Que Pasa in Baja?

February 8th, 2016 Edition
BY: OLIVER QUINTERO

Bull fights could be banned.  One of our congressmen just got a law through the first hurdle to make bull fights and cock fights illegal in the state of Baja. This doesn’t mean that it will pass in congress, it only passed the first stage so far. This initiative has been widely supported by local bull huggers who have long been fighting to ban these fights which they say are cruel to the critters.

The initiative looks to also eliminate the term “domestic” in existing animal protection laws so every animal is protected under it. Right now only domestic animals are protected against cruelty.

In Mexico there are six stages to slog through in order to pass a law: Initiative, discussion, approval, sanctioning, publishing and then setting a date to apply the new law. As you can see, there is still a long way to go to get bulls and chickens protected, and a lot could happen to halt the process.

Baja artists nominated. Playwright Virginia Hernandez and theater director Fernando Rodriguez were recently nominated for the Association of Latin Entertainment Critics of New York 2016 Awards. These awards are given to extraordinary works in Spanish language film, theater and TV.

The artists were nominated for their work in “La Ilegala” (the illegal lady), a play that has been presented all over Baja and internationally in Cuba, Dominican Republic, London and New York.

Our state governor congratulated the artists’ work and they thanked for the support received by the Cultural Institute of Baja.

Wine valley recognized. Once again our very own Guadalupe valley was recognized in an article by the magazine “The World’s 50 Best”. In the article titled “Five foodie destinations to visit in 2016” the valley appeared in the fifth place just after Chile, South Korea, Australia and Spain. Korea beat us out? Is it just us, or does Korean food not come quickly to mind when we’re thinking of restaurants to eat at tonight?

The article mentions La Lomita and Vinos Pijoan as wineries that one shouldn’t miss in our valley, goes on to mention La Cocina de Doña Esthela and Corazon de Tierra as restaurants to visit and recommends staying in “Encuentro Guadalupe”, the famous eco-resort frequented by celebrities who visit the valley. To read the whole article visit http://bit.ly/ggfoodie.

More cruise ships, please. Our state government is really working hard on getting more cruise ships down to Ensenada.  In a recent press release, Kiko Vega, our state governor, announced that during this month at least 20 cruise ships are scheduled to dock. About 46,000 tourists are estimated to get off the ships and spend just short of $2 million dollars in this month alone.  What he doesn’t appreciate is how the aggressive nature of the retail clerks drives people right back on the ship. It’s difficult for foreigners to walk even one block down the main drag without practically getting into a fist fight with these guys. The Mexican officials don’t understand what a big problem it is because they don’t get that treatment. They should try following my Gringa boss down the street sometime. The harassment is intense.

Tourist officials stated that during all of 2015 we received 270 cruise ships, and the cruise shippers spent just about 26 million USD.  Why are we letting a handful of men drive these people away?

New Cruz Roja chapter. There is now a new Red Cross chapter in Rosarito, this one actually in Primotapia, about 20 miles south of Rosarito. They do work together somewhat, but are separate boards, and promote sperate fundraising events. The new Cruz Roja even has opened its own thrift store. The new operation’s main goal is to provide around-the-clock ambulance coverage for those living south of Rosarito, saving the travel time for an ambulance to come all the way from Rosarito.

Congrats. 2015 was a banner year for Ensenada craft brewer Cerveceria Wendlandt: they were named best brewry in Mexico and they sprung two new beer releases, (barrel aged Saison with Brettanomyces), new collaborations with U.S. breweries Pizza Port and Alpine, and participation in a growing number of craft beer festivals throughout Mexico.

And to cap it off, Wendlandt took home the 2015 Best Brewery in Mexico honors at the recent Copa Cerveza competition, held each year in Mexico City. It’s Mexico’s equivalent to the Great American Beer Festival.

Trash problem getting worse. Ensenada hasn’t been able to sort out the trash pickup problem.  Now government officials are blaming the city trash workers for not doing their job properly and the trash picker uppers are blaming authorities for not giving them enough equipment to get the job done.

The fur is flying between the two parties and meanwhile some parts of the city haven’t had their trash picked up in up in over a month. Piles of trash are growing like a potato patch in the summer.

Local mayor Gilberto Hirata has said they are already getting quotes from private companies eager to take over the concession and do a better, cheaper job of it too.

Of course this news caused even more mayhem with the union of city workers now threatening to work only one shift because they are feeling terrorized by authorities. It’s going to be hard to kick them out now that the union has stepped in.

Come on guys! Just do your job like we all have to. We feel terrorized by having a month’s worth of trash in our front yards.

Baja increasing exports. Our governor just reported that our state was responsible for 10.6% of our total national exports this past year, with a total of about $40 billion USD exported. We are the second biggest state for exports, right after Chihuahua.

The director of the state economic office, Carlo Bonfante, stated also that there is a universe of 1,239 different products that are exported from Mexico, and from those we here in Baja actually export 836. This means that we don’t only have good volume of exports but also diversity which helps us be more stable in case a specific industry starts performing poorly. Or say, the U.S. starts getting pissy about our tuna again and slams the tuna door closed.

Right now our main exports are televisions, medical instruments, cars, electrical transformers, integrated circuits and vehicle parts.

To have a clearer picture of how much we export you should know that, on average, $3,143 USD is exported for every Mexican in the country while that average just in Baja is about $11,600 USD. About 3.7 more than the national average. Of course that’s because of all the maquiladoras along the border, which skews the stats substantially. We are not doing anything more there than providing jobs, which brings in more unskilled, uneducated labor to Tijuana, all of whom require a lot of city services, state services, health care, and education for their children. So those children don’t have to grow up to work in the sweatshops brought to us by NAFTA.

Bonfante also said the high exchange rate the dollar has reached has helped local manufacturing companies be more competitive in the short term but he said if this continues in the long term it will definitely bring inflation and more problems. “We should keep working in attracting investment with cheap or expensive dollars” said Bonfante.

Charlie Sheen does Rosarito. Just days after being spotted down in Cabo, Charlie Sheen was seen last Friday in Rosarito where he was photographed with Gustavo Torres, Rosarito tourism honcho.

He stayed in the Rosarito Beach Hotel, owned by the Torres family, where he asked for a room as close to the sea as possible. Torres said that he was planning on checking out Saturday afternoon but that it was expected he will return soon as he has shown interest in a certain property down here. Torres also sells real estate.

Baja image in the US. The Baja California Image Committee, presided over by Hugo Torres, owner of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, is working on a plan to counteract the damage caused by the travel alerts for Baja issued by the US government. They are working with the state tourism office which has also jumped in. They’re all in a huddle to consider several proposals by public relations companies from California that would work on improving the image of Baja in the US.

How about fixing the problems in Mexico that caused the recent bad publicity instead of hiring firms in California to cover them up?

Just a thought.