Notice: The Pelican Free Press resumes weekly editions in November.
Armed guard in Sam’s Club
shot during daytime robbery
A daring daytime robbery by a lone gunman at Sam’s Club in Playa del Carmen caught guards, shoppers and employees by surprise, the gunman shooting a guard in the thigh and escaping on a motorcycle with an estimated 100,000 pesos in receipts from the day’s business.
The guard was shot while apparently escorting an employee who was carrying the receipts. They were suddenly confronted by the thief who snatched the receipts from the employee’s grasp, shot the guard in a scuffle and ran off to the waiting motorcycle.
The guard, armed with two weapons, reportedly drew a pistol as the thief made his getaway but refrained from firing a shot so as not to accidently injure innocent bystanders that included women and children. The thief remains at large as of this writing.
Sam’s Club is one of the shopping destinations for Puerto Aventurans, some of whom have often wondered why so many guards are posted in the store’s check-out area. Now they know. The local press suggested the thief was part of an organized gang, a perception supported by another armed robbery in which a businessman was shot dead the same week in the domestic enclave of troubled Luis Donaldo Colosio Murieta in the north end of Playa del Carmen
‘Urgent security alert’
An apparent statewide uptick in criminal activity coupled with gender/gay rights issues have given birth to an “urgent security alert,” as one recent headline trumpeted in Cancun.
Luis Octavio Jacobo Cortes, rector of the Cathedral of Cancun and a spokesman for the Cancun-Chetumal Prelature, was quoted as telling a congregation of citizens that gay marriage isn’t the core issue of the day. He said the overriding concern is the guarantee of “security for all people.”
“What matters most,” he said, “is the trust and confidence of all citizens to move freely anywhere in the state,” an issue that has surfaced in the wake of state and municipal government transitions following recent elections.
The advent of new leadership in some cases has been less than satisfying and underfunded, such as the infuriating shortfall of rubbish collections affecting Solidaridad, the anemic presence of police patrols in some areas and, in Puerto Aventuras’ case, stalling of an approved creation and imminent expectation of a mayoralty for Puerto Aventuras. (see story below).
Snowbirds and expats should at the least be aware that most of the municipality’s problems stem from apparent shortfalls left in the municipal treasury by the previous administration and pervasive suspicions of continuing political corruption, according to news reports. That includes the discovery of “no show” jobs and municipal payments to non-existing, or “ghost,” companies recently announced by an oversight panel.
These perceptions of municipal misfeasance are underscored by changes being proposed by the new leadership as it tries to wrap its head around myriad problems affecting public services, including those in Puerto Aventuras resort. One such proposal – banning police at the 307 filters from randomly stopping and searching cars – was upstaged a few days later when a gang of thieves was apprehended by just such a stop at the filter north of Playa del Carmen.
Fallout from the general letdown by the previous administration discovered during the trauma of transition has a collateral effect on individual foreigners who have opted for full-or part-time residency and have invested in property here. They are subjected to some of the general shortcomings in public services as evidenced by the ongoing inability of the government to provide solid security measures, implement an efficient rubbish collection system or complete an airport project in Puerto Aventuras.
New administration hedges
on approved plan to install
a Puerto Aventuras mayor
While acknowledging the state’s recent approval for creating a mayoralty in Puerto Aventuras, as reported in the last issue of the Pelican Free Press, Solidaridad’s new municipal president Cristina Torres Gomez is apparently stalling action for what she says is a lack of municipal funds and a ready administrative infrastructure to launch the proposal.
PA developer Roman Rivera Torres, a proponent of the mayoralty plan said, “…of course it came as a surprise to me,” when asked if the new administration’s reluctant stance was unexpected. “Her arguments are misguided,” Rivera said, “I don’t think she took the time to analyze the plan and saw it upside down.”
He said “the economics of the (state approved) agreement are in her favor and do not represent an increase in her obligations.”
As previously reported, longstanding grievances expressed by poblado and Puerto Maya residents include the inequitable distribution of municipal funds. Simply put, they allege they pay more in property taxes, fees, and their share of grants from federal maritime zone, than they get in return for their rapidly developing PA community of an estimated 22,000 residents.
Alderman Navarro Emilio Tamargo, who pushed for passage of the mayor plan and would represent the resort in the local administration, said Puerto Aventuras generates between 160 to 180 million pesos yearly for the municipality. (At the current exchange rate, 180 million pesos equals just over $9 million USD.)
What is important, Rivera Torres said, is that income from taxes, fees and grants generated in Puerto Aventuras “would return to us and we would be assigned an initial budget of 220 million pesos ($11 million USD).” In that way, the local community would have autonomy and control spending for the public good while freeing the municipal president to concentrate on on the burgeoning municipal population in Playa del Carmen.
Rivera said he would meet with President Torres Gomez to reintroduce the plan personally “and see what happens.” He said she is “on good terms with our community.” It should be noted there is some political opposition to the mayoral idea, despite the current system’s many shortfalls in services to accommodate the needs of the community, including summer problems with water service that caused a blockade of The 307 and the more recent failure of rubbish collection.
A case in point: When a municipal justice from Playa last week wanted to overcharge a father of the bride to officiate at a wedding, family and friends took to social media to criticize the new municipal government for what they felt is abnormally high cost just because the official would have had to travel from Playa to perform the ceremony in Puerto Maya, just across the highway from the Puerto Aventuras resort. This, noted the critics, when a local mayor has already been approved for Puerto Aventuras. However, implementation is being stalled by the new government. Critics said a mayoralty would have local officials nearby for such public services for a more normal cost…
Annual assembly scheduled
Latitude 20 Restaurant and Lounge notes the resumption of live entertainment as snowbirds begin to nest for the new high-season. While the popular and charitable bi-monthly Trivial Pursuits fund-raisers have continued on alternating Sundays through the summer season, they will be joined by BINGO games on alternate Sunday afternoons. The next Trivial Pursuit is Nov. 6 and don’t forget the Halloween Party Oct. 31… The 9th Annual Road race registrations are expected to begin this month for the race day of January 22, 2017. Dolphin Discovery is again the sponsor… The Colonos annual assembly is currently scheduled for Dec. 10 where, among other business, funds will be sought to finish the second phase of the main gate project. There is talk of a modest maintenance fee increase and a special assessment to complete the main gate project… And Jessie Gelato will again host the pumpkin carving contest for kids at 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at the front of Jessie Gelato and The Pub. Participants need to bring their own pumpkin.,,
Authorities report area spate
of attempted extortion calls
The Attorney General is advising the Greater Playa del Carmen community of a number of 911 calls from residents reporting phone attempts at extortion and what to do to prevent it.
The AG suggests residents with caller ID not answer calls with unfamiliar or “private” numbers. In the event of threatening phone calls purporting to have kidnapped a family member, remain calm and do not carry on a dialogue that would require divulging any personal information. Hang up and call the family to assure all members are safe.
In any case, call 911 immediately after hanging up and report the incident to authorities. Several such calls were received by snowbirds in Puerto Aventuras last year. While there was no kidnap threat, callers attempted to elicit family information.
Another sea-life attraction
swims toward Riviera Maya
Aquarium will be country’s third largest
An aquarium of note containing 4000 copies of 200 aquatic species is expected to be ready for public visits in 2017, according to CEO Alejandro Icaza Nasta of L‘Acuarium, a group with worldwide aquariums.
The aquarium will be located in Playa del Carmen’s tourist sector just off 5th Avenue and become another attraction for residents and tourists alike. It has a 3-stage presentation, from an ocean bottom wreck, through a tunnel and then species that thrive closer to the surface. In addition to enhancing Playa’s tourist attractions, the facility and its staff of about 40 employees will serve as a learning facility for area school children and a reference point for marine research in the area.
CEO Icaza Nasta said the facility has the most advanced pumping system available to provide life support for the various marine species on display. He said the system filters 7 million liters of water 18 times daily to replicate the natural water environment.
Estimated cost of the project is 300 million pesos, Icaza Nasta said, adding that it will be the third largest aquarium in Mexico, the largest being in Mexico City and second largest in Veracruz. He added that there are 200 aquariums in Europe, 116 in the US and 85 in Japan.
Second Canadian murdered – Another Canadian woman was found murdered on the Yucatan Peninsula this year. The latest victim was identified as Merida art gallery owner and photojournalist Barbara McClatchie, 74, of Vancouver. Her beaten and strangled body was found on the side of the Cancun-Merida highway this month. Earlier this year, a Montreal-area woman’s dismembered remains were discovered in abandoned luggage at a Playa del Carmen bus stop. There has been an arrest in that case.
Many have tried but few have succeeded in blocking sargassum offshore before it invades the Riviera’s beaches. The latest failed attempt, according to fishermen and others in Playa del Carmen, is a string of buoys and nets anchored offshore. Fishermen and others say the buoys have been dragged from their original location and failed to confine the sargassum. They suggested removing the rig because it doesn’t work and interferes with their business…
Beach erosion is another recurring problem vexing city officials in Playa amid reports that the public beach in the 12th Street area has all but disappeared as the water has reached the buildings… A judge who once was involved in a decision involving the drug thug “El Chapo” was shot to death earlier this month as he left his home near Mexico City… Meanwhile, another judge has rejected an appeal to block “El Chapo’s” extradition to the US to face criminal charges…
Canada has tweaked its visa policy so that Mexican nationals no longer need a visa to enter the country beginning in December. Instead, visitors will need to obtain electronic travel authority (ETA)from the nearest Canadian embassy outpost.
A burning question of 2016:
Will we see monkeys this year?
If anything animates residents inside the Puerto Aventuras resort, it’s the sight of one of more spider monkeys leaping from tree to tree on the peripheries of Centro and the golf course, or sipping water from a condo pool or making an unannounced visit to someone’s villa.
Reports of sightings were few and far between last high season and those of us returning soon to spend the winter are hopeful that area monkey families have delivered new young able to colonize the Colonos, so to speak, to remind us we are not alone on the planet.
Residents of our condo complex are somewhat familiar with the spider monkey’s tell-tale sound coming from the tree line. The first person to hear it usually grabs a camera, skips outdoors and alerts neighbors by shouting “Monos! Monos!” (monkey in Spanish) who stop what they’re doing or not doing to watch the show. Truth be known, there is as much comedy observing a spider family carrying on in the in the canopy of trees without a language as there is on Saturday Night Live.
There hasn’t been much local reporting concerning the spider population this summer, but we do recall that several groups and agencies are doing what they can to preserve and grow the population in some Solidaridad land reserves.
We know from reading that capuchin monkeys in Brazil know how to make tools from stones, but not how to use them after they are accidently forged and that orangutans mimic human voice sounds and somehow share travel plans.
We also know that the Yucatan spider monkey’s uninhibited antics stimulate our curiosity and tickle our funny bone. Those of us returning from the US presidential election campaign could use a laugh.
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