What’s Going On In This World?

Uncle Sam to the rescue. The U.S. government is pledging $10.6 billion in public and private funds toward economic development in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, in an attempt to address the causes of migration from the region, the U.S. State Department has announced.

The investment will include partnerships with the private sector;  $4.8 billion will be spent in Mexico and $5.8 billion in northern Central America through 2024, according to a joint statement from the State Department and Mexico’s Foreign Relations Ministry. Mexico is pledging $25 billion in the region over the same period, the statement said.

Much of the U.S. funds had been set aside since 2017, but the Trump administration will request approval from Congress for an additional $180 million for assistance to Mexico.

“Overall, this is very good news for Mexico,” said Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard in a joint statement. Well, no kidding!

Mexico to the rescue. Over the next five years, the Mexican government plans to pitch in $30 billion to Central American development. Their goal is to keep illegal aliens from heading north towards the United States border, and trampling through Mexico to get it done.

BTW, close observers (like us), noted that Mexico tried very hard to stop the migrant caravan from swarming into Mexico. Their forces were simply overwhelmed by young men leading the charge with Molotov cocktails, sticks, and stones. Is it any wonder that these migrants, who can barely read even Spanish, and don’t know what’s going on in the States, thought they could storm through the U.S. border, also? They were misled by their so called “leaders,” who call themselves human rights workers.

Wall grief. The White House border wall is more expensive because of our slapping tariffs on steel imports. That allowed domestic steel plants to raise their domestic prices by the same 25%.

Tecate’s cash in jeopardy.  Mexico’s 121 so called “magical towns” might not receive any federal money in 2019 because the program that funds them has been cancelled. Our own Tecate is one of those magic towns. The average magic town gets about $240,000 U.S. per year, depending on how good a deal they swung when they first were dusted with the magic pixie dust.

Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco confirmed the end to funding for the program, along with chopping the entire federal tourism budget down to nada. Our new President wants to spend the entire bag of money on his 1000 mile tourist train through the jungles of the Yucatan.

Fake news in Baja. A criminal gang is targeting business owners in Baja with an extortion that threatens to spread fake news about them if they refuse to pony up. More than 100 business owners as well as professionals such as doctors and lawyers have been targeted.

The demands come with the threat that if they don’t pay, false information will be spread about them online. Stuff like they have criminal records for drug trafficking, weapons offenses, robbery or other crimes.

Last week the suspected leader was arrested. He had allegedly posted phony information about business owners and politicians on a website masquerading as an online newspaper called Noticias de México. It is thought that the criminals were obtaining information about their targets from social media.

Preliminary investigations into the modus operandi of the extortion racket indicate that its members initially contact their targets through email, offering to sell them online advertising. The targets are left with a telephone number to call. The telephone numbers of those who call are recorded and passed on to the extortionists who then begin their scam. Their fatal stupidity was that they spread the scam into San Diego. This brought the FBI down on them like a ton of bricks. They were then quickly busted.

Many years ago the Gringo Gazette South was extorted in a similar scam. 24 Horas, a TV program very similar to 60 Minutes, was in Cabo to film a story on the town. Yes, in those days it was actual film, not video. They were filming. The crew approached the publisher and demanded $50,000 USD or they would say “bad things” about the paper. The “bad things” turned out to be a reporter holding up the paper and saying we said negative things about Mexicans. Because most Mexicans can’t read the paper, they believed it. This was about 20 years ago and we still get Mexicans who refer to that. Also, the story went around town so much and got distorted and enlarged to the extent that many don’t remember where they heard it, they just believe that the paper says negative things about them. This latest extortion scam is very serious, and fake news of this kind can have lasting effects.

President attends Mayan ceremony. President AMLO is asking for Earth’s permission to build his tourist train through the jungles of the Mayan peninsula. This is in lieu of the customary conservation permits. The ceremony was for limpia, to rid them of “bad vibes.” Hey, we don’t make this stuff up, it just seems like it!

The ceremony also included the placing of offerings in a hole in the ground. Among these were a chicken, a bottle ofpozol (a fermented corn dough and cacao drink) and 12 bottles of a local aguardiente, a distilled alcoholic beverage. The ceremony was intended to ensure the president’s first big infrastructure project is finished without incident.

“We have to ask for permission from the Earth, because we eat from her and we walk on her,” said the state Secretary for the Sustainable Development of Indigenous Peoples, with a straight face. In a speech after the ceremony, President López Obrador recalled that former president Porfirio Díaz had been able to lay 12,000 miles of track during his decades-long dictatorship, suggesting he ought to be able to lay the 1000 miles of track required for his Maya Train. With a straight face.

More energy, please. Mexico’s oil and gas collapse is an immense problem, because Mexico is the fastest growing OECD energy user. Expected economic growth is a solid 3-5% per year, and oil and gas supply is only 85% of the country’s needs.

Oil revenues have dwindled down 40% from a decade ago.

For natural gas, Mexico’s most vital source of energy, falling production has meant soaring reliance on. U.S. shale gas. Over the past 10 years, the strategy has been to displace fuel oil with natural gas. Today, gas accounts for over 60% of the country’s electricity, and Mexico gets nearly 65% of its natural gas from the U.S.

This increasing reliance on the U.S. has Mexican leadership concerned because the U.S. has plans to export huge amounts of liquefied natural gas to all corners of the globe. China and India and others want U.S. gas, and we hate standing in line.

Pemex woes. Mexico’s military has taken control over key fuel installations. 57 facilities will be protected by the Army and Navy: six refineries, 39 storage terminals, and 12 pumping stations. New President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to fight corruption and fuel theft within and outside government-run energy company, Pemex.

According to Pemex’s own estimates, the losses from fuel theft over the past three years have reached US $7.5 billion.

“This is the theft of national assets, of public funds, of money that belongs to all Mexicans,” Lopez Obrador said. On Friday, the Mexican army swooped in, but unionized workers were blocking access to some of the sites.

Three Pemex officials, suspected of having facilitated fuel theft, had already been arrested for the alleged crimes. The three Pemex officials have been sacked and will be facing criminal charges, Mexico’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said at Lopez Obrador’s news conference on Thursday. Ha ha. These accusations will be swept under the rug at the end of this news cycle when no one is looking.

Illegal, amateur taps on Mexican pipelines jumped by 45 percent annually between January and October 2018.

Apart from rampant fuel theft, Pemex also has to cope with declining domestic oil production, which in October is one of the lowest monthly production rates since 1990 when records began.

   In related news. Also in the works will be construction of the Bocas refinery in Tabasco state and the cross-country railroad which will connect the Pacific Coast with the Gulf of Mexico and give the shippers an alternative to the Panama Canal, the president said. All they have to do is unload it from the ships, load up trains, choo choo across the country, then load the stuff on a different ship. Bam! They’re there!

Que Pasa In Baja?

Ensenada city workers going back to work. After a couple weeks of being on a sit-down strike, Mayor Novelo was finally able to convince them to go back to work by promising to pay the remainder of their Christmas bonuses before January 21st.

City workers are pretty pissed off, since the city has had problems paying their salaries, and now their Christmas bonuses, which for them amounts to an extra 2 months’ salary. By law, the Christmas bonus has to be equal to at least 15 days.

When he took control of the city, Mayor Novelo announced that the city was broke; since then, we have seen the effects of it. There are almost no streets in the city without potholes, and trash pickup services have been reduced to almost once a month now.

City workers don’t believe it, though; they say it’s not so much the lack of funds, but rather the inability to properly manage the situations that are affecting the city.

It has been a tough term for Mayor Novelo. He hasn’t been able to catch a break, and most people are pretty unhappy with the crises that the city is experiencing. This is probably the reason  he announced last year that he would not be running for another term.

The amount the city owes its workforce in Christmas bonuses alone is about $3.8 million USD, and this administration alone has already asked for about $11.3 million USD in loans to cover other expenses. This give you an idea how seriously the fiscal situation is for Ensenada.

AMLO comes to Baja. Our brand-new president visited Tijuana this past Sunday in order to announce the newly created free zone for the northern border along with our state governor Kiko Vega.

The president is scheduling visits to different parts of the country on weekends in order to have time during the week to attend to his presidential duties in his office in Mexico City.

He is famous now for travelling on commercial planes and even choosing the cheapest flights for his travel.

Migrants safe from police. Alma Migrante, a local non-profit group that helps immigrants know their rights, has won a trial making it illegal for local police to send immigrants guilty of committing administrative infractions to be sent to the National Migration Institute (or INM in Spanish) in order to be deported.

Representatives from Alma Migrante are stating that immigrants can only be sent for deportation if they commit a crime more serious than a minor infraction.

Although the line could be a little blurry sometimes between the two, an easy way to understand it is that an infraction would require you to pay a fine, but a crime would require jail time.

Snow is here! The civil protection office in the city of Ensenada has announced that both of our local sierras, Juarez and San Pedro Martir, have snow and are open for visits.

As always, they are recommended to drive there in a car in good condition, preferably 4×4, and bring warm clothes and supplies, especially gas and high calorie food, in case you get stranded up there.

San Pedro Martir, which always has more snow than Juarez but is also a farther away, is only open from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm every day, and is not available for overnight stays.

Jaime Nieto, head of the office, stated that the roads are not in the best shape right now, and emphasized the need for a car in good condition if you want to visit.

We’re getting more cruise ships. During 2018 a total of 270 cruise ships docked in Ensenada, carrying more than 650,000 tourists. About 70% of those tourists descended from the ship to visit the city, and they spent an average $54 dollars per person.

Tourism officials are stating that its very likely that we will get even more cruise ships this year, since some cruise liners have already booked more dates for this year. January alone has 26 arrivals in total.

Bring your own bags. Rosarito and Ensenada decided last year to eliminate plastic bags in retail shops and the new measure has been in effect since the first of the year. Steep fines were announced for offending businesses, but at least Rosarito has said that they will not issue fines until April of this year.

It is possible for you to not even notice the change if your favorite store decided to switch to paper or biodegradable plastic bags (which are almost indistinguishable from normal plastic bags). This will still be legal and an option for businesses if they want to keep offering customers this benefit.

What’s Going On In This Country?

More hotels. Wyndham is expanding in Mexico because the country is a rising power in tourism, and the sector is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, declared their spokes dude. With eight new properties announced, the number of Wyndham hotels in Mexico will increase from 52 to 60.

Taxista run amuck. Taxi drivers are scary people for a lot of reasons. They have been known to change the price on you mid ride, then call in their buddies as enforcers if you don’t pay. They will take you around the long way if they think you don’t know the territory, and they initially quote you whatever price that will get them through that day. You will notice that most of them don’t even have a meter in their cabs. But this taxista went a little too far.

Bad habits such as texting and speaking on cell phones while driving us, we can maybe live with. Even watching them watch videos on dash-mounted screens is a bit unsettling.

But a couple of passengers in Puerto Escondido discovered last week it’s not such a good idea to complain. When they asked the driver to stop using his phone and focus on driving, he physically assaulted them. The passengers got out of the vehicle with the aid of passersby and their attacker fled the scene. The unidentified driver and his cab — number 02-968 — are being sought by state traffic police after a formal complaint was filed, but it’s doubtful anything will come of it. Unless he wants his car back, but it’s probably not his anyway, as most taxi drivers here in Mexico don’t own the taxi, they just rent it. The same goes for Uber, but in a smaller percentage.

For the record, traffic regulations forbid the use of mobile phones while driving, except when the driver is using hands-free devices or a speakerphone.

Got Netflix? Telcel, the largest cellphone operator in Mexico, is now offering household internet via its 4G mobile network. Spain-based Movistar was the first company to offer the service early this year, followed by the United States-based AT&T and finally bringing up the end of the innovation and service trend is our own domestic firm, Televisa under the name Blue Telecomm.

For about US $10 per month, we get speeds of up to 5 mbps but once you run through 100GB, they put the speed brakes on, and download speed is reduced to 1 lousy mbp.

The second tier offers up to 10 mbps with a data cap of 150 GB for about $17.50. The price of the modem is about $40. The moral to the story is, don’t get into a long series on Netflix, just view it in little chunks of little mbps’s

Banks’ bad day. Last month saw a day they’re calling Black Thursday on the Mexican stock market; bank stocks plummeted after senators from president-elect López Obrador’s Morena party unexpectedly proposed to rein in those little and not so little bank charges we all suffer with. The bill referenced a study by financial consumer protection agency Condusef that said that, on average, 30% of Mexican banks’ revenues come from commissions. That percentage, Morena argued in its proposal, is more than banks in other countries earn from those charges. If approved, the legislation would prohibit banks from charging customers for checking their account balances, withdrawing cash, requesting past statements and issuing replacement cards, among other services. They’re comparing Mexico to other countries as a benchmark on behavior? That practice, in this cat’s opinion, is ill advised.

The Mexican Stock Exchange index fell 5.81% due to the banks’ losses, its biggest single-day decline since August 2011. Proponents of this legislation claim bank charges generated income of more than US $5.3 billion for Mexican banks last year alone, 8% more than in 2016.

Shares in Banorte suffered the biggest drop, down 11.9% at the close of trading, while Gentera and Inbursa saw 10.23% and 10.08% wiped off their market value. The Mexico subsidiary of Spanish bank Santander slumped 8%. According to Bloomberg, the combined losses that day of Banorte, Inbursa, Santander, BanBajío, Gentera and Regional totaled more than US $4.2 billion.

The move served to further stir fears in the financial sector about López Obrador’s economic plans. But bank stocks recovered the next day after the new president walked that legislation proposal back. Guessing he won’t try that again.

Pemex. The decision to delay oil and gas lease auctions until the new administration officially takes office December 1st has alarmed investors, who fear that incoming president AMLO’s planned $10.5 billion rescue plan for the oil industry will increase Pemex’s debt burden. The Mexican state oil company is already the world’s most indebted national oil company, according to ratings agency Moody’s, with more than $100 billion in debt and about the same amount in pension liabilities. On October 19, Fitch, another ratings agency, revised down Pemex’s outlook rating to negative from stable, causing the peso to fall to its lowest level in over a month.

Pemex’s disarray is evidenced by Mexico’s gargantuan oil production decline over the past two decades. Oil production fell from 3.9 million bpd in 2004 to 2.5 million bpd in 2016, and slipped even further in 2017, dropping as low as 1.9 million bpd. Oil output has fallen during most months in the first half of 2018, standing at just under 2.1 million bpd in June.

The company is in dire need of partnerships with international energy companies that know what the hell they’re doing.  Such joint ventures would allow it to extract more oil from its existing fields, and to discover new fields. But two years ago, there was a new strategy put in place that has proven its worth, as Pemex recently gained $1.43 billion pesos of net profit for the third quarter of 2018, compared with a 101.8 billion pesos loss in the same period last year. Don’t get excited though, as AMLO has vowed to change things again, diverting oil investment funds to his many social programs.

More on airport. Around 5,500 people marched in Mexico City to protest the decision to cancel the new airport under construction there. One third, $5 billion into it, protesters argued the public consultation that led to the cancellation decision was unconstitutional and warned that president-elect López Obrador would hold more illegitimate referendums on other issues if they let him get away with this one.

“What’s going to happen is that he’s going to want to have ‘consultations’, little mini votes, scattered around the country, mostly in areas that voted for him, for everything, and they will be unconstitutional,” said protester Josefina Ruiz. The demonstrators also contended that cancelling the new airport would cost thousands of jobs and halt Mexico City’s economic development.

López Obrador has long criticized the project, charging that it is corrupt, too expensive and not needed. Says the man who is selling the presidential jet and vowing to fly commercial. He is going to regret both of these decisions as he discovers the Mexico City airport is truly a nightmare of last century technology, design, and use of space.

Fish Report

Tijuana Bull Ring

Local action has been slow recently — not many bonito or bass, and just a fair number of little rock fish. Out west in the flats, however, the skipjack fishing has been great.

Coronado Islands

After a month or so of very little action, the 10- to 15-pound yellowtail are back on the bite.

The word we have is that yellowtail were seen on the rockfish area just to the NE of North Island and were taking the 6x jr., 6x and 7x yoyo iron, fished on 40- to 50-pound monofilament. Scrambled egg and blue/white were working well also.

Along with the yellowtail, a bunch of 4- to 6-pound bonito were seen spread out along the weather side of North Island.

Offshore

Captain Louie Prieto shows off one of the better-quality sheepshead caught on a recent outing.
Captain Louie Prieto shows off one of the better-quality sheepshead caught on a recent outing.

Below the 425 / Upper Hidden & Hidden Bank

This zone continues to be the best bet for yellowfin, with the most productive area being below 32.06, down in the Upper Hidden Bank area.

There is a temp break running east/west at that number. Temps are below 68°F, and to the north of it as well as 68°F to 69°F to the south.

The yellowfin, skipjack, yellowtail and dorado have nearly all been kelps now with not a lot of open-water jig stops happening.

The average-size yellowfin has been small, mainly from 6- to 10-pounds, with a few up around 20-pounds. The skippies were in the 5- to 8-pound range. The yellowtail have been little rats, from 1- to 3-pounds and the dorado have been small as well, from 5- to 10-pounds.

Lower 9 / Coronado Canyon / 425 / Upper Hidden / Hidden Bank

A couple of boats went exploring and checked out this area today. They didn’t find a lot of fish — in fact, most of the area was a barren desert, but they did find a couple of kelps which produced good numbers of yellowfin and skipjack along with a sample of rat yellowtail.

295 / 238 / 450 / 1140 Finger / Lower 500

Still the location where the biggest scores of yellowfin were coming from, but with a catch: 95% are on kelp paddies.

Easy limits of 6- to 35-pound yellowfin, along with some skipjack, yellowtail and a lone dorado were caught recently.

Most of the area is a desert now as well, with lots of dead water; but be sure and check out any kelp or any dolphin you run into, because these could be holding yellowfin.

Ensenada

Captain Louie Prieto checked in, reporting that for the last couple of weeks, yellowtail fishing has been spotty, but the big bonito and bottom fish have been biting full speed. Water was 63°F to 66°F inside the bay and has been flat and calm most days.

Several high spots at Bahia Salsipuedes were producing sand bass to 7-pounds, reds and chuckleheads to 5-pounds and one nice 23-pound sheepshead on a large root beer colored scampi tipped with squid. Best action was in 120- to 150-feet of water for all the bottom fish. There were several nice bonito on blue and white salas 6x jr. between Punta Pescadero and the Gas Plant. No birds were working anywhere in the bay, but when bait was found on the meter, the bonito have been found as well. Also, lots of bonito are reported a couple of miles inside of the southern end of Todos Santos Island. None of the deeper “go to” spots seem to be holding any yellowtail yet. Only a matter of time until they show. Live bait is not available until probably April, so bring squid.

San Quintin

Only a few groups recently. Troy Hutton, plus some amigos from Lake Arrowhead, Calif., found excellent action fishing aboard Captain Kelly Catian’s 25-foot Parker Offshore III, scoring a mix of yellowtail, big red rock cod and lingcod.

Bahia de Los Angeles

Currently, in a November tease mode with nice weather and only moderate breezes in the afternoons, most if not all the yellowtail action was dropper loop stuff, fishing at depths of 200-feet or so around the Islands. Cabrilla, grouper and pargo was also in the mix closer to shore. So far, north winds have not cranked up to full winter mode.

Fish Report

Tijuana Bull Ring

Wide open bonito fishing this morning in the Point Loma area down to IB. The bones were along the kelp line biting small sardines and chrome jigs along with a mix of calico bass, sheepshead, small rockfish and a few legal-sized lingcod.

More bonito can be found a mile or so outside.

 

Coronado Islands

The only surface fish that is being caught is the bonito which are along the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the Ribbon Kelp and the SKR. Some are big, coming in at well over the 10-pound mark, but 95% of them fall in the 4- to 8-pound class.

Slow-trolling sardines and Rapalas seems to be the ticket for the really big ones.

Other than this, the only thing biting are rockfish and whitefish.

 

Offshore

Below the 425 / Upper Hidden & Hidden Bank

This zone continues to be your best bet for a “local” yellowfin with the best area being below 32.06 down in the Upper Hidden Bank area.

There is a temp break running east/west at that number. Temps are below 68 to the north of it and 68- to 69- to the south.

The yellowfin, skipjack, yellowtail and dorado are nearly all on kelps now with not a lot of open-water jig stops happening.

The average size is small. The yellowfin are mainly 6- to 10-pounds with a few up around 20-pounds. The skippies are in the 5- to 8-pound range. The yellows are little rats, from 1- to 3-pounds and the dorado are 5- to 10-pounds.

 

Ensenada

After some shaky fishing when the hurricane passed far below in the Baja midsection, the surface action resumed with a vengeance. Limits of lunker-sized yellowtail were a pleasant surprise for anglers looking for a fish fix with limits rounding out good bottom fishing as well.

 

San Quintin

Like Ensenada, both inshore and offshore seems to be returning to the conditions prior to the storm. There has been some great fall action for the few anglers visiting the area now. Still, there’s some yellowtail along with great bottom fishing that is almost a given. Hopefully, the fall season will continue until November.

 

Cedros Island

As the lodges close down for the winter, the timing could not have been better with the recent storm that hit the area recently. The fishing remained good right up the the storm. Since then, it has been quiet.

 

Bahia de Los Angeles

Recent reports indicate the dorado that arrived during the summer are beginning to leave as the sea temps cool down. Already, there have been some comments about the north winds. Hopefully they won’t begin in earnest until late in November.

Meanwhile the bottom fishing for cabrilla, pargo and plenty of other takers is holding steady with most anglers limiting out often.

What’s Going On In This Country?

Oh happy day! According to our new president elect there will be no federal government inspectors including those from the tax department. AMLO explained, “we’re going to trust the people.” Ja ja ja! Sure, trust us all to mail in that tax money your government is going to steal and blow on stupid stuff, you bet.

In addition to no Federal Tax Administration (SAT), inspectors, the Secretariat of Health and consumer protection agency Profeco, among other departments, won’t exist during his presidency.

Well, Profeco protects us, we want their consumer protection efforts. Like they inspect the gas station pumps.

Citizens will only have to sign a document pledging that they are “conscious” of their obligation to act within the law, the president-elect said.

It’s not the first time that López Obrador has placed his faith in the people of Mexico. Announcing that he will forego personal security as president days after his landslide victory in the July 1 election, the political veteran said: “The people will protect me. He who fights for justice has nothing to fear.” Yikes.

7 million go thirsty. 20 water truck companies hired by Mexico City to supply the people affected by a planted maintenance water-out are nervous about getting the job done. The water will be turned off for three days (it was initially projected to be four) 930 trucks with capacity for 10,000 to 40,000 liters have been arranged for deliveries, but they expect long wait times at the locations where tanker trucks can load up, meaning they cannot guarantee deliveries to consumers.

Nor can delivery be booked beforehand because the Mexico City water department, Sacmex, will control water distribution at the 450 locations where tankers will be supplied.

Residents of Iztapalapa will have to rely solely on government tanker trucks because private companies refuse to deliver to the borough after their trucks were stolen in the days following the earthquake on September 19, last year.

Residents will have more water at their disposal prior to the suspension in order to fill up water tanks and containers. The National Water Commission will bump water pressure by 15% five days before the suspension begins and for five days after service resumes.

Oh, toughen up! We here in Los Cabos only get water a couple times a week and we don’t stink nor go thirsty. Nor do we whine.

The Vaquita are nearly done, right? Well, maybe not. An expedition to investigate the dwindling vaquita porpoise population found three different groups of the mammals, including babies, raising hopes about its future. It was determined only months ago that the small dolphins found only in the Sea of Cortez were nearly goners, with only a handful left. Well, maybe they’re hiding, they’re shy. How do people know how many there are anyway? Let’s face it, these vaquita huggers have no idea what the hell they’re doing.

No more plastic bags. First it was straws. Tijuana has now banned plastic bags. Living with this isn’t as bad as it sounds. We’re doing it n the States now and you get used to keeping a cloth bag in your car. If you forget they will sell you a paper bag. Of if you’re really us against it, just have them throw all your stuff back into the basket and you throw it all into your car. The campaign against plastic pollution was launched in the spring of 2017 by the United Nations Environment Program.

According to data compiled by the federal Secretariat of the Environment, Mexico generates close to 103,000 tons of trash every day, 10.9% of which are plastics which are often washed away by rain and end up in the ocean.

We’re waiting for someone to get excited about all the unnecessary plastic bottles we’re buying and discarding. We’re not eco freaks but even we think that’s nonsense and we buy our water by the gallon and pour it into smaller bottles we re-use. That’s certainly more important than ripping straws out of our mouths.

Vanished! Money, of course. More than US $852 million in federal health care funding that was transferred to state governments between 2013 and 2017 is unaccounted for, audits show.

The newspaper Milenio reviewed audits conducted by the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) and found a range of irregularities in the use of funds allocated to the Seguro Popular health care program. Oh gawd the Seguro popular program. That’s stealing from the poorest of the poor.

The problems include overpayments for medications, payments for which no records exist, unauthorized transfers of funds and the inclusion of phantom employees on payrolls.

Authorities have identified those believed to be responsible for 3 billion pesos of the missing money and have begun the processes to recover it. However, none of those resources have yet been recovered.

The public program provides medical coverage for 55 million Mexicans who have no other health insurance, including 22 million people who earn less than twice the minimum wage (176 pesos or around US $9 per day): in other words, the nation’s poorest people.

Statistics show that the number of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel working in the Seguro Popular system is below both OECD levels and those for Mexico as a whole, while medicine shortages have occurred in several states.

Corruption is suspected of being a significant factor behind the system’s shortcomings and there is evidence that its consequences can be fatal. “Corruption kills.”

Development of the new Calimax supermarket started last month and is expected to be finished in January 2019

Que Pasa In Baja?

New Calimax Opening In Puerto Nuevo. Don’t run to the car just yet, the new store is not expected to be open until January of next year, but we have already confirmed that this is the reason dirt is being moved around in the lot between the north and south Puerto Nuevo entrances.

Public records filed in Rosarito City Hall state that the new Calimax will have almost 22,000 square feet of construction, along with 71 parking spaces.

Although no official comment was given from Calimax headquarters in Tijuana, a city government source (who didn’t want to be named) said that the supermarket planned here is not your typical Calimax store, but a more polished version of it that the company only uses in select markets.

The store will be especially helpful for people living or staying on the south part of Rosarito and north of Ensenada, which for now, must travel several miles to the nearest supermarket in Ensenada or Rosarito or just settle buying limited groceries at OXXOs or other local mini markets.

Smoke-free beach in Ensenada. Ensenada city council has unanimously approved yesterday a new rule that will start a procedure to make Playa Hermosa the second tobacco smoke-free beach in Mexico. The first one was San Martin beach in Cozumel but the project is now abandoned in there.

ZOFEMAT (the ones in charge of the federal zone in the beach), will be in charge of certifying the beach before the COFEPRIS (The federal commission for protection against sanitary risks). COFEPRIS is the only authority that can certify a place as “smoke-free”.

Jorge Martinez, local councilman, stated that they will help organize, coordinate and implement the necessary infrastructure for this to happen. He said that signs will be installed on the beach and that a surveillance committee will be formed to enforce the new rule and get the federal certification.

The announcement comes just a few hours after Terra Peninsular stated that in their recent cleaning efforts of local beaches, they were able to gather almost a ton of trash which included 1,495 cigarette butts in just over half a mile of beach. And this wasn’t even in Playa Hermosa, which is the most visited beach in the city.

Hopefully authorities around here will keep the designation longer than San Martin in Cozumel, where now, after only 4 years, people are mostly unaware of its smoke-free designation because no one bothered to replace the decaying signs or have anyone in there to enforce the non-smoking rule.

Gendarmerie back in Baja. Just last week 130 elements of the Federal Police of the “Gendarmerie” Division, were deployed here in Baja mainly in Tijuana and San Quintin.

Juan Carlos Moran, head of the federal police in Baja, stated that the deployment of this group of police was in response to the increased requests from local authorities and the private sector regarding the increasing drug crime problems that have been going on.

Moran said that the Federal Police has been the only one in the country that has been able to increase their perception of trustworthiness and credibility between the population.

The Gendarmerie Division was created in 2014 by president Peña Nieto as part of his security strategy to combat organized crime in Mexico.

It has been widely seen as an effective police force by the general population since these officers are better prepared and better paid than almost all other police forces. In order to be accepted to the force, a candidate needs to have completed a bachelor’s degree.

ATM Bandits Are Back! A new card robbing scheme has been caught on camera recently and there are reports that is being used all over Mexico.

This is the way the scheme works: A person gets close to you while you are using the ATM so he/she can visualize your PIN number while you type it in and leaves.

A second person drops money on the floor near the victim and starts picking it up.

While the victim gets down to help the other person to pick up the money or just gets distracted on what’s going on, a third person removes the card from the ATM hides it and walks away.

In some of the videos, the victims walk to the perpetrators and confront them but when they categorically deny it, the victims just walk over to the ATM again to check if they just didn’t leave the card there.

Of course, the maximum permitted cash is withdrawn from the ATM within minutes of the card theft.

Victims have been, on the majority, women. Be careful out there, check your surroundings when typing your PIN code and don’t get distracted and leave your card unattended at any moment!

Watch out for those mosquitoes. State health authorities, headed by Guillermo Trejo, warned citizens to be aware of possible breeding places for mosquitoes that can transmit dengue fever, zika and chikungunya.

David Ibarra, head of the vectors control program for Baja, stated that all actions taken are merely preventive, as no cases of any of these diseases have been reported yet in the current year.

He did say that because of the present climate change, temperature and humidity has become ideal for the proliferation of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which has already increased its population by 30%, although they haven’t been found to carry the diseases.

“It’s important to remember that tires, flower pots and any containers that contain water, are ideal for the proliferation of the mosquito, since it looks for clean water to deposit its eggs”, said Ibarra.

Ibarra also stated that his office has already installed 6,692 mosquito traps around the state and invited everyone to pitch in by not leaving any open containers with water around the house.

Fish Report

Tijuana Bull Ring

There are still a few calico bass in the kelp along with an occasional yellowtail, and you might also stumble across a random bonito school outside in the flats.

Trolling small feathers and/or rapalas remains the best way to locate the schools. Once found, fly-line small sardines or cast chrome jigs like the Colt Sniper for more.

 

Coronado Islands

Heads up: Bracelets are now required to fish within Pacific Island Biosphere Reserve areas, including the Coronado Islands, Todos Santos, and San Martin Island.

You can purchase bracelets for $5 per person per day at Fisherman’s Landing Tackle Shop, Point Loma Sportfishing Tackle Shop, and Dana Landing Market & Fuel Dock. You will need to provide your boat name, boat owner’s name, number of passengers, and dates you will be in the reserve areas, but you don’t need any other special IDs or info to purchase the bracelets. Everyone on board must have a bracelet to enter the Biosphere Reserve.

Biosphere Reserve boundaries are now available on the FishDope Charts (click the “Closures” layer). For more information, please click here.

And for the full Biosphere Reserve Declaration click here.

(may need to refresh a few times to display the document – in Spanish)

 

Offshore

Lower 9 / Coronado Canyon

Jeff Mariani shared a photo of this lunker-sized yellowtail caught just before “Rosa” dumped buckets of rain on Cedros Island.
Jeff Mariani shared a photo of this lunker-sized yellowtail caught just before “Rosa” dumped buckets of rain on Cedros Island.

The area runs from just NW of North Island down the Canyon pretty much all the way south to the 425.

Conditions have been grumpy, but the yellowfin, skipjack, and bonito bite continues. The main zone of fish also slid several more miles to the south and there were a few good kelps below the 9 Mile Bank toward North Island. The yellowfin and skipjack are a few miles to the southwest in the cleaner, warmer water.

For the most part, the best yellowfin are coming from a few kelp paddies that are holding very large schools of tuna. There are also some open-water schools of bonito and skipjack, with a very occasional open-water school of yellowfin either on its own or mixed with skipjack.

It’s taking a lot of chum to get the yellowfin to bite, which favors bigger yachts and sport boats over smaller private boats. You can increase your chum capacity by taking a pass or two of bait into an empty bucket to use for chunk.

Also hang on to your used and dead bait throughout the day to chunk up for later use. Finally, be sure to cast your hook bait right at the same time as you toss a couple pieces of live chum. This will greatly increase your hookup odds.

Most of the yellowfin are in the 8- to 15-pound class but there are a few larger ones up to 30-pounds. The skippies are anywhere from 3- to almost 20l-pounds. Brightly colored feathers continue to be best for the skippies. The yellowfin tend to like the plugs better. Cedar plugs, Rapalas and Halcos are getting the majority of trolled yellowfin. Black/purple is the hot color.

 

Ensenada

Inshore surface action throughout the bay has been a steady pick for bonito, barracuda and a few yellowtail for the few boats fishing recently. However, the almost always reliable go-to bottom fishing assures limits of lingcod, reds, sand bass and rockfish to fill the coolers.

Farther offshore, outside the Islands, the kelp paddies are holding dorado, yellowtail and some yellowfin tuna down deeper in the water column — maybe 50- to 100-feet. Farther offshore, schools of yellowfin can be found (mostly of the smaller variety) with a few up to 30 pounds mixed in.

 

San Quintin

Offshore has been “hit or miss” for most. One day there will be yellowfin tuna and maybe even a dorado or two in the count and then everyone gets fired up and runs outside the 240 and comes up short.

Squirrelly weather, erratic sea-temp, off-color water all seem to get honorable mention for the condition.

So far, the inshore has been much more productive — small to medium yellowtail, and more big bonito that seem to be consistent all up and down the coast now.

 

Cedros Island

While the yellowtail and dorado on the south end high spots has been good, live bait, Rapalas, and surface iron are all working. Calico fishing is fantastic with 75- to 100-fish days not unusual. Plastics and stick bait are your best bet and bring plenty.

Along with wahoo, yellowfin are biting Rapalas at Benitos recently.

However, the recent storms have put the fishing on hold until the water cleans up.

 

Bahia de Los Angeles

Same story here as the several storm systems made their way across the peninsula. Sketchy reports of live bait being tough to come by recently.

Hopefully there will still be a last gasp of dorado before the water temps fall and send them packing down the Sea of Cortez in search of warmer water and bait schools.

The best bet is still going to be some of the rocky outcroppings along the shore line along the shore and around the islands.

Bertoldo Garcia, fishing with Garcia’s Pangas in San Quintin, managed to find one of the elusive offshore yellowfin tuna.

Fish Report

Tijuana Bull Ring

Trolling along the outer edge of the kelp beds found along the shore have been yielding an occasional yellowtail to spice up the calico bite; also, watching for the bird schools is a giveaway to where the fish are feeding — barracuda, yellowtail and bass that might be chasing the bait to the surface. From there towards the International Reef, there are scads of big bonito also feeding on the surface.

 

Coronado Islands

Good fishing for that same 5- to 7-pound bonito that has invaded the entire south coast all the way to Ensenada. Yellowtail fishing, however, isn’t very good. It is slow now after a wild spring and summer. There are no reports of bluefin recently. The last ones seen/caught came from the area between Ribbon Kelp and the 5 Minute Kelp.

 

Offshore

Lower 9 / Coronado Canyon The area runs from just NW of North Island to down the Canyon pretty much all the way south to the 425.

Boats fishing here are scoring good counts of yellowfin tuna; most are in the 8-to 15-pound range with a few showing up in the 20- to 30-pound class. Skipjack are biting also. These are mainly in the 5- to 15-pound class and are jumping on small, bright-colored feathers.

There’s an occasional dorado lurking under anything floating as well.

 

425 / 371 / Upper Hidden Bank / Hidden Bank Here is where the fleet of sportboats along with private boats are loading up on yellowfin and skipjack. Some of the better stops are coming off kelp beds but the boats are also getting plenty of jig stops, finding fish on sonar marks and from finding breezers and bird schools.

The average-size yellowfin has increased a bit. Many are now over 10-pounds with quite a few of the 15- to 25-pounders mixed in.

The northern zone is just a little east of the 425 (FMM permits required), and the southern zone is between the 425 and the Hidden Bank (outside the 12-mile FMM zone).

(Inside the 12-mile FMM zone, FMM permits required passengers on U.S. boats).

 

Ensenada

Inshore surface action throughout the bay has been a steady pick for bonito, barracuda and a few yellowtail for the few boats fishing recently. However, the almost always reliable go-to bottom fishing assures limits of lingcod, reds, sand bass and rockfish to fill the coolers.

Farther offshore, outside the Islands, the kelp paddies are holding dorado, yellowtail and some yellowfin tuna down deeper in the water column — maybe 50-to 100-feet. Farther offshore, schools of yellowfin can be found mostly of the smaller variety with a few up to 30 pounds mixed in.

For the adventurous, there are striped marlin hanging around some of the high spots to the north and south up and down the coast.

San Quintin

Offshore has been hit or miss for most. One day there will be yellowfin tuna and maybe even a dorado or two in the count and then everyone gets fired up and runs outside the 240 and comes up short.

Squirrelly weather, erratic sea-temp, off-color water all seem to get honorable mention for the condition.

So far, the inshore has been much more productive — small to medium yellowtail, and more big bonito that seem to be consistent all up and down the coast now.

And of course, for the meat fishermen, bottom fishing is always a reliable alternative with some nice-sized lingcod, reds and other rock fish to add to the catch.

 

Cedros Island

There’s great fishing at the island right now. Yellowtail and dorado on the south end high spots. Live bait, Rapalas, and surface iron are all working. Calico fishing is fantastic with 75- to 100-fish days not unusual. Plastics and stick bait are your best bet and bring plenty.

The wahoo and yellowfin are biting Rapalas at Benitos recently.

 

Bahia de Los Angeles

Hot weather seems to have thinned out the number of visitors to the area. Hence, sketchy reports would indicate that there is live bait near the launch ramp.

The dorado are still in the zone on the surface and again anything floating is the key to finding them while you are trolling lures.

Most of the yellowtail are being caught around the pinnacles around the outer islands.

Inshore along the shore trolling rapalas in shallow water can be productive, particularly during the summer when creating your own breeze helps keep you cool while you are catching cabrilla, spotted bay bass and who knows what else.

What’s Going On In This Country?

BY SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Another dunderhead idea. The decentralization of the federal government by moving some departments out of Mexico City will be one of the costliest projects ever undertaken in the history of Mexico, warned a business leader.

Gustavo de Hoyos, a union leader, said the relocation of the departments to other cities will cost at least US $6.5 billion. And, oh by the way, the federal employees do not want to uproot their families.

“The cost of this operation would be equivalent to the Health Secretariat’s entire 2018 budget, without tallying in additional and indirect costs,” said de Hoyos.

Among the first relocations planned are the Environment Secretariat moving to Mérida, Yucatán, and Tourism to Chetumal, Quintana Roo. The plan has been cheered on by the real estate industry. Of course. The reason given for the move is to spread out the financial gain these government offices provide from Mexico City to smaller outlying areas.

Keep your money. Apparently, Mexico has plenty. The incoming federal government will not accept funding from the United States to police and deport migrants, the incoming interior secretary has announced. However, the outgoing administration said they wouldn’t mind taking the money meant to be spent on busing Central Americans back home, through Mexico.

On the campaign trail leading up to the July 1 election, the then-candidate pledged that Mexico, “wouldn’t do the dirty work” of foreign governments, referring specifically to the deportations of Central Americans.

Mexico needs more noise. Some locals and most Gringos agree that Mexico is loud enough already, but that is not stopping electronics firm Panasonic from introducing two new, stronger speakers designed especially for Mexico.

The new speakers improve on power and sound clarity, explained Edmundo Sánchez, director of a Panasonic manufacturing plant in México state. They were designed by Mexican engineers, who aim to create speakers aligned with Mexican and Latin tastes “for more party,” said the executive.

The audio division’s production is more than 220,000 speakers, and a whopping 90% stays in Mexico.

 Another round of financing, please The U.S. Embassy has donated $200,000 dollars to restore the Franciscan convent of San Martín in Puebla that was destroyed in last September’s earthquake. This is a partial replacement for the $4.5 million in patch-up money that has gone missing. The former convent was built in 1531. More than 350 people were killed, hundreds of buildings were destroyed, and because so much money was stolen from the relief effort, thousands are still camping out one year later.

The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, created by the United States Congress in 2000, has provided financial assistance to more than 120 countries around the world for the preservation of cultural sites and objects. Hopefully, the U.S. is not going to just mail a check.

What could go wrong there? Mexico’s president-elect kicked off a nationwide tour Sunday with his new head of security in tow: a restaurant owner who will coordinate a civilian brigade in lieu of the Mexican equivalent of the U.S. Secret Service. Oh lordy, God help our new president! Did he not get the memo that almost 145 people running for July’s election were assassinated?

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1, introduced this restaurant guy to reporters, saying he will be charged with organizing 20 civilian assistants, who will accompany the new president five at a time, so he can get up close to his peeps without getting squashed.

The wildly popular Lopez Obrador enjoys engaging with everyday Mexicans and is mobbed by well-wishers. He shakes hands. He poses for pictures. And he pauses to listen to pleas that range from tearful requests for assistance locating kidnapped or missing loved ones to humble requests for a job.

Lopez Obrador campaigned across Mexico for 13 years with two failed bids for the presidency before winning the highest office in a landslide July vote. He visited remote and dangerous hamlets with a modest entourage and wasn’t hurt, so maybe this will work…

His head of security in the past was Polimnia Romana, a veterinarian who assembled a small group of female police to handle crowd control. The female force’s light touch with children and women who approached Lopez Obrador earned them the nickname “the gazelles.”

But Romana finds it “very worrisome” that Lopez Obrador wants to entrust his safety to someone without security experience as he nears the presidency. Lopez Obrador “cares too much about public opinion,” she said, adding that he is still “behaving like a candidate who is looking for votes.”

If something bad does happen, his spot would be filled by the interior minister or head of the Senate until general elections are held again. It’s not certain who would take over because the law is pretty loosie goosie on that. Well, what could go wrong there?

Standing before a cheering crowd of thousands in Tepic, Lopez Obrador last week said, “The people will take care of me.”

Uber all. San Miguel de Allende is a “gold mine” in Guanajuato for Uber, according to the company’s Mexico communications director. Saul Crespo told the newspaper El Financiero that San Miguel generates the highest average hourly earnings of any of Uber’s markets in the state. It is also a particularly lucrative city for Uber drivers, he said, adding that 60% of journeys in the city are requested by foreigners.

San Miguel de Allende is a large expat hub and is also a popular tourist destination.

Uber started operations in Guanajuato three years ago and now “directly generates 10,600 economic opportunities and helps transport 768,000 Guanajuato residents,” Crespo said.

He also stated that Uber has become one of the state’s economic engines, with a total of 14% of the state’s population either using the company’s services or driving for them.

Crespo said that Uber’s goal is to continue growing in Mexico and to resolve the problems it has had in some parts of the country, like down in Southern Baja.

Better tourism through tacos. In 2010, traditional Mexican cuisine received UNESCO Heritage designation as a cultural treasure. The Mexican government’s Atlanta outpost is betting that Americans with more discriminating palates will also make more informed travelers, benefiting the tourist business here. 25 gastronomic ambassadors have been designated by Mexico’s foreign ministry to spread the word about the country’s flavors around the globe.

“Food is a very strong ingredient now for modern tourism. One of the stronger strategies to promote tourism is to promote Mexico as a gastronomic destination,” said Javier Diaz de Leon, Mexico’s consul general in Atlanta. Mexico that’s key, given that tourism accounts for 7.4 percent of gross domestic product and sustains 4 million jobs in the country.

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