Que Pasa in Baja?

February 22, 2016 Edition
BY: OLIVER QUINTERO

Ensenada airport threatened. Mexican air force authorities threatened to close the Ensenada airport to civilian flights starting February 25th if an agreement dating back to 2013 between the state and the military authorities was not honored.

In this agreement, state authorities promised to funnel money into the airport to help out with the high costs of maintaining it. Military authorities said that although state authorities did invest some money into the airport, it was not what they originally agreed on.

Cesar Cuevas, head of the state infrastructure and urban development office, said that there was nothing to worry about and that the money was on its way to the airport. Ja ja ja. (That’s Mexican for sucker.) Actually, he said that about $11,000 bucks was already assigned for fueling equipment in the airport and that the agreement was going to be honored. The old check’s in the mail deal.

Infrastructure for Baja. Federal authorities have figured out the budgets for infrastructure this year for every municipality. From a total of $58.4 million USD this is how the pie was cut: Mexicali $7.5 million, Rosarito $5.6 million, Tijuana $5.5 million, Ensenada $2.7 million and Tecate $1.2 million. The remaining $35.9 million will be given to state authorities to assign to the various cities as they see fit.

Rosarito seems to be the biggest winner with this assignment, having even a bigger budget than Tijuana. It looks like we’re going to continue seeing construction this year. This could definitely cause some inconveniences but it will be worth it in the long run, so keep a grip.

Zika Prevention. State and municipal authorities are already taking measures to keep the Zika virus from spreading to here. Although at press time there were no confirmed cases of the Zika virus in either Baja California or Baja California Sur, authorities are trying to educate the general population in order to keep it that way.

The most important recommendations are: Use repellent spray (when using sunscreen apply first the sunscreen and then the repellent), use mosquito nets in open doors and windows, do not leave standing water around the house and take care that the rain didn’t fill anything with water in your yard. Like that old tire you’ve been meaning to throw over your neighbor’s fence.

Canucks want our fish. Canadian health inspectors are visiting Baja in order to certify our sea water and fish. If the certification goes well local fishing companies are going to start exporting fish to Canada.
Matias Arjona, head of the state fishing office, said that our waters and fish are already certified by federal Mexican authorities and by the FDA in the United States so who the hell do these Canucks think they are? Well, we paraphrase. Actually he said something more along the lines of, don’t worry, be happy, our fish are good and we all know it.

Baja fighting corruption. So they say!... In a recent statement, Daniel De La Rosa, head of the state public security office, said that Baja is cracking down hard on police corruption and that during their term in office, (since November, 2013) they have fired more than 480 municipal and state police officers who were not considered trustworthy. Our governor, Kiko Vega, said that fighting corruption is one of the top priorities of his government.

Although there seems to be less corruption in the police force, the cleaning needs to be government-wide, not only with the police, if we want to see any long lasting changes.

From 2007 to 2013 more than 3,000 police officers were fired in Baja for not passing the confidence tests. These tests have been highly criticized by human rights groups as being too aggressive. It includes several psychological tests, an anti-doping test and a polygraph test where they can ask just about whatever comes to their minds. But most are fired for drug or alcohol abuse or stealing.

The tests have seemed to work in cleaning the police force but the problem is that these cops just go back to the streets to become full time criminals since most of the time they cannot be prosecuted because no proof of specific wrongdoing is available.

 

High impunity in Baja. Although our state government is trying hard to tell us they are watching our back, a recent study by the Universidad de las Americas (a university based in the state of Puebla), placed us third on the list of states with the highest impunity levels. They said that from the 43,930 defendants in different cases, only 16,358 were processed and from those only 943 were sentenced.

The document goes on to say, “this shows the lack of institutional capacity to do justice”. The document also mentions that for every 100,000 citizens there are only 1.6 district attorney offices (called Ministerio Publico in Mexico and one of the most corrupt agencies).  The national average is 3.2. In these offices for every 1000 crimes registered, there are only two agents to work the case, while the national average is five.

Now you know why you have to wait two hours to file a complaint with the Mexican DAs office here in Baja. With a 5.7% sentencing rate, sometimes it feels like it’s just not worth it.

Bypass construction continues. About $5 million USD was assigned to the bypass this year to continue the project, said the head of the federal Communications and Transport office, Alfonso Padres.

The project started in 2011 and was suspended for a while but Padres said this was just while they managed to get the money in place.

It looks like these $5 million won’t get the bypass too far but considering the shrinking budgets because of the falling oil prices, we’re grateful to get anything.

Rosarito occupancy on the rise. In spite of being the low season, hotels in Rosarito have already seen a rampant increase of 64% in occupancy rates compared to the same month (January) last year, said Gustavo Torres state tourism delegate for Rosarito.

Torres said that the production of the show, “Fear the walking dead” in Rosarito has helped fill beds, as all the staff stays in hotels for the whole time they are here. He said that this show alone will be responsible for at least 23,000 hotel nights during the 6 months that the filming will last, from December last year until May this year. The total economic benefit for the city from this show is calculated in about 3.3 million USD.