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Campaign Kickoff in Baja California: A Guide to the 2023-2024 Local Elections

As Baja California enters its official campaign period for the 2023-2024 local elections, political activity is picking up across the region. From now until May 29, candidates will compete for various positions within the state’s seven municipal governments—including mayors and city councils—as well as 25 seats in the State Congress. This election cycle, managed by the State Electoral Institute of Baja California (IEEBC), will determine 122 new local officials, such as council members, legal trustees, mayors, and local deputies.

This election is historic for San Quintín and San Felipe, which will choose their mayors via the ballot box for the first time. These elections are simultaneous with the Federal Electoral Process, where Mexicans will vote for federal lawmakers and the President.

Participants in this year’s election include nine political parties, a coalition, and an independent candidate aiming for the mayoral seat in San Quintín. Local dynamics are interesting, with some parties forming a coalition for select municipalities and others choosing to go solo after planned alliances dissolved.

The campaigns also emphasize gender parity, with regulations requiring parties to nominate a balanced lineup of male and female candidates for mayor across various competitive blocks. This measure aims to foster a more inclusive political environment.

New logistical features such as candidate photos on local ballots will debut, enhancing voter familiarity and engagement. Another significant update is the inclusion of specific mandates for parties to present candidates from underrepresented groups, including indigenous, Afro-Mexican communities, and LGBT+ individuals, promoting diversity in representation.

With the stage set for a dynamic election, the residents of Baja California are ready to influence the future of their local governance, making informed choices that will shape the region’s socio-political landscape in significant ways.

Celebrating Baja’s Marine Delights and New Wines

BY LUISA ROSAS

In the scenic coastal city of Ensenada, the anticipation is palpable as the Provino Committee of Baja California, under the fresh leadership of Engineer Wenceslao Martínez Payán, has unveiled the eagerly awaited details of the 24th Festival of the Shell and New Wine. Set against the backdrop of the enchanting Hotel Coral & Marina, the announcement, made on March 14th, promises a vibrant tribute to local ingredients perfectly paired with the region’s latest vintages.

This annual celebration, born from a simple gathering on San Miguel beach among friends—six winemakers, four shellfish producers, and two chefs—has flourished over 24 years into a grand platform showcasing the splendor of Baja California. It unites the viticultural, aquacultural, and gastronomic sectors, creating a sense of community centered around the region’s oysters and newly released wines.

The festival, taking place from April 12th to 14th, has lined up an array of activities designed to delight and educate attendees. Highlights include the 15th Shellfish Cultivation Workshops and, for the first time, a Startups Contest from April 8th to 12th. This competition invites innovative business ideas within the oyster and wine sectors, particularly focusing on enotourism, food, and economics, with the best projects presented on April 12th.

The festival also features the fourth installment of “Marine Tables,” an exquisite enogastronomic experience where guests are treated to a four-course pairing menu by the sea, showcasing a variety of shellfish accompanied by the region’s finest wines. A team of three pastry chefs will prepare 330 desserts for this unique dining adventure, highlighting the collaboration and creativity that define the festival.

The main event on April 14th, the XXIV Festival, will be held at the Hotel Coral & Marina’s Terrace del Mar, featuring over 84 wineries and 60 restaurants from across Baja California and beyond. Attendees can expect a splendid array of seafood dishes and over 160 wine labels, emphasizing whites, rosés, and sparkling wines, along with some young reds that complement marine flavors.

In addition to tasting opportunities, the festival emphasizes educational experiences, including a pavilion dedicated to aquaculture and fishing, where around 20 companies will showcase their products and engage with the public about the importance of sustainable seafood consumption. As Provino’s President, Wenceslao Martínez, aptly put it, this joint effort not only highlights the region’s bounty but also cements its status as a leading enogastronomic destination. Attendees are invited to become ambassadors of local ingredients, embracing the richness of Ensenada’s maritime and viticultural heritage.

Tickets for the Festival of the Shell and New Wine are $1,200 pesos, the marine tables  experience is $3,500 pesos, for more details and information, visit Provino’s official website provinobc.mx

Paella Competition Tickets Still Available: A Fresh Opportunity Amidst the Stormy Skies!

Hey there, food and wine enthusiasts! Remember that stormy weekend when Hilary decided to rain on our paella parade? Well, guess what? The much-anticipated Paellas Festival is back on track and it’s happening this Sunday, August 27th! 🥘🍷

We know, we know. Some of you had marked your calendars and were all set to indulge in the paella goodness. But Mother Nature had other plans. And while we’re truly bummed that a few of our fellow paella lovers won’t be able to join us this weekend, there’s a silver lining to this cloudy tale.

Our fabulous hosts at Provino, being the absolute gems they are, have graciously refunded the ticket price of 1,450 pesos (that’s about 86 USD for those keeping track) to everyone who requested it. And here’s where it gets exciting: this means there are now available tickets for an event that’s usually sold out a month in advance! So, if you missed out the first time around, this is your unexpected second chance. Grab it while it’s hot (just like the paellas)!

Want in? Hurry over to Provinobc and secure your spot.

Now, let’s talk about what’s in store for you. Imagine this: 84 wineries pouring their finest selections for you to sip and savor. Over 80 paella teams battling it out for the coveted title of “Best Paella of the Event.” And yes, you get to feast on their creations. All of this, set against the backdrop of the stunning Liceaga Winery, with live music serenading you through the day. Sounds dreamy, right?

Here’s the rundown:

  • Event Timing: 12pm to 7pm
  • Place: Viñas de Liceaga, in the San Antonio de las Minas Wine Valley
  • First Paella Serving: 1:30pm (Come hungry!)
  • Bonus: Got kiddos under 12? They get in absolutely free!

So, put on your festive hats, gather your crew, and let’s make this Sunday a day of delicious memories. See you there! 🍷🥘🎶

California Beach in El Sauzal Now Recognized as BC’s Most Polluted

Last year, Playa Hermosa in Ensenada was not only the town’s but also the country’s most polluted beach. Now, this concerning title has shifted to California Beach in El Sauzal, as highlighted by Gabriel Camacho Jiménez, the director of the Mexican Civic Association. “We’ve been conducting water quality assessments at California Beach and the Cuatro Milpas stream. The data shows readings surpassing standard limits, indicating concerning levels of fecal coliforms and significant enterococci contamination,” Jiménez expressed.

This activist confirmed these troubling findings with data recently released by the State Commission for Protection against Health Risks (Coepris), which also reported high contamination levels. “Following these results, the Clean Beaches Committee opted to shut down California Beach. It remains the only beach officially closed now, albeit merely in bureaucratic terms. Visitors will find no red warning flags on site, and several individuals continue to frequent the beach. It’s imperative that effective measures are adopted to safeguard public health,” he emphasized.

Jiménez further remarked that California Beach is currently the dirtiest in Baja California. “We’ve lodged complaints with Profepa, Conagua, and Coepris. The head of Cespe has admitted that firms based in Fondeport have been illicitly and secretly discharging biological waste into the sewage system. This activity has inflicted damage upon El Sauzal’s treatment facility,” he detailed. Concluding his address, Jiménez called on the Ensenada Municipal Clean Beaches Committee to take decisive action by putting up clear warnings to prevent the public from entering the contaminated beach area.

Travel Agencies Present 8-Day Tour of Baja California

In an effort to promote the diverse attractions and wonders of Tijuana and the Baja California region, the “8-Day Tour of Baja California” was unveiled at the Tijuana Tourism and Conventions Committee.

Lic. Arturo Gutiérrez Sánchez, President of the committee, expressed, “We are pleased to announce impactful tourism projects like this, initiated with the goal of encompassing a significant portion of the tourism offerings our state has. This reflects the growing interest in our region as a choice destination for tourists in recent years.”

He highlighted that this project is not only about promoting a single city, but all the destinations in this vast region. Different government entities, such as Cotucos, service providers, and other stakeholders, collaborate as one team in this initiative.

Miguel Galicia, General Director of Operadora Travel Shop, outlined that this tour package allows tourists to explore attractions in Tijuana, Rosarito, leading wine valleys, Ensenada, Tecate, La Rumorosa, La Chinesca, and Mexicali. The package includes transportation, hotel stays, and dining, ensuring visitors can fully immerse in the attractions without any hassle.

The 8-day journey kicks off with Day 1 in Mexicali, followed by Day 2 in the magical town of Tecate. Day 3 leads to Valle de Ojos Negros, followed by Valle de Santo Tomas on Day 4. Day 5 showcases Ensenada, including a city tour with craft beer tasting and street food exploration. Galicia mentioned that Day 6 will offer a trip to Valle de Guadalupe, featuring some of its renowned wineries. The tour then proceeds to the municipality of Playas de Rosarito on Day 7 and concludes on Day 8 with the Tijuana border and its various attractions.

“With this package, we want to emphasize that Baja California is more than just wines. Tijuana, for instance, offers exquisite cuisine and craft beer. Mexicali is famous for La Chinesca, and Ensenada is a coastal city boasting a significant cruise terminal on the Pacific coast. Each municipality has its unique hidden treasures,” Galicia stated.

Furthermore, this initiative aligns with a national proposal by the National Association of Travel Agencies (AMAV) that aims to promote comprehensive packages for various Mexican destinations. Raúl Islas Tovar, president of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies in Baja California, mentioned that this tour complements the product offerings with major agencies, starting with Travel Shop, which will market it to travel agencies nationwide.

This product, created by Napoleón Medina of Cucapah DMC, an affiliate of AMAV, will initially run every Monday throughout the year and can be booked for as few as two people, inclusive of flight tickets, accommodation, and transfers.

For more information about the travel package visit Travel Shop website.

Hilary Downgraded to Tropical Storm Near Baja California

In recent weather developments, “Hilary” was officially downgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday morning, as reported by the Government of Baja California.

The latest update from the National Water Commission (Conagua) states that as of 7:00 AM, the tropical storm is located approximately 80 kilometers south of Cabo San Quintín.

Tragic news emerges from the community of Santa Rosalía in Baja California Sur, where a man lost his life after his vehicle was swept away by a stream caused by the region’s intense rainfall.

Despite Hilary’s reduced intensity, the Civil Protection of Baja California announced that Governor Marina del Pilar has maintained protective measures for the public. This indicates a strong recommendation for residents of the region to take complete shelter to avert potential risks.

Persistent heavy rain forecasts continue not just for Baja California but also for the states of Baja California Sur, Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Sinaloa, Nayarit, and Zacatecas.

Predictions suggest that Hilary will make its way overland towards California by 6:00 PM on Sunday and is expected to weaken further by early Monday.

Residents in the affected regions are urged to stay updated with local weather reports and heed safety precautions.

Hurricane Hilary Nears Cabo as Category 4

UPDATE: Due to Hurricane Hilary Provino has announced that the Paellas Contest that was going to be held this Sunday has been rescheduled for Sunday, August 27, 2023. The Ensenada half marathon race has also been rescheduled for the following weekend.

Hurricane Hilary intensified on Thursday, reaching Category 4 strength off the Pacific coast of Mexico and is expected to bring heavy downpours to the southwestern United States over the weekend.

As of early Friday morning, the storm boasted sustained winds around 220 kilometers per hour (136 miles per hour). According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, it was anticipated that the hurricane would continue gaining strength until later in the morning. Meteorologists, however, expect Hilary to start weakening by Saturday.

Tropical storm conditions might begin to affect the Baja California peninsula by late Friday. Hilary’s projected path could either lead it to make landfall in central parts of the peninsula by Sunday, or it might stay offshore as it moves toward Southern California.

The center of Hilary was located about 685 kilometers (425 miles) south of Los Cabos, at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. It was moving in a west-northwest direction at around 22 kilometers per hour (13.6 miles per hour), but is expected to gradually turn northward on Saturday.

The Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning and a tropical storm alert for parts of Baja California Sur, meaning tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours and hurricane conditions within 48 hours. There’s also a tropical storm alert for other areas of Baja California.

Meteorologists speculate that as Hilary approaches or grazes the Baja California peninsula, it could briefly survive as a tropical storm or depression and cross into the United States. Notably, no tropical storm has made landfall in Southern California since September 25, 1939, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

“The rains from Hilary in the southwestern U.S. are predicted to peak this weekend and into Monday,” the NHC pointed out. “Flash and urban flooding are a possibility, with potential significant impacts.”

The area that could be affected by the heavy rains stretches from Bakersfield, California, through Yuma, Arizona, and into parts of southern Nevada. The forecast for excessive rainfall in Southern California spans from Sunday to Tuesday, the Los Angeles meteorological office reported.

While the chances of Hilary making landfall as a tropical storm in California are slim, there’s potential for heavy rainfall and flooding, noted Daniel Swain, a climatologist at UCLA, on Wednesday.

The Mexican government has indicated that the weakened storm could hit between the cities of Playas de Rosarito and Ensenada in the state of Baja California by Sunday night.

Meanwhile, the city of Yuma was preparing on Thursday by setting up a self-service station for residents to fill sandbags. The station will be stocked with sand and bags as long as supplies last, with residents allowed to take up to five bags per vehicle.

Governor of Baja Warns Citizens to Stay Indoors During Hurricane Hilary

The Governor of Baja California, Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda, has urged the state’s residents to be attentive to the developments of Hurricane “Hilary,” while emphasizing that there’s no need for undue alarm.

Currently, Hurricane Hilary is classified under the Yellow code. However, the Governor pointed out that once the hurricane reaches Baja California, it may be upgraded to the more serious Red code. As such, she stressed the importance of taking this warning with the gravity it deserves.

The first signs of rain, albeit mild, are expected to begin by Saturday and are forecasted to intensify come Sunday. The Governor noted, “It is essential to alert the public without causing panic. It’s understandable for citizens to be anxious about such situations. I urge everyone to stay updated through official media channels where continuous information will be provided.”

Baja California Ranks Third in Average Monthly Household Income Nationally

EDITOR NOTE: The dollar (USD) amounts in this article where converted from the pesos amount mentioned in the article at an exchange rate of 16.80 pesos per dollar.

Baja California has risen to the third spot among Mexican states with the highest average monthly household income. It now boasts an income of 29,637.41 pesos (1,764 USD), according to analysts from the Metropolitan Center for Economic and Business Information (Cemdi).

Aram Hodoyán Navarro, the head of Cemdi, referred to data from the 2022 National Household Income and Expenditure Survey (Enigh) conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi). He pointed out that the regions with the highest average monthly income are Baja California Sur and Mexico City, earning 30,472.37 and 29,770.09 pesos respectively (1,814 and 1,772 USD). The amount in Baja California of 29,637.41 pesos (1,764 USD) is significantly higher than the national average of 21,231.82 pesos (1,264 USD).

In contrast, Navarro compared, the states with the lowest monthly average household income as per this survey are Chiapas and Guerrero, earning 13,281.61 and 13,918.02 pesos, respectively (791 and 832 USD). In the context of Baja California, an average household typically comprises three members. The household head is generally 49 years old, and the other two members may also be employed. “Households in Baja California reported an average monthly income of 29,637.41 pesos (1,764 USD), a 15.0 percent increase compared to the 2020 Enigh results,” he detailed.

Navarro further noted that the primary source of income for these households is salaries from subordinate jobs, which account for 72.88 percent or about 21,598.47 pesos (1,286 USD). Transfers make up 10.93 percent of the income, with half of this being from retirements and pensions.

When discussing average monthly household expenses, Navarro indicated that the national average stands at 13,321.60 pesos (680 USD). The states with the highest expenses were Mexico City and Baja California, spending 19,632.54 and 16,771.14 pesos respectively (1,169 and 998 USD). In contrast, Chiapas and Oaxaca had the lowest expenses, at 8,647.63 and 8,865.80 pesos respectively (515 and 528 USD).

Furthermore, Navarro mentioned that the state saw a 19.1 percent increase in the average monthly household expenditure compared to the figures from the 2020 Enigh. Of these expenses, the primary spending category was food, beverages, and tobacco, making up 32.09 percent. This was followed by transportation, acquisition, maintenance, accessories, and services for vehicles, and communications which took up 23.76 percent.

Kids With Autism Receive Wave Therapy in Rosarito

Wave lovers unite! Kids from the Fundación Autismo Esedin in Mexicali got to ride the waves, thanks to the free “Olas para todos” (Waves for All) program offered by the Locales Surf School.

Here’s the fun part: this wasn’t just any trip to the beach. The kiddos and their families were chauffeured free of charge, all thanks to the “Corazones Viajeros” (Traveling Hearts) initiative. The heart behind this? The Tourism Department of Baja California! They’ve kickstarted this Social Tourism Program to sprinkle some magic and offer enriching experiences for locals. The big goal? Free and accessible tours showcasing the splendid tourist spots of the state.

Just like the previous year, these little surfers-in-the-making received guidance from the top pros of the sport. The Escuela de Surf Locales has been diving into this for a whopping nine years, striving to give these children an unparalleled sea experience.

Our main man, Juan Carlos Luna, who heads the “Olas para todos” program stated that the surf therapies started rolling in April and are set to make a splash till October. October is particularly exciting as they’ve got back-to-back sessions planned in Rosarito and Ventura, California.

Here’s a heartwarming tidbit: these therapies are a Godsend for families with children diagnosed with Down Syndrome or other conditions. The number of beneficiaries has been on a steady rise. To give you an idea, a digital count over the last three years recorded about 800 enthusiastic participants, including beneficiary children and volunteers. As Juan puts it, “The numbers keep growing because parents spread the word, and pictures from the sessions shared on social media only adds to the buzz.”

Juan adds that the therapies are held at beaches where the waves are gentle. But they don’t leave it to chance. Dedicated teams monitor the currents and waves, predicting the wave conditions a cool 16 days in advance.

Safety first! The therapy zones are pristine, free from pollution. The water quality? Top-notch. There have been zero reported cases of allergic reactions or other ailments.

In closing, a massive shoutout to the volunteers who ride this wave of goodness. These are not just experienced surfers but also young enthusiasts chipping in to the program.

Tropical Storm Hilary on Its Way to Baja

The State Civil Protection Coordination has activated its hydrometeorological risk prevention protocol in light of the storm Hilary, which originated in the Mexican Pacific Ocean. Forecasts suggest that it could impact the state’s territory this weekend, bringing moderate rains and winds. The areas most likely to be affected include the municipalities of San Quintín, Ensenada, Playas de Rosarito, and Tijuana. However, authorities have stressed that the storm’s trajectory could change.

Salvador Cervantes Hernández, the head of the State Civil Protection Coordination, mentioned that in line with state government policies, there’s an ongoing effort to closely monitor meteorological models. Furthermore, an extraordinary session of the Baja California State Civil Protection Council will be convened on Friday, August 18, coupled with the activation of the State Emergency Committee. Additionally, cooperation from all Baja California municipalities will be sought to execute preventative measures.

Even though Baja California isn’t among the states listed at highest risk by the preliminary reports from the National Water Commission (Conagua), the top priority remains the protection of its residents. The state’s aim is to assess all possible measures to reduce the likelihood of threats to the safety and property of its population.

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