|Subj:||[earthchanges] FW: Urgent-Free the Peace Dolphins / War on Nature in Baja / Email Campaign / Please forward|
|Date:||5/22/2001 5:28:10 AM Pacific Daylight Time|
|From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ricardo Ocampo-Anahuak
From: GRUPO DE LOS CIEN INTERNACIONAL <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 13 May 2001 20:40:53 -0600
To: Ricardo Ocampo-Anahuak Networks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(The following is a translation of an editorial page article by poet, novelist and Group of 100 president Homero Aridjis, published on Sunday, March 4 in Reforma, one of Mexico's most influential daily newspaper)
WAR ON NATURE IN LA PAZ
On February 21st I accompanied President Vicente Fox on a working trip to Baja California Sur. The trip roused mixed feelings in me: on the one hand I was witness to the man from Guanajuato's charisma, but on the other hand I found out about the Nautical Route, the first ecocidal project to be undertaken by the Fox government. Or is it the last of former president Ernesto Zedillo's? Work on the project is said to have begun in October 2000 (two months before Fox took office).
The stated objective of the so-called Nautical Route is to open up the Sea of Cortes --- known to many, including its predators, as the aquarium of the world --- to the American tourist market. In brief, to develop it for the private boat owners identified by Fonatur (National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism) as potential users.
The project will set up a network of 22 tourism ports: ten new ports to be built at Cabo Colnett, Puerto Canoa, San Luis Gonzaga, Santa Rosalillita and Bahia de los Angeles, in the state of Baja California, Bahia de Tortuga, Punta Abreojos and San Juanico, in Baja California Sur, Bahia Kino, in Sonora, and Altata, in Sinaloa; enlargement of seven ports in San Carlos and San Felipe, in Baja California, Loreto, Mulege and Santa
Rosalia, in Baja California Sur, Puerto Peñasco, in Sonora, and Topolobampo, in Sinaloa; incorporation of five ports at Ensenada, in Baja California, San Lucas and Laz Paz, in Baja California Sur, Guaymas, in Sonora, and Mazatlan, in Sinaloa.
According to John McCarthy, the director of Fonatur and promotor of the preposterous project --- and big business ---, the Nautical Route will include four roads to bring in boat trailers, twenty airports and airfields, and an 80-mile overland road linking Santa Rosalillita, on the Pacific Ocean, with Bahia de los Angeles, in the Sea of Cortes, in order to spare tourists from the American Southwest the trouble of "sailing around the southern tip of Baja California. " (quotes are from the glossy brochure, Fonatur's February 21 press release and the project's executive summary).
Nevertheless, word has it that the hidden purpose of the project is to promote intensive land speculation throughout the area covered by the Nautical Route. Business will be done through a system of franchises.
Fonatur anticipates that if Mexico creates "the nautical, highway and airport infrastructure," the American owners of 52,000 boats will sail them to Mexico or park them in the Sea of Cortes . But McCarthy is ambitious, and he predicts that by 2010, 76,400 boats will invade us (from among the 1,650,000 currently registered in the southwestern United States), and that by 2014 there will 5,400,000 "nautical tourists" using the Sea of Cortes annually. All this, in exchange for destroying marine and coastal ecosystems on either side of the peninsula.
President Fox witnessed the signing of the agreement by the federal government and the state governments of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora and Sinaloa in the presence of the ministers of Tourism (SECTUR), Communications and Transport (SCT), Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Navy (MARINA), whose instructions are to "incorporate the Nautical Route as a Priority Project in their programs." Let us hope that the Ministry of the Environment --- charged with "Issuing the authorizations, permits and concessions within its competence"--- does not forget to apply environmental laws and to enforce compliance with the decrees which established various biosphere reserves in the area, as well as controlling harmful fishing practices and protecting the islands in the Sea of Cortes.
According to the federal government, McCarthy will "head development of the Nautical Route and coordinate activities with the dependencies and bodies of the federal administration and with the participating states."
The Ministry of Finance assigned Fonatur a budget of 2 billion 211 million pesos (approximately $222 million dollars) for this project for the 2001-2006 period. Was this on Zedillo's orders?
According to McCarthy, "the project is not only sustainable from an environmental point of view, but also in terms of profits, and it will improve the socioeconomic situation of the communities and local populations which provide services in the tourist centers, as a way of fighting poverty (sic)." According to an expert in coastal biodiversity, Fonatur's market analysis is superficial and completely wrong. In Oceanside and Chula Vista, in San Diego Country, California, marina projects have failed to provide expected development. Marinas on the
Pacific side of the Baja peninsula will need to be dredged continuously, as is the case for marinas at Oceanside and Santa Barbara. Also, Fonatur's giant failure at Loreto shows that there is no reason to believe it can be
successful in a project of this magnitude.
Because it clashes with the conservation objectives of the Biosphere Reserve of the Gulf Islands (Islas del Golfo), the Loreto Bay National Park, the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve and the Upper Golf of California
Biosphere Reserve, from an environmental point of view the project is totally incompatible with the Sustainable Development Program of the Sea of Cortes. When did Fonatur submit an Environmental Impact Assessment for the Nautical Route? Does McCarthy know that Mexico has environmental laws and that his Route will have negative impacts on several biosphere reserves?
Has the Fox dream of development engendered its first monster in the Nautical Route? Or is this ex-President Zedillo's final attack on Nature? I hope that a fundamental respect for Mexico's environmental laws will
bring Fox to think twice about this project before he goes down in history ---less than 100 days into his term of office --- as the predator of the aquarium of the world. Mr. President, wouldn't it be better to take the
initiative and as your first environmental act, turn the entire Sea of Cortes into a biosphere reserve, protecting the aquarium of the world with all its fantastic biodiversity?
In La Paz the descendants of former president Abelardo Rodriguez have declared themselves to be the owners of Isla San Jose (off the coast roughly halfway between La Paz y Loreto, in the Sea of Cortes) and with the blessing of Baja California governor Leonel Cota they have submitted a grandiose Master Development Plan. Their project calls for building a tourist marina, a pier for cruise ships and 11 theme parks which the Rodriguez Calderon brothers have grouped together under the comical heading "Infrastructure for the Interpretation of Nature." Their only problem is that according to the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas, the
project violates the decree which established the Gulf of California Islands Area for the Protection of Flora and Fauna, and which prohibits any modification of the environment or activities which are detrimental to the
flora and fauna, for which reasons the project should not be permitted. The owners have not submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment.
During the trip, I made a point of asking the president to free the seven bottle-nosed dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus) which were captured in Bahia Magdalena thanks to permits given by unethical environmental and
municipal officials and transported by truck in conditions of extreme cruelty to the pens at the Hotel La Concha Beach Resort by the owners of Fins: Dolphin Learning Center. One dolphin, Luna, died on February 3rd, and the other seven dolphins are at risk.
The evening of February 21st I went with the Minister of SEMARNAT to see the pen holding the captive dolphins. A prominent marine biologist has already declared that this is the worst such facility she has ever
seen, which is saying a lot in a country full of bad dolphinariums.
It is urgent that the Hotel La Concha pen be shut down and that the dolphins be returned to Bahia Magdalena, and for SEMARNAT to order an inspection program of dolphinariums throughout Mexico, in La Paz,
Guadalajara, Cuernavaca, Mexico City, Veracruz, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Cancun and Isla Mujeres. Mr. Lichtinger, this is a formal request on behalf of the dolphins.
INFORMATION NOT INCLUDED IN ARTICLE DUE TO SPACE LIMITATIONS:
·The 22 ports will be at a maximum distance of 120 nautical miles from each other.
·Several of the ports are located within or adjacent to protected areas:
Loreto (Parque Nacional Bahia de Loreto);
San Felipe (Alto Golfo Biosphere Reserve);
Puerto Peñasco (Alto Golfo Biosphere Reserve);
Puerto San Carlos is adjacent to a gray whale calving grounds.
· Santa Rosalillita has heavy surf, but no electricity or water.
·The Bahia de los Angeles port would be developed in a fragile wetland and adjacent to the fragile Islas del Golfo Biosphere Reserve.
·Punta Abreojos is within the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, and the project would be located within the lucrative lobster and abalone fishing grounds of the Punta Abreojos Cooperative. This is the same site where Mitsubishi
and the Mexican government planned to build a pier for the San Ignacio saltworks project which was canceled in March 2000. The local people are against having a paved road, as they feel it would bring in poachers and
criminals. They would not benefit from the Nautical Route.
·San Juanico's port would be located in the region of heavy summer surf, destroying the existing economic benefits from surfers.
·Small-scale, low-impact ecotourism projects are flourishing throughout the peninsula, providing local populations with employment and income. For example, at San Ignacio Lagoon many local people make their living from whale watching.
THE GROUP OF 100 ASKS YOU TO WRITE PRESIDENT FOX ASKING HIM TO CANCEL THE
NAUTICAL ROUTE/ESCALERA NAUTICA PROJECT, STATING YOUR OBJECTIONS AND
RECOMMENDING THAT THE SEA OF CORTES BECOME A BIOSPHERE RESERVE.
PRESIDENTE VICENTE FOX
RESIDENCIA OFICIAL DE LOS PINOS
COL. SAN MIGUEL CHAPULTEPEC
11850 MEXICO D.F.
EMAIL : email@example.com
PLEASE SEND A COPY OF YOUR LETTER TO
Mr. VICTOR LICHTINGER
SECRETARIA DEL MEDIO AMBIENTE Y RECURSOS NATURALES (SEMARNAT)
PERIFERICO SUR 4209
COL. JARDINES DE LA MONTAÑA
14210 MEXICO D.F. MEXICO
* Grupo de los Cien Internacional, A.C. *
Apartado Postal 41-523
* Mexico D.F. 11001, Mexico *
* Fax (525)520-3577 *
La Paz, capital city of Baja State (South) in Mexico, means 'The Peace'.
THANKS FOR PASSING THIS MATERIAL TO OTHERS
THE PLIGHT OF THE CAPTIVE DOLPHINS
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