Fire broke out in the Pueblo Magico of Todos Santos shortly after noon on Thursday, February 28th. Todos Santos is located 50 miles south of La Paz.
The General Secretary of the Municipality of La Paz, Guillermo Beltran Rochin informed local media at a press conference held shortly after the blaze was contained that once the emergency call was received by municipal officials that there was a fire in the area of the palm tree orchards at the entrance of the town of Todos Santos, the La Paz Fire Department were sent out immediately to the scene followed shortly after by the military, Mexican Navy, CONAGUA, CFE, and the Los Cabos Fire Department, joining local volunteers. With the collaboration of all groups involved, the fire was confined to a controlled area by 5:00 pm that afternoon.
Electricity had been shut off for the better part of the afternoon in the town and the highway between La Paz-Todos Santos blocked off to allow authorities and water trucks to arrive to the area in a timely and organized manner.
The first emergency phone call received by the Todos Santos Fire Department was just after 12 noon.
Beltran Rochin said he was asked by Mayor Esthela Ponce to attend to the situation personally and to coordinate all personnel at the scene, verify damage and lend support to those people affected by the fire.
At press time, it is still unknown what caused the fire but Beltran Rochin acknowledged that it could have been man-made. The blaze was hard to contain due to high winds. Approximately 10 hectares of land were affected in the area including 7 homes and a few businesses. 10 homes were evacuated and one person, male, was reported with first-degree burns.
A shelter was set up in the CECYT, for those who were evacuated and needed a place to go.
It the following days, the municipality of La Paz will be working with those families affected by the blaze with assistant programs. Also, it was announced that an investigation into what caused the fire would be carried out by the Policia Ministerial (detectives) according to the law.
The population of Todos Santos was 5,148 at the census of 2010.
Take Note: Traffic Circulation Changes
The offices of the Public Security, Transit and Preventative Policing for the municipality of La Paz have announced that as of Wednesday, November 21st there will be new traffic flow and circulation changes to the Libramientos Daniel Roldán Zimbrón and Juan de Dios Angulo, two freeways that connect Las Garzas to Forjadores. Each freeway will circulate in one direction, opposite directions.
Libramiento Daniel Roldán Zimbrón will be heading West to East.
Libramiento Juan de Dios Angulo, will have traffic flowing East to West.
Traffic police will be out to orient drivers to the new circulation route. Please drive with caution.
It probably would have been no big deal except Sofia is the daughter of Baja California Sur’s Governor Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor. One on-line paper picked up the story and posted her tweets, calling her words racist and belittling to Mexicans. Other papers soon followed the story, published it and in no time, her tweets and comments were making the national news cycle.
I won’t post the tweets and I won’t publish the words she used. It is not the point of my letter.
The point is why are they publishing the words of a 13 year-old girl from her twitter account? I don’t care who her parents are. She is 13. Do you remember what you were doing when you were 13? Do you remember your thoughts or beliefs at that age?
Sofia Covarrubias is 13. She is not a public figure. She did not ask her dad to run for Governor. She didn’t ask to be the daughter of our state’s highest office holder.
I remember in the United States there was uproar when, during the 2008 presidential elections, word got out that Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter was pregnant.
Presidential Candidate Barack Obama at the time said the media should back off the story, and that it has no bearing on Palin’s performance as Governor of Alaska or what kind of Vice President she would be. Obama told reporters, “people’s families are off limits, and people’s children are especially off limits.”
And I agreed. Don’t get me wrong, I hated Sarah Palin and I thought the entire situation was a little ironic since Palin was known for her strong beliefs against sex before marriage. But her daughter, at the time, didn’t ask to be in the spotlight and she didn’t deserve it being so harsh on her during the campaign. It was a family matter and it was no business of yours or mine. Life happens.
Personally I think the focus should be on the politician, not their family. Unlike celebrities, politicians (in theory) do their job to serve the public and country, not for fame and glory. Their family, especially their minor children, should be off limits to the media.
The media gives people access to be able to choose a political party, devise attitudes on government parties and government decisions, and even politicians and their families. From newspapers to television to radio to the internet, the media is the leading factor in how we get out political news and how it is spinned.
I just feel there is so much to write about, to report. So many stories to follow and fact check and ask questions about. So much that goes on here in La Paz is not okay. There is plenty to write about concerning the Governor, his party, his policies. Why are we bothering with a story about what his 13 year-old daughter writes on twitter?
Embarrass the Governor? Make he and his wife look like bad people, bad parents? This really infuriates me.
As a parent, I have more than once been embarrassed at the words that come out of my children’s mouths. But when it happens, it is time to educate and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I am sure the Covarrubias’ are doing just that. That is what parents do.
And as a parent and as a member of the media, it is a shame that some publishers decided that looking into and reporting on the lives of the teenage Covarrubias’ girls was ok. It is not.
Sofia Covarrubias’ twitter account has been disabled.
It seems that it is that time once again for the Baja Citizen to warn visitors and residents alike in La Paz of the ever-present nuisance “la mordida”.
“La mordida”, or translation “the bite” is the local term used for a bribe. It is the traditional and customary way of getting things done in Mexico. The bureaucrat who does your bidding takes a bite out of the cost of completing your objective.
Mexican reformers are trying to change this situation with little success. It seems to be so institutionalized that it could take decades before the problem changes.
Unfortunately, Mexican cops are notorious for wanting bribes. In general, though, most of the police are helpful, polite and honest. Approach them as such, and never offer a bribe or raise your voice, and they will generally behave that way.
Sadly, the few bad apples out there are busy and almost every foreigner I know that spends any time here has experienced the mordida “squeeze.” Having documents to report traffic police incidents at car rental offices is a good start in La Paz. Most agencies are located on the Malecon and easy to find. They would be happy to help you fill out the form and get it to those who can deal with the problem. But this has limitations, especially because it’s after the fact and doesn’t inform tourists of how to handle a traffic stop.
The truth is, handling a traffic stop in a foreign language is baffling and scary. I suggest that you have a “cheat sheet” with two columns of the same phrase, one in English, and the other in Spanish. A police officer and a tourist/resident can use to communicate. Both parties can point to the appropriate phrase in their language, with the other party seeing the translation in the other column. I developed such a cheat sheet for family that come and visit and this has worked well.
However, if you know you broke the law and are faced with dealing with a police officer, please do us all a favor and just take the ticket and pay it. They are based on the shockingly low Mexican minimum wage, so are generally not very expensive and can be even cheaper than a bribe.
If you are taking the ticket and paying the fine, the following are common traffic violations and the corresponding fine found on the webpage http://www.transitolapaz.gob.mx/rutastransporte/index.html. Fines are listed in pesos and are calculated based on the minimum wage for Baja California Sur. When this was calculated, the minimum wage in BCS was 57.46 pesos daily, although this will be changing soon with the new labor reform law. So please use below as an example. For example, the fine for speeding is based on 20 minimum wages, which equals 1149.20 pesos.
Driving through a red light 1149.20 pesos
Too many passengers in a vehicle 287.30 pesos
Making an illegal U-turn 287.30 pesos
Not reporting a change of address for your license 114.92 pesos
Parking on the sidewalk 172.38 pesos.
Not wearing a seatbelt 172.38 pesos.
Speeding 1149.20 pesos
Making a turn without signaling 114.92 pesos
Driving without a helmet on a motorcycle 114.92 pesos
It is very important to note that if fines are paid within one week, a 50% discount will be applied. I recently paid around 89 pesos for a ticket I received for parking on the sidewalk (I was in a hurry!) and I paid the fine 5 working days after I received the ticket. Fines can be paid at the Transito offices, which are located on the corner of Colima and México.
If you however didn’t break the law, your situation is made easier by the fact that the most Mexican governments, especially here in La Paz, are seriously cracking down on cops taking bribes. You can usually get out of an undeserved ticket and bribe because the cop is afraid of getting turned in and losing his job. It could take some serious time and negotiation, but a dishonest officer will generally back down.
If you are someone you know has a “mordida” problem, it is so important that you a) take the ticket, pay the fine and do not pay the “mordida” or bribe and b) report the incident with as much detail as possible to the City of La Paz Tourism department at email@example.com or call them at 121 6870. Please also feel free to e-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to pass on all the information as well. It really bothers me, and tourism officials as well, that one incident with a “mordida” asking police officer ruins so many wonderful memory-making adventures here in La Paz.
The “mordida” experience has to stop leaving a disappointing image of the city to our guests. Please do your part.
Test your Mexican History knowledge
Dolores Hidalgo was the sister of FR. Miguel Hidalgo?
2. Mexican Independence Day is
a. May 5th
b. July 4th
c. September 16th
3. Mexican won her independence in
a. September 16 1810
b. October 1825
c. September 1821
4. Ignacio Allende rang a bell in the streets of Guanajuato to rouse the people to revolt.
5. President Calderon visited the church of Dolores Hidalgo on September 15, 2010
6. El Grito de Dolores was changed to El Grito Dia de Independencia in:
a. October 1825
b. September 1821
c. October 1810
7. Some of the Heroes of Independence are:
a. Allende, Abasolo, Las Garzas
b. Allende, Abasolo,Matamoros
c. Allende, Abasolo, Revere
Here are the answers:
1. F 2. C 3. C 4. F 5. A 6. A 7. B