Connect with us


Mexico’s Grand Canal Plan Riles Activists and Crime Rings



In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a narrow portion of Mexican territory where 300 kilometers separate the Pacific from the Atlantic, an inter-oceanic corridor is being built as an alternative to the Panama Canal, which generates economic expectations, but also controversy.

The project, envisioned by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in the 16th century and pursued by Mexico for almost a century, is being developed in a region of numerous ancient indigenous peoples and extensive cultural wealth.

The work, which promises to complement the Panama Canal, rides on the popularity of the Mexican president, the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose government has invested $2.85 billion in freight and tourist trains to connect two revamped ports.

The corridor could add between 3 and 5 percentage points to Mexico’s GDP, according to the Executive. Opinions are divided between those who hope it will attract investment and boost consumption and those who fear it will facilitate the activity of organized crime, in addition to generating serious social and environmental impact.

“It’s a project that is magnificent!” says Angélica González, a 42-year-old artisan in Ciudad Ixtepec (Oaxaca, south), one of the stops on the train that connects the ports of Salina Cruz, on the Pacific, with Coatzacoalcos, on the Atlantic coast (Veracruz, east).

González was five years old when she last traveled on the passenger train, which later disappeared leaving only the freight train active.

She is excited to sell traditional garments that she knits with crochet hooks to future tourists. In September, López Obrador celebrated the return of passenger trains to the area, traveling by rail amid cheers from residents.

The business

Although tourism arouses expectations, the business is logistical and commercial. The Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT) expects to mobilize 300,000 containers per year in 2028, according to official data, and will increase to 1.4 million – an average of about 33 million tons of cargo, according to estimates – when it reaches full operational capacity in 2033.

In 2022 the Panama Canal, severely affected then by a drought, saw 63.2 million tons of cargo in containers cross through, according to its administration. It is estimated to move almost 3% of world trade, according to the same source.

Navy Captain Adiel Estrada, CIIT’s operational coordinator – which will be administered by the Mexican Navy – argued that the “backbone of the corridor” is that “it complements the Panama Canal.”

With the bidding of the corridor’s first five industrial parks, the government hopes to attract $7 billion in investment.

Monumental work

The expansion of the port of Salina Cruz is monumental. Its new jetty, which has already gained 1,000 meters from the sea and will extend up to 1,600 meters, requires 5.5 million tons of stone.

In Latin America “there is no other breakwater with this depth of 25 meters (…), it is a megaproject,” says Iván Santana, a naval engineer. The works, which began in 2020, generate 800 direct jobs and 2,400 indirect jobs, according to Estrada, boosting a region historically hit by poverty.

The population “sees the corridor with great encouragement” and its promise of prosperity, recognizes Rafael Mayoral, an activist from Salina Cruz. But he warns that this “does not erase” its environmental and social impact. Southern Mexico is the gateway for thousands of irregular migrants, whose exodus attracts cartels dedicated to human trafficking and extortion.

Ciudad Hidalgo, on the border with Guatemala where undocumented people arrive, will connect to the CIIT with the train that will reach Ixtepec. Another branch will link it to the tourist Mayan Train, also López Obrador’s work, marking new migratory routes.


Juana Ramírez, an activist from UCIZONI – a regional indigenous organization – sees the project as an imposition. “How will the isthmus end up? Polluted, with few animal and plant species and increasing violence,” predicts this indigenous Mixe woman, from the municipality of San Juan Guichicovi.

UCIZONI argues that the route violated international standards on consultation with indigenous peoples, presented flawed environmental studies, and has displaced native communities.

The activist claims that members of the Navy “repress and harass,” to the point that she was criminally denounced by the government along with 15 colleagues for “attacks on communications routes,” after a protest in April.

“It is a clear example of criminalization,” says Ramírez, who claims that if convicted, she would be fined $1.6 million. It was unable to corroborate such a sanction with authorities.

The woman also believes that with the work came “organized crime.” In addition, interviewed activists agree on an increase in land price speculation and the violent dispossession of properties in Salina Cruz and other municipalities, by mafias.

In July, the NGO Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) reported 21 cases of intimidation, 11 physical violence and three homicides against territorial defenders between October 2022 and July 2023, all linked to the CIIT. Most of the victims were indigenous.

Source link


November 2023 Breaks All Records



According to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN), November 2023 ended as the hottest November since 1940. Luis Alvarado, a climatology expert, indicated that there was an increase of more than 1.0 °C above normal.

In terms of the national average temperature, the situation, in general, has remained the same since May. That is, the entire country has experienced warmer-than-normal conditions.

“However, if we look at the records for only November, this year presented an increase that positions it as the hottest on record, at least since 1940,” Alvarado said.

In addition, according to temperatures since 2013, the trend for this month has been upward, whereas previous years had lower-than-normal temperatures. However, it is in 2023 that, for the first time, the limit of 1.0 °C is exceeded.

According to experts, this increase was mainly due to the influence of the El Niño phenomenon, climate change, and the rise in temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The European observatory Copernicus announced on December 7 that November 2023 was the warmest November on record worldwide.

“The surface air temperature shows that the warmest November was exceeded by 0.85°C. Additionally, new records have been consistently set since June 2023, with each month being the warmest on record,” the observatory reported.

According to experts, in the next three months, temperatures will be 1 to 2 degrees higher in Costa Rica. The Central Pacific, North Pacific, and Central Valley will be the regions that will experience the greatest increase.

On the other hand, in relation to rainfall for the previous month, deficits and surpluses were recorded. “The case that drew the most attention was the surplus of 88% in the province of Guanacaste, due to the fact that this is not usual during an El Niño phenomenon,” commented Alvarado.

The phenomenon that caused the impacts of El Niño not to manifest themselves well was the extraordinary warming of the waters of the Caribbean Sea since October. The sea is 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than normal.

According to the specialist, when the Caribbean or the Atlantic warm up in this way, they usually have the opposite effect, which is less rainfall in the Pacific and more in the Caribbean.

Source link

Continue Reading


Over Half a Million Migrants Brave Panama’s Darien Jungle This Year



Over half a million migrants have crossed the inhospitable Darien jungle, located on the border between Colombia and Panama, on their way to the United States this year. This record number doubles the total for all of 2022, a Panamanian minister reported this Wednesday.

“Yes,” answered Juan Manuel Pino, the Panamanian Minister of Security, succinctly to AFP’s question if the number of migrants entering the country through the jungle this year had surpassed half a million. In the jungle, which is filled with natural obstacles, there are also bands that rob, kidnap, and violate.

Previously, the Ministry of Security reported that as of October 31, 458,000 migrants, including nearly 300,000 Venezuelans, had crossed the natural border of the Darien, which spans 266 km in length and covers an area of 575,000 hectares. This jungle has become a corridor for migrants from South America trying to reach the United States via Central America and Mexico.

The record of more than half a million greatly exceeds the total for the previous year, when 248,000 people passed through the inhospitable jungle, according to official Panamanian data.

In addition to Venezuelans, the jungle is mainly crossed by Ecuadorians (50,000 until October), Haitians (41,000), Chinese (18,000), as well as Vietnamese, Afghans, and individuals from African countries. People of all ages, including babies just a few weeks old, undertake this journey.

This situation has forced the Panamanian government, along with international organizations, to set up migrant care centers at various points in the country.

Facing Dangers

“Thousands of [migrant] people who risk their lives, often along with their families, need an immediate and ongoing response of protection and humanitarian assistance,” said Olivier Dubois, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation for Mexico and Central America, this Wednesday.

Migrants “face dangers” and have specific protection needs, “especially if they were victims of sexual violence, extortion, kidnappings, or other crimes,” added Dubois in a press conference in Panama’s capital.

To try to contain this migratory wave, the Panamanian authorities announced a series of measures on September 9, such as increasing the deportation of those who enter the country irregularly.

After crossing the jungle, the thousands of migrants arrive at the village of Bajo Chiquito, where they sleep outdoors while queuing to board canoes the next morning. These canoes will take them to a shelter in Lajas Blancas, navigating almost three hours on the Tuquesa river, with a fare of 25 dollars per passenger.

In Bajo Chiquito, staff from UN agencies like UNHCR and IOM, as well as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the Red Cross, are present to assist the migrants.

From Lajas Blancas, they continue on buses, paying another 40 dollars, to cross Panama towards the border with Costa Rica, and then they proceed to Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, until reaching the United States border.

Unprecedented Crisis

A month ago, United States President Joe Biden met with Latin American leaders to promote growth with more investment, with the aim of curbing migration (and incidentally countering China’s influence).

Convened by Mexico, presidents and foreign ministers from a dozen Latin American countries discussed mechanisms to contribute to orderly migration on October 22.

Also, the President of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Chaves, visited Panama in October to discuss this issue with his counterpart, Laurentino Cortizo.

“The number of migrants who have crossed the jungle amounts to more than 11% of Panama’s population. This is an unprecedented crisis that has not received enough global or regional attention,” stated Luis Eguiluz, general coordinator in Colombia and Panama of Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

“These migrants are exposed to a situation of extreme vulnerability: hunger, lack of shelter and water sources, excessive charges, misinformation and scams, xenophobia, and physical, psychological, and sexual violence,” added Eguiluz, quoted in an MSF statement.

In 2008, the first year for which records are available, 28 people entered Panama through this inhospitable jungle.

Source link

Continue Reading


Fishing Adventures at Costa Rica’s Crocodile’s Bay :



Nestled in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula the Crocodile Bay and Botánika Resort, witnessed an exceptional month of fishing adventures in November.

As the holiday season takes hold, the thriving angling community at Crocodile Bay has had a month that exceeded expectations.

Traditionally dominated by dorado in October, November surprised anglers with double-digit catches nearly every day. The swift and elusive Dorado, also known as Mahi-Mahi, provided not only the thrill of the catch but also the promise of a delectable dinner – a true win-win for fishing enthusiasts.

While December typically heralds the arrival of sailfish in abundance, November saw a surprising influx of Pacific Sails. These fast swimmers added an adrenaline rush to the fishing experience, resembling an intricate dance when hooked. Guests were treated to the spectacle of sails darting into the spread and eagerly seizing bait, initiating a thrilling dance as the anglers locked their drags.

The highlight of November’s fishing exploits was the marlin action. Guests experienced the rare delight of landing blue marlin, black marlin, and a few striped marlins. The acrobatic displays of these majestic creatures added a mesmerizing touch to the angling experience, inviting others to join in the pursuit of landing one.

As Costa Rica transitions from the rainy to the dry season in November, the conditions for fishing were optimal. Anglers enjoyed numerous opportunities for both inshore and offshore adventures. Emphasizing responsible fishing practices, Crocodile Bay employs circle hooks to ensure the health of the fish upon release. Costa Rican regulations mandate the use of circle hooks for all types of bait, a practice diligently followed by the English-speaking crews ready to assist those unfamiliar with this technique.

In a special November event, Crocodile Bay had the privilege of hosting corporate guests from the US Lumber and Trex Decking company. The guests reveled in the excitement of reeling in dorado, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, blue marlin, and even roosterfish. To cap off their unforgettable trip, they experienced a night of Costa Rican-style rodeo, adding a unique and memorable touch to their fishing adventure.

Crocodile Bay Eco-Resort

Originally a modest family-owned fishing lodge catering to elite anglers worldwide, Crocodile Bay Resort is undergoing a transformative journey into a comprehensive international marina and seaside village.

In 1993, Beau and Cory Williams discovered Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula with their father and grandfather, captivated by the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean and Golfo Dulce, envisioning it as a premier sport fishing destination. By 1999, they inaugurated Crocodile Bay Resort, establishing a legacy that would eventually include the largest professional sport fishing team in Central America. Today, Botánika Osa Peninsula, affiliated with Curio Collection by Hilton™, perpetuates this cherished tradition.

Both Botánika and Curio share a common ethos—to authentically represent the Osa Peninsula and provide attentive service to owners and guests. Notably, Curio – A Collection by Hilton serves as the ideal partner for Botánika, offering a haven where intrepid explorers seeking unique experiences and travelers desiring unpretentious luxuries can discover their quintessential paradise.

As a paradigm of responsible development and sustainable tourism, the Botánika resort promises natural splendor that honors the surrounding land and sea—rustic yet refined, welcoming and warm. It stands as a serene, upscale retreat for the most discerning and inquisitive traveler.

The Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park, and Puerto Jimenez is a lively community comprised of

Renowned as one of the most biologically diverse spots on the planet, Osa boasts over 10,000 species of plant life, 850 types of birds, 205 varieties of mammals, and hosts the largest population of scarlet macaws north of the equator.

Embark on an exploration of two of Costa Rica’s environmental treasures: Corcovado National Park and the Golfo Dulce, a tropical fjord teeming with sea turtles, whale sharks, dolphins, and migrating humpback whales. In this realm where wildlife roams freely, the awe-inspiring wonders never cease.

Puerto Jimenez artists, fishermen, and families. With amenities such as grocery stores, banks, restaurants, a government-operated medical clinic, and even a gourmet organic ice cream parlor, it stands as a secure, small town where life unfolds effortlessly. A short walk or bike ride from the resort unveils Costa Rica’s pura vida lifestyle, allowing you to engage with local residents over ceviche and savor an authentic taste of the culture.

Meanwhile, Corcovado National Park is one of the most magical places in Costa Rica. It boasts the last extensive expanse of primary tropical rainforest on the Pacific Coast of Central America. Here, 13 different ecosystems come alive ranging from lowland rainforest and highland cloud forest to jolillio palm forests, mangrove estuaries, and coastal and marine habitats.

A perfect vacation awaits!

With calm weather and exceptional fishing conditions, now is the perfect time to embark on a fishing expedition to Costa Rica. Whether you are an avid angler or a novice enthusiast, Crocodile Bay beckons you to experience world-class fishing against the stunning backdrop of the Osa Peninsula.

Enjoy Costa Rica’s one-of-a-kind nature and a hotel that will allow you to recharge and reconnect!

Source link

Continue Reading