Yucatan News: Elections and Oil Spills
News starting May 17th.
Elections Are Over
Last Sunday, the polls were open and the bars were closed. We were out and about early and saw multiple caravans of police in full regalia, keeping the peace. The mayoral election in Merida was the first of a series of elections throughout Mexico in the coming months that is expected to give the PRI party more representatives in local and state governments. In Merida, the PRI candidate, Angelica Araujo, appears to have won. According to Ana Salazar, from the blog Mexico Today, "PRI national president Beatriz Paredes announced that surveys gave victory to PRI candidate Angélica Araujo in Yucatán state capital Mérida… Should final results confirm the trend it would mean that the PAN had lost the Yucatán capital after 19 years in power there…". With 95% of the votes counted, the Diario de Yucatan reported:
- Angélica Araujo Lara with 145,936 votes
- Beatriz Zavala with 133,309 votes.
Yucatan elected 106 mayors and 25 state legislators on Sunday, and the PRI seems to have won almost everywhere. Here's a handy graphic from IPEPAC, the election department of the goverment (Thank you, Emily!). Now, the election is over and its time to move on. Let's hope everyone moves quickly to take down all those signs!
New Visa Renewal Service… Only $250 Pesos
The process of applying for, renewing or changing your FM3 or FM2 visa has been changed by the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM). Now, before ever visiting the INM offices, you must complete an online process at their website, and download and print the appropriate papers. The entry page to this process is in English, but the remainder of the pages are in Spanish, and the new names, terms and procedures have puzzled more than one visa do-it-yourselfer. This week, Yucatan Expatriate Services (YES) announced an economic service that will save you time and frustration. For $250 pesos, you can go to the YES offices and work with one of their bilingual project managers, stepping through the process. When you leave the office, you’ll have the downloaded and printed papers in hand. When you go to the INM offices, you’ll have everything you need to start the process. INM will give you a tracking number at that visit, which can be used to track the progress of your visa application. This new procedure went into effect on May 1, 2010. If you don’t want to struggle with it and chance getting it wrong (and being sent away after waiting in line…), make an appointment with YES to do it for you.
Gulf Oil Spill Risk to Yucatan
At the present time, officials of the Mexican Navy have announced that there is no immediate threat to the coast of Yucatan, which is the area of Mexico that is nearest the Deep Water Horizon spill. There is a Mexican Oceanographic station in Progreso that reports to the Naval High Command which, in turn, works with the U.S. Coast Guard. However, it is the words “no immediate threat” that are troubling. As it turns out, if BP does not get that leak sealed and all of that oil cleaned up, the east coast of Mexico, including Yucatan, can look for what's left to be headed this way when winter currents shift in October. This further underscores the fact that the world is a very small place and what happens to one, happens to all. Since BP is currently talking a good game of cleanup and paying for this tragedy, while actually doing nothing to either cleanup or pay for it, we ask that everyone please support any locally led efforts in this direction, continue to support tourism in areas hit by this tragedy, and keep as much pressure as possible on elected officials. We must deal with this issue before THIS happens to Yucatan. Here's a brand new blog called The Will to Drill that is cataloging what is being done in response to the oil spill... we'll be watching with interest.
Hair Today, Oil Gone Tomorrow
If anyone would like to help with the removal of oil from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, please visit Matter of Trust. This is a company that takes hair from beauty and barber shops, as well as fur from dog groomers and farmers. The hair and fur is woven into mats or stuffed into recycled pantyhose. Each of these booms is capable of soaking up many many times its weight in oil. They also make mats of hair that are put on beaches to soak up oil that makes it to the sand. In the photo to the right, you can see a group of volunteers using them for a minor oil spill near San Francisco in 2007. We would suggest that, since there is an outside chance of some of that oil making its way to Yucatan this winter, this would be a good project to be aware of. For those of us who always wondered what could possibly be done with all that dog hair, this is a great way to give it to a worthy cause.
Mexican Economy Recovers Via U.S. Consumerism
Up 44.3% over the same period last year... Well! That is certainly a big number! But let's look at what we are talking about and whether it has an effect on the economy of Yucatan. That 44.3% is in relation to exported goods, made in Mexico and imported to meet the needs of the consumer driven economy of the U.S. These goods are primarily associated with transportation and equipment, electronics and computers, and electrical components and equipment. These products
are primarily made in the northern states of Mexico. So while they contribute to the overall economic health of the country, they have little effect on local economies here in the State of Yucatan. The take-away concept here is that the U.S. economy seems to be based, once again, on consumer spending, which leaves it vulnerable to rapid downturns. To ameliorate the effects of these potential downturns, Yucatan has the foresight to now be in the process of developing strong trade ties with Europe and the Far East.
Trickle Down Unemployment in Yucatan
Here in Yucatan, master workmen in all phases of construction earn between $100 and $200 pesos per day, but 50% of them are now unemployed. As older projects are completed, there is no money to begin new projects. In addition, there are always those who are willing to work for less and to work outside of their union. We have seen the end of that story before. Ultimately, those workers do not make enough to sustain their families and the resources of feeding stations and food banks are soon stretched to their breaking point. If you have a project that needs to be completed, now is the time to get it done – but please be mindful that the right thing to do is to pay a living wage to everyone who works on our projects. If you would like to contribute to one of the food banks, visit The Food Bank of Chicxulub. A similar program you can support is The Food Bank of Merida.
Hurricane Season Begins June 1
Since Yucatan is seldom struck by a hurricane, we prepare every year and then seem to forget about this issue completely. The Hurricane Preparedness section on the State's website has always been good and that also leads us to move this issue to a back burner. However, this year, the State of Yucatan has just finished a major overhaul of their site and it took a little effort to find the pages that are related to disasters such as hurricanes. Visit the new Civil Protection website to find everything from emergency telephone numbers to the shelter nearest your home. For a detailed list of things to do and things to pack, go to Ready America, a division of Homeland Security. Their lists are excellent resources.
Paint, Paint, and RePaint: How Much $$$?
There are a few blogs on the Internet that will give you the straight scoop on life in Yucatan and Larry Baker's Yucatan Rebirth is one of our favorites. Things you want to know include not only how often one needs to repaint, but how much does all of this painting and repainting cost? Well, living at the beach is going to call for a bit more repainting than living in the city, simply because of the wear and tear caused by salt air and sea spray. However, on the whole of it, Larry's latest blog post, The Repaint, will give you a pretty good idea (in words and pictures) of the surprisingly little it takes to keep up even a beach house in Yucatan. If fear of “how often and how much” is holding you back, spend a little time on Yucatan Rebirth and we're sure we'll see you here soon.
Yaxche Restaurant in the News
13 years ago, Chef David Reyes spent a year learning to cook Mayan food in Nuevo Durango. Then he opened Yaxche in Playa del Carmen, where he presented a menu that is 1/3 Mayan, 1/3 Yucateco, and 1/3 local experimental. Needless to say, Yaxche has been a smash hit! Then David decided he needed to give back to the community and individuals who taught him all he knows about Mayan cooking. Now, they are partners, with the village of Nuevo Durango supplying authentic ingredients and Yaxche supplying a steady infusion of cash into the village economy. Everybody wins, and none greater than the patrons of Yaxche Restaurant. Read the rest of the story, including the part about Chef Reye's grandfather who led tours at Chichen Itza... Yaxche Restaurant and David Reyes.
Before we leave the topic of lifestyle in Yucatan, we couldn't resist passing on that there's a new burger spot in Merida. Its a franchise out of Florida, called Oneburger, and it has an entire range of hamburgers that include turkey, beef, pork, chicken, tuna and vegetarian burgers. They're on Paseo de Montejo, in front of Club Campestre. If anyone is going that way, we hear they've got free samples – so try the tuna burger and let us know what you think.
Arizona Update: High Treason?
We are not going to say much about this latest development because it is so outrageous as to literally defy civilized description. This week, Arizona banned (criminalized) ethnic studies classes and now equates such classes with “high treason!” In addition, teachers who have accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes. Hopefully, everyone has already checked to make certain they are purchasing no products originating in Arizona. We would also suggest that travelers take any of the many alternate routes around the State of Arizona for the foreseeable future. We're just sayin'...
Quick Fact: Did you know?
Mexico has a total of 110,000 museums? Visit one today!