The Sol, the English Language source of Local and National News for the Riviera Nayarit Mexico, including La Penita de Jaltemba, Rincon de Guayabitos, Lo de Marcos. Los Ayala, Lo de Marcos, and San Pancho

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In La Loma 10 minutes north of La Penita.  700,000 pesos. Ejido. 

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January 13th 2010

..the heartbeat of the Riviera Nayarit


Great press for our own Paul and Tom

New B&B Villa Opens North of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Patrick Harrison - P. Gringo Marketing & PR
January 11, 2010

El Panorama de la Peñita is located at Oceanico Atlantico 82 esquina de la Cristobal Colon in La Peñita de Jaltemba, Nayarit. For more information, call 1-888-246-1369 or visit
La Peñita, Mexico - After 25 years in retail, Paul Leger, a francophone from St. Antoine, New Brunswick, Canada and former Home Hardware Store co-owner, along with partner Tom Hopper from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, a manager with Loblaws Grocery, decided it was time for a change.

After a Mexican vacation during the winter of 2008, they decided that the time was right for an adjustment in their quality of life and escape to a warmer climate. Soon, they devised a plan that allowed them to combine work with some relaxation and a dream came to life.

After viewing several homes throughout Mexico's Pacific Coast, they decided on this luxurious home located on the top of a small mountain in a fishing town called La Peñita. They retuned to Canada, sold their home, put some items in storage, gave away the rest, packed what they could in 4 pieces of luggage, said their good byes to family and friends and retuned to La Peñita three months later. The dream, and the creation of El Panorama de la Peñita, became a reality.

Welcome to El Panorama de la Peñita, a restful Villa experience in the charming Mexican seaside village of La Peñita, Nayarit. Located 40 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, El Panorama de la Peñita offers a calm and comfortable get-away retreat overlooking a colorful colonial beach-front town, the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains and the deep-blue waters of the Pacific.

Their name truly does say it all, this hill-top estate is beautifully situated giving a breathtaking 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Their three comfortable guest suites all feature private balconies with sweeping views, private baths and luxurious, comfortable beds.

The sun drenched roof-top patio and pool will quickly become a special place to enjoy a book, relax in the sun, or enjoy a relaxing swim all while enjoying the panoramic vistas. Here you'll find two shaded cupolas, an outdoor barbeque, kitchen, bar area, and washrooms all located here for your enjoyment.

La Peñita de Jaltemba is a small town of approximately eight thousand that quickly doubles during the "high-season" (November - May) with mostly Canadians and Americans. Known largely as a fishing village, La Peñita is located on a bay recognized as the "largest natural swimming pool in the world."

La Peñita is also best known for its large tropical fruit and world-famous coffee, which is grown in the Sierra Madres Mountains directly behind their home. The region offers a variety of activities; from shopping, eco-experiences, pre-Hispanic sites or just hanging out on a secluded beach, the area is a treasure trove of things to do and discover.

They are here to fulfill your every whim. From exploring the villages and artisan shops, a picnic lunch on a secluded beach, or bird watching in the nearby estuaries or island, let them provide you with the rest and relaxation you deserve. Rates are from $69 to $99 USD a night, double occupancy, and include a large breakfast on their sunny terrace.

Explore El Panorama de la Peñita's online photo galleries, rates and amenities on their newly launched website at or drop by for a personal tour to discover this hidden-gem located on Mexico's Pacific Riviera.
Born in Seattle, WA, Patrick Harrison has been living in PV since 2003. Drawing on his experience in entertainment, radio, retail and sports marketing in major US cities, Patrick opened his own business here in Vallarta, P. Gringo Marketing & PR, a successful Public Relations Firm that targets the English-speaking tourist and local communities. You can contact Patrick at patrick(at)

Click HERE for more articles by Patrick Harrison.



Crazy Nelly and huge crowd enjoys the chillie cookoff sunday night in Rincon de Guayabitos

Crazy Nelly and a huge crowd enjoys the 2nd annual chili cookoff Sunday night in Rincon de Guayabitos

check the Sol on Wednesday to view the results.  click here for more photographs


Become a Friend of Riviera Nayarit on Facebook click here

Headline News

Saving an Aztec salamander

An effort to save the axolotl – a type of salamander – is also a bid to preserve an ancient cultureThe ancient waterways upon which the Aztec Empire was built are now a fraction of their former glory. Sucked dry by Spanish conquerors and subsequent urban planners, Mexico City’s great lake.…….Click Here for Original

Mexico City To Host 2010 Virtuoso(R) Symposium

For centuries, Mexico's famous El Camino Real has served as a welcoming trail for the world to discover the heart of the country, Mexico City.  In April, that historic path will transform into a red carpet welcoming the world's top leaders of luxury travel for what will be an unprecedented gathering.…….Click Here for Original …….Click Here for Original

Heineken-Femsa deal could push Modelo into Anheuser-Busch’s arms

Heineken of Amsterdam said Monday it plans to buy the beer operations of Femsa, the maker of Dos Equis, in a $7.7 billion deal that will further consolidate the brewing industry.Many observers had believed SABMiller, the London-based owner of Miller Brewing, was the most likely suitor for Femsa.…….Click Here for Original

In seven years production at Pemex Oil may actually rise

Oil looked a bit tired to start the week, unable to build on early gains inspired by a weekend of what should have been exceptionally bullish news. Whether it was the strong economic data out of China or the increasing tensions around the globe with regards to Nigeria and Iran, or the ongoing oil price dispute between Russia and Belarus,…….Click Here for Original

Mexico real estate rebound means great deals for U.S. Veterans

The Mexico Real Estate market is still recovering so that means foreigners are finding fantastic deals on property in resort areas. …….Click Here for Original


Mexico says immigration reform unlikely in 2010

Mexico's ambassador to the United States said Friday he expects immigration reform is unlikely to pass in that country in 2010 because of unemployment and midterm elections.

In an unusually frank assessment, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said Mexico will continue its quiet, "under the radar" lobbying for a reform that would benefit the estimated 11.8 million Mexicans living in the United States. A large percentage are undocumented………..go to original article


Rafael Marquez optimistic about Mexico’s chances

Mexico’s most famous player, defender Rafael Marquez, is optimistic about his team’s chances in the World Cup, and much may depend on the opening game against host South Africa.

The Barcelona player said on Thursday there may be extra pressure because it will be the first game………..go to original article


Mexico mugged by Starbucks? Company plans payback

Starbucks Corp.'s Mexico unit says it is willing to pay for permission to sell coffee mugs featuring pre-Hispanic images, after the Mexican government notified it about potential violations of intellectual property rights.

Starbucks Corp.'s Mexico unit says it is willing to pay for permission to sell coffee mugs featuring pre-Hispanic images, after the Mexican government notified it about potential violations of intellectual property rights. ………..go to original article


Canada to lend Mexico 5 million swine flu doses

Canada is lending Mexico 5 million doses of the swine flu vaccine.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement Wednesday that Mexico requested the doses to help bridge that country's immediate pandemic vaccine requirements.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says Mexico placed orders with several manufacturers, but the bulk of Mexico's order will only be available at the end of the month.………..go to original article


Mexico’s Wireless Airwaves Auction to Begin in May

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s government will begin its auction of mobile-phone airwaves in May, aiming to spur competition with Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB.

Regulators are relaying the information to prospective bidders this week, the Federal Telecommunications Commission said today in a statement. The length of the auction will depend on how many rounds of bidding occur. Once it ends, the agency will have 30 days to declare a winner. ………..go to original article


Four Mexican priests leave church over celibacy rule

Four priests assigned to the archdiocese of the central Mexican state of Puebla have decided to leave the Catholic Church because they have girlfriends and children, a situation that is incompatible with the celibacy rule.   ………..go to original article


Mexico’s Valley of Wine

Hot, dusty, rattled by rocks and ruts of the road, and as confused as lost conquistadors, we slump into chairs at the reception office of the inn Adobe Guadalupe.

Minerva Cerda, graciously bearing dewy glasses of a bright rosé, materializes immediately through a side door. With the first sip – a gulp, actually – we relax, stop worrying about the car's undercarriage and begin to look more closely at our surroundings.………..go to original article


Escape to divine Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

Rose-hued sunsets meet azure waters in this sensory extravaganza…a rainbow tapestry of experiences and accommodations. For those with “champagne taste and beer money,” there are lovely, quaint resorts with all the amenities for less than $50 a night. For those travelers who can afford it, there are elegant accommodations where the sky’s the limit. But for everyone who visits this still-underdeveloped gem on Mexico’s western coast, it is a double paradise in other ways as well. The colorful fishing village of Zihuatanejo (“Place of Women”) oozes with tradition, heritage and déjà vu culture of the past, while Ixtapa sports the image of a young, new and contemporary tourist mecca. Old and new are blended like a fine tapestry offering something for every tourist in what’s termed the Costa Grande of Mexico.………..go to original article


Elton John concert in Mexico's Maya ruins

Mexico City - British singer Elton John is set to perform amid the ruins of the famous Maya site of Chichen Itza in Mexico on April 3.

According to Mexican media reports, archeologists have authorized the concert but the relevant contract was yet to be signed. ………..go to original article




80 years young!

One of Jaltemba coast's nicest people recently celebrated her 80th birthday! Congratulation to Agnes Dudley

Grand Opening

Juan's Place

Juan's place grand opeing La Penita de Jaltemba riviera Nayarit Mexico Dot Bell Photograph

Juan's place grand opeing La Penita de Jaltemba riviera Nayarit Mexico Dot Bell Photograph


Juan's place grand opeing La Penita de Jaltemba riviera Nayarit Mexico Dot Bell PhotographJuan's place grand opeing La Penita de Jaltemba riviera Nayarit Mexico Dot Bell PhotographJuan's place grand opeing La Penita de Jaltemba riviera Nayarit Mexico Dot Bell Photograph

Juan's place grand opeing La Penita de Jaltemba riviera Nayarit Mexico Dot Bell PhotographJuan's place grand opeing La Penita de Jaltemba riviera Nayarit Mexico Dot Bell PhotographJuan's place grand opeing La Penita de Jaltemba riviera Nayarit Mexico Dot Bell Photograph

See Map here


rincon de guayabitos beach cleaner photograph by Bill Bell

Rincon de Guayabitos beach cleaner photograph by Bill Bell

Riviera Nayarit Whales                                     

Awesome Seasonal Visitors

                © Tara A. Spears

Whales are one of most mesmorizing creatures one can view along coastal Riviera Nayarit. Since the tropical warm water of this latitude  is the winter breeding ground for several migrating species, January is an excellent month for whale watching.  Besides the resident species of Cetaceans, one can catch a glimpse of mother with calve from shore and certainly farther out in a boat on one of the numerous whale watching tours that are available. Seeing these denizens of the ocean in the wild is an unforgetable experience that tops even the best Discovery special or Seaworld show.  Coming face-to-face with a hypnotically lovely group of whales-experiencing their immense size, intelligence, and acrobats live- far surpasses any picture.

Cetaceans are air-breathing, warm-blooded ocean mammals that bear live young and nurse them on milk. Since the gestation and rearing periods are so long in most whale species, and the suckling so draining, cows only give birth every two to four years. This slow reproductive rate means that any substantial whale hunting may have a detrimental effect on whale populations.

 Just as impressive is their evolutionary history: that the study of fossils indicates is that cetaceans evolved from four-legged, terrestrial ancestors that made their way back to the seas around 55 million years ago. The existing 83 species of Cetaceans are subcategorized into two main groups: the toothed whales (odontocetes) and baleen whales (mysticetes)- with both types inhabiting the Mexican coast of the Pacific Ocean.  This article will focus on the toothed species that you may see in the Riviera Nayarit; next week will highlight the baleen species as there are significant differences between the whale types.

Before meeting the local toothed whale species, let’s look at typical behavior and characteristics of all toothed whales. This category of species uses echolocation- the sound tracking by bouncing sonar signals to identify prey and obstacles. As with land predators, they are active hunters, needing to search and stalk their dinner. They use their teeth to seize their target then swallow it whole, unlike other smaller predatory mammals that tear apart prey. Thinking of the biblical tale of Jonas being swallowed by a whale indicates this behavior has been observed by humans for centuries.

Continued click here

Whale Watching Regulations In and Around Banderas Bay
Keith May -
January 08, 2010

Whether you are taking a tour or are a private boater, the Executive Director of Puerto Vallarta Whale Watching Forum, Keith May, tells us everything we need to know about safe and legal whale watching for Banderas Bay's official 2009/2010 whale watching season.

This year SEMARNAT gave out white flags with the SEMARNAT logo and a humpback whale, so you can easily identify the boats authorized to do whale watching activities in Banderas Bay.
Whale Watching Regulations for Private Boaters

Many private boaters are not aware that the Mexican government has enacted very specific laws as it relates to whale watching activities from a private vessel as opposed to a vessel that has a legal whale watching permit.

These laws were designed to ensure the least amount of stress on the whales, to protect them from unintentional injury by boaters and to ensure that the mothers and calves are never separated from each other – lest the calf falls victim to being eaten by a Killer whale. Without human intervention, we estimate that one in three calves are lost to predation by Killer whales. So, it’s in our interest and the interest of the whales to ensure that we are not accidently contributing to the deaths of the newly born calves.

Mexican environmental law NOM 131 ECOL 1998 states the following as it relates to whale watching by private boaters:

Private boats can stay looking at the same group of whales for a maximum of 10 minutes (no matter how exciting the show might be) and must maintain a distance of at least 80 meters or 240 feet. When participating in whale watching boats must operator no faster than 4 knots at any given time and must never move faster than the slowest moving whale.

Mothers with calves are extremely sensitive and every effort should be made to reduce their stress. Never obstruct the path of a whale, never split groups and certainly never engage in any activity that will separate the mother from the calf.

Sport fishing is not permissible near or during any whale watching activity. If you observe any marine mammal entangled in fishing gear, please report it to the Navy Sector at (322) 224-5783 or on marine channels 16 or 82. Do not attempt to assist the animal as this can be very dangerous and keep a distance of at least 300 yards until professional assistance arrives.

Scuba diving or snorkeling in the vicinity of a whale is very dangerous and is forbidden by law. Jet skis, water skis, kayaks, canoes, etc. and any type of aircraft, parasail or gliders are also forbidden to be used in the vicinity of whales.

Trash, especially plastic bags and such can suffocate a whale if it is sucked into this blow hole. Also, they become a choking hazard for our endangered sea turtle as they are mistaken for jellyfish – a favorite food of sea turtles. If you see plastic bags floating in the water please take the time to retrieve them. This small action may in fact safe the life of an endangered whale or sea turtle.

When whale watching you should only ever approach diagonally from the lateral position and move parallel to the course of a whale or group of whales. Avoid any unexpected changes in velocity and direction within 300 feet or 900 meters of the nearest whale.

By following these few simple steps will ensure a safe whale watching experience for you and your friends and most importantly help to protect these gentle giants that call Banderas Bay home for a few months of every year. The official 2009/2010 whale watching season runs from December 8, 2009 – March 23, 2010. Whale watching activities outside of these dates are forbidden.

Authorized Banderas Bay Whale Watching Boats and Tour Companies

This year SEMARNAT gave out white flags with the SEMARNAT logo and a humpback whale, so you can easily identify the boats authorized to do whale watching activities. If the boat does NOT have this flag it means they don't have a whale watching permit.

Click HERE for a list of Boats and/or Tour Companies Authorized by SEMARNAT to do Whale Watching activities in Banderas Bay, Jalisco-Nayarit, from December 8, 2009 to March 23, 2010

Click HERE for Banderas Bay Humpback Whale Watching Regulations for the 2009/2010 season.

To learn more about responsible whale watching, please visit the Puerto Vallarta Whale Watching Forum.

Happy Whale Watching!
Keith May, Executive Director
Puerto Vallarta Whale Watching Forum


Submitted by Our Wonderful French Yvonne


Buy a ticket for this beautiful knit afghan


A hand-made Afghan, knitted by Micheline Bédard, will be raffled off with proceeds going to the primary school ''Sebastian of La Colonia de La Penita''. 
Tickets are selling for 50 pesos for 3 tickets and can be purchased at the Hotel & Bungalows Guayabitos, 15 Sol Nuevo, apartment 215.  I will also have tickets available.  Draw will be held February 15, 2010. 
Hope your readership supports this activity.  










Rotary Club of Jaltemba Bay announces 1st Annual Dinner Dance”

First Year Anniversary to raise funds for two major 2010 projects

La Peñita de Jaltemba, Nayarit, January 4, 2010 -- Sebastian Marin, President of Rotary Club of Jaltemba Bay – La Peñita announced today that the club, celebrating it’s first year, is hosting it’s First Annual Dinner Dance on Saturday January 23 rd at Toñita’s III in La Peñita. The event is open to all Rotarians, business and community leaders, and the public at large.

 The Dinner Dance is schedule from 6:00 – 12 midnight and tickets are available from Rotary members, in Guayabitos at Piña Colada Restaurant and Fitness Pad and in La Peñita at Xaltemba Restaurant, Youcha Centros Quiroprácticos and Sebastian Realty. Tickets are 300 pesos per person, which includes dinner dance, and one drink, there will be dancing to a wide variety of music.

 The Jaltemba Bay Rotary Club is a young club founded in late 2008.  It is made up of local business owners and some foreign business owners and retirees who live here a major part of the year.  The event is bound to be a great opportunity to celebrate the clubs first year and meet the local business owners who are working hard to improve the community.

 The funds raised will be used to finance the building of a new kindergarten at Las Cabras in La Colonia and classroom repairs and computers for Cebeta/Zaeta Extension Preparatory School in Zacualpan.  The Club has received initial support and donations from Rotary Club of South Cowichan (Mill Valley) B.C., Rotary Club of Ladysmith B.C. Canada, and commitments from Rotary Clubs of Sebastopol, Middleton,  and Santa Rosa in Northern California. 

Rotary International is the world's first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.

Club Rotario meets every Wednesday at 7:30 am for Breakfast meeting at Piña Colada in Guayabitos located on Highway 200 lateral street.

Las Cabras Kindergarten, La Colonia                                                                     Weekly  Rotary Club meetings at Piña Colada  

View Jaltemba Bay Rotary projects:


Main website:

The Pope says pollution is a sin!

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Friends of La Penita Meeting Notice

The next meeting of Los Amigos de La Peñita will be on Monday, January 11 at Restaurante La Palapa de Guty, Circuito Libertad #4.  There will be a social gathering at 6:30 with the formal meeting starting at 7:00.

Key agenda items will be:

  • Report from Recycling Committee
  • Report on Fiesta 2010
  • Presentation on Mango Project

All are welcome.

Most Wanted Hat

The Facts Concerning Violent Crimes Committed Against US Tourists in Mexico
Jim Scherrer - PVNN
January 05, 2010

There are in excess of 200 cruise ships that visit PV from the US every year with an average of more than 2,000 passengers each; i.e. approximately 400,000 passengers arriving annually.
This article is prepared in response to an extremely misleading and obviously biased piece recently published on a site known as and shown under the topic of Official Spin; and spin it is! It was written by Derek Armstrong and posted on his website, Crime Report USA, as follows:

Mexico the Most Dangerous Country for Americans
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 3:39 PM

U.S. Department of State Warns Largest Number of Non Natural Deaths Occur in Mexico.
Derek Armstrong, Chief Crime Correspondent

Crime Report USA: Mexico is overwhelmingly the most dangerous place for non-service Americans, topping the list of destinations with the highest "Non Natural Deaths", according to the US Department of State:

Top 5 Countries for Non Natural Deaths
Mexico 651
Iraq 82
Costa Rica 69
Thailand 67
Germany 63

Since shocking and misleading headlines such as "Mexico the Most Dangerous Country for Americans" are designed to be attention grabbing, tourists that read such nonsense might want to do their homework before considering vacation destinations in Mexico; they must understand the facts and not be frightened by ridiculous fear tactics put forth by those with ulterior motives.

At first glance, the above article seems to indicate 651 non natural deaths occurred in Mexico last year, however, when the reader digs deeper into the article he finds that the data was obtained over a three year period from 2006 through 2008, resulting in about 220 non natural US deaths per year in Mexico. Of the 220 non natural deaths per year, approximately 50 are homicides, the balance being auto accidents, drownings, suicides, etc. per the US Department of State.

Next, the reader needs to understand that approximately 20 million Americans visit Mexico each year, far more than any other country in the world per the US Dept Commerce. Therefore, we know that about 50 individuals out of every 20 million US visitors to Mexico are murdered during a violent crime every year while in Mexico.

Okay, let's take it a step further; let's determine where in Mexico these violent crimes take place. When reviewing the data presented by the US Department of State, you'll see that the majority of these violent crimes occur in the border towns such as Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana. Therefore, the next time you plan your winter vacation you might want to avoid these areas; they're probably about as dangerous as Chicago, Detroit, or Los Angeles! Instead of vacationing in beautiful downtown Juarez, you might want to consider a resort destination such as Cancun, Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Acapulco, Huatulco, or Puerto Vallarta.

As 13 year residents of Puerto Vallarta, we can attest to the safety of this magnificent resort destination south of the border where the possession of hand guns is prohibited and violent crime is virtually nonexistent. For proof of this claim, we'll first determine the number of US citizens that visit PV annually and then get the facts related to violent crime in the area.

There are in excess of 200 cruise ships that visit PV from the US every year with an average of more than 2,000 passengers each; i.e. approximately 400,000 passengers arriving annually. During the six month "high season", PV receives more than 50 international flights daily. Let's assume that 40 are from the US carrying an average of 100 passengers on each plane; that's more than 700,000 passengers arriving by air during the six winter months.

Next, let's assume that 30 planes arrive daily in PV during the six summer months of which 20 are from the US; that's another 350,000 passengers arriving by air during the "low season". Finally, we'll assume that another 50,000 people drive to PV every year. Totaling these conservative numbers, we find that at least 1.5 million tourists from the US visit Vallarta annually.

A number of websites such as put the total number of visitors at 2 million, others such as peg it at 2.2 million - and assuming at least 75% are from the US, our estimate of 1.5 million US visitors to PV per year is quite accurate.

Now, let's return to the data from the US Department of State. You will notice that during 2008, there were merely five non-natural deaths of US visitors in Puerto Vallarta and only one was a homicide. (Chances are that he was doing something or involved with something that he shouldn't have been!). That's one violent death out of 1.5 million visitors for the year or less than 0.7 per million.

According to US government provided data, the US has 6.2 violent deaths annually per 100,000 residents. This information is readily available at the US Bureau of Justice and on other websites such as In other words, we have 62 homicides or violent crimes resulting in death per million residents in the US, or 93 homicides per 1.5 million; i.e., 93 times as many as in Puerto Vallarta!

You'll notice that the author of the referenced article is from Toronto, Canada; a beautiful city with a reputation for being quite safe, having a homicide rate of only 3.1 homicides per 100,000 residents per the Toronto Police Department or approximately half of that in the US.

Still, that equates to 31 per million residents or 46 murders per 1.5 million people, i.e. nearly 50 times as many as the number of Americans murdered in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! For example, in 2007, Toronto, with a population of 2,750,000 inhabitants, experienced 84 homicides or approximately 31 per million people.

You'll also notice that the author of the article publishes his propaganda on sites where feedback and comments are impossible; is it any wonder? There have been plenty of knowledgeable folks that have read preposterous articles such as the one addressed above and they too, are voicing their opinions and commenting on websites such as For the most part, these are people with intimate knowledge of Mexico and if it were dangerous for Americans in Mexico, they probably wouldn't be living or vacationing there on a routine basis.

(Yes, I am biased and yes, I have an axe to grind [representing real estate buyers in Puerto Vallarta]; but more importantly, I feel it imperative for someone to set the record straight and not allow misleading propaganda to be published on the Internet without being challenged.)

In summarizing, the next time someone insinuates that traveling to or vacationing in Mexico is dangerous for Americans, you can present the facts to them. Hopefully, after reviewing this analytical approach with the documented facts and figures provided by the US government, you'll feel much more comfortable and inclined to visit our beautiful Paradise south of the border, where you have nearly 100 times better odds of surviving than in the good ol' US of A!

The founder of Puerto Vallarta Real Estate Buyers' Agents (PVREBA), Jim Scherrer is a retired entrepreneur who has owned property in Puerto Vallarta for more than 25 years. Utilizing his experience and extensive knowledge of the area, Jim's series of informative articles about travel to and retirement in Puerto Vallarta reveal the recent changes that have occurred in Vallarta, while dispelling the misconceptions about living conditions in Mexico.

For more articles by Jim Scherrer, click HERE or visit








Open wide! Amazing how this La Penita de Jaltemba pelican can open its mouth so wide.  Bill Bell photograph
Open wide! Amazing how this La Penita de Jaltemba pelican can open its mouth so wide. Bill Bell photograph


Canadians Held in Mexican Jail have Yet to be Charged
Brigitte Morissette - QMI
go to original
January 11, 2010

Following their arrest, a military patrol was then put in charge of their custody.
Five Canadians held in Mexico since Jan. 1 have yet to be charged with serious criminal offences: participating in organized crime and misdemeanours against health, as the Mexican criminal code qualifies drug trafficking. However, 10 days after the events occurred, actual charges have yet to pressed.

Yesterday, the spokesperson for the attorney general of the Mexican Republic commented, laconically: "It is a delicate affair." The Mexican Attorney General's office was put in charge of this affair after the army transported the Canadian suspects from Puerto Vallarta to the country's capital.

The suspects, four Quebec residents and a fifth from Vancouver, were arrested by police on Jan. 1 at 6:15 a.m. following a raid in a bar called Mandala after a shootout took place. One officer allegedly sustained a head injury.

Following their arrest, a military patrol was then put in charge of their custody. Until an official statement is released, the only available version of this story is that of the accused and their families, as well as the stories published by the local press.

One of the accused's attorney, Marie-Ève Plante, has told TVA that they have been subjected to cruel and unusual treatment by the Puerto Vallarta police force, including electrocution and burns.

According to a QMI source, all five Canadians are still being held in the Attorney General's jail in the heart of Mexico City.

Never smile at Crocodile when you visit Jan and Bill P:oteat's House in La Penita, Bill Bell Photograph
Never smile at Crocodile when you visit Jan and Bill Poteat's House in La Penita, Bill Bell Photograph

Up close crocodile, Bill Bell photograph

Up close crocodile, Bill Bell photograph


Mexico's Valley of Wine
Mike Dunne - Sacramento Bee
go to original
January 07, 2010

See sidebar: Accommodations, Restaurants, Wineries, and More Information

Harvest workers keep the wine presses busy at L'Escuelita, a cooperative winery and winemaking school. (Mike Dunne/The Bee)
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico – Hot, dusty, rattled by rocks and ruts of the road, and as confused as lost conquistadors, we slump into chairs at the reception office of the inn Adobe Guadalupe.

Minerva Cerda, graciously bearing dewy glasses of a bright rosé, materializes immediately through a side door. With the first sip – a gulp, actually – we relax, stop worrying about the car's undercarriage and begin to look more closely at our surroundings.

Though Adobe Guadalupe has just six rooms, it's one sprawling hacienda, with a massive fountain in the courtyard, a winery off to one side, a pool and hot tub on the other, collections of teacups and cut crystal artfully arranged here and there, and three galumphing Weimaraners enjoying the run of the place.

We glance out doorways and windows, seeing vineyards roll in orderly rows across the vast valley floor. It looks like the Napa Valley, but we're in Baja California.

More specifically, we're wrapping up our first day in Valle de Guadalupe, about half an hour northeast of Ensenada, a coastal party town roughly 70 miles south of San Diego.

In Ensenada, the tourist draws are fish tacos and beer. In Valle de Guadalupe, it's wine. There's not much here other than vineyards and wineries, slowly squeezing out the orange and olive groves, alfalfa fields and horse farms that have long set the tone for the valley's rich agrarian history.

Wine lovers won't be disappointed with what they find in the hot, arid Valle de Guadalupe. Although swine flu and fear of violence have deterred many Americans from visiting, we couldn't resist it.

An estimated 80 to 90 percent of the wine made in Mexico is made in Baja California, and most of that is produced by the 30 or more wineries in this valley. The producers range from corporate giants to boutiques no bigger than a one-car garage.

Although most of Baja is desert, Valle de Guadalupe benefits from its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and by topography similar to Santa Barbara County. In both viticultural areas, maritime breezes stream east though a gap in the coastal hills and are more or less confined by ridges, providing cool breaks from torrid temperatures, helping maintain the sugar and acid balance crucial for expressive wine grapes.

Wineries are apt to be far back on a washboard road or tucked in a ravine up a tortuous path best traversed with a high-riding four-wheel-drive beater.

"I like to tell people that this is off-roading in the wine country," says Steve Dryden, a retired U.S. National Park Service naturalist who came here a decade ago to write about wine and guide tours.

Our first stop on Day 2 is Vinicola L.A. Cetto, one of the larger and more historic wineries in the valley, dating from 1974. Out front, members of the Kumai tribe oversee a table at which they sell bundles of fresh rosemary and sage, and baskets woven with pine needles.

Inside, Camillo Magoni, the native Italian who has been Cetto's winemaker from the start, is lining up bottles to showcase the winery's portfolio, from an inexpensive everyday petite sirah to a pricey blend of cabernet sauvignon, nebbiolo and montepulciano he makes every five years to salute the winery's founder, fellow Italian Angelo Cetto.

"Mexico is known for tequila, beaches, archaeology, Corona and spring break, and in the near future for wine, I hope so," says Magoni.

He's been involved in the valley's wine trade since 1965 and has seen it evolve from a focus on large yields for simple brandy to today's intensifying concentration on small yields, premium varietals and high-end proprietary blends. The brandy has all but disappeared, succeeded by dry table wines, Magoni says.

"This is the best area in Baja for wines, but it's not the only one," he boasts, noting that such neighboring valleys as Las Palmas to the north and Santo Tomas and San Vicente to the south also yield fruit for fine wine.

While demand for Mexican wine is growing, particularly in Mexico City, Guadalajara and resort cities with a sophisticated and affluent clientele, vintners say, Baja's wine trade is hamstrung by forces natural and bureaucratic. Drought, coupled with Ensenada's tapping of the Guadalupe River, is keeping growers from expanding for fear they won't have adequate water to irrigate their grapes.

And then there are Mexico's mysterious, cumbersome and onerous wine taxes, which inflate the price of a bottle between 35 percent and 40 percent if it is sold beyond the winery.

"It's almost impossible for a winery our size to comply with the federal regulations to get that government sticker so we can sell to hotels and restaurants," says Miguel Fuentes, vineyard manager and winemaker at his family's Vinos Fuentes winery on the southern outskirts of Francisco Zarco.

"Producing grapes, making your own wine, and selling your wine on your own property is a lot easier to do," adds Fuentes, a Mexicali native who graduated from UC Davis with a degree in international agriculture development in 1992.

Like several of the valley's other boutique vintners, he's hoping the area continues to develop the infrastructure to become as well-known as an appellation as it is as a day trip for tour groups out of Ensenada.

But today, Valle de Guadalupe is a rustic wine region with just a handful of posh accommodations and only a couple of restaurants with ambitiously artistic food. Like the Napa Valley of half a century ago, it is occupied primarily by farmworkers and pioneering winemakers, and only essential businesses – the Pemex gas station, mini-markets, panaderias, taquerias. Fashion boutiques and spas are a long way down the road.

Wine enthusiasts who want something to do after they've exhausted their palates pretty much are limited to horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking, or they can head to Ensenada for sport fishing or golf.

On the other hand, anyone seeking a change of pace from the competitiveness and congestion often encountered in Northern California wine regions, as well as some welcome solitude, will find Valle de Guadalupe comforting – unless they step out of the car and almost get hit by a youngster galloping by on his horse, as happened to me in Francisco Zarco.

"Most guests have an agenda when they get to the valley, but once they get to our place they stay and relax," says Nathan Malagon, whose family's Vinedos Malagon includes a small and secluded bed-and-breakfast bordering an old grenache vineyard tucked up against the foothills just to the north of Francisco Zarco.

Not that Valle de Guadalupe entirely lacks archaeological, historic and cultural attractions. The most curious stem from the immigration in 1905 of Russian Molokans, pacifists who fled the mother country rather than fight for the czar. They congregated just southwest of Francisco Zarco, in an area to become known as El Porvenir, or "the future."

Today, the valley has three small Molokan museums, two across the street from each other in Francisco Zarco, where the cemetery has almost as many headstones in Russian as Spanish. (Explanatory signs in the museums, however, invariably are in Spanish and Russian, not English.)

The third museum is at Vinos Bibayoff, owned by David Bibayoff Dalgoff, a member of one of the last two Molokan families in the valley, in Rancho Toros Pintos, just south of Francisco Zarco and El Porvenir.

Dalgoff, who in the winery's museum shows off the framed government permit his grandfather, Alexie M. Dalgoff, got in 1931 to make wine, tends 40 acres of grapes, most of which he sells to other vintners. Under his own label, he makes a fleshy and herbal cabernet sauvignon, a sweet zinfandel and a spicy port.

Big and convivial, Dalgoff represents the relaxed and casual attitude of much of the valley's wine community.

"When the gate is open, we are here," says Dalgoff, when asked when Vinos Bibayoff is open to the public.

No less enamored with Valle de Guadalupe's wine prospects is ceramic artist Ivette Vaillard, who moved into the valley from Veracruz 27 years ago, acquired a half-acre of hardscrabble hillside and without electricity began to plant pomegranate, macadamia, walnut, olive and pear trees, the fruit of which she sells at the local farmers market.

She also began to cultivate wine grapes and with two other women created Tres Mujeres Winery. They make mostly perfumey and juicy cabernet sauvignons. They sell their production out of their cellar, where they tunneled deep into the granite under vineyard and orchard to scoop out one of the few wine caves in the valley.

Throughout my tastings I'd been trying to pin down stylistic threads that tie one wine to another in hopes of understanding what sets apart the wines of Valle de Guadalupe from releases in other regions. The task is complicated by the wide variability in style and quality among producers.

Some are as coarse as wines made by a not particularly attentive home winemaker, while others are startling for their complexity, elegance and balance.

When I ask vintners what broadly distinguishes the wines of Valle de Guadalupe, they also struggle to come up with an answer, an indication of the region's youth and continuing experimentation. Ivette Vaillard, on the other hand, nails it: "Compared with other countries, they are heavy wines, they have a lot of body."

True, regardless of whether the wine is white, rosé or red, varietal or blend, dry or sweet, the wines of Valle de Guadalupe tend to have a richness to them, a fleshiness, a ripeness stopping just shy of being overripe. That's generally speaking. Exceptions can be found, such as that lean, crisp and spicy rosé that first welcomed us into the area at Adobe Guadalupe.

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Unprecedented US-Mexico Border Cooperation: Ambassador
Agence France-Presse
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January 10, 2010

A Mexican soldier controls traffic at the Mexico-US border customs post in Ciudad Juarez in August 2009. (AFP/Jesus Alcazar)
Mexico City – Mexico and the United States currently have an unprecedented level of cooperation on fighting crime on their common border, the Mexican ambassador to the United States said here Friday.

Arturo Sarukhan said it was important to continue "this unprecedented cooperation established with the administration of President (Barack) Obama," at a meeting of Mexican ambassadors and consuls in Mexico City.

Sarukhan underlined that, despite the financial crisis, the US Congress has approved some 1.3 billion dollars for Mexico under the regional three-year Merida Initiative, a joint plan to fight organized crime.

The United States had started to show "important results" in its capacity to reduce the trafficking of arms and money south of the border, he said, adding that it was now time to evaluate how bilateral cooperation would continue.

The United States last month delivered five helicopters worth a total of 66 million dollars to Mexico under the Merida Initiative.

The slow release of funds has frustrated top Mexican officials.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon is waging a controversial clampdown on the country's powerful drug gangs, and has deployed some 50,000 troops to fight organized crime since he took office three years ago.

The government blames Mexican drug gangs for more than 15,000 violent deaths in a wave of violence since the clampdown began.


























New Drug Law Changes Little in Mexico
Dennis Wagner - Arizona Republic
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January 11, 2010

The limits include 5 grams for marijuana (about three to six joints, depending on size) and 500 milligrams of cocaine (roughly five doses, or "lines"). Those found to be users must be released with a referral to health authorities, though it's unclear how many referrals are made or whether they work.
Agua Prieta, Sonora - A few blocks from the municipal police station, on the morning after a cartel gunfight took four more lives in Sonora, drug dealers cruise the streets of La Zona Roja with cellphones in their hands.

Addicts in a local treatment center say these "carros alegres," or happy cars, bring crack cocaine to consumers with all the speed and reliability of a pizza delivery.

The happy cars are one more sign of Mexico's growing drug-abuse problem and serve as a backdrop to the government's decision in August to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of narcotics. When the measure was adopted, President Felipe Calderón and Mexico's Congress said they wanted to concentrate law-enforcement efforts on the ruthless cartels that are blamed for an estimated 13,000 deaths since Calderón declared a war on drugs in December 2006. Calderón also said decriminalization of personal-use quantities would thwart corrupt Mexican cops who sometimes shake down drug users for bribes.

The measure incited controversy from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. Legalization advocates suggested that America's closest neighbor and ally in the drug war had finally recognized the waste of filling prisons with non-violent addicts who need treatment rather than punishment. Drug-enforcement hard-liners warned that eliminating criminal charges for drug abuse would lead to increased public consumption and addiction, perhaps even spawning narco-tourism by Americans looking to get high legally in Mexico.

That the happy cars still cruise about Agua Prieta suggests that critics and supporters overestimated the law's possible effects, both on drug violence and the scourge of addiction.

The reform seems to have had more impact in the rhetorical war over drug decriminalization than it has on Mexican streets. Rather than claiming victory, legalization advocates say the new law may even make things worse because of the way it's written. Conversely, anti-legalization groups condemn the measure because it appears to legitimize drug abuse.

Beneath the lofty debate, cops, treatment counselors, government officials, researchers and addicts interviewed last month said there have been no discernible changes related to the new law.

Police still arrest and incarcerate drug users. Americans have not flocked to dope parlors south of the border. Mexican narcotics abuse surges unabated, as does the flow of drugs and blood.

At the municipal police station in Agua Prieta, Jose Martin Lopez, commander of an anti-narcotics unit, said the enforcement business remains "exactly the same as it was before."

"Nothing has changed," agreed Alejandro Marin, assistant director of a drug treatment center in Nogales. "If police see somebody using drugs, smoking a joint, they pick 'em up."

Kenn Morris, president of a San Diego market research firm that represents the Tijuana tourism bureau, said there is no sign of Americans visiting the border town to use drugs legally. As for the new law's overall impact, he added: "It was a big yawn."

Treatment centers

While public attention focuses on violence and corruption spawned by drug cartels, more damage is hidden away in a Nogales barrio, behind a locked gate with walls topped by barbed wire.

The treatment center is temporary home to 180 addicts, alcoholics and psychiatric cases. Most express ignorance of Mexico's new measure, and many criticize the idea of decriminalization.

"If the law allows us to have a little bit of drugs, then we as addicts will only carry a little bit and a little bit," says Juan Manuel Rodriguez Arroyo, a heroin junkie for 32 years who now serves as volunteer director of the Nogales shelter. "It's bad symbolically. It says you can use and nothing will happen."

Marin, a recovering user as well as administrator, leads visitors past men cooking supper in a cauldron over a wood fire to a windowless detox unit. Several recent arrivals, wrapped in blankets, squint and groan as sunlight breaches the room's darkness.

Next door, in an assembly hall, about three dozen guys take turns proclaiming that they are addicts. A young man in a Denver Broncos jacket, using heavy street slang, orates about the pain he has brought to his family, the damage he has done to himself.

Along Sonora's northern border zone, this is one among dozens of treatment facilities, a sanctuary for crackheads, tweakers, huffers, junkies and boozers. Some residents were committed by police. Some were brought by family members. A few admitted themselves.

At the treatment center in Agua Prieta, a 13-year-old boy, the only child among 84 adults, says he began sniffing inhalants three years ago, then got hooked on cocaine. This is his third time in rehab.

Another cocaine addict, 22-year-old Arturo Quijar Rodriquez, says his wife forced him into recovery because he was neglecting the family. Rodriguez, a municipal police officer, says he is hoping to be back on day shifts soon, while still spending nights in the treatment center.

During a series of interviews at two Sonoran shelters, the stories of dozens of men seemed to blur into one. All started using drugs with friends, wound up dealing or smuggling, spent time in prison. Now, in rehab, they are unanimous in declaring that they want to stay clean.

"It's just like the same movie over and over with a different actor," says Francisco Cardenas, one of the clients.

Legal controversy

The federal decriminalization law, which took effect Aug. 21, calls for suspects caught with small drug quantities to appear before a prosecutor, who must determine whether the possession was for personal use or trafficking. Mexico's government contends the statute merely codifies what already was a legal reality.

The limits include 5 grams for marijuana (about three to six joints, depending on size) and 500 milligrams of cocaine (roughly five doses, or "lines"). Those found to be users must be released with a referral to health authorities, though it's unclear how many referrals are made or whether they work.

At the same time, the law gives Mexico's state and local police more drug-fighting authority. For instance, the measure empowers them to prosecute street drug dealers, a job previously limited to the federal government. It also calls for a central operations center housing drug-enforcement units at all levels in each state. And it toughens penalties - four to eight years in prison - for anyone caught selling even tiny amounts of narcotics.

Finally, the measure allows one year for Mexico's state and local authorities to adopt corresponding personal-use laws and three years to implement them.

But nearly half a year into the new law, many legalization advocates view Mexico's change more as a setback than a victory.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a coalition that favors decriminalization, said most addicts buy drugs in quantities greater than allowed under the measure, so the law in reality would not even decriminalize most "personal use."

"It's not clear yet whether this is three steps forward or two steps forward and three steps backward," he said.

John Walsh, a senior associate at the Washington Office of Latin America, a non-governmental organization that promotes social and economic justice, predicts that Mexico's law will wind up putting more drug users in prison at greater public expense. Because penalties increase for possessing drugs beyond the allowed amounts, he said, the measure also may worsen police corruption, giving officers greater leverage for extortion.

Those who favor rigid enforcement standards are just as critical of Mexico's new standard but for opposite reasons.

"It's a bad message to kids," said Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation, noting that there is even grass-roots opposition to legalization south of the border. "This is not what moms and dads and grandmas (in Mexico) want for their children. They recognize that drug use is harmful to families."

Fay warns that any softening of enforcement will create safety hazards on highways and in workplaces. She rejects the idea that allowing personal-use amounts will somehow reduce police bribery scams.

"Decriminalizing drugs isn't going to clean up their corruption," she said. "And I don't think it will make one bit of difference as far as easing up the violence."

The larger debate

Because of such philosophical differences, Mexico's reform has emerged as a talking point in the renewed debate over the war on drugs.

Walsh recently co-wrote a report that says decriminalization is spreading through Latin America: Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and now Mexico all have had recent court decisions or legislation eliminating personal-use narcotics offenses.

Walsh said there is little statistical information so far on the impact of decriminalization in Latin America. But in Portugal, where possession of drugs was decriminalized in 2001, research shows improved government control of product safety and distribution, among other issues, without an increase in narcotics use - and without a surge in recreational-drug tourism from surrounding nations.

In the United States, meanwhile, debate has focused primarily on cannabis: Thirteen states already have adopted so-called medical marijuana laws. (Arizona voters are expected to cast ballots on a proposition this fall.) Fourteen states have reduced pot possession from a crime to the equivalent of a traffic ticket. And in October, the Justice Department announced that it will no longer raid properly registered dispensaries of medical marijuana.

Legalization proponents contend these are signs of a nation and world recognizing that the strategy of arrest and imprisonment of drug users is fundamentally flawed. They argue that legal regulation of narcotics would break cartel monopolies while reducing violence, corruption and prison overcrowding. They also contend that the billions of dollars now spent on enforcement could be shifted to treatment and education.

Walter McKay, Mexico City director for Law Enforcement Agents Against Prohibition, said the war on drugs created a lucrative black market that perpetuates cartels and their mayhem. "This is a bloody, costly war," he said. "It's slowly moving toward anarchy."

But in the Nogales rehab center, 55-year-old Carlos Hernandez said a quarter-century of addiction to cocaine and heroin have convinced him that even tiny amounts of narcotics endanger society.

"Oh, yes, it should be illegal," he said. "It destroys lives."


Heineken to Buy Mexico's FEMSA in $7.9 Billion Deal
Ben Berkowitz & Philip Blenkinsop - Reuters
go to original
January 11, 2010

Bottles of Heineken beer are displayed before a news conference in London January 25, 2008. (Reuters/Stephen Hird)
Amsterdam/Brussels – Heineken NV will buy the beer business of Mexico's FEMSA in a $7.9 billion deal that boosts the Dutch brewer's emerging-market presence and cements an alliance with Latin America's biggest drinks firm.

Heineken, the world's third largest brewer, said on Monday the all-stock purchase of the brewing assets excluding debt - $5.5 billion based on Friday's closing share price - would make FEMSA Heineken's second largest shareholder with a 20 percent stake and give it a boardroom role.

Analysts said the deal was competitively priced and broadened Heineken's exposure to higher-growth markets, sending its shares sharply higher.

Chief Executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer told Reuters the deal would raise Heineken's operating profit from faster-growing emerging markets to 40 percent from 32 percent.

"It rebalances that spread between the developed and developing markets," Van Boxmeer said in a conference call.

Heineken would secure FEMSA's Dos Equis, Tecate and Sol brands, beers it already sells in the United States, and an operation with a 43 percent share of the Mexican beer market and a 9 percent share in Brazil.

The United States, Brazil and Mexico are the first, second and fourth largest beer profit pools, Heineken said.

Heineken shares, which opened lower, quickly reversed and were up 5.2 percent at 34.63 euros in Amsterdam by 1220 GMT, increasing the value of the acquisition to $5.8 billion.

The deal includes a further $2.1 billion of net debt and pension obligations.

The total value of the transaction based on Friday's closing Heineken share price - $7.6 billion - meant an 11.2 percent multiple of enterprise value to EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization).

Analysts said this was broadly in line with levels of 10-11 times for Latin American beer assets.

"It looks like a reasonable price ... Heineken lacked exposure to emerging markets and it is already selling the (FEMSA) beers into the United States so it protects that ... Overall it's positive," said Trevor Stirling, analyst at Bernstein Research.


Heineken said it expected the transaction to close in the second quarter, provide annual cost synergies of 150 million euros ($215 million) by 2013 and to add to earnings per share within two years.

It would produce a profit after six years based on weighted average cost of capital of 12.5 percent.

FEMSA, which describes itself as Latin America's largest beverage company, sells Coca-Cola in nine countries in Latin America. It also operates OXXO, which it says is the largest convenience store chain in Latin America. With the deal, it will also be selling the Heineken brand.

"It is a very good basis to build up in the future ... FEMSA has regional strengths and we will exploit them," Van Boxmeer said.

FEMSA Chief Executive Jose Antonio Fernandez said the deal would allow FEMSA shareholders to participate in value creation from Heineken's transformation of its brewing assets and allow FEMSA itself to focus attention on Coca-Cola FEMSA and OXXO.

Heineken will first issue 86 million new shares. FEMSA would keep half and exchange the rest for shares of Heineken Holding (HEIO.AS), which would retain its 50.005 stake in Heineken NV.

Heineken would give FEMSA a further 29 million shares over the next five years, although FEMSA would earn Heineken dividends for these immediately. Van Boxmeer said Heineken would seek to buy these shares back from the market.

The deal would give FEMSA a 12.5 percent stake in Heineken NV and 14.9 percent of parent Heineken Holding.

It would have the right to appoint two non-executive members to the supervisory board of Heineken NV, one of them becoming vice chairman who would also sit on Heineken Holding's board.

Keijser Capital trader Geoffrey Leloux said many analysts would be charmed by the deal. Heineken was consolidating its position and there would be no general share issue but a direct placement with only some dilution for shareholders.

The absence of an expected general, larger share issue was pushing up the shares, Leloux said.

The deal was expected, after SABMiller Plc (SAB.L) dropped out of the auction for the FEMSA businesses.

FEMSA had said in October it was looking at options for its beer business, which is the second-biggest in Mexico and number four in Brazil.

($1=.6983 euro)

(Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Hans Peters, Sharon Lindores, John Stonestreet)

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Saturday, 06 February 2010
15:00 - 22:00
Plaza Principal, Lo de Marcos, Nayarit, Mexico

This event raises funds that enable Amigos de Lo de Marcos to help the community of Lo de Marcos. Amigos projects last year included repairing bathrooms at the Elementary School, building garbage collection centers, providing transportation for Senior Citizens, building Recycling Bins, etc. There will be Live Music, auctions, raffles, and Great Food!! Donations for auction gratefully accepted!



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Book Takes Mexico Drug War to Task
Ken Ellingwood - Los Angeles Times
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January 04, 2010

Soldiers at a Mexico City military school line up before leaving to aid in drug crop eradication. Two former top officials write in a recent book critical of the government's campaign against narcotics traffickers, "If what is good for us is decriminalization, that is what we should fight for." (Dario Lopez-Mills/Associated Press)
Mexico City - Almost everything to do with the Mexican government's war against drugs is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The threat from narco-trafficking is overblown. Fighting cartels won't stop the flow of illegal drugs or erase Mexican corruption. The real battle over drugs lies on the U.S. side of the border.

That's the gist of a provocative new book that challenges virtually every premise on which Mexican President Felipe Calderon has based his 3-year-old offensive against drug cartels.

"El Narco: La Guerra Fallida" ("Narco: The Failed War"), by two top officials under Calderon's predecessor, Vicente Fox, is one of the first book-length looks at the crackdown launched by Calderon when he took office in December 2006.

The Spanish-language book, which has sold well here, is controversial and stubbornly contrarian, to the point of suggesting that Mexico might be better off coming to terms with the drug capos and focusing on smaller-bore crimes that plague Mexicans.

"Calderon could have easily launched a major crusade against insecurity, violence and unorganized crime, on the type of minor misdemeanors that gave birth to Rudy Giuliani's zero tolerance stance in New York," the authors assert. "But that crusade would never have unleashed the passions, support or sense of danger that a full-fledged war on drugs actually did."

In "El Narco," former Fox spokesman Ruben Aguilar and former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda attempt an end run past the usual debate over whether the Calderon anti-crime strategy is working. Instead, they maintain that the offensive was unnecessary, and they seek to poke holes in many of the reasons Calderon has offered for launching a campaign that has claimed more than 15,000 lives.

The president's assertion that Mexico faced a crisis of deepening drug consumption at home? They present figures showing that though domestic use has risen, it is minuscule compared with countries such as the United States.

Calderon's contention that drug violence had reached alarming levels when he decided to act? The authors quote studies showing that the nation's overall homicide rate had been in decline for years. (It has gone up since.)

"Why in the world was it necessary to declare an all-out war against the cartels because of growing violence, when violence was actually diminishing?" the authors ask.

The book argues that U.S. drug use - the motor of the violent trafficking industry - is largely unaffected by Mexico's enforcement actions. The answer for Mexico, it says, lies in swinging debate north of the border in favor of drug decriminalization or legalization.

"If what is good for us is decriminalization, that is what we should fight for," write Aguilar and Castaneda, a leftist intellectual and commentator who is the better known of the two.

The authors propose some public-safety measures, including creation of a national police force and a no-fly zone over southern Mexico. But rather than send troops to fight drug cartels, they argue, Mexico should focus on limiting the "collateral damage" that most aggrieves Mexicans: kidnappings, extortion, car theft and corruption.

This could mean "tacit quid pro quos" with gangs to get them to keep down criminal mayhem in Mexico's streets, the writers say, but it doesn't require a formal handshake.

"The narcos understand," they say. "If they were imbeciles, they wouldn't be rich."

Aguilar and Castaneda contend that in launching the drug offensive, the conservative Calderon sought to win legitimacy for his presidency after a disputed election victory in 2006. That thesis is heard often on the Mexican left.

Calderon hasn't directly referred to the authors, but he has sharply criticized those who he says would have Mexico run from the drug war or cut deals with traffickers. He says such approaches would "erode the foundations that support our society, as a state based on law."

Calderon has frequently characterized his crime crackdown as an attempt to clean and modernize a system that had become thoroughly corrupted through decades of official acceptance of the drug trade, or even outright collusion with it.

Last month, he urged Mexicans to "ignore those who naively want the government to just walk away from the fight, as if the problems would solve themselves by magic."

The outspoken authors of "El Narco" are uncharacteristically spare when it comes to solving Mexico's graft problem. They agree that drug-related corruption has long been part of the Mexican landscape, especially in small towns, but are skeptical of reports that traffickers' penetration of the system had hit grave new depths when Calderon sent troops into the streets.

"This is Mexico, not Norway," they write. "Narcos' complicity with municipal, state and federal authorities wasn't born yesterday."



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Bus Plunges Off Cliff in Northern Mexico; 14 Dead
Associated Press
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January 03, 2010


Tijuana, Mexico — A bus carrying farm workers and their families home plunged off a cliff in northern Mexico on Saturday, killing 14 people and injuring 21.

The bus was traveling along a treacherously winding stretch of highway before dawn when it veered off at high speed over a cliff halfway between the border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, according to reports from police and prosecutors.

Baja California state prosecutors said the bus fell about 330 feet (100 meters) and broke in two, scattering luggage, seats and passengers along the slope below the highway.

The cause of the crash was under investigation. One man injured in the crash told investigators the bus appeared to have brake trouble before the wreck and quoted the drivers as saying a mechanic would be available in Mexicali.

Among the 14 dead were two young boys and an infant. Nine men and two women died.

The bus was transporting the workers from El Papalote ranch in the Pacific coast town of San Quintin to another ranch hundreds of miles (kilometers) south, in Villa Juarez outside the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan.

Among 21 people treated for injuries at nearby hospitals were five children, ages 8 months to 10 years, listed in serious or delicate condition.




Banks to Charge Only One Fee for ATM Use
The News
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January 01, 2010

A client withdraws money from an automatic teller machine (ATM) of BBVA Bancomer in Mexico City on Wednesday. (The News)
Mexico City - In 2010, the Bank of Mexico (Banxico) will inact a new regulation in order to prevent undue commission fee charges for ATM users.

The effort won't be easy, said Banxico Director of Operations Systems and Payments, Ricardo Medina. He acknowledged that there is currently no limit to the commission fee “we will be vigilant regarding the rate of increase in order to determine whether or not another type of regulation will be required.”

Last October the central bank reported that from next year banks will only charge cardholders once for ATM transactions, after detecting that banks were charging ATM users double commissions without informing them of the charges. The change is to enter into effect from 15 January and 30 April, the new regulation will limit the number of commission fees charged and require banks to notify users of the fees before charging them.

In an interview Ricardo Medina explained that with these measures the central bank will resolve a problem with transparency in ATM operations. “We think that it is very healthy and recommendable for cardholders who use ATMs that before they realize their transaction they clearly understand how much the bank will charge them for the transaction and on the basis of this authorize the transaction.”

“It has become common practice that each bank, that which issued the card and that which operates the ATM, each charges a commission of their own.” In these cases the cardholders do not realize they will be charged twice “and this can become quite expensive.”

In the face of this situation Banxico has outlined within the new regulation that banks will have until 15 January, 2010 in order to regularize and make transparent their commission charges for transactions where the ATM operator and bankcard are from the same bank, and until 30 April for different institutions.”

Ricardo Medina emphasized that “through the new regulation Banxico will eliminate one of these two commissions. The ATM operator will have the right to charge the commission and if the ATM operator decides to charge the commission then the bank that issued the card will no longer be able to charge a commission fee.” He said that there still does not exist a limit on rate of commission that can be charged

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The Perez Brothers and the Puerto Vallarta Chamber Players to Entertain at Fiesta 2010

 The Perez Brothers and the Puerto Vallarta Chamber Players have been confirmed to entertain at Fiesta 2010.

Fiesta 2010 - a gala fundraising event in support of Los Amigos de La Peñita will be held on Sunday, January 31 from 1:00 to 5:00 at the award-winning home of Thomas Bartlett in La Peñita.

This extravaganza will include an open bar and hors d’oeuvres.  There will be a new live auction as well as a silent auction featuring a host of valuable items. 

Tickets will be available for a donation of 750 pesos per person.  Tickets can be obtained  at Xaltemba Restaurant, Daniel’s Backstreet , Latitude 21, Bold Development, Hidden Paradise Real Estate, Casita de La Peñita,  Posada Las Flores (Los Ayala), Beach Dog Boarding & Salon (Lo de Marcos) as well as at the Tianguis every Thursday.   You can also get them through Allyson Williams at,  Christina Stobbs at, Jerry Aschenbrenner  at the La Peñita RV Park or at the Tianguis every Thursday.

Funds raised will be used to support a variety of Los Amigos projects including: our plastics recycling program, building and maintenance projects at local schools, beach clean-ups and scholarships for needy students.

To reserve tickets,  donate an  auction item,  or volunteer to help out at the event please go to:

Christian Groups Try to Reverse Mexican Gay Marriage Law
Agence France-Presse
go to original
January 09, 2010

The capital's legislature approved gay marriage on December 21, in the first such law passed anywhere in Latin America.
Mexico City - Christian groups on Thursday said they had asked Mexico's attorney general to overturn a newly-voted Mexico City law allowing gay marriage and the possibility of adoption, because it was "unconstitutional."

The capital's legislature approved gay marriage on December 21, in the first such law passed anywhere in Latin America.

The Contraternice group of Evangelical churches and the College of Catholic Lawyers said they believed the new law that "allows marriage between people of the same sex and the possibility to adopt" was unconstitutional, a statement said.

The complaint was based on "Christian principles," but also included legal issues on which the Supreme Court should decide, including possible violations of the Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it added.

The Mexico City law changes the meaning of marriage from "a free union between a man and a woman" to "a free union between two people."

The Mexican capital authorized civil unions for homosexuals in November 2006 and decriminalized abortion in April 2007, contrasting with mostly conservative policies across the largely Catholic nation.

TABLES of ten have sold out

Individual ticket sales are still available




 Bigfoot Truck Camper

2001 Model 3000, Series – Excellent Condition,

Queen size Bed, Dinette which converts to second bed

Range/Oven, Furnace, Double Sink, Full Shower and

Bathroom, Microwave, Air Conditioner, Two Awnings,

TV in Bedroom, Electric Jacks.  Immediate possession.

See  Tom at Oasis Trailer Park – Phone 322-116-6072

To view more classifieds click here

For Sale
1.  4 aluminum screen doors with frames and trim as well as locks and keys
2   4 heavy steel cross bar and glass doors with locks and keys
3   1 bathroom set with toilet, tank, sink and accessories
4   1 sliding shower door (tub size) with frame
Call 274 0776 for prices..  Will discount to someone who wants it all!!
Se Vende
1.  4 puertas de aluminio y moscatera con cerraduras y llaves - con marcos
2   4 puertas de fiero y vidrio, con cerraduras y llaves
3   1 juego de baño - taza, tanque, lavabo y acesorios para jabon, toallas, etc.
4   1 puerta corriendo para regadera con marco
Por favor llamar 274 - 0776 para precios - hay un descuento si quiere todas las cosas
Bob & Linda Gibbs
Casita de La Peñita

    Carnival Bans Cougar Cruises: Older Women Looking for Younger Men on the High Seas Told to Go Elsewhere
    Sebastian Lander - Daily Mail UK
    go to original
    January 09, 2010

    Hide and seek: There is a growing number of events for older women and younger men who are attracted to each other.
    A cruise line has banned events aimed at older women searching for younger men from taking place on its ships. Last month, U.S.-based The Society of Single Professionals and The Singles Travel Company held their 'International Cougar Cruise' aboard Carnival's Elation on a three-night trip from San Diego in California to Mexico.

    The 300 places booked for the event on the 2,052-capacity ship were swiftly snapped up and there was even a waiting list of eager cougars - the name given to older women - and 'cubs' - the younger men attracted to them.

    A spokesperson for Carnival made its position clear, saying: "This theme group was not sponsored nor organised by Carnival but rather by a travel agent and the cruise line will not be allowing any future groups to be booked and marketed under this theme."

    But Rich Gosse, chairman of The Society of Single Professionals, said the event had been a success.

    He said: "We are grateful to Carnival for helping us with the world's first International Cougar Cruise. Their cruise staff were wonderful, and our cougars and cubs had a great experience.

    "[It] was such a tremendous success, we are doing it again - twice!"

    The 'West Coast Cougar Cruise' will visit the Mexican Riviera from May 16 - 23, leaving from Los Angeles and stopping in at the ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta, aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas.

    The 'East Coast Cougar Cruise' will take place from December 3 - 6 departing from Miami and visiting the Bahamas with cruise line NCL.

    Mr Gosse added: '"In addition, we are currently negotiating the Australian Cougar Cruise for 2010. "We hope the 2010 cougar cruises will be even more popular and more fun. British cougars and cubs are most welcome to join us!"

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  •  Learn Spanish Learn Spanish Today Learn Spanish - Learn Spanish on-line for free, using interactive audio/visual lessons.

    Speak Spanish - That Should be Your Goal!Free Spanish Lessons

    Learn Spanish Today   Make 2009 the year that you learn Spanish

    Can you Speak Spanish? How long have you been studying Spanish? Between high school classes, college classes and you own efforts you could easily have a couple years already under your belt. During this time you have likely built up a good Spanish vocabulary, along with a basic understanding of Spanish verb conjugation. But can you speak Spanish?

    Why is speaking Spanish so hard? Would you feel comfortable approaching a native Spanish speaker and starting a conversation? Why not? Why is it so hard to speak Spanish evenBeginning high school and college Spanish classes, as well as most self study Spanish courses start off by teaching vocabulary and verb conjugation. You practice speaking, but the focus is on the individual word or phrase. Lists of words are memorized and tests are given on verb conjugation. So when it comes time to speak, the words and phrases are separate in your mind. It becomes a matter of trying to pull all the pieces together and form them all into a sensible sentence, not just speaking.

    The key to becoming more comfortable in speaking situations is to practice and learn the sentences as a whole, not in separate pieces. This way when you are trying to remember what to say, the whole sentence pops in your mind, not just one word. You will speak Spanish more correctly, more fluently and more confidently than ever before.

    The Visual Link Spanish Course allows you to utilize this effective way of learning and practice speaking Spanish. In our free online demo lessons, you can see how we utilize these strategies to truly teach you to speak Spanish. You will be able to recall everything you learn and words will come into your mind as a complete sentence not separate individual words. You will already be on your way to speaking Spanish more fluently and more confident

    Learn Spanish Learn Spanish Today Learn Spanish - Learn Spanish on-line for free, using interactive audio/visual lessons.

    New with travel guide information added!

    Pacific Coast Road, Driving and Travel Guide Log 2010

    Driving in Mexico just got a little safer with the release of México Road Logs - A comprehensive compilation of road logs of the Mexican Highway system researched and created by Bill and Dot Bell (  They have just released the updated version of their successful Nogales to Puerto Vallarta road Log and Travel Guide.

    The Mexico Road Log and Driving Guides give details of what to expect along major travel routes when visiting different areas of Mexico. "Far more than a simple map, these road logs detail intersections, driving directions, points of interest, and provide important information on driving hazards that even current GPS systems do not track" said Dot Bell. "The Road Logs are a must for those who are driving throughout the Baja, Pacific, Gulf Coast, and the Interior of Mexico." 

    According to Insurance Guru Jim Labelle President of Mexpro (the largest insurance supplier to Canadians and Americans entering Mexico ) the Road Logs will make car and RV travel in Mexico less intimidating. "For years, our clients have asked us for updated road logs of Mexico," Labelle said.

    "The Mexico Road Logs provide our customers with additional peace of mind and will allow them to have a more enjoyable Mexico travel experience. They may even prevent U-turns and collisions! By using the Mexico Road Logs, our clients will experience less stress and have a more relaxed driving experience, which should also help Mexpro with reduced claims that in the past have resulted from customers getting lost or losing their composure," Labelle said.

    The Mexico Road Logs are updated, simple to read, easy to use, and offer the perfect solution to people who want to drive and enjoy Mexico.

    The Bell's originally designed the Mexico Road Log for a Caravan they were leading down Mexico's West Coast. "We wanted to list every individual gas station and identifier so folks wouldn't get lost. We wanted to warn them of every turn and hazard along the way," says Bell. "They were such a hit and even the people who have driven Mexican Roads for years were asking for them. They wanted to be reminded where the next gas station was, if it sold diesel or where the next Military checkpoint was likely to be."

    The Bell's are experts in Mexico Travel and have led conferences, seminars and special classes about driving and travel in Mexico throughout Canada and the USA. They have the most comprehensive travel website on Mexico Driving, RVing and Camping and are now working with Mexpro to distribute Mexico Road Logs in an easy-to-use interactive download.

    Available at

    How to download and buy the Road Log

    Click on the buy now button and you will be directed to a merchants page.  Once you pay for the road log you will redirected to an easy to use download page where you will be able to receive your product immediately.  Now only $9.99














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