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Local Island NEWS in English - Updated Weekly
News for the Week of September 29, 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.

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Cozumel Arrivals: 12 Ships this Week
09/21 - Numbers fall to one of their lowest points this week in Cozumel as cruise ship arrivals fall to 12 ships registered to dock for the final week of September 2014. This is 3 less than the number of ships last week and 8 less than the "20 in port" which marks a "high season" beginning. With summer now over and Fall underway an estimated 36,000 people will visit Cozumel this week via these cruise ship leaving an estimated US$ 2.9 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 7 ships dock at Puerta Maya, 3 will dock at TMM/SSA International pier while Punta Langosta pier will see 2 arrivals and the downtown San Miguel pier will have -0- ship arrivals.

This week begins with 3 ships docking on Monday, 1 on Tuesday, 1 ship Wednesday, 3 on Thursday, 3 on Friday and then Saturday will bring 1 ship in port and Sunday will see -0- ships.

View the Cruise Ship Calendar for this Week
Unique Orchid Species Found in Cozumel
Germán García Padilla, representative of the Government of the State in Cozumel and member of the Ejido Villa Cozumel, unveiled a flower, which according to the findings of the inhabitants El Cedral, is a unique orchid that only grows in Cozumel or the Yucatan Peninsula.

The orchid, when in bloom, has a natural formation inside which appears to be similar to a small Owl and has the aroma of honey. The official wants to patent it as a species native to this locality.

The State official announced that it seems that this type of plant does not exist anywhere else other than in some parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel “They appear in the treetops and we want to see the possibility of registering it with the name of Cozumel".

García Padilla said that Avenue 'Félix González' has a tree close to the road that has these orchids and they are also easy to find throughout the forests on the island. "From a piece that you connect to a trunk with a string, a flower will bloom within 1 year" stated García Padilla
Cozumel's Ironman 70.3 - Big Success
Early Sunday morning Sept 21st, Chankanaab Park was crowded with over 2000 competitors who participated in the ten categories of the half Ironman, among these were three with special abilities.

At seven in the morning on Sunday, the Mayor, Fredy Efrén Marrufo Martín, sounded the Horn kicking off the race of the second edition of the Ironman 70.3 in Cozumel. Todd Skipwoeth, originally from Australia, was awarded the top podium position by crossing the finish line in a time of four hours 2 minutes and 41 seconds (4:02:41) while Leanda Cave of Britain won first place in the women’s category achieving a time of four hours 21 minutes and three seconds (4:21:03).

Dozens of local Cozumeleñans took to the streets of Cozumel to once again encourage and support with cheers, banners and applause for the athletes that competed in the Ironman 70.3 MetLife Cozumel 2014.
Cozumel in Need of More Promotion
Members of the Mexican Women Entrepreneur Association (AMMJE) regret that promotion has not been taken into account for Cozumel as has been done with the Riviera Maya. Businesswoman Margarita Carvajal Carmona, National Director of tourism of that group, says that "If the idea was to promote Quintana Roo, Cozumel is still lagging. The fruits of any promotion is seen more in the Riviera Maya by the influx of tourists in Playa del Carmen and Tulum rather than in Cozumel."

The respondent considered that instead of just investing in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya in general, Cozumel must also be considered. The misconception that is Cozumel, in terms of the economic benefits, depend solely on Cruise ships for the generation of resources and for example the Marine Park. “It has been not very clear as to whether the Federal Government will assist", she said.
Internse Promotion of Cozumel from Canadian Travel Agents
Actions intensify for the promotion of Cozumel for the winter season to achieve higher hotel occupancy. This statement comes from the Association of hotels of Cozumel. Cozumel was promoted to more than 300 travel agents during the Trade Show with ‘Air Canada Vacation’ which took place in Montreal, Canada.

An official said that there are currently 14 hotel partners working with the airline “Air Canada Vacation” and in addition, they are seeking to promote the services of other Guild members who are interested offering this destination.

The first day of the conference attracted 240 travel agents from the hotel market whose clients are interested in services such as sporting events, honeymooners and hotels which offer an array of adventure activities. The second day saw more than 120 representatives of travel agencies, who believed that the island only focused on cruise ships, but with the updated information of what is now offered, they were made aware of all the other options available.

The main objective is to strengthen ties with the associated hotels and sell packages to this destination for the winter months between November and April of next year.
Traditional Mayan Welcome to Autumn
The Mayan priest Luis Nah led a mystical ceremony to receive the autumnal Equinox. The event took place on the beaches of Punta Esmeralda, Playa Del Carmen, and was attended by hundreds of national and foreign visitors.

At 3 pm Monday Sept 22nd, the indigenous ritual began. It was divided into three phases: first he invoked the cosmic deities in their 5 locations, then he sought to harmonize with music and songs to everyone here and the third part included a traditional ritual. Local and foreign spectators participated in the event on the beaches of the Caribbean Sea.

Luis Nah, explained that within the Maya Cosmo vision, this 21 and September 22 is represents the departure of the ‘father sun’ after having been cohabitating with 'mother earth' for the past six months since March 21. The Indian Minister stressed the importance of maintaining the original traditions of this geographical area, as well as bringing residents closer to share this part of the Mayan pre-Hispanic culture.
Many Ruin Sites Not Open to the Public
The fact that several archaeological ruins are not open to the public is because they don't have the basic services for the enjoyment of people who would come to visit them, quoted Pedro Francisco Sánchez Nava, national coordinator of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Cozumel has several ruins sites which are not open to the public.

Coordinator of the INAH, exposed in the public register of archaeological sites, that there are around 50,000 registered sites in the country, and only 188 keep their doors open to the public.

The official said that it poses a risk to display them, because it requires much responsibility to expose these sites without a provided guaranteed to its preservation. The risks are many such as exposure to weathering, vandalism, looting, and wear and tear suffered by these sites, and natural phenomena.

In reference to at least three ruins abandoned in the Eastern belt of the island towards the lighthouse of Punta Molas, notably El Castillo Real, he mentioned that "it is not that they are abandoned, it’s that they are partly accessible and hope that with time we will be able to rehabilitate them." It is the same with those sites that are known on the island and are not open to public visit. We must be assured that there is enough information to transmit to the people who visit them. Not knowing the correct information to relay to the visitors such as which time and culture they belonged is information which needs to be relayed to the visiting public".

He stressed that the sites would need service areas, access by land, locations to provide food and also public restrooms and to ensure the enjoyment of the view and to not create a risk to the assets. And special rooms to explain to visitors the historical chronology of the ruins in question. Until these things can materialize for each ruin site, most will likely remain closed to the public for protection.
Growing Demand for Lionfish in the Riviera Maya
José Gómez Burgos, President of the society: “Cooperative Fisheries Xaman Ha”, said that a demand of 300 kg per week of lion fish is required just to meet the demand at the Paradisus Riviera Maya Hotel. The Hotel Paradisus recently formalized the request of 300 kilos per week of lionfish to meet the demand of its client's requests..

Other restaurants such as Blue Lobster and Big Lobster sell five to eight pounds a week. The cost runs approximately 80 pesos per kilogram and is mainly marketed as carpaccio, ceviche and steaks. Nautical representatives of the tourist board met last August to discuss and set defined protocols to supply the growing demand for lionfish.

Gomez Burgos confirmed the presence of University students to participate in the expansion and dissemination of the lionfish as an exotic dish. The students of Playa Del Carmen created new recipes. “I was surprised to see the management and the versatility of a specimen that emulates the flavor of the lobster" stated the official. Officials were happy because this will ensure that fishermen can expect a steady income where previously they did not since the lionfish has become a product that is growing in demand.
Mexico Seeks Extradition of Banamex Scandal Suspect
09/29 - Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) is seeking extradition from the U.S. a prominent Oceanografía shareholder and CEO Amado Yáñez. Earlier this year, Citibank accused Mexican oil services firm Oceanografía of defrauding its Mexican subsidiary Banamex out of more than $400 million (USD), forcing the bank to revise their 2013 earnings report downwards. Twelve Banamex employees were fired as a result of the fraud, which Citibank said resulted from weak internal controls in the bank. Now with the internal investigation complete, the PGR is moving forward in its investigation into fraud in Citibank’s Mexican subsidiary Banamex, involving Mexican oil services firm Oceanografía and pursuing formal charges against Oceanografía CEO Amado Yanez.

Early this month, the Mexican government requested that the U.S. government detain and extradite Martín Díaz Álvarez, Oceanografía’s second largest stockholder and former Banamex manager. Speaking at an regional justice convention, Mexico’s Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam indicated that Díaz Álvarez is just one of a number of individuals under investigation by the PGR. The PGR has indicated that Díaz, who is said to be living in a luxury condominium in Miami, is one of the Oceanografía managers responsible for falsifying documents to obtain fraudulent loans from Banamex. His former associate Amado Yáñez, Oceanografía’s principle shareholder, has accused Díaz of being the one responsible for the fraud. Yáñez told the PGR’s organized crime division (SEIDO) that he had hired Díaz in 2009 to restructure the company’s finances, and that he had since “directly, jealously and possessively” controlled the company’s dealings with Banamex. Díaz was given 15% of the company’s shares as a hiring bonus, thus making him the #2 shareholder. Yañez also emphasized Díaz’s ties to Banamex, particularly with Francisco Gil Díaz, his uncle, former treasury minister during the Vicente Fox administration, and adviser to Banamex.

According to the PGR, Díaz funneled the illegal funds from Oceanografía into a variety of businesses, including a tequila distillery boasting the most expensive bottle of tequila in the world. While the PGR has frozen Díaz’s bank accounts, it has thus far left his material assets untouched, including his expansive home in the upscale Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood in Mexico City and a 300-hectare ranch on the México-Querétaro highway.

Sources: Refoma y Wall Street Journal
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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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