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Local Island NEWS in English - Updated Weekly
News for the Week of September 8, 2014



Beginning in December 2002, Insider was proudly the first website to provide readers the Cozumel News in English.

Articles are slected from local newspapers which we feel will be of interest to our diverse audience. These articles are then translated into English. We cannot always investigate the veracity of a particular article but offer these translations as a reflection of the Cozumel community news just as reporters write it for Por Esto, Diario de Quintana Roo, Novedades and El Seminario and many other sources.

We appreciate hearing from our readers and welcome your questions, suggestions and comments. Please send them to: questions@cozumelinsider.com

Note: All translated articles are the property of Cozumel Insider and cannot be used, displayed or reproduced without express written permission from Cozumel Insider.


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NEWS Archives:
Cozumel Arrivals: 16 Ships this Week
09/06 - Numbers remain low this week in Cozumel as cruise ship arrivals rise to 16 ships registered to dock for the second week of September 2014. This is 4 more than the number of ships last week and 4 less than the "20 in port" which marks a "high season" beginning. With summer now over and Fall arriving an estimated 48,000 people will visit Cozumel this week via these cruise ship leaving an estimated US$ 3.8 million dollars behind in the local economy.

High season for cruise ship arrivals typically runs from November 15 - April 15 each year with the remaining 7 months of the year considered "low season."

Once again this week Puerta Maya pier will be the big economic winner as 11 ships dock at Puerta Maya, 5 will dock at TMM/SSA International pier while for the first time in 2014 Punta Langosta pier will see -0- arrivals and the downtown San Miguel pier will have -0- ship arrivals.

This week begins with 2 ships docking on Monday, 3 on Tuesday, 2 ships Wednesday, 2 on Thursday, 3 on Friday and then Saturday will bring 4 ships in port and Sunday will see -0- ships.

View the Cruise Ship Calendar for this Week
Month of Patriotism Begins in Cozumel
Cozumel’s municipal President, Fredy Marrufo Martin, ceremoniously performed the lighting of lights ceremony that marks the start of the festivities of Mexico’s “Month of Patriotism.” Hundreds of people gathered in the Quintana Roo Park as the Mayor began the lighting of the Palacio Municipal and Avenida Rafael E. Melgar with multicolored lights symbolizing hope, unity and freedom.

Marrufo stressed that this event starts the most historically significant month for Mexicans. Included in the activities was also the hoisting of the national flag in the Esplanade. This will take place every Monday of each month as a way to promote civic values among the population.

He also invited the community to participate in the activities and ceremony of the “Shout of Independence” or "El Grito" that will be held on September 15th as well as other activities to be carried out during the Mexico Independence holidays.
Cozumel's New Beachfront Parking Regulations
On Saturday August 30th, City Hall and Olimpus Meter S.A. de C. V. finally agreed to removal all 25 parking meters located on Cozumel’s main Avenida Rafael E. Melgar as a result of a mutual agreement for the benefit of both parties.

In addition, as a result of the consensus of the members of citizen Advisory Council and the Committee on transport and public services of the City Council, it was decided that starting Monday Sept 1st the city will allow permit parking only on Av. Rafael E. Melgar from 9:00 am to 06:00 p.m. from the Airport Boulevard to the Avenue Andrés Quintana Roo. Outside of these hours where a special permit is required, parking is open and FREE to the public in the downtown area.

In addition to the above regulation, it was stated that only motorcycles and cars for people with disabilities can park in the bays on the side streets between the Avenues Rafael E. Melgar and 10th Ave. These vehicles must show proper identification issued by the Director of Public Security and Transit. Bays for the use of descent and ascent (pick up and drop offs) will be also allocated.

These provisions are intended to give a better image to the waterfront with the aim of strengthening the overall image of our island tourist destination. The city also hopes that this will improve conditions for mobility and road safety and provide a good first impression of the city for arriving visitors.
Renovation Begins on Cozumel's Downtown Parque Benito Juarez
Representatives of various chambers of Commerce determined that the project of "Modernization of the Parque Benito Juárez" (a.k.a. the downtown plaza) will be a trigger for the economic revival of Cozumel’s Center of town. The project includes creating a public space attractive for tourism and a meeting place for the enjoyment of local families.

Last Thursday was the ground breaking and placement of the first stone of the renovation which will include an investment of $ 95 million pesos. A lifelong resident of the Island, Velio Vivas Valdés, acknowledged that this renovation is required and that the project should be embraced and respected because Cozumel needs a better image to present to visiting tourists. He also recalled that at the beginning of the previous century when the construction of the iconic Park Benito Juárez began, there were demonstrations against that also, but finally, residents saw the benefits it would bring.

For his part, the President of Canaco Servytur, José Enrique Molina Casares, said that 45 members of the Association who are in the vicinity of the Park also support the work. Luis Alcérreca Balmes, President of the Confederation of Mexico (Coparmex) stressed that this is not only an investment with public benefits but also a vision that will allow an incredible first impression of the city as visitors arrive.
Sporting Events: A Life Line for Hotels
"Low" season for tourism will not be so low this year because the island will host four sporting events, said Beatriz Tinajero Tarriba, who added that another important factor that will help the low season economy this year is the direct airline connectivity of the destination with the nation's capital (Mexico City) which improved in mid-August.

She states that although the records of hotel occupancy rates are very low still, August 1st registered one of the highest daily occupations of the summer holidays with 84.01%. The statistics provided by the AHIC staff reveal that by August 15th, occupation had descended to 53.61%. And by the 25th, its associate hotels reported 33.99% in daily occupation. However, Beatriz Tinajero pointed out that the summer of 2014 was the best of the last six years, and that the rest of the year will surpass the occupancies of 2013.

In relation to upcoming sporting events, the first is MetLife Half Ironman, on 21 September which is estimated, according to the Secretary of tourism of the State of Quintana Roo, to receive about 2,000 athletes with at least one companion each.

The Grand Fund New York race, which will be November 23, expects a few thousand cyclists, who will race 80 and 160 km. This is a first time event for Cozumel.

The World Cup of the International Triathlon Union (ITU) October 5th & 6th, has an expectation of about 1,000 participants, while the Ford Ironman on November 30 will bring together about 2,400 triathletes along with support crew and families.
Strong Promotion for Cozumel During Low Season
The municipal director of tourism, Juan González Castelán said that for the next few months Cozumel can expect a good influx of tourism due to various sporting events such as triathlons and cycling. With these events come the hopes that the off-season’s economy remains somewhat stable.

He said that he is looking for ways to make a memorable impression of Cozumel reach potential tourists by promoting the attractions, restaurants, shops, parks and everything they can find in the Center of town with the objective that the income is distributed among the community.

The tourism director stressed the importance of the support they have received from the municipal Government of Playa Del Carmen for the installation of the modules for Cozumel on Fifth Avenue. These kiosks with Cozumel images can be seen by visitors passing through in the Riviera Maya and that will help to encourage more people to cross over to Cozumel to get to know the beauties offered by this destination in the Mexican Caribbean.
Local Dive Masters Protest Against Lack of Work
A group of workers who provide services such as diver masters, guides and sailors expressed their dissatisfaction at the lack of attention by the authorities both State and Municipal.

These dissatisfactions were made public during the presentation of the program "Mi primer empleo", aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25 years of age. "We also need a job Mr. Mayor. We want to work and we have families to feed", said Pedro Centeno Ku, who along with others is unemployed in the nautical industry.

According to the demonstrators, their dissatisfaction is with dive enterprises that prefer to employ foreign divers. This has lead to more than 150 unemployed Dive Masters.

Centeno Ku demanded a response on the part of the authorities to come to the aid of dozens of dedicated people involved in aquatic activities. It was mentioned that they are being displaced by foreigners in different diving establishments although local people need the work. "The not-so-young also need jobs” was the statement made to the Mayor.

The Mayor, Fredy Marrufo Martín, explained that these protests have been brought to the attention of several aldermen and the director of economic development on the island, however, he made it clear that unfortunately the problem is not in the hands of the City Council.
Cozumel Celebrates Six Years Without Forest Fires
Thanks to the timely intervention of the fire brigade of Cozumel, the Wildfire 2014 season ended with positive results because only 18 flare-ups were reported on the island. These were caused mainly by the burning of waste that became out of control, but none achieved the level of forest fire, said Lucio Canul Andrade, Manager of office of Civil Protection. The official said that the time of increased risk of the fire season runs through April and May.

He said that this kind of burning of undergrowth, with intentions to clean areas to inhabit them, occurred mainly in the area of the Transversal highway. He explained that a fire can be classified as a forest fire when flames consume at least one hectare of weeds or vegetation. This fortunately did not occur.

Lucio Canul Andrade also commented to the fact that for the sixth consecutive year, the island remains free of forest fires. He feels that there is greater awareness among the population at this time and he recommended that the community continue with preventive actions. This includes not throwing cigarette butts on the roads and no burning of shrubs without supervision. The official hopes that Cozumel will continue as the municipality with lowest incidence of forest fires.
Officials Contemplate the Extraction of Sand Again
The extraction of sand is planned for next year from the seabed in Cozumel in an area beyond the protected zone in the North of the island. This sand will be used to recover beaches on the Boardwalk of the island as well as for the maintenance of the beaches in different hotels that have requested it.

Director of area Federal Maritime terrestrial Zofemat, David Martínez Viana, unveiled that he is currently conducting a study to determine the feasibility of a project of extraction of sand from the seabed in a bank located in national waters outside the area to the North of Cozumel.

Viana Martínez said that he intends to do this next year since in 2014 there will be no further action to obtain such material. He also said that the outlook lookout remains positive for the potential of an extraction in this outlying seabed area. And he will assess the necessary measures to compensate the damage that may be caused.

The director said that the sand would be placed on the Boardwalk for the recovery of beaches, contemplating about 43,000 cubic meters of material, although he clarified that it is a project which is still being discussed.

He said that they will remain on the lookout to prevent damage to the marine ecosystem, and that they will have to monitor the sand being extracted to avoid the issue of erosion.
Mexico: Tourists Pouring Back In After Security Image Facelift
9/05 - Sunbathers stretch out along white beach after white beach on the sweltering Caribbean coast. Tequila-swigging revelers pack the glittering nightclubs wall to wall. Surfers carve up the Pacific waves.

Yup, that sounds like Mexico all right — but it’s actually been a summer like no other.

As the season draws to an end, officials here are boasting a bumper season in the country’s top resorts, including Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Cancun, where hotels have been packed to the highest levels ever. The total number of tourists in Mexico hit a record in the first half of the year, with more than 14 million foreigners touching down, almost 20% more compared to last year, the Tourism Department said.

The spike in visitors, especially Americans, comes after several years of stagnation in the travel sector here amid a slow global economic recovery and fears of gory cartel violence. The arrivals first dropped in 2009, when cartel killings rocketed and an H1N1 flu scare swept the country. Tourists continued to arrive in fewer numbers from 2010 to 2012, as mass graves and gang massacres tarnished Mexico’s name.
Last year, tourist numbers finally recovered to just over the 2008 level. This year they soared.

The return of visitors follows an ad campaign, including images of Mexico’s crystalline waters, curving coastlines and Aztec pyramids behind soothing music and this play-on-cliche slogan: “Live it to believe it.” The pictures of dreamy beaches, financed to the tune of US$ 43 million, hit TV stations, websites, and print pages across the United States, reminding Americans of the nearby jewels. But perhaps more important has been another campaign by the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. He’s talking less about the bloodshed and more about what he sees as the positives in his sweeping reforms agenda.

Previous President Felipe Calderon kept the drug war on the front page by trumpeting a head-on battle against cartels and dressing up in military uniform as he addressed Mexican soldiers. In contrast, Peña Nieto and his officials rarely mention the narcos, sticking to a script about modernizing Mexico through measures like opening up the oil industry to foreign investors.

The switch in style impacted media coverage as soon as Peña Nieto took office in December 2012.

A media monitoring group found that in the first three months of his term, local reporting on cartel violence halved, with the Spanish words for “organized crime” appearing 52% less and “drug trafficking” 54% less. Following the lead of the Mexican press, there was a distinct change in foreign reporting on Mexico, with pundits such as The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman highlighting the nation’s potential rather than its problems. Rising conflicts in other places like Ukraine and the Middle East also have jerked news anchors’ attention away from Mexico’s violence.

The authorities still go after drug kingpins. Remember the February arrest of most-wanted drug lord Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman? But officials are no longer parading their prize catches in front of the cameras in "perp walks." There has also been an end to videos of cartel hit-men confessing to police about hundreds of murders. Those used to air on primetime news shows, terrifying Mexicans and foreigners alike.

Marc Murphy, who directs tourism efforts for hotels on the upscale Pacific coast’s Riviera Nayarit, says the change in Mexico’s security image has been the most decisive factor in attracting tourists back to the beaches. “The perception of security in Mexico has an enormous effect on tourism. When there were stories of drug violence and cartels every day it stopped some people [from] coming to the resorts, even though they were never much affected by that violence,” Murphy said.

“When the president talks less about drugs and violence, the national newspapers write less about it and so the international media report less on it. Perception becomes reality.”

But while the government is enjoying some success at reducing the media coverage on cartel fighting, the shift in the security situation on the ground has been more nuanced. The official number of homicides has gone down slightly in Mexico in a tendency that began in the last year of Calderon. Mexico’s cartel war appeared to reach its peak in 2011, when there were a total of 22,852 murders. The body count went down to 21,736 in 2012 and 18,388 in 2013, according to the police tally.

“The violence in Mexico keeps on falling,” Peña Nieto said Friday at a national security meeting. “These results are due in a large part to the new coordination strategy. There is better coordination between authorities at all levels, especially the institutions in charge of public security.”

There have also been fewer spectacular massacres or piles of decapitated heads on public display that used to get global headlines during the Calderon era. However, Mexico still has an alarming number of homicides. Mass graves continue to be unearthed. Cartel violence haunts certain states, such as Tamaulipas in the northeast.

“It is disturbing if officials start to see the present level of murders as being manageable or acceptable and the urgency in tackling the root causes of this problem is lost,” says Alejandro Hope, a security analyst with the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a think tank.

“We still have more murders in Mexico than in the whole of the United States, which has a much bigger population. Mexico has more murders in many weeks than Spain has in a year.”

Hope says the body count has reduced as the leadership of some of the most violent cartels, such as the Zetas, has been decimated. however, many spinoff gangs from these cartels are transitioning from the international drug trade to more local criminal enterprises, such as kidnapping, which has gone through the roof in many areas of Mexico. Last year, Mexico reported the highest number of kidnappings on record, with 1,698 abductions, according to the police. Many more kidnappings go unreported because family members are scared for the lives of their loved ones.

Despite such problems, Peña Nieto has won praise from leaders including President Barack Obama for his structural reforms, adding to more positive international coverage. Even with the reforms, however, Mexico’s economic growth is still sluggish, expanding 1.1 percent in 2013 and 1.7 percent in the first half of 2014. Tourism, officials hope, could be one of the industries that drives growth higher.

The increase in visitors this year means it’s one of the fastest growing sectors of Mexico’s economy, bringing in $8.4 billion in foreign currency in the first half of the year. It already employs about 7 million people, and tourism officials expect that will rise steadily throughout the Peña Nieto administration.

“Tourism is very important to this country, so it is good that there is now a government here that is supporting it,” said Murphy in Riviera Nayarit. “With this many great beaches, and planes to reach them from all over the world, the tourist industry here could keep growing and growing.”

Source: Global Post
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NEW August 13, 2014 (Most Recent) Comprehensive Mexico Travel Warning
Because we are continually asked about travel safety in Mexico and Cozumel, INSIDER always maintains the most recent, complete version of the U.S. State Department Mexico Travel Warning HERE on our website for traveler convenience.


The good news continues to be that there are currently no regional security warnings in place that cover Quintana Roo, Cancun, Cozumel or Costa Maya so make vacation plans now to get here for some fun in the sun!



The Mexico Travel Warning dated August 13, 2014 from the Department of State can also be viewed in its entirety on the Department of State website.
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