Cabo Pulmo Endangered Again– A Devil in Disguise.


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By Susan Fogel
This past June at the G20 summit in Cabo San Lucas, President Felipe Calderon announced the cancellation of any permit for Cabo Cortes, the mega-resort near Cabo Pulmo. Calderon’s actions won the applause of many leaders, including US President Obama. Environmentalists chalked up a win for the pristine beaches and wonderful reef in the marine preserve known as Cabo Pulmo. The Cabo Pulmo reef is considered one of the most productive and best preserved in the world. And it gave strength and has set the stage for the Rio20 conference in Brazil.
On August 20, SEMARNAT announced that they had received an application from a group wanting permits for a mega-resort called Los Pericues. Named the “Megaproyecto Depredador” or Megaproject Predator by Greenpeace Mexico(www.greanpeace.org/Mexico), this new development is ostensibly the same project that was just cancelled by the president. As the statement on the Greenpeace Mexico blog says, “Save for a few less hotel rooms and a smaller golf course, this is the very same project.
These are the actual words from the Greenpeace Mexico website: “Aunque Cabo Cortés se vista de seda, megaproyecto depredador se queda”. ¡No al turismo depredador! (Cabo Cortés, although dressed in silk, Cabo Cortes remains a megaproject predator”. No tourism predator!
So now, the new project has a mere 27,000 hotel rooms, 300 boat slips, and multiple golf courses. The Cabo Cortes plan called for 33,000 hotel rooms. The new group has a concession for 4.5 million liters of water from the aquifer. They want permission to use this water for their golf courses for five years, after five years they plan to build a de-salination plant. This water use request is a clear violation of the Programa Ordinamiento Ecological de Los Cabos, which requires ALL developers to have their own source of water.
The Cabo Pulmo reef area is a Ramsar site and Mexico is a signer of the treaty protecting wetlands. Here is the definition of these sites from Wikipedia: The Ramsar Convention (The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as waterfowl habitat) is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. (It is named after the town of Ramsar in Iran.)
The marinas are planned to be built in areas where dunes would have to be bulldozed and channels cut. These are clear violations of Mexican environmental law. And these actions will harm the reef and marine preserve as sediments drift onto the reef.
When asked why SEMARNAT even accepted an application that clearly violates a presidential order and various municipal, state, and federal laws and an international treaty, Alejandro Olivera (of the local office of Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, (Center of Mexican Environmental Law) also known as CEMDA said that SEMARNAT is required to accept the application.
A coalition of several environmental groups has reformed to fight this new menace. Last week, when it was announced that the new development application was presented to SEMARNAT, Olivera was ready with a petition to force SEMARNAT to hold public hearings. As you may have read in this paper last year, SEMARNAT was not transparent when it came to issuing permits and holding an open commentary about Paraiso del Mar. This time around, SEMARNAT did the right thing, and announced that there will be a public commentary period. This will be a meeting where the developer and the environmental groups will make presentations and the public can make comments. The environmental coalition is composed of CEMDA, NiParaja, WildCoast, Amigos de La Conservacion de Cabo Pulmo (Friends for the Conservation of Cabo Pulmo), and Greenpeace Mexico.
All of these groups, this writer, and this paper know that tourism is the lifeblood of Southern Baja. But mega projects like this are not the kind of tourism that people want.
As part of their campaign to stop this project dead, the coalition is taking their case to President Calderon. Olivera and other members of the coalition believe that the developers of Los Pericues are trying to ram this through the system before the change in government. Each change of government results in changes, and delays and it looks like the developers think that SEMARNAT, and President Calderon cannot see a devil in disguise. Right now, the groups are preparing their campaign to stave off this new threat. What can you do? First, get really mad and stay that way. Second, go to CEMDA’s Facebook page and LIKE it. Then stay tuned here and there for what happens next. www.facebook.com/CEMDANoroeste. And watch the Baja Citizen website www.bajacitizen.com.
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