Mexico Demands Apology From Spain for Conquest

There’s big money in the apology-extraction business today, as compelling a mea culpa can be a prerequisite for demanding reparations.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that Mexico’s socialist president Andrés Manuel López-Obrador recently demanded an apology from Spain for colonial conquest. What is surprising in this age of the cowardly kowtow is Spain’s response:

Its foreign minister essentially told Mexico to pound sand.

As EL PAÍS reported Tuesday, “Mexico’s leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the National Regeneration Movement, recently sent a letter to the king of Spain, Felipe VI, urging him to acknowledge these abuses (of the conquistadors a half millennia ago) and to ask for forgiveness so there can be full reconciliation between both countries.”

In a release, however, the “Spanish government said it ‘firmly rejects’ the arguments contained in the letter, which was sent to the monarch via the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry,” the site continues.

“‘The arrival of Spaniards 500 years ago to present-day Mexican territory cannot be judged in light of contemporary considerations. Our brother nations have always known how to read our common past without anger and with a constructive perspective,” said the Spanish government in its statement.

American Thinker points out that Spain’s socialist ruling party might have had to respond robustly because it’s threatened by the conservatives in an upcoming April 28 election. Nonetheless, robust the response was.

To wit: Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that he “deeply laments the request by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador” and that, “obviously, Spain is not going to offer such an ‘extemporaneous apology.’”

“Just like we are not going to ask the French Republic to apologize for what Napoleon’s soldiers did when they invaded Spain. Or like the French are not going to ask the Italians to beg forgiveness for Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul,” he added.

Unsurprisingly, the leader of Spain’s conservative PP, Pablo Casado, went even further. Calling Mexico’s demand a “veritable affront,” he unabashedly stated, “I don’t believe in Spain’s black legend. Not in the one that was drafted centuries ago, and not in the one that the complex-ridden left is now trying to draft. We are one of the most important nations in the history of humanity.”

The first thing to wonder when considering Mexico’s demand is, who would apologize to whom? Mexico’s ruling class is largely of Spanish descent (and white), and the nation speaks Spanish and is of Spanish culture. It’s a bit like us demanding an apology from Britain for … what? Helping create us? Would we rather not be?

This brings us to perhaps the best way — the “best defence is a good offence” way — to counteract the apology mongers: The West should demand thanks.

Huh?

Consider that Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernán Cortés had conquered the Aztec Empire (in what would become Mexico) with 500 of his men — and approximately 100,000 natives from neighboring tribes. Why did they help the strange European aliens?

Because they’d been oppressed and brutalized by the Aztecs for ages.

So, question: Will Aztec-descent Mexicans apologize to almost everyone else?

(Oh, yeah, there’s no percentage in demanding such; they’re not a Mr. Money Bags.)

Note, too, that the Aztecs engaged in human sacrifice on a massive scale, tearing out victims’ still-beating hearts and hanging their body parts in the marketplace. Perhaps the West deserves thanks for ending such practices not just in Mexico, but the world over.

Yet more perspective is needed.

As I wrote in January: In truth, we all had ancestors who once were conquered or colonized. And the European tribes subdued by the Romans surely had many of the same complaints today’s grievance groups do: that their cultures were being trampled, their values eviscerated. Yet should we lament those Roman conquests and demonize Italians?

In reality, we’re all better off for the Romans having spread Christianity, Western civilization, and technology and having built infrastructure throughout Europe (e.g., roads, aqueducts, amphitheaters). We still today use much that they birthed, too, from our calendar to concrete to plumbing to sanitation to fast food to trademarks and beyond.

The Romans, of course, had gotten much from the Greeks and Etruscans. This Western civilization then spread to the rest of Europe; later to the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand; and to a lesser extent elsewhere, influencing and enhancing the whole world.

Thus did a Zambian man I knew once argue that African colonization was good; it’s why a fellow from India I knew despised Mohandas Gandhi (who was phony, but that’s a different issue), condemning the Indian leader for driving experts and expertise from the country. Shocking? These men understand how civilization spreads.

Consider also that when Europeans reached the New World and Africa, the natives were generally living stone-age existences. “Noble savage” suckers may romanticize this, but have no intention of withdrawing into the wilderness to live like the Sentinelese. They love the modern conveniences, luxuries, and prosperity the West birthed far too much. Thanks, anyone?

Moreover, whether it was the dominance of other tribes by the Aztecs, Africa’s Shaka Zulu, North America’s Lakota, Asia’s Attila the Hun, or some other entity, conquest, killing, and subsumption had ever been part of man’s history.

That is until the West finally put an end to it.

In fact, as of late, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion and annexing of Kuwait is evidence it likely would still be occurring today were the West not around to uphold Western standards.

Add to this the West ended slavery (where it could), cannibalism, and all other manner and form of age-old pagan brutality and, well, what can we say?

You’re welcome.

Surf’s Up!

Whenever there is a road race in Baja, it always begins in Ensenada. The prime area of Blvd Costero (especially at the Riviera, CEARTE and Museo Carocol) is blocked off, and that’s where the aficianados and the participants alike gather in preparation for the Baja 500, Baja 1000 or the newly reinstated SCORE transpeninsular races.

The hotels are booked solid from Rosarito south to Maneadero, the restaurants and bars are crowded with revelers, and traffic in the city becomes a commuter’s nightmare.

The end result is good business for the hospitality industry and an increase in tax revenue for the city.

The weekend beginning Friday, April 26th marked the beginning of the latest in NORRA’s cross-country desert races. By the time this paper hits the stands on Monday, April 29th, the drivers will be on their way from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, in a very unique race, characterized by diverse classes ranging from antique classics (which may only be outfitted with original equipment – i.e., no special shocks or engine modifications) to balls-to-the-wall fully customized strictly competition jet-fuel guzzling monsters.

The race takes five days to complete. It’s a very expensive prospect. It costs $1,000 to enter. Visitors often bring their families and put them up in hotels. There is a big party at the end of the event that reportedly costs the hosts in excess of $50,000 USD to sponsor. And, of course, the vehicles themselves are expensive, and require maintenance crews, mechanics, spotters, etc.

All in all, it’s like a sailboat race for cars. Y’know, if ya got it, flaunt it.

But I digress. This article is supposed to be about surfing. Who knew that northern Baja (as well as points south) boasts some of the gnarliest surf spots on the west coast?

If you thought surfing was strictly a SoCal, Hawaiian or Australian sport, think again.

Not only does our beloved Baja have some seriously challenging and world-famous surf locales, it also is home to some of the most widely-respected surfboard builders on the planet.

Todos Santos Island, 8 miles east of the Ensenada harbor, accessible by 22-foot pangas or other seaworthy vessels, is flat during much of the year, but becomes a daredevil’s paradise each winter, when swells in excess of 20 feet come roaring in from the Aleutian Islands. Seasoned surfing veterans refer to the breaks at Todos Santos as “Killers.” That’s no joke. The body of one veteran surfer who lost his life attempting to conquer that swell was never found.

Surfers can be seen all along the coast of northern Baja, even at Playa Hermosa, where local surf veteran “Yi-Yo” (Alberto Castro) surfs every morning that swells are high enough to justify suiting up and paddling out.

In fact, there are 2 surf shops right near that beach, one, “Spot Surfo,” on Calle Floresta, between Av Pedro Loyola and Blvd Costero (directly across from the beach camp aptly named “Playa Todos Santos”), and the other, right around the corner on the Blvd, next door to the OXXO. Both shops are owned by the same veteran surfer, whose son is also an enthusiast.

There’s also a dive shop on Calle Macheros, one block off the Avenue: Almar Dive Shop offers equipment for divers and surfers, and also offers certified training for watersports enthusiasts who want to know how to scuba dive.

Not only that, Ensenada boasts some world-renowned surfboard builders, most notably the Arctic Foam Surfboard Factory.

Also, the Orozco Surfboard Factory builds boards for some highly regarded California manufacturers, among them the highly regarded Bessell Surfboards manufacturing enterprise.

The San Miguel Surfboard company is owned by Mario Medel, who prefers the casual living style of Ensenada over the high-stress environment of southern California.

He notes that with his visa, he can go to the U.S. whenever he likes. But he prefers his hometown of Ensenada, where the Gringos come to relax and enjoy the simple life.

Who can blame him?

Rene’s Reopens In New Location

It’s baaaack! There was much celebration this Semana Santa (Easter Week for you Gringos) as the door was finally opened at the new Rene’s Sports Pub with a grand opening three-day celebration this weekend.

For all you newbies, Rene’s Restaurant and Bar was a Rosarito institution, opened in 1924, and the first operational business in the Rosarito area (yes, even before the Rosarito Beach Hotel). The original Rene’s closed its doors several years ago and was later reborn as a casino.

Rene’s was my first Baja bar. After purchasing a house there (right behind the bar) I returned nearly a year later and the bartender remembered me and my drink of choice. I lived in the campo at Rene’s for many years (no drinking and driving for this lady!) That was one brilliant bartender!

Rene “Chato” Ortiz is now continuing the legacy with Rene’s Sports Pub now on Rosarito’s main boulevard, across the street from the Rosarito Beach Hotel, between Banorte and the ice cream parlor. I asked Rene why he decided to open at this location and he replied that he wanted to be in “the historical zone of Rosarito.” Smaller and more intimate than the original, there is comfortable indoor seating for 25 – 30, but all seats have an excellent view of the many televisions, all tuned to a variety of sports (Judge Judy available upon request). Hence the “three-day” grand opening… there simply was not enough room to allow everyone who wanted to participate in this important event to be accommodated in just one day. Outdoor seating will also be available for diners/drinkers.

Speaking of dining, Rene’s opens at 8:00 am (until 9 pm) with a variety of Mexican favorites including soups, birria, beef, and fish tacos, chiles rellenos, and chicken and pork tamales. The bar opens at noon for your imbibing pleasure.

Joining Chato at the bar is Rene Jr and cousin, Oscar Ortiz. And some old familiar faces will be joining in the fun, but you have to stop in and see who they might be. Specialty drinks and Happy Hour times are being determined now (hey, did I mention this is a brand new bar?)

Drop in. Reunite with old friends. I’ve visited several times already (researching this article of course), and always run into an old timer like myself.

Rene explained he is “coming back to the brand” of Rene’s by opening here, close to the original location. But look for a second locale in the future. Rene is contemplating another (bigger) bar with a craft brewery theme, partnering with local craft breweries.

Parking isn’t great, so grab what you can. But don’t grab the blue handicap space unless you have an official placard, and stay out of the designated spaces of nearby businesses. Cops are cracking down on unlawful parking.

Tuesdays With Morrie

How much time do you spend dealing with money? You have to earn it, report it, pay taxes on it, spend or save it, make plans for it, donate it, teach your kids about it, have enough of it to retire, and ultimately spend a huge part of your life dealing with it. Is it worth it?

That is the core question that Morrie Schwartz, a retired sociology professor, discusses with his former student and current friend, Mitch Albom. After graduation, he began working as a sports reporter  for a newspaper and became very successful. Unfortunately, he became so obsessed with his professional career that he nearly destroyed his marriage. His wife felt neglected because of his obsession with his work.

Morrie, according to Mitch Albom’s famous book and the play of the same name, is interviewed by Ted Koppel for the TV show Nightline. Mitch happens to catch it. Plus he is at a turning point. His co-workers at the Detroit Free Press are on strike and consequently he is out of a job. That gives him time to reflect about what Morrie explained to Koppel, namely that most people spend too much time on things that don’t make them happy. He learned that focusing on who you love and nurturing that love is much more important than  the pursuit of money. As they say, “money cannot buy happiness.”

Mitch calls Morrie and arranges to meet with him every Tuesday, which he does for the next 14 weeks. Morrie, who has quickly advancing ALS, lasts that long but finally succumbs to the debilitating disease. Through it all Morrie remains upbeat and insists that ALS gives him time to reflect on his impending death. He has time to contact all those he loves. He can even fairly well predict the progression of his disease and the time he has left to reach out and communicate with all those people in his life who have meant so much to him.

For the Rosarito Theatre Guild’s production of Tuesdays With Morrie, we welcome two veteran actors, Jim Johnson and Colton Dennis, who play Morrie and Mitch respectively.  Jim is currently the Director of the Gallo Center Repertory Company.. The Center for the Performing Arts has, a 1,200 seat theatre which has attracted national shows, including “Cats”, “Evita” and “Shrek: The Musical”.

Colton Dennis is a very experienced actor, who, as a young man in his 30’s, is perfect for his role as Mitch. He is  an actor, director and co-artistic director of Patterson Repertory Theatre. He has performed with numerous other companies in the Central Valley.

Jim and Colton have performed several times together,  and their collaboration has resulted in a really stimulating one-act performance.

Performances are May 9th and 10th at 7 pm,  with matinees  at 2 pm on May 11th and 12th. For information call 664-631-3320 or visit www.rosaritotheatre.org. Tickets can be purchased through PayPal.

Gringo Gazette Writer Branches Out

Frequent contributor to the Gringo Gazette, Ren Drake Hill, has recently branhed out into the YouTube talk show scene. As the newest member of InfoNort, the online Rosarito-based news reporting organization, she along with local photographer Diego Knight host the weekly talk show “Baja Talk Time.” The 10 – 15 minute weekly broadcast features interviews with local people “in the know,” previews cultural, sporting and civic events, and provides important information specifically important to foreign nationals (Americans) in Baja California.

Baja Talk Time is produced by Denisse Carrion de Garrido and Crispin Garrido Mancilla of InfoNort, whom many will know from their frequent live news broadcasts between Tijuana and Ensenada.

New episodes of Baja Talk Time will air every Friday afternoon on YouTube as well as on the Facebook pages Baja Talk Time, Baja Living, InfoNort Rosarito, Baja Sports, and GringoGazette North.

Rosarito Pottery Studio Celebrates Local Kids

The local pottery studio “DeColores Mexico” which offers experiences, classes and workshops for creating beautiful, usable art, is providing one lucky kid each month (April, May, and June) a free birthday party for up to 10 people.

In order to achieve this, Gloria Robinson, co-owner of DeColores is asking the community to nominate a family who would not be able to afford a birthday party.

Please send your nominations in a letter with a recommendation of why they deserve this special birthday party! You can email your submissions to info@decolores-mexico.com

DeColores is celebrating its first year this coming June and the birthday party giveaway is one of the ways they are celebrating.

Children and adults can all have fun while enjoying the variety of activities they have to offer, like bilingual story time and paint, kids night out (where parents can enjoy the evening without their children, art classes, doing dishes with Isela (guided painting), wine and design night (our favorite!) and kids art camps during school breaks.

The studio is owned by three women who each have a different background and bring something unique to the table. Isela Rosales is the house artist, who develops class curriculums, teaches classes and designs art projects for children and community programs. Julia Mahon handles the business side of the studio, and Gloria Robinson coordinates marketing, public relations, and community outreach.

DeColores is located on KM 40 of the free road to Rosarito, in the Santini strip mall. Find out more about them on their facebook page or visit www.decolores-mexico.com

What’s Going On In Playa Hermosa?

Playa Hermosa is rapidly becoming much more than just a beautiful place to relax in the sun and frolic in the waves; it’s fast evolving into a multi-faceted complex of unique entertainment, shopping, exercise and industrial outlets, from the free public access beach to retail and industrial enterprises leased from the federal government.

The area with the most intense activity is along Blvd Costero, between Blvd Estancia and Ave Esmeralda. Costero (the “beach road”) connects points north, i.e., TJ, Rosarito and El Sauzal de Rodriguez, to the highway that goes all the way to La Paz or turns off onto La Carretera La Bufadora and the famous tourist attraction known to Gringos as “The Blow Hole.”

This area is being developed by some very creative individuals and groups.

One of the most visible enterprises is the shopping mall that is being constructed from cargo containers abandoned by the shipping companies. A conglomerate of businessmen leased the land from the federal government, and has constructed a complex of units that will boast cafes, bars, restaurants, boutiques and other retail establishments.

The two towers above the second-story of the complex will have a space and planetary observatory that will be open year-round.

The mall will also have unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, the islands and the peninsula that is home to Punta Banda and La Bufadora.

The level of activity at the site has become very intense lately. The good weather is allowing for painting of the exterior to commence (the primer coat has already been applied, and the color coats have just begun to dress the place up). Wood floors have been installed, as well as staircases leading up to the units on the second floor.

CFE powered the place up months ago; the water supply is backed up by pilas and pumps, just like the ones used by the hotels in the area.

A sports complex is also planned, with a jogging track, basketball hoops, and a variety of exercise platforms for the fitness enthusiasts to tone themselves physically.

A safe  playground area for youngsters is part of the plan, and will provide a safe and protected environment for toddlers and young children to channel their energies.

Lifeguards will be on duty during times of peak activity, and Playa Hermosa is patrolled regularly by local, state and federal police. The fire department (“bomberos”) have mobile units manned by alert personnel with search and rescue capabilities; they even have surfboards!

Access to the area will be through a gatehouse manned by a federal guard (next to the VIP Market and BP gas station complex).

Another noteworthy activity at Playa Hermosa is the daily research and development of drones by the Bay Area company known as Cape. They also have leased the land from the federal government.

Cape also provides its coverage of the beach area directly to the local police department.

In addition to the drone coverage, the feds have their own set of cameras monitoring the area 24/7; the cameras and floodlights are powered by solar panels.

Across from the Navy Base, further east from the prime location of the Playa Hermosa entertainment complex, is the newly constructed City Express Hotel, which is nearing completion and will possibly be open in time for the summer tourist season.

A weekend buffet restaurant has been open on Costero for years, and a large construction project has recently begun adjacent to it.

If you haven’t been to Playa Hermosa lately, be prepared to be amazed. It’s already Ensenada’s most popular recreational site, and it’s rapidly becoming a  safe, sane and educational center for the entire family.

Of course, access to the beach is still free. You can enjoy the simplicity of it, and  take in the new developments at your own pace. Please remember to take your trash with you when you leave, and respect the environment that we all share and love.

Cruz Roja is Calling

“La Cruz Roja… Te Llama”, Cruz Roja…It Calls You. That is the motto of the 2019 national Cruz Roja Colecta, continuing through May 30th.

The Colecta officially kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Rosarito Cruz Roja Hospital by Hospital President Sergio Conrado Hernandez. Unveiled was a new addition to the stable of ambulances and a new Critical Care four-bed unit, created at a cost of $2,900,000 pesos. Funds for these entities were obtained from the 2017 and 2018 Colectas. Phase 2 of the hospital upgrade will be to renovate the hospital lobby area and purchase another ambulance and rescue equipment.

Dubbed the “Red Room,” specialized doctors and medical staff will provide surgical interventions that they were unable to perform until now.

Each year the Cruz Roja hosts a kick-off breakfast, allowing the larger donations to be delivered in person along with a delivery of the Annual Report. In 2018 there were 12,794 “urgencies” (visits, costing about $857,125 (USD). There were 5,740 ambulance calls (with a minimum cost of $50 per trip every time they leave the station), and 450 higher level rescues.

Volunteers are the lifeline of the Rosarito Cruz Roja hospital. The Damas (Mexican volunteers, always smartly dressed in their navy blue uniforms) raise money throughout the year and host a pre-Christmas Bazaar at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, with all proceeds benefiting the Rosarito hospital. Volunteers of the two American volunteer groups raise money throughout the year by the operation of two thrift stores, one in Rosarito, near Waldo’s, and the other on the boulevard in Primo Tapia.  These two groups hold numerous fundraisers throughout the year, with all money going to the local Cruz Roja organization. In fact, a special “shout out” went to the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos groups who were both well represented at the breakfast, and who also donated over $7,000 (USD) that morning.

The Herm Pena Paramedic Foundation raises money throughout the year and has provided uniforms and equipment for the Cruz Roja Rescue unit. A second major fundraiser is being scheduled for later this year in San Jose, California.

Remember, these are the people who can save your life! But they need your money in order to continue their operations. Cruz Roja is funded by your donations. Although they do receive a few pesos from property tax payments and car plate registrations, that’s not nearly enough. They receive no funding from the Mexican government.

If you have had the opportunity to visit Rosarito’s Cruz Roja Hospital in the last ten months, you’ve undoubtedly heard the banging of hammers and the racket from power tools. As a recent walk-in patient to Cruz Roja, I can personally attest to the great care I was given after a misdiagnosis by my American doctor. Cruz Roja discovered what was actually wrong with me, and after one afternoon of treatment I started to recover.

I know a lot of us don’t like to carry a lot of change. It gets heavy! My suggestion is to keep a handful of dimes and pesos in your car door or ashtray (you aren’t still smoking, are you?!). Now you will have something to drop into the bucket every time you encounter a Cruz Roja volunteer. And I know some of you are zipping through the unmanned toll gates, so you have a few extra dollars you won’t miss.

For additional information, contact locally the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos of Rosarito and Primo Tapia (www.cruzrojaprimotapia.com and on Facebook: Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos Rosarito), or the national organization at www.cruzrojamexicana.org.mx.

Ed. Note: Altough this article refersto Cruz Roja’s Rosarito chapter, the  “Colecta” goes on in all of Mexico. Don’t miss the chance to support them if you see them shaking cans in your city.

U.S. Tax Clock Stops While In Mexico

The IRS is going through tough times. In recent years, Congress “punished” the agency by providing it a super lean budget. The shutdown also left it with millions of unopened letters and mail. The IRS Ombudsman estimates it will take a year to get back to normal.

One of the things Congress did to the IRS was to require that inactive collection accounts be turned over to Private Collection Agencies. Those were old accounts the IRS felt had little collection potential. Off to work PCAs went, and we have some results. They are not very good at collecting. And when they were able to reach the taxpayer and the taxpayer wanted to set up a payment plan, somehow it fell through. I’ll add that it was tried before, and this time around it seems like yet another fiasco.

Why, you would say, do I take time to write about this? Well, for any of my readers that may have outstanding IRS debt, it is always important to know a few things. Generally, once the tax liability is assessed (imagine the entry in the government’s ledger “Joe owes us X dollars”), the government has ten years from that date to collect. So, it’s easy to say, “Why can’t I just wait this out if the debt is old?”

You should know the 10-year collections clock comes with that “exceptions apply” language we often see in ads. One you should know about: If a taxpayer is outside the U.S., the collection clock stops until the taxpayer returns to the U.S., then it restarts six months thereafter. Otherwise, it stops forever.  If, in the course of your conversation with one of these folks, they learn that you like real margaritas and tacos, instead of their north-of-the-border facsimiles, your collection file will be coded such that the debt will not expire.

The other consequence is that those debts continue accumulating penalties and interest. It’s not difficult to see how old tax debt can balloon up to the magic debt level that would make you eligible for passport non-renewal or cancellation.  You see, they have all kinds of persuasive methods.

Another way in which this can be addressed is through a payment plan that takes into account your living expenses versus your income, or through an offer in compromise where a sum is offered in exchange for release of all liabilities. Whether one or the other is convenient depends on one’s individual circumstances.

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (with a Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at tax@orlandogotay.com or Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer.  This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

It’s Quinceanera Time Again!

Have you (or a member of your family) a gently used party dress that could be up-cycled into a Quinceanera dress for a local soon-to-be 15 year old? Would you like to donate a new dress to a really great cause?

The Quinceanera (15th birthday) is an important event for Mexican girls transitioning into adulthood on that special day. The CEIB Reggio Emilia AC launched an Empowering Teen Girls Program in 2015, focused on vulnerable teen girls. The Quinceanera is a “graduation” from their course of study in the program which focuses on health, human rights, entrepreneurship, ecological awareness and much more. The grand evening date has not been finalized, but will be in April or May.

Sponsors and volunteers are always needed. For information on donating resources, time, or cash, please contact Centro Educativo Integral Bilingue Reggio Emilia AC at their Facebook website. Registration will open in November for courses running December through April of next year for qualifying teens. For more information on becoming a part of this cultural occasion, please call 661-850-0325.

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