lunes, febrero 27, 2006

The Pollution Problem

Local government is still not part of the solution regarding our water pollution problems. Our water treatment plants in Zihuatanejo, even if they could run at full capacity (which I don't believe they do and neither do the other local ecologists) are still woefully inadequate to deal with the existing population and tourism infrastructure, yet on the one hand the hills are being bulldozed for new major development on both "arms" of the bay as well as being overrun by squatters on the other hand. It is certainly a recipe for disaster given the current chaotic lack of planning and inadequate infrastructure. Raw sewage from clandestine drain next to La Boquita CanalLast year I published photos of the raw sewage entering the bay via the clandestine sewer next to the museum that flows into the mouth of the canal where it meets the bay. It caused a stir among local officials, who at first claimed it was storm runoff (never mind the fact there was no rain at the time) and later they simply closed the valve. Well, it's been opened again and raw sewage is once again flowing directly into the bay from that same source. It certainly is appalling and unacceptable, but the responsible public officials act like they don't know about it and even less like they care. The Las Salinas Lagoon west of downtown is also a source of pollution with many open sewers flowing directly into it as well as inadequately treated water from the "El Limón" water treatment plant, and the government is talking about dredging it, which would of course spell disaster for the rest of the bay if it is not done properly by closing off the lagoon and trucking out the sludge. I am not hopeful that the more expensive and work-intensive procedure will be followed. Unfortunately what local ecological organizations exist have thrown their hats in with one of the political parties, thus alienating themselves from the mainstream population and popular grassroots support (most Mexicans do not identify with any political party). They were snubbed by the previous city administration (the same party to which they had allied themselves), and the current administration removed Ecology from a city department to a sub-department of City Development! D-uhh... a slight conflict of interests there... and the population is crying foul, but the party in power was elected on a populist platform, and after winning the elections they have effectively turned their backs on the electorate and proceeded (like so many other politicians) to concern themselves with consolidating power and enriching themselves, NOT representing the common interests of the community at large. So we see no help coming from local politicians in power at the municipal level. Even less from the state government that, after almost a year in office, has yet to initiate one single public project! Local government seems to be following suit since after two months in office they also have yet to initiate any public projects. On the contrary, it seems that the politicians and their appointed public servants are only contributing to the problem through neglect, corruption and ineptitude. Instead of initiating a building moratorium and repairing and upgrading our woefully inadequate infrastructure, local and state and federal authorities seem hellbent on attracting more megaprojects since they see this as a way to obtain juicy kickbacks and payoffs. Often these megaprojects have influential investors who belong to Mexico's political and power elite. I am not hopeful that we can save our bay from becoming further polluted and unswimmable until it first becomes worse than it is and perhaps the tourists stop coming. It's a time bomb ticking away, but the bomb squad is busy plundering the store and playing king-of-the-hill.

jueves, febrero 09, 2006

The New Zihuatanejo

I don't know what happened to my previous post about the crime wave and the New Zihuatanejo, but it was an angry message expressing my discontent with the municipal authorities and denouncing the pollution, land thievery, chaotic development, ecocide, corruption, and general deterioration in the condition of our bay, beaches and environment. In short, I was angry about the deteriorating conditions, including the increase in narco-related murders and the use of hand-grenades in attacks against police. Anyway, the day after I wrote it there was a supposed grenade attack on the house of the municipal director of public security at a home he rents in Ixtapa not far from my mother's home. The current director is an unpopular political appointee named by the mayor, but in reality he was handpicked by the state's secretary of the government (who is arguably the second most powerful public servant in the state). Two grenades were thrown over the wall of the director's house just minutes after he had left around 10:00 at night. Strange coincidence! Unfortunately he forgot to let the policeman guarding his residence in on the plan and the policeman was hurt. It is noteworthy that the house was the home of an alleged narco who was murdered there last year and found floating dead in his pool. The son of the home's owner was also murdered in a shooting in broad daylight at the lagoon "Las Salinas" near a police station and the Navy base, but no one was apprehended in either murder. Maybe that has something to do with how a police chief can afford to rent a million dollar luxury home? Just have the owners offed? Local perception is that this event was not what it appeared to be, but instead was staged, probably by the intended "victim" himself, to make it appear that he is a target of the narcos instead of one of their collaborators, thus enhancing his credibility, with the added bonus of making him appear brave by continuing to reside in the same house. Several strange facts of this event are what lead to this perception, including the history of the house's previous occupant. First, the fact that the director had left just before the event at a late hour on . It wasn't reported if he had family living with him who also accompanied him, which would be stranger still at that hour of the night, but other than the policeman there was no one else on the property or in the home. Also, it was reported that when the Mexican army's explosive experts, who were inspecting the scene of the event and gathering evidence, tried to enter the bedroom of the director since it overlooked the area of the explosions, they were prohibited by local officials. Most strange was the report 2 weeks ago of the arrest of 9 gunmen in 4 cars apprehended by the police and army at a checkpoint in Ixtapa. The director allegedly tried to release 2 of the gunmen, but an anonymous call by one of his policemen alerted the army who rushed to the police station to demand the presentation of all 9 detainees to the judge for charges. Fortunately the army got its way. However, two of the 4 vehicles seem to have disappeared, too. We can only hope the military steps in and takes over local public security and that the government finally gets serious and purges all the corrupt police and judges so that Mexicans stand a chance in the fight against organized crime.