Yucatan News: Hurricane Season Begins
Henequen Sandal Weaving Course Underway
Nine ladies in Hunucma are taking a course in the weaving of henequen sandals. They're going to make 400 pairs during the 2 month course and the sandals are to be exported! The State Government has given the ladies the materials and paid for their class. We won't bother the ladies while they are learning but, when they are finished, we would love to go out to see (and buy?) those sandals!
The Arts in Merida: The Next Generation
All of us, including our visitors, are constantly delighted with performances in music, dance, and theater, by Yucateco children of all ages. To ensure that the next generation has a voice, the ESAY is embarking upon an ambitious program to not only provide comprehensive art education in all public schools, but also to offer professional training, three times a week, to those students who show exceptional talent and interest. At some point, these students will transfer completely to the School of Superior Arts of Yucatan and graduate with a degree in musical art, visual art, or theater. They, as so many Yucateco talents before them, will go on to professional careers and delight our children and grandchildren. The School of Superior Arts of Yucatan is now located in the old train station, which you can see in Yucatan Living's article on their Grand Opening last summer.
Behavior: And So Summer Begins
After disembarking from a cruise ship early one morning last week, a few young men were drinking beer and behaving badly on the malecon in Progreso. Their behavior was considered to be shocking enough to find its way, complete with pictures, into local newspapers. Every summer, we are asked the same question: Are Yucatecos "against" alcohol? The answer remains the same: No. Yucatecos are not "against" alcohol. Yucatan is a safe, family-oriented state. Yucatecos will not tolerate public behavior that is in poor taste. No matter what they can get away with back home, visitors must remember that Yucatan is not their country and, sooner or later, behaving badly in public will run afoul of local laws, which may sometimes be adjusted as the need presents itself. While we realize that there are other places in Mexico where free-wheeling behavior may be accepted, we just want to make sure that our visitors understand that good manners are highly prized in the State of Yucatan. Any tourist who brings their good manners with them will find Yucatecos going out of their way to see to it that he or she has the best vacation ever!
New Development Underway in Quintana Roo
There is no denying that the demand for housing in Quintana Roo has been growing dramatically (10% per year) over the past several decades - or that this demand will continue to increase in the decades to come. This week, it was announced that there is yet another huge planned community to be built in Playa Del Carmen, with the major owners listed as Grupo Mar Comfort and Bancaja, with most of the individual investors from Spain. The name of the community will be Gran Coral Riviera Maya. These 7,000 homes and apartments will sell for between $560,000 USD and $1.5 million USD. There will be, of course, shops, fitness centers, and golf courses. 80% of the first 300 apartments have already been sold.
Emergency Preparedness: Listerine Urban Legend
As hurricane season opens with our first tropical storm advancing from Honduras, some may be tempted to search the net for tips and tricks to keep them and their families safe during times when public services fail. In the first place, public services in Merida seldom fail for more than a few hours, a few days at most. So facing those kinds of disasters is not really a huge problem for those who live in Yucatan. However, what does concern us is something we found as we conducted our own emergency preparedness web search. What to do if the water supply is contaminated... and we were shocked at what we found! One home preparedness consultant, who has quite a list of credentials, actually suggested that individuals drink a couple of swallows of Listerine so it would kill any bacteria he or she had ingested with bad food or bad water. We went to every reputable source we could find and discovered that this is NOT recommended by anyone for any reason - Ever! Please, as you collect those things you believe will be needed to keep your family safe, do your due diligence and check to make sure the advice you are taking is legitimate!
Low Cost Mexican Airlines in Trouble
Mexico has a total of eight low cost airlines that have been moving approximately 30 million passengers per year for the past 2 and a half years. Unfortunately, they say they can no longer remain in business because of the high price of fuel and lack of competition for fuel prices in Mexico. It will be a tremendous blow to the traveling Mexican public if these airlines should close their doors. We will be watching, with interest, as this drama unfolds.
Yucatan's Wages and Prices
Over the course of the past few weeks, we have watched as food distributors, throughout the nation, decided (on their own) not to raise food prices anymore because they realized they were rapidly pricing their products out of reach of a significant number of Mexican families. Now, the trade unions of Yucatan have faced the fact that wages have grown here, but not as fast as prices. Meetings are currently underway to properly assess this problem and to formulate a plan of action to rectify the problem as quickly as possible.
Mexico's 3-Phase Attack on World Food Insecurity
In a recent speech, President Calderon stated that cost of the current, worldwide food insecurity crisis is not going to be allowed to be passed on to the poorest families in Mexico. Instead, Mexico will embark on a 3-phase plan to increase Mexican food reserves and maintain the cost of food throughout the country. These phases include:
First: Taxes on imported wheat, rice, and white and yellow corn will be lifted, a tariff-free bean import quota will be authorized; the tax on imported powdered milk will be cut in half; import tariffs on yellow corn, sorghum and soybean paste will be totally eliminated and alternatives will be negotiated with self-service stores to prevent sharp food price increases and make the basic food basket available at affordable prices.
Second: In order to support agricultural producers, all tariffs on nitrogenated fertilizers and chemicals used in the manufacture of fertilizers will be eliminated throughout the country. Preferential credits will be given to over 400,000 small agricultural producers, while fertilizers will be sold at affordable prices at DICONSA. Irrigation equipment will be provided throughout the countryside, sufficient to irrigate 400,000 new hectares per year until 2012. A fund of $20 billion pesos is available to make it possible for producers to purchase equipment and
machinery; and federal programs, such as PROCAMPO (to support the raising of cattle) and the Alliance for the Countryside (Alianza para el Campo) will be reinforced. Electricity for pumping and diesel for agricultural and fishing purposes will be subsidized.
Third: Tortilla prices will be maintained, and the Living Better food support program will be implemented, which will benefit over 5.3 million families. These families are enrolled in the Oportunidades program and will now receive $655 pesos per month. There are $4.5 billion pesos in the budget for this program. The Federal Government has also set aside $200 billion pesos for the purpose of maintaining gasoline, diesel and LP gas prices. In addition, the Federal Government of Mexico is currently building its maize reserves.
Tropical Storm Alma
Before weakening to a tropical depression, Tropical Storm Alma managed to march across Nicaragua and Honduras, from the Pacific side, killing 3, leaving at least 10 missing, and about 25,000 homeless. The problem with anything that drops this much rain, 20 inches in the case of Alma, is that the true damage will come days later in mudslides. If ever there was a reason to plant as many trees as we can - throughout the world - this is it.
As it crossed to the Atlantic Ocean, Alma became Tropical Storm Arthur
Arthur has had sustained winds of only 35 miles per hour, soaking the Belize-Mexico border area on Saturday. This storm is no longer increasing in intensity, but has the potential to drop up to another 15 inches of rain. As of this report, Arthur is headed west, toward the Bay of Campeche. Here in Merida, we’ve had lots of beautiful clouds, a magnificent sunset on Saturday and some great rain for the garden.
Ford bringing $3 billion USD and 4,500 jobs to Mexico
The new Ford Fiesta plant will be located somewhere near Mexico City. Cars should begin to roll out sometime in 2010. This is the latest in a very long list of foreign corporations that are moving to Mexico.
Life Insurance in Mexico
It has never been unusual to see life insurance agents speaking to groups of expats throughout Mexico, but we had no idea that the major life insurance companies are lining up to bring the concepts of financial security to the growing middle class in this country. Life insurance sales grew 8.2% last year and have been predicted to be 10% this year. However, life insurance premiums alone have actually gone up 16.4% already this year. This is a $22.12 billion peso business, that is relatively still undersold, and with a growing middle class that is now able to see a financial future for themselves. This developing industry is going to be quite interesting to watch.