News Starting February 13, 2012
U.S. DEA Stamp of Approval on Yucatan
All too often, we read U.S. government advisories and news stories that tar all of Mexico with the same negative brush. This leaves those of us who live and vacation in Yucatan in rather a frustrating spot as we attempt to convince friends and family that we are perfectly safe in Yucatan and they will be as well. This week, DEA Agent Rod Bensor came to Yucatan and met with Luis Felipe Saiden Ojeda, Secretary of Public Security (SSP). Agent Bensor reviewed Yucatan’s safety standards and took a tour of the offices of all of the security and intelligence monitoring and analysis departments. After all was said and done, Agent Bensor’s opinion was that the success of the security operations in Yucatan favor the development of everyday life here. We are so glad that Agent Rod Bensor took the time to come to Yucatan and see the secure life we enjoy here. We hope he will come again, when he has time to relax and enjoy all of the wonders our adopted state has to offer.
What Foreign Tourists Say:
We have never met anyone who came to Yucatan just once, so we were not surprised to see the opinions of foreign tourists when asked why they come to Yucatan. Tourists who come to the beach say they like the fact that Yucatan’s beaches are not as crowded as other beaches on the Caribbean. They also remarked on how much they love the tranquility and the people. Tourists who come to Merida say they like the museums and the shopping. Those who travel to the interior tend to fall in love with Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Dzilam Bravo, Tizimin and Izamal. For those of us who live here, if we live in the city, how long has it been since we spent a day at the beach or took a trip out to Izamal? If we live at the beach, how long has it been since we explored Merida or drove out to Uxmal? There is so much to see and do in Yucatan. We love playign tourist for a day or two, and looking at our adopted state with fresh eyes. We never fail to be amazed at what new wonders we find here.
Kids Helping Kids Fix Broken Hearts
When grandparents move to Mexico, one of their concerns is how their living so far from home will affect their grandchildren. This week, we are pleased to bring you news of Emily Kladar and her siblings’ charity, "Kids Helping Kids Fix Broken Hearts." After visiting their grandparents, on the Mayan Riviera, Emily, her sister Sarah and younger brother Thomas came to their parents with the idea of raising money to help fund heart transplants for children in both Mexico and North Carolina. Little did their parents know that the collection they expected to be a few hundred dollars, at best, would result in 12-year old Emily being named one of Idaho’s two Prudential Spirit of Community Award winners, while Sarah has won a $10,000 scholarship from Kohl’s Department Store. The Kladar kids’ designed a dish towel logo and started recruiting help to sell their work all across the country. They are rapidly heading for national coverage and have managed to help children from a number of states, as well as from Mexico. Kids Helping Kids Fix Broken Hearts was also a finalist for the 2011 Small Charity of the Year Award. Read more about this remarkable family of children at Kids Helping Kids.
House Fair with 6,000 Houses Available: February 25 & 26, 2012
This event will include the work of 28 housing developers, with 6,000 new homes, located in 45 different neighborhoods throughout Merida, Uman and Kanasin. The price of the homes varies from $230,000 pesos to $2 million pesos. This is all part of a program developed by the National Chamber of Housing which offers a variety of subsidies to Mexican citizens, but you don’t have to be Mexican to buy one of the houses. The most interesting thing we learned here is that 20% of the inhabitants of Yucatan are outsiders, mostly from Nuevo Leon and Tabasco. They say that low land prices and security is what drew them here. The sale of these homes will put between $122 and $179 million pesos in subsidies into play in the economy of Yucatan and certainly will improve the lives of many in the Yucatan. The fair will be held at Sala Izamal in the Siglo XXI Convention Center.
Uman: Spay / Neuter: Thanks to the City and State
During their recent spay/neuter campaign, the Departamento de Zoonosis del Ayuntamiento planned on spaying about 100 animals. They quickly passed 120 and the people still kept coming. In an effort to meet the need, the City has extended the free program for another two weeks. The cost of these surgeries is shared by the City Council and the State of Yucatan. If you know of someone who might benefit from this free service, please have them register with the Departamento de Zoonosis del Ayuntamiento in their office on the side of the Municipal Palace. This kind of program has been a long time coming and both the City of Merida and the State of Yucatan deserve accolades all around.
Collector Turns Over Artifacts to INAH
The INAH Center in Yucatan has just received a marvelous collection of over 200 Maya artifacts from 76 year old Luis Arana. Hector Arana, Luis’ father, was a tour guide in Yucatan and built the collection between 1930 and 1960, before the founding of INAH. Part of this collection is from the Maya’s Late Classic period (700 – 750 A.D.) and part is from the Terminal Classic period (1000 – 1100 A.D.). In addition to the artifacts, there are also letters, documents, maps and photographs related to archaeologist Sylvanus Morley. This is a wonderful coup for Yucatan’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and we will be watching for the first showing of this brand new window into the history of the Maya in Yucatan.
Valladolid: Goodbye Puddles
Until now, Valladolid has always had a problem with brief periods of flooding whenever there is either a downpour or rain for several days. In some cases, puddles have been large enough and deep enough to stay wet for up to two days. This is certainly not a good situation when dengue fever is an issue throughout the region. In order to completely do away with this problem, Valladolid has just completed a new public works project that includes the drilling of 181 storm drains, with PVC pipes running through them, and seven wells to hold the water they carry. From now on, no matter how much it rains, Valladolid’s streets should be dry within just a couple of hours. This is one more step toward developing Valladolid into a thriving commercial center of the 21st century.
Seventh Annual San Miguel Writers’ Conference
February 16 through 19, the San Miguel Writers’ Conference will hold its seventh annual conference. This year’s featured writers will include Margaret Atwood, Elena Poniatowska, Joy Harjo and Naomi Wolf. In all, there will be more than 42 world class speakers, instructors and agents. If you are a writer, or if you would like to be, now is the time to become a regular visitor to the San Miguel Writers’ Conference website, as well as to Merida’s own Latin American Blogger’s Conference website. Both groups hold excellent workshops during their annual conferences. Planning on attending these conferences next year and becoming a part of the writers’ community in Yucatan is something we highly recommend.
Reynosa Layoffs: Unions Swing into Action
Nokia, a troubled company that manufactures telephones, has announced that it will be laying off 35% of its workers in Reynosa and in two European nations. This means that 700 Mexican families will lose their income. At the first sign of trouble, the Independent Union of Maquiladora Plant Operators began conducting a survey among other telephone manufacturers in the area in an effort to find jobs for the people who will soon be laid off. At the same time, the Reynosa Maquiladora and Manufacturing Association announced that they will support the 700 workers who will be laid off until they can move into already identified current vacancies in other firms in the industry. The workers are well educated, and have the experience and training to move seamlessly into positions in other workplaces. This recovery, before the actual layoffs, is the result of having a plan and executing it immediately when the emergency criteria appear. Congratulations to the unions in Reynosa, to their leaders, and to the workers who prepared themselves, far in advance, for such a contingency.
Mexico’s Child Protection Officers (IPO)
Mexico has approximately 362 Child Protection Officers (IPO) working as an arm of the Mexican National Institute of Migration. In 2011, these wonderful people took custody of the 14,237 undocumented children and young people who were intercepted, traveling alone, on the U.S. side of the border; and then handed over to Mexico. Only 81% of the children were actually Mexican, but they were not turned away. The IPO and INM have developed a program that determines the needs of each child in their care and then meets those needs. Some of the children are runaways, some are victims of abuse or even of child trafficking. No matter their situation, no matter their nationality, the IPO are there to meet them where they are and give them the best care possible. This program is such a success that 384 officials from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are working to replicate the Mexican model so that their officers can also provide the specialized care required by the migrant child population. Other nations have also shown interest in the program, including: Argentina, Panama, Spain, Colombia and Senegal. This is a wonderful testament to the education, skill and dedication of the Child Protection Officers of Mexico’s INM. We hope they know how deeply they are appreciated by everyone who hears their story.
Progreso: Siguele (Follow) Scholarships Available
The Center for Studies of the Ocean (Cetmar) No. 17 "Felipe Carrillo Puerto" has invited all students who have no other scholarships to come in and sign up for Siguele, a national Fellows’ Scholarship Program for the Expansion of Upper Secondary Education. The students will receive $500 pesos per month for up to ten months per year or until the student completes his or her bachillerato. For a better understanding of the levels of education in Mexico, visit World Education News & Reviews. If anyone knows of a student who might benefit from this program, they can register at Cetmar No. 17 "Felipe Carrillo Puerto" until February 22, 2012.