Protestors Protest Wall And Highway Move

That’s what protestors do
BY: CATHY WATKINS

A peaceful crowd of approximately 40 people, including a few Americans, gathered outside the now closed Marbella Suites Hotel to protest a wall along the fourlane at Km17.  The protestors didn’t much cotton to it being under construction so close to the highway, or at least that’s what they said they were all pissy about.

 The protestors wanted it to be known they are in favor of the new tourist development that built the wall as long as it follows the rules set forth by the Urban Image of Cabo. (IMPLAN) Yes, we really do have a planning commission, you might think not because anyone with some dinero to spread around can disregard it. That doesn’t seem to be the issue, here, however, as the development known as LeBlanc did get the proper permit from SCT. The federal agency in charge of our federal fourlane.

The protestors disagree on the suitability of the wall being built that close to the fourlane, saying it is not responsibly planned and doesn’t take into consideration safety, ecological, and social issues.  After forming up, the group marched from the old hotel to the offending wall carrying picket signs.  Upon reaching the wall, two large banners with “Clausurado por la Ciudadania” meaning “Closed  Down by the Citizens” were taped to the wall. This did manage to halt construction for the day.

Protestors are upset for a variety of reasons.  First, the wall which is private property is being constructed in the emergency lane, (the shoulder), of the federal highway which they say is a safety hazard.  There isn’t enough room for emergency vehicles, they say, and if you needed to pull over, it would be impossible for those several hundred yards.  Victor Trujillo, a resident of 30 years, stated that he showed up for the pep rally because they are taking the shoulder and he fears this may be the start of making the fourlane down to a twolane. Aha! Now we get it. Here is the real reason behind this protest. Like, why would anyone get their knickers in a twist over one more road not having a shoulder? No, this is not about the wall being too close to the highway.

Let’s rewind back to two previous issues of the GG, where we reported that some richy rich developers are trying to talk the city into letting them pick up eight kilometers, (about five miles), a couple kilometers of the highway and move it a mile and a half away from the ocean. (See map here). This was done once before with no discernible problems, and not even any serious protest, but this time there is serious opposition.

Those opposing it, lead by serial protestor Blanca Pedrin, believe that if this is allowed, local Mexicans’ access to the beach will be cut off. The road movers, led by the biggest developer in all of Los Cabos, Eduardo Sanchez Navarro, deny this will happen, but the Mexican people have been lied to by their leaders so many times for so many years, they just don’t trust any of them anymore. Those who want to move the highway own the five hotels that will now be on a quiet two lane road, and away from the racket of the fourlane. The five hotel owners say it will cost about $30 million U.S. and are out raising private money for it now.

Pedrin and her protestors believe they need to draw a line in the sand right here and right now, at this wall, because if the highway does pick up and move itself, this part of it will no longer be part of the fourlane highway that barrels down the coast from San Jose to Cabo San Lucas. They fear this part of the road will now be made into a quiet, two lane strolling and bicycling road, only for tourists and that the locals will be kept out. They point to Cabo del Sol as an example of this. Because there is a guard shack at the main entrance to Cabo del Sol, it’s very difficult for the locals to get down to the beach. If they don’t look affluent, they are turned away. This is because the Mexican owners of these big hotels believe their guests do not want to sit on the beach next to a Mexican. They also fear that the city, to raise more money, will sell more permits to beach peddlers. Therefore, these protestors believe this wall is the first step to making the highway into a sleepy little two lane.

 Second, residents believe that if the highway does move, the old part will become private and reduced to two lanes.  Residents believe that they should have a say in this matter since this part of the federal highway was not constructed using federal money.  Instead it was paid for with the taxes from the local people living here.  

To draw more attention to the issue, local citizens have formed a page on facebook at www.facebook.com/lacarreteraesnuestra and a website called www.lacarreteraesnuestra.com, both in Spanish.  These sites have a place to sign a letter of protest against the proposed moving of the highway.   There is also a tab to email your opinion to several politicians.  While there, check out the video they have posted showing all the beaches that the locals have lost access to due to the privatization of the land just outside of the federal zone, and in front of the beach. The beaches are in the federal zone and must remain public, but so many times the land just in front of the beaches will be privately owned and those owners will do whatever they can, including erecting barb wire fences, to keep the people off the beach.  It is true that while the beaches of Mexico are public, if there is a security guard at the entrance to the beach it’s no longer truly public. 

That was last week. Early this week, the city council approved moving the road. A heavy, heavy blow for the protestors.

The approval took place at City Hall, which was surrounded by about 50 angry citizens carrying banners. They managed to briefly close down the government building, but they still lost their fight.

 When some of the city council members walked out following the vote, some protesters threw coins at them, calling them traitors and sell outs and claiming they were paid cash for their vote to move the highway.

Other protesters must not have got the memo on the City Hall protest, because they staged a protest near the San Jose Mega store. To the distress of motorists, this lasted about 40 minutes, until the federal police showed up. Not so smart closing down the federal highway, because you don’t mess with the federal cops, they are mean, compared to our city cops who are marshmallow if you just stand up to them.

The road movers did have all their ducks in a row, with graphics showing how there will now be shaded bus stops, roundabouts, a bicycle path, new landscaping and scouts honor, double pinky promise, it will all be open to the public. The developers have promised, in writing, and signed, that both the road and beach access along the entire five mile stretch will be open to the public.

All of the protestors and most locals scoff at anyone living up to this promise.

Maybe with good reason. One of the developers involved has a brother in law who used to run several resorts here for the developer. He once scoffed at someone in distress who said to him, “yes, but you promised...” This guy laughed right in the homeowner’s face and said, “You were a fool to believe me.” Maybe these local Mexicans are tired of being the fool.

The approval took place after the director of the IMPLAN, the city planning department, stated that the new road was not contrary to the city’s urban plan. However, some people close to the situation believe it was not up to IMPLAN to approve the project, but rather to the City Council of urban planning, which wasn’t even asked about it. Such city council includes both government agencies and organized business groups and has been in existence for at least 10 years although every single mayor has paid no attention to them.

The vote, which didn’t take long, ended up with 12 in favor, including our Los Cabos mayor, and two against, from the rather obscure coalition of the political parties PRD, PT, and MC,  as well as the Morena party. They usually can be counted on to vote against everything anyway.

So, how will this effect your commute between the two towns? Can’t be any worse than all the construction that’s going on right now on that very road. They are tunneling under it, and they are moving materials and equipment every which way across it, and we never know from one day to the next which lanes are going to be closed, and how backed up the traffic will be. So how bad can this be?

Very bad, if the promise to keep the beaches open to the locals is not kept.   ,