palmas, the Cuchumá mountain, the Ejido Carmen Serdán and the other half of the reservoir.
Constantino León Gutiérrez was one of three former Tecate mayors who were present, who all were elected for the PRI. "The agreement is good," said León, (right) mayor from 1998-2001. He said the deal would mean that both municipalities will be able to qualify for certain loans for projects in the disputed areas. León also was happy that his nearby ranch stays in Tecate under the deal. He said he had tried to work on boundaries during his term, but never came up with anything concrete in dealing with his Tijuana counterpart, Francisco "Kiko" Vega of the PAN.
José Rigoberto Gutiérrez, 59, a Jalisco state native who has lived in the area 35 years, said he walked to the nearby park for the ceremony to find out details of the deal and was glad to find his home would stay in Tecate. Gutiérrez, who said he long worked in nearby maquiladora plants, said the agreement was good because the municipalities need fixed boundaries.
Tecate residents José Rigoberto Gutiérrez (left in photo at left) and Tomás Martínez, 39, (right) came to the ceremony to find out more about the agreement. Both are natives of Jalisco. Gutiérrez was wearing a "Puro Valle" cap he got at the Valle de las Palmas annual fair, and invited people to come to this year's festival July 29-31.
Bustamante in his speech said the decision will help the municipalities and property owners to avoid conflict and establishes legal certainty over the land. He said ambiguity surrounding the boundary no longer is acceptable with so much at stake. He also noted how the land was divided 50-50 in terms of area.
Indeed, the pressure to build in the area for Baja California's burgeoning population is tremendous. New developments are sprouting right and left along the Tecate-Tijuana road. At the sales office for the Casas GEO Valle de las Palmas development along the road Saturday evening, more than 40 people were waiting to get a sales pitch — and perhaps a free bicycle as part of that pitch. At right, a sign advertising the Casas GEO Valle de las Palmas development.
In beginning his speech to the audience of more than 300, Urbalejo said: "Welcome to Valle Las Palmas — let's be clear, the Valle Las Palmas section of Tecate!" This received a big applause.
He said it took will — and willingness — to negotiate the agreement with his friend and fellow mayor. He said, "At no time did the mayor of Tijuana, Carlos Bustamante, or the mayor of Tecate, Javier Urbalejo, have a personal interest in this issue." He said the municipalities worked hard to make an agreement that was equitable, technically correct and transparent. "It is historic what we are doing today," he said. He said Tecate now needs to seek funds to progress and grow in an orderly way.
Javier Urbalejo (first man with red tie from left) and Carlos Bustamante sign the agreement on Saturday in Morelos Park in the Valle de las Palmas section of Tecate.
Bustamante credited Tijuana's urban development director, David Navarro (right), with having negotiated the agreement.
Sonia Beatriz Salazar, the Tecate government's administrator for the Valle las Palmas section, said she thought the agreement was good for both municipalities. She also was glad her nearby home was staying in Tecate.
The Informador newspaper noted that the three PAN members of Tecate's council voted against the agreement, while all members of Tijuana's council voted for it. It also said Tecate's mayor had come into office pledging a better agreement for his city.
Many sat in the shade to watch the ceremony in Morelos Park; it was a hot day in Tecate.
A map to see some of the land in question under the agreement
The Carrizo dam (Presa Carrizo) reservoir is being divided between Tecate and Tijuana. The pumping station in above photo has been hit with graffiti.
Ricardo Hernández's speech on accepting the deal
The palms in the left photo can be found on a rural property east of the Carrizo dam pumping station. In right photo, the federal government says in a billboard along an area of the Tecate-Tijuana road undergoing major construction that it is improving the road in the Valle de las Palmas area.
This development is east of the Carrizo dam on a dirt-and-gravel road that goes between the Valle de las Palmas community of Tecate (along the Tecate-Ensenada road, Route 3) and the Tijuana-Tecate road (Route 2). The truck at right is delivering sand for construction.
Agreement sent to legislature. Story, Frontera (July 5)