Yucatan News: Travel to Cuba
Diver Honors Mexico, Touches Heart Strings in Yucatan
Many times, athletes must compete in situations that are no fault of their own. Such was the case this past week when Mexican divers competed as representatives of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) because Mexico’s National Swimming Federation is suspended until an unpaid fine is taken care of. The young Yucateco diver, Rommel Pacheco, delivered a masterful performance that won the gold medal in Rio De Janeiro, but was not allowed to wear any badge of Mexico as he was presented with his award. Pacheco stood between the silver and bronze medalists as the flags went up. The center flag was the flag of FINA and the anthem they played was FINA’s. As this took place, Rommel Pacheco, with great respect, sang an acapella performance of the Mexican National Anthem. At that moment, the collective heart of Yucatan nearly burst with pride. This young man will dive again in the 2016 Olympics and is the favorite to win gold again. Yucatan Living would like to congratulate Rommel Pacheco, his family, his coaches, and his culture for having created such a fine young man, and we all will be watching when he wins gold again in just five more months.
Travel to Cuba Legality
Many have asked about travel to Cuba from Mexico. Even with the loosening of restrictions by the Obama Administration, it is still illegal for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba as tourists. That said, there are many options to travel to Cuba under official licensed travel. As the U.S. State Department is not the agency that enforces the travel restrictions to Cuba, that is the Department of the Treasury, The State Department, or Consulates do not produce any guidelines on travel there. You can check out this link on the Treasury Department’s website. HOWEVER, there is no need for the People to People document if traveling from Mexico to Cuba. If you have any questions you can submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will present in a meeting in the coming weeks and document answers. This message was sent to us from Bob Rentz, American Consulate Area Warden. We thought you might be interested.
Whale Beached in Progreso
Sadly, a whale was found dead near the port entrance of Progreso and was brought to the beach this past weekend. No one can ever recall seeing a whale in these parts, though recently there have also been sightings of stranded dolphins, turtles and a pygmy sperm whale. This whale appeared to be a fin whale, the second largest whale species on the planet, and an endangered species at that. The whale found in Progreso was 12 meters long (they can get as large as 27 meters) and weighed approximately ten tons. The whale will be studied by students and others from UADY and will be buried later this week. You can see more photos here.
First Wind Farm Under Construction
Work on construction of Vive Energy Company’s wind farm begins this week. The project should take between 10 and 14 months to complete. When it is finished, it will have the capacity to generate 60 megawatts of electricity, which is 10% of the energy needs of the state of Yucatan. There are all sorts of side benefits to this project, many more than just lower electric bills for homeowners. One example is that three Mexican produce companies will be self-sufficient, which will bring down their cost of operation and increase their overall profit. More collateral surprises are expected to surface as a direct result of this program and all of Yucatan is ready to enjoy, quite literally, a brighter future.
Merida Restaurant Week Happening Now!
During Merida Restaurant Week, February 29 through March 6, 2016, more than 150 restaurants are offering their best menu items for no more than $99 pesos. The List of Participating Restaurants is online, so see how many you can manage to get to during this very special Restaurant Week in Merida.
New Banjercito ATM Installed in Olimpo
The expansion of the Regional Military Hospital in Merida brings a rising number of military visitors and retirees to the state. Banjercito is the official bank of the Mexican Armed Forces, both active duty and retired, in addition to serving ordinary members of the public. This new ATM machine brings the Banjercito ATM number to three in Merida and is a clue to potential expats that Merida deserves a second look as a potential retirement destination.
Mexico is Fourth in Worldwide Internet Access
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data for 2015 has just been published and Mexico’s telecommunication reforms just shot the nation from #93 (of 140) to fourth in the world, with respect to access to the internet. With this news, the flow of international investments began and there is no end in sight. This is coupled with an improved quality of life index, and improvements in education. If you would like to see more of Mexico’s new numbers, they are all available on the OECD website.
Denver and Miami Podiatrists in Progreso
This past week, three podiatrists from Denver, Colorado, and seven from Miami, Florida, met with 90 patients at the Rehabilitation Unit of Progreso’s DIF. Here, they made diagnoses of foot and ankle problems, designed treatments, explained causes and treatments to patients, and even performed a few surgeries. This is a successful annual program that serves people from Progreso and the surrounding area, including Chemax, Baca, Cantamayec, Motul, Teabo, Catmis, and Merida. These podiatrists are deeply appreciated and none more so than founder and leader of the program, Charles L. Southerland.
Welcome to Italian Tourists – In Italian!
Merida is now a real destination for tourists from Italy, with thirteen tourist guides now fully certified to see to their needs in fluent Italian. According to tourism experts, the destinations previously able to serve Italian tourists in their own language were Houston, Miami, and Guadalajara. Now, with better airline service and certified in Italian tour guides, Merida has a leg up on all the rest. And Merida isn’t stopping there! A new course in Italian is beginning with a new class of fifteen. Yucatan Living would like to welcome all of the Italian tourists. Congratulations to the new tourist guides for learning a new language and for providing such wonderful service to Merida’s visitors and new business interests.
Statewide “Clean Patios” Underway
The State of Yucatan is not waiting for an epidemic of dengue, chikungunya or zika to put it in a position of panic over the health of citizens and visitors. Instead, the Brigade of the Ministry of Health of Yucatan is going door-to-door throughout the entire 106 municipalities (counties) to ensure that homes and patios are not providing breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. For those who are elderly or disabled and cannot do the work necessary, the Brigade helps them set their property to rights. The workers are in yellow uniforms, with hats and an SSY badge. They collect and crush containers, cap and turn containers that hold water, and apply larvicide in water tanks, flower pots and other containers. When finished, each house gets a “Casa Verified” bumper sticker for their window. This program has been very successful in Merida for several years now and is expected to be successful throughout the state. Proactive when no one is sick is a far better public health position than being reactive in case of emergency. Many thanks to all of the members of the SSY Brigade for working so hard to help keep us safe.
March is Francophone Month in Yucatan
March 20 is the World Day of Francophonie. On that day, the French language and Francophone culture are celebrated around the world. In 2015, Merida began a new tradition by celebrating this day of honor with a month-long festival. This year, 2016, the Second Annual Month of Francophonie begins on March 3 and continues through March 17. All events are free and will be listed in Yucatan Living’s Events Calendar. Be sure to read Yucatan Living’s excellent article about the shared history and relationship between Yucatan and France. You also might consider buying a ticket to Quoi de Neuf's Cabaret Night.
U.S. and Mexico: Building and Designing Together
On February 25, 2016, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, along with other officials from the United States, met in Mexico City with their Mexican counterparts in an economic summit chaired by Luis Videgaray Caso, Mexico’s Secretary of Finance and Public Credit. Vice President Biden also met privately with Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto. As some current political candidates attempt to inflame potential voters with uninformed, misleading, or downright untrue “facts,” the reality of the close business and trade networking between the United States and Mexico continues with increasing success.
As of now, almost 15,000 container trucks cross the U.S.-Mexico border every day, carrying much of the $1.6 billion dollars in daily trade that flows in both directions. As it turns out, Mexico is the most important export destination for 23 U.S. states, and the U.S. purchases 80% of all goods made in Mexico. Those goods are not simply “made in Mexico.” In reality, 40% of the materials used in manufacturing in Mexico are initially imported from the United States. Both countries have billions of dollars invested in the other. This is a working relationship that has been carefully developed over the past 20 years and, now, over the past three years, efforts have been devoted to streamlining the entire process to make it possible for these jointly produced products to compete in the global marketplace for the good of both Mexico and the United States. Successes announced at this meeting include: two new border crossings, one for trucks, one for trains, and a pedestrian crossing from Tijuana’s airport into Southern California. There is also a new civil aviation agreement waiting for approval in Mexico’s Senate. That agreement will lower prices and increase both flight frequencies and destinations.
In addition, there are 80 new higher education partnerships between universities and community colleges in the two countries, for the purpose of strengthening technical and scientific research, as well as moves to improve energy reform, and provide support for scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators on both sides of the border. Many thanks to the consummate professionals who are working on these partnerships, and to the people of Mexico and the United States who are savvy enough to see the enormous value in moving forward together.