Although I am already fairly occupied with a successful website about the Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa area of Mexico (see www.Zihuatanejo.net), I thought I would try setting up this blog site to see if it generates any interest and especially to see if it can be used to benefit the community in a positive way by helping to preserve and protect local culture, ecology, and a way of life that is under pressure from demands imposed upon it by migration, tourism, politics, population explosion, and unrestrained greed-driven development.
Most people in Zihuatanejo are now transplants from other cities and towns in Mexico, particularly Acapulco and Mexico City. Many were drawn here by the promise of jobs in a country where tens of thousands seek employment yearly by crossing into the USA, often risking their lives to do so at the hands of unscrupulous polleros who traffic in human misery. So most newcomers have no idea what way of life is being lost in Zihuatanejo. They have no idea who the original families are that made up the Zihuatanejo community for most of her recent history nor do they know much about Zihuatanejo's colorful history. So for these people who now constitute the majority of Zihuatanejo's inhabitants it is easier to get the attention of politicians who are always seeking more votes. That is one of the reasons why communities of land-stealing squatters have been allowed to proliferate on the hillsides that form a natural amphitheater around the bay of Zihuatanejo, and it is also a major reason why today the future of Zihuatanejo's tourism and way of life is at risk.
Between the moneyed interests and the political interests, the interests of the community as a whole appear to be getting lost. More people than ever are visiting Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, yet more and more they are people who spend less, complain more, and demand services that are not present in our area. A "Swim With The Dolphins" attraction in Ixtapa is a typical example of a so-called attraction owned by non-Zihuatanejo natives that frankly insults local principles and ethics. In a community of people who love the sea, enslaving dolphins to swim with humans in a tank is unconscionable and an affront to their view of how we should treat dolphins. Adding insult to injury, the dolphins are located next to an open-air discoteque with its loud thumping music constantly battering the dolphins super-sensitive hearing. But the business remains operating after over 5 years, with no real challenge to their continuing operation in sight.
Actions such as these only serve to foment bitterness among the community, which sooner or later will translate into open animosity between locals and tourists, particularly the United States citizens who represent a large part of the foreign tourists, if for no other reason than they appear wealthy, come from a country whose government is unpopular in Mexico, and they stand out in a crowd.
So far such antagonistic behavior is not obvious today, and visitors continue enjoying the exceptionally warm hospitality of the people of Zihuatanejo and the surrounding communities. Let's hope it shall always be so.
Hopefully by making potential visitors aware of local sentiments and culture, some of the growing pains of our community can be ameliorated. Who knows, perhaps someone will contribute some helpful ideas how Zihuatanejo can attain sustainable growth while preserving its natural beauty, its charm, and its cultural identity.
"Que la esclavitud se proscriba para siempre y lo mismo la distinción de castas, quedando todos iguales, y sólo distinguirá a un americano de otro el vicio y la virtud." El Benemérito don Benito Juárez - "Sentimientos de la Nación"