State & National News

BY: DAVID FLORES

DavidQuePasa_2009.jpgFund-raising for kids. The Foundation Helping Children in La Paz (FANLAP) is raising funds for school supplies for children in one of the poorest areas of La Paz. FANLAP is a long-established non-profit that operates largely from private donations. They provide middle and high school students with tuition, uniforms, backpacks, and transportation. A little bit helps so much and what a good way to give back to wonderful Baja! To learn more about the organization look up: yourcaring.com and then enter Fanlap in the search box.

Baja Ferries does Cuba. The U.S. Treasury Department issued a license to Miami-based Baja Ferries, the same folks who bring you our ferry service between La Paz and the Mexican mainland.

 “If all goes smoothly we could have things up and running by September,” said Joseph Hinson, vice president of Baja Ferries USA. He added the company still needed to get approval from Cuba, as well as Florida port officials. “This is a further step in bringing Cuba and the United States closer together,” said Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer who represented Baja Ferries and specializes in Cuba sanctions. The ferries would only be able to carry licensed travelers to Cuba, including Cuban Americans visiting relatives and Americans traveling for educational and cultural tours. Approved trade and private sector business activities would also be allowed. Baja Ferries plans to offer services three to four days a week, using ships carrying about 1,000 passengers and cargo, on an overnight service with sleeping cabins and dining facilities. Well, OK, so long as they don’t take our ferries away to ply the 10 hour trip between Miami and Cuba....

So how’re we doin? Not so well. An analysis revealed by El Financiero, a well regarded national newspaper, there are several “red alerts” in our state’s economy. The worse is job creation, which reveals that only 4,498 annual new jobs of the 9,600 needed between 2011 and 2014.

Productivity, measured by the amount in pesos produced each hour, dropped from 750 to 628. Exports decreased from 2 to 1.9 percent as a percentage of the state’s gross internal product. Car thefts decreased from 174 to 160 for each 100,000 inhabitants, but it is considered high compared to other areas of Mexico.

We have also not improved in personal income, where the percentage of people who cannot buy basic food staples grew from 17.4 to 20.4 percent. The public debt increased from 1.7 to 1.9 percent as a percentage of the gross domestic product. The time the study covers coincides with the time Governor Marcos Covarrubias has been in power. The state will hold elections for governor, five mayors, state congress and national lawmakers Sunday, June 7.

Hi Ole’ Silver, awaaaay!. For the fifth year in a row, Mexico dominated world silver production, blowing the doors off second place Peru. The Silver Institute’s world silver survey put Mexico’s output last year at 193 million ounces, an increase of 6 million ounces over 2013. Trailing Peru were China, Australia and Chile. One of the report’s authors, Reuters analyst Andrew Leyland, said the main producers continue to expand their capacity as their production costs decline, which dropped 16% on average last year. Production was up despite a decline in silver prices, from $23.70 an ounce in 2013 to $19.10 last year. Mexico has the largest proven silver reserves in the world,

More Mexico facts. At the World Economic Forum held at the Riviera Maya last week, my country bragged about:

 Mexico has a $1.26 trillion economy, making it the 15th largest economy in the world, and the 11th taking into account power purchasing parity. This makes Mexico a so-called “middle power”: falling just short of being a G7 economy, it is nevertheless an economic power to be reckoned with.

 With its 122 million citizens, the GDP per capita currently stands at about $10,000, placing it firmly in the “upper middle income” countries. Adjusted for purchasing power, the GDP per capita is about 60% higher, at roughly $16,000. That puts it in the same league with countries like Turkey, Romania, and Brazil, but still far below countries like the U.S. ($55,000) or Switzerland ($58,000).

Economic growth is forecast to rebound to 3.5% in 2015.

Mexico is the OECD country with the second highest economic disparity between the rich and the poor, behind only Chile. The bottom 10% on the income rung disposes of 1.36% of the country’s resources, whereas the upper 10% dispose of almost 36%. 26% of GDP comes from those working under the table, which has almost 60% of the workforce.

Mexico Might get big telescope. Mexico is one of two countries on a short list for the construction of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), a project that will be the world’s largest and most sensitive, ground-based gamma-ray observatory in the world. Mexico is already the site of the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (HAWC) situated on a mountain in Puebla, east of Mexico City. It went into full operation last month.

The two locations under consideration are La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, and San Pedro Mártir in Baja California, already the site of the National Astronomical Observatory, operated by UNAM.

New drone regulations.  Mexico’s Communications and Transportation Secretariat, (SCT), announced regulations governing drones, including a ban on flying at night or within six miles of a controlled airport. (Does anyone prefer out of control airports?) They can’t carry anything dangerous or illegal, (do baggies of drugs count?) and pilots must be responsible for any damage caused by an accident. Further regulations regarding altitude and speed are applicable depending on the drone’s weight. However, a different set of rules will probably apply to another drone that may soon be flying in Mexican skies. Insitu, a Boeing subsidiary specializing in drone development and manufacturing, has been in talks with representatives of the Mexican government interested in complementing their equipment with drones, specifically autonomous ones.

“We’ve held conversations with all the government agencies, and each has shown different levels of interest,” said Dexon Guzmán, Insitu’s director of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance business development. The company was approached by several agencies during last week’s aerospace fair.

Guzmán explained that drones are used in surveillance, intelligence tasks as well as  reconnaissance. The Army, Navy and other departments have shown interest in the vehicles which, instead of being remotely operated, are fully autonomous for up to 24 hours, time that can be dedicated to data collection or surveillance.

Insitu’s units are not small. The ScanEagle, one of the most popular models, has a wingspan of 3 yards, a length of up to 2 yards , and beat through the skies at 80 mph. It is a model used by the U.S. Air Force and Navy. Mexico already has at least nine drones in use, but none of them is autonomous, which means the aircraft is controlled by an onboard computer system. Several consumer models are proving popular, particularly for aerial photography. Most of us have seen them around here, as they are popular with real estate agents.

No more bribes!  They can’t stop police officers — male officers, that is — from going after mordidas in the state of México over on the mainland, so the state has declared a three month moratorium on such fines while new transit officers — women only — are trained. The new officers will all be women as part of ongoing efforts to curb corruption. Women officers, it is believed, tend to be more honest than their male counterparts.

That is also a perception on the part of the public. Citizens have greater confidence in uniformed women, said Government Secretary José Manzur Quiroga. “. . . we are looking to stop corruption in the state of México and we believe there is much greater respect towards a woman police officer than a man.”

Well, not in Cabo, women aren’t so squeaky clean. There is a woman cop who camps out at the entrance to Cabo extorting money out of anyone driving a foreign plated car. She even waves around the same fake ticket to scare the people. She recycles it because the foreigners stupidly fork over money to her. More stupidly, officials won’t do anything about it. This paper contacted our state tourism director, and he wouldn’t even respond to our pleas. Sigh. Seems our precious foreigners are on their own in this state.