Mountains of Garbage in Ensenada

by Staff Environmental Editor, Zoilo Zorillo

There were even armchairs in the containers.

Clean workers of the City of Ensenada raised mountains of garbage from Colonia Colonial of Ensenada, the garbage trucks did not pass for almost a month.

Garbage bags, plastics, cardboard, bottles, toilet paper, food scraps, old televisions and even armchairs were part of the waste that was collected by a score of clean workers using heavy machinery.

6 containers located in Bulevar de los Lagos street were clogged with debris, they looked like mountains with plagues of flies and cockroaches around them.

In two of the containers there were old armchairs, which had to be destroyed in order to be able to climb into the collector trucks.

Every day, 300 tons of garbage are produced in Ensenada, however, the employees of Municipal Public Services can not keep up with the lack of more trucks, the City Council is analyzing renting them to reduce the backlog.


Whale Play

A San Diego newlywed spent most of Tuesday treating his wife’s side of the family to boat rides, and it’s safe to assume that Domenic Biagini placed himself in good graces.

The La Jolla-based wildlife photographer, who got married Saturday, found blue whales on each of three excursions, and even enjoyed a close blue whale encounter with his wife, Samantha.

“All were giant successes,” Biagini, 26, told USA Today.

a man swimming in the water: File Photo© File Photo File Photo

But the third trip stood out as truly magical, when Biagini and his wife’s aunt and uncle watched in awe as blue whale calf – still much longer than Biagini’s 21-foot boat – swam directly beneath and circled the stationary vessel.

“In what was truly a once in a lifetime moment, this baby Blue Whale decided it wanted to do a little people watching!” Biagini wrote in his YouTube description. “The playful calf circled our boat while our engine was completely off, and eventually swam directly under us twice!

“I am on the water every single day, and I have never seen a Blue Whale do something like this. The view from the drone shows you that this ‘little’ whale is still nearly twice the size of the boat!”

Blue whales are the largest creatures on earth. Adults can measure nearly 100 feet and weigh more than 150 tons. Calves measure about 23 feet at birth, and the whale that visited Biagini’s vessel was perhaps 35 feet long.

Blue whale sightings are somewhat rare off Southern California, but in recent weeks the endangered whales have been feeding in areas from San Diego to Santa Barbara.

The mammals feed almost exclusively on shrimp-like krill, and adults can consume up to 4 tons of krill per day.

Asked if this was how Biagini and his wife were enjoying their honeymoon, he responded, “This was just post-wedding fun. Our honeymoon is in Maui in October.”

Tijuana Playas Lane Closures

                                  by traffic editor Quincy Quiebra  
The closing will be from Monday, July 9 and a counterflow will be enabled by the resumption of the works of the densification of the soil of this road

TIJJUANA.- The Department of Urban Development and Ecology (SDUE) informed that for the rehabilitation works of the roads of Playas de Tijuana there will be a partial closure of the road.The agency explained that starting at 10:00 am on Monday, July 9, work will resume and a backflow will be enabled in this road.

The Directorate of Municipal Urban Infrastructure and Works (Doium), indicated that this closure is to continue the work of densification of the soil of this road, which were already completed in the lanes of the south body (in the direction of Playas de Tijuana to Zona Center) in days gone by.

He explained that it is a section of 365 meters where these works will be carried out to guarantee the stability of the ground, and to prevent risks for motorists when traveling through this road.

It will start with the central and right lane closure of the north body, that is, in the direction of the Central Zone towards Playas de Tijuana, for which a backflow will be enabled in that direction to affect as much as possible the vehicular flow.

This backflow will be enabled from the access section to the Lázaro Cárdenas neighborhood (Puente La Cúspide) to the El Mirador bridge.

It is worth mentioning that these works will be carried out in all the lanes of the aforementioned address, so that the backflow will be adapted according to the development of these works, which will last around six weeks.

Through a statement, the XXII City Council thanks the citizens for their understanding during the execution of these works.




Taco and Beer Festival

Ensenada, sabado y domingo

AMLO President

MEXICO CITY — The landslide victory of leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico’s presidential election on Sunday is the biggest political shake up the country has seen in decades — and it has the potential to change the way politics is done for decades more.

The 64-year-old baseball enthusiast won 53 percent of the vote, riding a wave of exhaustion and disgust with the country’s current leaders, who have led the country into a deep security crisis amid a cascade of corruption scandals.

Over 25,000 were people murdered in Mexico in 2017, according to official figures — the highest number ever recorded — and the numbers for the first five months of 2018 are up 15percent on the same period last year. An estimated 130 political candidates and other public officials were assassinated just during the 2018 election alone.

In this environment, López Obrador — who had run for president twice before unsuccessfully — was finally able to capitalize on discontent with the status quo and gain broad endorsement of his promise to lead Mexico’s deepest transformation since its 1910 revolution.

He has promised to boot out “the mafia of power” by getting rid of corruption and instituting “republican austerity” in public spending; he’s promised to pay for massive new social programs with the money saved.

But his victory in this election is no accident. López Obrador (who is often referred to by his initials, AMLO) has been working up to this moment all his adult life. His triumph is built on a core of fervent supporters he has cultivated over many years, and who have stood firm despite many efforts to paint him as a dangerous populist who could plunge the country into chaos.

“There has been nobody like him in modern Mexican politics,” political analyst Jesús Silva-Herzog Márquez told me. “What is happening here is not normal.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Mexico’s soon-to-be new president: Where he comes from, what he stands for, and what his victory means for the future of Mexico — and its complicated relationship with the United States.

He was once called a “danger to Mexico.” Now he’s its next president.

López Obrador attends a rally in Mexico City’s Zócalo plaza in Mexico on September 14, 2006.
López Obrador attends a rally in Mexico City’s Zócalo plaza in Mexico on September 14, 2006.
 Pedro RUIZ/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The son of shopkeepers, López Obrador grew up in the waterlogged planes of the southeastern state of Tabasco.

His political career began in the 1970s within the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the PRI, the only party of any importance at that time. He abandoned it the next decade to join other political dissidents in forming the Party of the Democratic Revolution, the PRD.

Though still just a local leader in Tabasco, López Obrador was already thinking big, convinced of his unusual powers of persuasion.

José Angel Gerónimo, a close friend from those years, recalled getting a flat tire on a dirt road in the middle of a storm on their way to a political meeting. López Obrador left Gerónimo behind to fix the tire while he hitched a ride with the government spies who had been following them everywhere in a Volkswagen beetle.

“Don’t worry about them,” Gerónimo remembered López Obrador telling him when he questioned the wisdom of communing with spies. “They are of ‘the people’ too. Sooner or later they will come over to our side.”

López Obrador later failed to win two governorship elections in Tabasco because of alleged dirty tricks, but he continued to rise within the PRD, eventually becoming the party president in the late 1990s.

He completed his transformation into a national figure when he was elected mayor of Mexico City in 2000. That same year, Vicente Fox of the right-leaning National Action Party, or PAN, won the presidential elections that ended the PRI’s 71 uninterrupted years in power.

A pragmatic and astute term as mayor turned López Obrador into the favorite to win the 2006 presidential election. He worked with business leaders, reaffirmed his left-wing credentials by introducing a pension for the elderly, and constantly goaded Fox’s chaotic and uninspiring presidency.

When López Obrador refused to concede a narrow defeat to the PAN’s Felipe Calderón, after a brutally negative campaign claiming the leftist was a “danger to Mexico,” many wrote him off as a lost-cause radical.

But as the country descended into spiraling violence triggered by Calderón’s ill-conceived military offensive against organized crime, López Obrador was quietly securing a broader support base by visiting all of Mexico’s 2,446 municipalities.

A second run for president in 2012 ended with another loss, this time to the PRI’s telegenic Enrique Peña Nieto, aided by mass media support and the sense that the old party of power might be dirty, but it knew how to govern.

But López Obrador wasn’t done yet. Instead of giving up on ever becoming president, he undertook yet another countrywide tour. And he formed a brand-new party that answered only to him: the Movement of National Regeneration, or MORENA.

By the time campaigning for the 2018 election began, violence in the country was breaking new records as corruption scandals sprouted from every corner. The silver-haired AMLO didn’t look so scary anymore.

The cult of AMLO

López Obrador cheers his supporters at Zócalo plaza in Mexico City after winning the presidential election on July 1, 2018.
 Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

López Obrador’s anti-establishment rhetoric has led some to call him “Mexico’s Trump.” Others have compared him to the British Labour Party’s unassuming leader Jeremy Corbyn, and even Venezuela’s revolutionary leader Hugo Chávez.

But none of these comparisons quite fit. Unlike Trump, López Obrador is a leftist and a career politician with a vocal distaste for luxury. Unlike Corbyn, who never thought he would win when he joined Labour’s leadership race in 2015, there is nothing accidental about López Obrador’s win. And unlike Chávez, López Obrador is a pragmatist.

The president-elect is no orator or political showman, but he does exude authenticity and conviction in a country where most politicians are assumed to be cynical opportunists. And the atmosphere at his rallies can be electric.

The delirious crowds streaming into Mexico City’s great Zócalo plaza to celebrate his victory beamed as they chanted, “It is an honor to be with Obrador!” Parents raised toddlers high to catch a glimpse of their hero. Some clutched AMLO dolls. Many had tears in their eyes. Asked to describe the reason for their devotion to him they used words like “honest,” “tenacious,” and “of the people.”

“I don’t think we have ever experienced this level of personalized politics that we are seeing with López Obrador,” said Silva-Herzog.

The analyst stops short of branding him a cult-like messiah figure, as some observers do, but he does warn that López Obrador basing his legitimacy on his connection with el pueblo (Spanish for “the people”) — defined as people who support him — threatens to weaken the country’s political institutions.

One close political ally said he worries about López Obrador’s scant interest in the legislative branch of government, because it may make it harder to get Mexicans more engaged with politics on any other level than with the president.

A member of his inner circle even admitted to me that López Obrador is such a strong leader that it could lead to a personality cult.

And now that his party, MORENA, has also won a large majority in both houses of Congress, those fears are even stronger, with old enemies raising the risk that López Obrador’s power will be almost unchecked.

So far he has reassured international markets and local business leaders that he will respect the autonomy of the Central Bank, keep the country’s books balanced and inflation under control, and not raise taxes. But he has also insisted there will be no U-turn on his commitment to “put the poor first.”

That includes campaign pledges of subsidies for peasants, boosting local industry with the aim of reducing dependence on imported goods, and a massive program of paid youth apprenticeships and student stipends under the slogan “Scholarships yes, cartel hitmen no.”

Eliminating corruption and slashing what he calls “offensive privileges” for public officials will pay for it all, he promises, though his explanations of how have focused on a pledge to lead by example.

In addition to promising to be uncorrupt himself, he says he will cut his own salary by half, and live in his modest middle-class home in the south of the city rather than in the presidential palace.

He also pledges to sell off the presidential plane and take commercial flights instead. Asked by an interviewer during the campaign what he would do if his flight was delayed on the way to a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, he replied: “I will be late.”

López Obrador’s assurances that he can bring down the murder rate are equally vague. There will be 6 am meetings with security chiefs, an invitation to the Pope to get involved, and he might explore the idea of an amnesty for low-level cartel members.

Supporters often say they understand that AMLO’s vision of peace, prosperity, and social justice will take time. How long the honeymoon lasts is anybody’s guess.

“We are not going to get into fights” with the US

A mural of US President Donald Trump is displayed on the side of a home on January 27, 2017, in Tijuana, Mexico.
A mural of US President Donald Trump is displayed on the side of a home on January 27, 2017, in Tijuana, Mexico.
 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump may be at the center of attention in the US, but neither he nor his promise to make Mexico pay for a wall along the two countries’ 2,000-mile shared border were big issues in the Mexican election. In fact, they barely registered at all.

Voters were far more concerned with the violence, crime, and corruption plaguing the countryas well as the poverty that affects around half the population and the many years of only mediocre economic growth.

But everybody accepts that Mexico’s relationship with the US is important. Last year, trade between the two countries totaled $557 billion, the highest on record. And according to the latest figures from the US Census Bureau, there are over 36 million people of Mexican ancestry living in the United States.

Although the number of new Mexican migrants entering the US has plummeted in recent years, Mexico is the main transit country for tens of thousands of Central Americans fleeing even worse levels of violence and poverty.

There is broad consensus that outgoing President Peña Nieto hasn’t done well in managing the relationship with the US under Trump. His decision to invite Trump to Mexico when he was still a candidate was deemed a humiliating disaster.

His management of the NAFTA renegotiations has gone down somewhat better — despite Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw from the free-trade pact, he hasn’t done so yet and talks continue.

Trump was one of the first international leaders to congratulate López Obrador, who has since said he is determined to maintain good relations with the US. “We are not going to get into fights,” he told Mexico’s Televisa TV network on Monday. “We are going to extend our hand honestly in the search of a friendly and respectful cooperation.”

López Obrador added that he would not interfere in the NAFTA negotiations until he takes control of the government on December 1. Then, he hinted, he would seek a more ambitious deal including US aid for rural development in the name of discouraging migration.

It is a bold proposal that sounds hopeless in the current political climate in the US, not unlike another grand idea López Obrador has of establishing a “moral constitution” to provide a country battered by horror and corruption with a guiding light out of the tunnel.

Old friends recall AMLO’s admiration as a student for Salvador Allende, the Chilean president whose “electoral route to socialism” ended with his suicide during a military coup. López Obrador still has a penchant for martyrs to this day: He named his youngest son Jesús Ernesto after Jesus Christ and Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

As he stands on the threshold of power, could AMLO be setting himself up to for his own political martyrdom? Or will his pragmatic talents steer him through?

For now perhaps the clearest indication of his most basic objective lies in a phrase he repeats often, and with obvious feeling: “I have one ambition,” he said again on Sunday night celebrating his victory. “I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico.”

Jo Tuckman is a freelance journalist based in Mexico. She is the author of Mexico: Democracy Interrupted, published by Yale University Press.

Baja Fiestas Jul-Aug-Sep


BAJA CALIFORNIA.- We are already halfway through the year and the party is just beginning in Baja California, if in the next few days you will have a free day to wander through the region here we leave you a couple of events that you should pay attention to.

Music, beer, wine, food or fun, whatever it is, you will surely find it in any of these events:


Guadalupe Valley Fest

If you are looking for a place to enjoy a rich wine, good food and better music, this is the ideal festival for you. For the moment the Line Up has not been revealed, this will be done in four days so you should be aware of your social networks.

  • Where? Decantos Vinícola, Rancho San Miguel Fraccion A, S / N, Ejido El Porvenir
  • What time? 12:00 pm
  • When? Saturday, September 15
  • Cost: $ 80 dollars, after July 1st at $ 120 dollars
  • More information: Here

3rd Anniversary “Boot Event”

Decantos Vinícola, will celebrate its third anniversary with the return of “Eventos de la Bota”, where regional gastronomy and wine are the main protagonist. Your ticket includes a wine boot (1 liter) and gastronomic samples by chefs, restaurants and traditional food stalls, where chefs Javier Plascencia (Finca Altozano and Erizo), Roberto Alcocer (Malva), Angelo Dal Bon (Tre Galline), Drew Deckman (Conchas de Piedra), Miguel Bahena (Pacific) and Bernardo Piña (Machine 65). The special guest will be the BC Philharmonic Orchestra that will play rock classics of the 70s and 80s.

  • Where? Decantos Vinícola, Rancho San Miguel Fraccion A, S / N, Ejido El Porvenir
  • What time? 4:00 pm
  • When? Saturday, July 21
  • Cost: Ask for a miracle to get tickets with someone who can not go
  • More information: Here

Wine Fest 2018

The fourth edition of this festival will arrive, ideal to enjoy the gastronomy of renowned chefs, foodtrucks, commercial stand, handicraft expo, wine tasting and wine tasting of 10 of the region. The music will be part of the event since it started, so it will be a special guest Denisse Guerrero, vocalist of Belanova and Moderatto as the main band.

  • Where? Vinicola Castillo Ferrer, Carretera el sauzal de rodriguez-Tecate Km.86, 22830 Valle de Guadalupe
  • What time? 4:00 pm
  • When? Saturday, August 18
  • Cost: $ 950 to $ 2,500 pesos
  • More information: Here

Sea and Wine Festival

Imagine 10 hours of entertainment fused with the best marriage as well as culinary and artistic talents.The night will become full of memories when singing and dancing with Magneto, Mercurio and Kabah.

  • Where? Estero Beach Forum, Playas del Estero Street S / N, Ex-Ejido Chapultepec.
  • What time? 4:00 pm
  • When? Saturday, July 21
  • Cost: From $ 710 to $ 4,085 pesos
  • More information: Here


9th Edition of the Festival of Chile en Nogada

Attend and see how they reward the three best dishes of Chile in Nogada, also visit any of the five pavilions that will be: one gastronomic, where of course you can eat this dish among others, another of handicrafts, wines, beers and children’s area .

  • Where? CECUT Esplanade
  • What time? 12:00 pm
  • When? Sunday September 2
  • Cost: Free admission
  • More information: Here


Movies and Comics Convention- Comics & Collectibles has already become a tradition in Plaza Galerias, a 100% family event where you can enjoy an exhibition with more than 20,000 collectable figures. It goes from Marvel, DC, terror to movies like Star. Wars, Transformers, Batman, GI Joe, Legos, among others.There will also be an amateur club with different themes, workshops, make-up artists, music groups, cosplay contest and exclusive sale of Comic Con 2018.

  • Where? Racetrack galleries
  • What time? 11:00 am
  • When? Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 August
  • Cost: $ 70 pesos
  • More information: Here

Palenque Tijuana

As part of the Tijuana Fair you can attend the palenque where some will remember their adolescence with old bands, they will dance to the rhythm of the band or you will cry or you will sing to love with pop. The concerts begin on Friday, August 24 and end on Sunday, September 16.

  • Where? Panlenque Tijuana, Tijuana River 3rd Stage, Tijuana in Parque Morelos
  • What time? All concerts 11:00 pm
  • When? From August 24 to September 16
  • Cost: Various prices
  • More information: Here

Mezcal Fair: Tijuana 2018

Tijuana will throw the house out of the window with the Mezcal Fair 2018, where not only will people be able to taste the great variety of this drink, but mezcalier certification will also be given. Exhibition and marketing of this drink, distillates, beer and of course food. You can not miss it!

  • Where? Mamut brewery
  • What time? 12:00 pm
  • When? Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 July
  • Cost: $ 250 pesos per day
  • More information: Here


Fair of Rosarito

The fair is the favorite place not only for children, but also for adults, the reason? who does not love to get on the rides to get us all in the stomach, as well as enjoying a night full of music, which turns this into the funniest days of the month of July.

  • Where? Rosarito Fair, Benito Juarez 25000
  • What time? 6:00 pm
  • When? From July 5 to 29
  • Cost: $ 60 pesos adult and $ 30 pesos children
  • More information: Here

Taste of Baja 2018

The sixth installment of the culinary competition will give us a tour of the delicious food, wines and craft beers that the state offers us, where you will have to go dressed in white and enjoy the culinary competition among 25 chefs from Baja California, who will pair with the most emblematic Mexican wines.

  • Where? Gardens of the Historic Hotel Rosarito Beach
  • What time? 6:00 pm
  • When? Wednesday, August 29
  • Cost: $ 70 and $ 85 dollars
  • More information: Here

Baja Sand 2018

As every year, the Sand Art Festival “Baja Sand” will be back to bring amazing sand figures which can be from iconic state monuments to comic superheroes, among others. You can also enjoy the Body Painting exhibition, where artists will recreate their work in the body of its protagonists.

  • Where? Beaches of Rosarito, at the height of the Rosarito Beach Hotel
  • What time? 5:00 pm
  • When? Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August
  • Cost: Free admission
  • More information: Here


Getting Out the Vote

“Oro, Plomo o Provisiones?”  Mexico Election 2018 Campaign Slogan 


9 Million Votes Bought

Nine million Mexicans agreed to sell their vote to a political party on Election Day on July 1, revealed the Democracy without Poverty 2018 survey.

But the majority of the voters consulted were not seduced by corruption. 15 million Mexicans (17.3% of respondents) rejected any gift, service, favor or job offered by a political party, according to the survey prepared by Data PM, sponsored by the Citizen Action Against Poverty organization.

El 10.2% de la población sí aceptó vender su voto en estas : @albertoserdan

“The parties offered, on average, 500 pesos in the street, and 15 million rejected them,” said Alberto Serdán, coordinator of the organization in a press conference.

The document detailed that the offers were made to 29.9 million eligible voters, which is the equivalent of 33.5% of the respondents.

The Todos Por México coalition (PRI, Honeycomb and Green Party) offered bribes to 5.3 million eligible voters; For Mexico to the Front (PAN, PRD and MC), to 4.9 million; The Together We Will Make History, 600,000 offers per votes. 19 million would have received offers from multiple parties or did not respond in the consultation.

The representative survey of the nominal list (89.1 million) consulted 1,253 citizens over 18 face to face in the 32 states of the country.

The survey occurred from June 6 to 26, 2018. Its theoretical margin of error is + -2.9 points with a statistical confidence level of 95%.

Tijuana Border Wall Works

A sideways view of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The left half is Mexico; the right half is the United States. | Guillermo Arias for Politico


Where the Wall Worked

Tijuanans shrug at Donald Trump’s proposed wall—because they already have two. And, for the most part, they’ve done the city some good.

TIJUANA, Mexico—In 1972, a 15-year-old named Raul stepped off a bus at a depot near Coahuila Street, in the red-light district of Tijuana. Coming from an isolated village in the farming state of Michoacán, Raul had never heard so much noise, nor seen so many people in one place. He spent the next day afraid to leave the bus depot, until a janitor shooed him away.

Coahuila, teeming with people, was a legendary neighborhood a few blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border. Americans came here to spend money in the all-night clubs on booze and sex. By the time Raul arrived, it had also grown into a kind of Ellis Island for would-be migrants—a landing spot for poor folks from across Mexico who arrived on buses like his by the hundreds every day, headed, they hoped, to new and better lives in the United States. They rented cheap rooms in the hooker hotels, as did the smugglers they paid to herd them through a border of barbed wire or porous chain-link fence. Raul had hoped to cross the border and pick crops in California’s Central Valley. But his uncles, whom he hadn’t seen for years, had found work as immigrant smugglers. Instead of crossing into California, Raul stayed in Tijuana, and grew into the family business.

The immigrant-smuggling business was quintessential Tijuana in the 1970s and ’80s: It was a seat-of-the-pants endeavor that young men, rural transplants, entered easily by learning from others, employing mostly their wits and bravado. In Mexico, they were known as polleros (chicken herders), and they were the kings of Tijuana, rolling in dollars and filling the cantinas after every trip. “So, I stayed, earning $100 or $200 a day as a pollero’s helper,” Raul told me when I met him in Tijuana a few months ago. “I went from helper to pollero, driving people across.”

All that changed beginning in the early 1990s, when U.S. authorities, responding to the chaos and open flouting of the law at the border, built a wall—followed by another over the next decade. The first, made of Vietnam War-era steel landing pads, begins in the waves of the Pacific Ocean and stretches east for 14 miles along hilly terrain that sidles against a string of working-class neighborhoods, the Tijuana airport and the Otay Mesa factory zone, stopping only when it meets the mountain known as Nido de las Águilas (Eagles’ Nest), on Tijuana’s eastern edge. The second, parallel barrier, made of fencing and prison-like stanchions, spans several miles east and west on either side of the legal crossing point at San Ysidro. Along with these structures came additional surveillance such as buried sensors and poles with cameras peering in every direction.

Today, nothing so embodies the tense relations between the United States and Mexico as President Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along much of the 2,000-mile border between the two countries. Trump has spoken of a “big, beautiful” border barrier since his days as a candidate and, earlier this year, took a trip to San Diego to view prototypes. Many Americans and Mexicans alike have greeted the idea with disdain. A wall would be expensive ($18 billion, by the administration’s own estimation); redundant (some 700 miles of wall and fencing already exist); and, to some Mexicans, offensive. The leftist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador has described the impulse behind the would-be structure as “neo-fascist”; he is leading in the polls to become Mexico’s next president.

Tijuanans, though, tend to view the idea of yet another wall with indifference. “We already have two walls. I’m not sure what another one would do,” says Miguel Marshall, a young entrepreneur in the city.

The walls were the first nudge that forced the city to focus inward and wean itself, over many years, from its dependence on easy money from elsewhere.

Tijuana has in many ways been a success story since the 1990s—and at least some of that success owes to the border walls. Over the years, the walls, along with bulked-up security, have imposed order on a chaotic border, where extortion, rape and robbery had been common. More broadly, the walls were the first nudge that forced the city to focus inward and wean itself, over many years, from its dependence on easy money from elsewhere. Eight former polleros I spoke with for this story, including Raul, told me that after the walls went up, their smuggling business began to taper off; they no longer facilitate illegal crossings. (Illegal immigrant apprehensions at the southwest border overall have dropped by more than 70 percent in that time, from well north of 1 million annually in the late 1990s to about 300,000 in the 2017 fiscal year.) Meanwhile, though for different reasons, U.S. tourism to Tijuana slowed substantially.

Over the past 24 years, including a decade living in Mexico City, I have made dozens of trips to Tijuana and watched the city slowly mature from a kind of wild west dependence on migrant-smuggling and American tourism to a more self-contained and economically viable metropolis. I grew fascinated by the emerging city that few in the United States seemed to recognize—a place with burgeoning opera and classical music scenes and a distinctive and high-quality cuisine known as Baja Med. In some areas, older buildings are being redeveloped and in-filled. Locals have created boutiques, clothing lines, microbreweries, small but striving tech and film industries, art galleries and more—all of which serve Tijuana’s middle class and a new cohort of rambunctious, globally aware hipsters who have grown up since the mid-1990s. Bus depots that once deposited tourists or prospective migrants near the border daily have closed. The old hooker hotels are fading, and lofts and artist spaces have sprouted up. Today, Tijuana’s economy is among the most robust in Mexico.

Tijuana continues to face its share of troubles. Drug trade-related murders have recently spiked, and as the United States sends undocumented immigrants back to Mexico, new flophouses have cropped up in Tijuana for deportees. Nor have illegal border crossings to the United States gone away, as has been made clear by the family-separation crisis at the U.S. border in recent weeks. But the time I’ve spent in Tijuana suggests that the walls at least were the first jolt in a citywide reinvention that has been largely positive. As the United States and Mexico face the prospect of a tougher border—whether Trump gets his wall or not—in Tijuana, at least, locals have stopped looking north quite so much as they once did.


Long before the walls went up, Tijuana was a village along a river, across the borderline from San Diego, dependent on the United States even for electricity. Easy money flowed, but it was American dollars, not pesos, that fueled commerce for much of the 20th century. Los Angelenos looking to avoid U.S. prohibitions on alcohol and gambling in the 1920s and ’30s, and later Hollywood partiers looking to have a good time, headed south over the border. In the following decades, the Avenida Revolución tourist strip developed into a place for Americans to get drunk and lose their inhibitions. For countless foreign visitors, this city was their idea of “Mexico”; people in the rest of the country, though, tended to view the town as barely Mexican.

As Mexico’s economy stumbled through the 1970s, Tijuana also emerged as a crossing point for illegal immigrants who hoped to tap the massive job markets in Southern California and the agricultural Central Valley. Its city limits began to leap east and south, unplanned and chaotic, filling with the poor from the country’s blighted rural interior. Back home, wherever they had come from, elites tended to blunt access to economic opportunity. But Tijuana, as it grew from a dusty village to a busy outpost of sin, was a blank slate where people could start small businesses and work their way into the middle class. Mexico’s rural poor collectively injected huge amounts of money and energy into the city’s economy.

The migrants seeking to cross into the United States supported a whole cottage industry of suppliers near the border selling them what they needed for the trip. According to the polleros I spoke with, one crossing area that was legendary became known as Las Canelas—The Cinnamons—for a spiced drink with a touch of alcohol to keep crossers warm at night. At Las Canelas, a marketplace materialized every afternoon as migrants congregated before crossing, and vendors came to sell them tacos, coffee, maps, shoes, coats, tampons, diapers and more. All this was abetted by the fact that, for decades, the border was simply a line that people crossed at will. By the 1980s, officials added a chain-link fence here and there, or strands of barbed wire, but both were easily broached. At times, Raul told me, Border Patrol officers had to push Las Canelas south—the vendors had unwittingly nudged into U.S. territory. The market continued through each night, he says, until, a few hours before dawn, when vendors would strike their stands. They would be back the next afternoon.

Officially, Tijuana grew from roughly 290,000 people in 1970 to close to 1 million by the 1990s. But even those figures seem conservative, given the vast river of people passing through the city during these decades, stopping for days or months before moving on. Over that time, the migrant-smuggling industry became a volume business; former polleros tell me they routinely herded groups of 20, 50, 70 people across the borderline, then crowded them into vans and trucks waiting a few hundred yards north that took them to Los Angeles and beyond, with each migrant paying a fee of a few hundred dollars.

Meanwhile, many people came to Tijuana intending to cross but stayed. They discovered new businesses they had never imagined back home. They sold hardware and building supplies to people, like them, who came and stayed. Others found work selling velvet paintings, serapes, plaster Mickey Mouse statues, tequila—and sex—to the Americans flowing south onto the Avenida Revolución every weekend. The money that came from crossing people or selling trinkets to Americans added little to the city’s own productivity or entrepreneurialism, however. Tijuana was, primarily, a way station.

In 1986, Congress responded to the chaotic flow of migrants by passing the Immigration Reform and Control Act, giving amnesty to some 3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and enacting punishment for employers who hired undocumented workers. But the migrants continued to come; American employers continued to hire them with virtual impunity; and the Mexican economy continued to be unable to channel the energies of its young working classes. By the mid-1990s, undocumented immigrants in the United States would number some 5 million—equal to the number before IRCA.

The cost of crossing, migrants tell me, eventually skyrocketed to between $6,000 and $14,000 per person—perhaps the best measurement of how the border closed.

The administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton responded to the surge with a number of measures meant to keep out illegal migrants in the first place. They included the first wall on the California-Mexico border—the 14-mile steel structure—which the Border Patrol had completed by late 1993. In 1994 came “Operation Gatekeeper,” a federal initiative committing more Border Patrol resources to the San Diego area. That same year, California voters passed Proposition 187, which denied government services to those in the country illegally. A court later overturned the measure, but it was nonetheless a sign of American voters’ sentiments.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, forced heightened border security. The lines in Tijuana to cross legally into the United States grew to be hours long. The wall had already made it harder for Mexicans to jump the border northward; now the crossing was a hassle for American tourists as well, and their numbers began to dwindle.

But illegal immigration to the United States was still on the rise. So, in subsequent years, a second fence, roughly 100 yards into the U.S. interior, was constructed; it was largely completed by 2005. Around that same time, through a combination of federal and congressional action, the Border Patrol added more agents, sensors, lighting, cameras and other surveillance. Border Patrol apprehensions in San Diego fell from more than half a million in 1994 to 138,000 a decade later—and to just 26,000 last year. Over time, trafficking was no longer a game for independent operators; increasingly they had to leave the trade or join larger groups who could afford to pay Mexican authorities for protection or for more elaborate ways of smuggling individual immigrants across. Many polleros left the trade. Those who remained raised their prices. The mighty flows of migrants north from Tijuana ebbed. Las Canelas faded.

Then, from 2008 to 2010, savage drug-cartel violence erupted in a fight over territory between the reigning Tijuana cartel and its rivals. For a time, that, and the effects of the recession, all but extinguished the foreign tourism that had sustained much of the town since its birth. The Avenida Revolución tourist strip, which once buzzed with dollars and drunk Marines, was largely abandoned. The cost of crossing, migrants tell me, eventually skyrocketed to between $6,000 and $14,000 per person—perhaps the best measurement of how the border closed. Tijuana was left without the rivers of money from the south and north from which it had long lived.


At the same time, a class of young entrepreneurs, bilingual and eager to mix with the world, was quietly emerging from Tijuana’s middle class. Their parents had come in the 1970s and found work as vendors or, later, accountants in assembly plants, sacrificing so that their children could attend college and find more opportunity in the world.

Among them was Miguel Marshall. Marshall, 31, began his business career selling goods to American tourists on Avenida Revolución—rhinestone-studded T-shirts that he bought from Chinese and Israeli merchants in the Fashion District of Los Angeles. But as American tourism declined and the drug violence began to subside in 2011, a small hive of hipster bars and restaurants formed at Avenida Revolución and Sixth Street, and young artists crept onto the wasteland of Revolución, painting murals and provocative statements on the storefront shutters. Marshall, and other entrepreneurs of his generation, were “thirsty for a sense of being a Tijuanan, people from a city that’s typically not recognized,” he says. Without the traditional, easier ways of doing business, he continues, “I had to become more creative, think of other ways to make money. Then we saw the economics: abandoned buildings, cheap rent. It was easy to do something that looks nice cheaply.”

Soon they were transforming classic old Tijuana. Curio shops that once sold switchblades, velvet paintings and naked-lady playing cards to Americans became boutiques displaying fashions from local designers. Old taco shops became gourmet taco stands. Hotel Caesar’s, which houses the restaurant where the Caesar salad was famously invented, has remodeled and now features Baja-Med cuisine of grilled octopus, French onion soup and tamarind margaritas. The corridors—pasajes—that in Tijuana’s tourist heyday housed kitschy art galleries for Americans were abandoned for many years. They have now been reborn as gathering places for Tijuanans. The main corridor—Pasaje Rodriguez—is thick with cafés with young kids smoking and playing guitar, a bookstore and funky galleries, which come and go quickly amid walls painted with the visages of revolutionary Emiliano Zapata and the Mexican cultural critic Carlos Monsiváis.

Today, Tijuana’s population is more than 1.6 million; its unemployment hovers around 2 percent (compared with a national average of about 3.5 percent); and the city is enjoying a construction boom. It has also deepened its economic ties with San Diego, which is connected to the Tijuana airport by a walkway. Residents of each city attend concerts and sporting events in the other. At the port of entry in San Ysidro, part of the city of San Diego, the Las Americas Premium Outlets bustle with shoppers, many of whom cross legally from Tijuana. Tijuana pharmacies and hospitals survive largely off Americans coming south for cheaper medication or procedures. Meanwhile, San Ysidro remains the busiestland border crossing in the world—for legal migrants.

Of course, Tijuana’s growth is the result of more than just the city’s new entrepreneurial spirit. Assembly plants—making televisions, car parts and more for the U.S. market—have long employed much of the city’s working class. And Mexico’s economy, with a rising middle class, has grown overall in recent years, particularly in the industrial north, at least in part due to the North American Free Trade Agreement. What’s more, large parts of Tijuana remain shantytowns, with residents who might be surprised to hear that the city is changing at all.

The corridors—pasajes—that in Tijuana’s tourist heyday housed kitschy art galleries for Americans have now been reborn as gathering places for Tijuanans.

But in places like Pasaje Rodriguez, there is a palpable sense of reinvigoration, with businesses that serve a local clientele. A block away, the Sara building once housed a discount-clothing emporium. On the ground floor now is Baristi, a café of dark rough-cut wood offering coffee, wine and Wi-Fi. A floor above is a co-working space, and above that is a terrace reception area where Victor Rangel often works. Rangel, now 37, told me he was deported from the United States when he was 25, in the middle of studying to be a chef. After years of traipsing around Mexico, he has settled in Tijuana.

“We do have bars for gringos, but it’s started to die down,” Rangel says. “Now it’s more like bars and cocktails directed at the bicultural Tijuana kids.”

Marshall, meanwhile, started a co-working space called Hub Stn, in one of the very bus stations that used to transport thousands of Americans to Tijuana every weekend. When that was bought and razed for a movie theater, he turned to other properties. He has renovated a gas station—Estación Federal—near the borderline into a mix of apartments, co-working space, a café and offices that house an art gallery and more. Marshall also recently purchased one of the old hardware stores that sold so much of what built Tijuana for decades, and he is redeveloping that into a mix of lofts and retail.


Tijuana’s border walls haven’t been all good. The city’s inward turn has left behind many who devoted their youth to developing skills the informal smuggling economy demanded. Ex-polleros who did not die of murder or cirrhosis of the liver did a generally poor job of saving for their old age. Some are now taxi drivers, security guards or supermarket baggers; Raul caretakes vacant land near the coast owned by wealthy people who want it protected from squatters. It’s humbling work for men who ruled Tijuana back when it seemed the river of migrants would never end.

Despite enormous U.S. investment in border security, the flow of drugs, particularly heroin, continues at a time of widespread opiate addiction in America. Heroin, and now fentanyl, can be smuggled in small quantities—on one’s persons or by car. Today, the Baja region remains a major conduit for drug traffickers. The violence that subsided in 2011 has recently returned, as two cartels have competed for control of the local retail drug trade. Last year was Tijuana’s deadliest on record.

Today, the city is grappling with a different kind of migrant: deportees ejected from America and from the families and lives they built there. The Obama administration deported as many as 2 million people in eight years, many of them to Mexico; the Trump administration has continued this policy. Many of these deportees know no one in Mexico and, without Mexican birth certificates, drivers’ licenses or voter cards, which they have either lost or never possessed, they are truly “undocumented” in their own homelands. So, they stay in Tijuana, figuratively pressed up against the fence, unable to imagine not going back to their family members in America and unwilling to move into Mexico’s interior, which is a foreign country to them.

Many of them clump near the old Coahuila red light district, living on the street, mired in drugs and alcohol and often, they tell me, the target of police assault. Some deportees stay, when they can, in the hooker hotels where optimistic migrants once rested before crossing north. In the past few years, new flophouses have opened catering to deportees. On a Sunday morning recently, outside one such place, fittingly called the Hotel del Migrante, worn-out men in faded baseball caps, dirty jeans and dilapidated shoes stood in the morning sun, some with hands raised, as a group of Christian missionaries held a praise service in the street before feeding the men.

“They have a whole lot to give,” says Martin Gutierrez, a cab driver who was stopped nearby. “[Tijuana] needs to get all these deportees and channel them.” A deportee himself, Gutierrez, 53, told me he had overcome homelessness and alcoholism. “It’s them who need to change their walk and their ways,” he adds, “to make things happen for themselves.”

These are strange exhortations for men whose lives have been built on making the most of the few assets they possess. But it’s the lesson Tijuana has had to learn since the 1990s, when that first wall changed so much. A city that grew on the energy of migrants coming north every year in hopes of a new life now must absorb many of those same people returning, often worn out and sometimes even clinically depressed. Finding ways of inspiring deportees to productivity stands as one of the city’s most daunting challenges.

Still, the city of Tijuana has managed to redefine itself, and this set of people—arrested in America, sent back to Mexico, starting over—are going to have to do the same. “Over here in Mexico, you’re a whole new person,” Gutierrez says, watching the missionaries sing to the line of deflated men. “You don’t have no prison record. You have your ID. You can use your name. You don’t have to hide. You’re a whole new you.”

Telcel Credit Card Authorization

One of my most popular posts was the Google Voice hack to connect my Telcel cell phone to a San Diego number to ease incoming calls from relatives, friends, Craigslist shopping, Ebay, etc.

Figgered that out two years ago in 2016 and for the whopping price of 200 pesos, I get voice/text to/fro Mexico, USA and Canada for a month.  Actually it is 33 days.  Only restriction on that deal is that you gotta spend most of your data time in Mexico.  My data needs are minimal, as I’m connected to wifi most hours of the day.

Today’s curiosity is the byzantine credit card authorization process that Telcel uses when you want to add/change a credit card on your online account. Above is the first of two steps to authorize your new credit card.  When you hit Autorizar, Telcel will choose an amount of less than 1 peso to your credit card account as a test of validity.

The next screen(above) asks you to enter the small amount that they have charged your credit card.  UMMM, if you are using a USA credit card or bank card, the problems is guessing the exchange rate.  Example today is that they charged my account $.03 US(yep, three cents).  But, did I get a 19.90, 20.0 or XX.X? exchange rate today?  You get two tries, as the third try blocks that credit card.  Gessed 60 pesos on first try which was wrong.  Guessed 59 pesos on try #2 and yippee got authorization.

Sooo, any ideas how to hack this funky Telcel credit card authorization???  I have my reasons for not wanting a Mex bank account.

Yes, I can go to an Ensenada OXXO store and recharge.  But, my travel to the U.S. often puts my recharge time need in difficulty.

Also found that will pay Telcel with approx a 10% transaction fee.

And whotheheck decided upon 33 days for a phone plan?  I’m trying to think of any other subscription or service that did not logically follow calendar months.  Grrrr.

OK, quit my whining as 200 pesos for 3.1 months is now less than $10 USD per month for my phone service.

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