jueves, julio 14, 2005

Crime and Pollution

Sadly locals have watched as during the past couple of months a number of notorious crimes have taken place giving rise to a feeling of insecurity and uncertainty among the local residents. There was the assassination of a man at an auto repair service on the highway in Ixtapa, the discovery of grenades in a planter on a downtown street, the discovery of a cache of weapons and ammunition less than a block from the police station as well as near a school and public sports center, the detention of 16 men (though only 13 were handed over to federal authorities with no mention of the fate of the remaining 3) along with the confiscation of four and a half metric tons of cocaine 140 km off our coast, the attack on the Ixtapa police module on the coastal highway Carretera Nacional 200 in broad daylight with a grenade and automatic weapons, several kidnappings including one where a ransom was paid but the victim was murdered anyway, the brutal and senseless murder of a young woman 8 months pregnant by a thief who first made the woman tie up her husband, and an attempted kidnapping in broad daylight and right in front of the municipal police by Policía Ministeriales del Estado and one of their "madrinas" (all 3 were inebriated and had no valid excuse for "detaining" the lady they allegedly tried to kidnap and they were all let free). Local residents no longer feel confident to walk the streets at night and by 10 o'clock Zihuatanejo is now quieter than it's been for years. Municipal authorities have not addressed the problems but instead have only contributed to them by allowing family friends and members to blatantly thumb their noses at police when caught violating our laws, even attacking and threatening police only to get off scott free or paying an absurdly low fine.
Additionally, concealing the pollution problems with Zihuatanejo's bay has also led to a worsening of the problem. City authorities maintain there is no problem and the federal agency entrusted with monitoring and reporting on bacteriological water quality of our beaches, SEMARNAT, simply does not test where raw sewage enters the bay next to the canal "La Boquita" by the museum on the Playa Principal, the town's main beach where many vacationing families frequently swim and play in the water. They apparently have made a deal with politicians to overlook this very real danger to the health of our visitors and instead, like most all of the local lodging establishments and promotors of local tourism, simply maintain that there is no problem or risk to bathers.
How can Zihuatanejo continue inviting vacationers to enjoy its beaches while hiding from them the fact that their health may be at risk, especially at the Playa Principal? How can we claim that Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa are safe and tranquil vacation destinations while violent crimes are on the rise and criminals continue enjoying impunity?
Lodging owners MUST get involved and insist on concrete action from our local, state and federal authorities. The clamor from the general populace has only caused at least one political candidate to run on an "anti-crime" promise, but no action at all has been detected by residents other than the increased military presence protecting the local naval base. Since lodging operators enjoy the greatest benefits of our tourism industry, they should be the first to insist that responsible authorities do their part to provide a safe and healthy environment for tourists to visit.

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