Rosarito Beach held a sand sculpture contest this weekend, and the builders were still busy at work by the time I got there around 2:30 p.m. that Sunday. Shortly afterwards, the mayor of Rosarito Beach, Hugo Tores, inspected the 30+ entries as journalists chased after him with their cameras. The winning entry for the Baja Sand contest was an octopus. Second place went to a version of the Titanic and third place went to a design with an eco-friendly message created by employees of the Baja California water agency. Here are a few of the other entries:
A face with a mohawk hair cut…
A snowman made of sand…
An Aztec pyramid…
Rosarito Beach has become a popular hub for U.S. expats, many who rent or buy places along the coast. An estimated 14,000 of them live in this coastal city, about 15 minutes south of central Tijuana. Just like Mexican immigrants north of the border, not all of them have got their residency papers in order. About 8,000 expats are registered legal residents of Rosarito Beach. Rather than round up the rest of them for deportation, Mexican authorities have opened an immigration branch office to make it easier for everyone to be in compliance.
Here is the press release from Rosarito Beach’s communications office:
“A branch office of Mexico ’s department of immigration has opened at Rosarito’s City Hall to better serve the area’s large and growing expatriate population. Previously, the nearest office was in Tijuana . The Rosarito office will be open Monday through Friday from 8 to 1. Phone numbers are 661-612-7262or 661-612-7263.
Through the office people can receive advice and assistance with FM3s, FM2s and other immigration matters. Appointments are available by calling the above numbers or people can simply go to the office. Immigration officials also welcome presidents of the city’s several expatriate groups to contact them for information they can share with their members.
About 8,000 expatriates in Rosarito, primarily from the United States , are registered with immigration. Rosarito Beach Mayor Hugo Torres estimates that about 6,000 are not registered.
“This office is a welcome addition to the city and will make it easier for our residents to receive needed services,” Torres said. “Already, about 10 percent of our population are expatriates and we expect that number to grow significantly in the future as more Baby Boomers retire here.”
San Diego Magazine is publishing a series of stories about drug trafficking along the border. In the first installment, S.D. Liddick explores the case of the 2006 beheadings of the Rosarito Beach police officers, which was linked to the Arellano-Felix drug organization. It’s well worth the read. Liddick spent considerable time collecting information for this story. I know because at one point when I still worked at The San Diego Union-Tribune, he lost the cell phone number for the former Rosarito police chief Valente Montijo-Pompa – and I helped him get back in touch with the chief.
The story is skillfully written with powerful insights into the corruptible forces of drug trafficking, including some fascinating quotes by realist Montijo-Pompa, who freely admits “I’m not going to fight with somebody whose circumstances are 1,000 to my one. I’m not going to be a hero—to kill my people. I’m not going to sacrifice others or convert Rosarito into a battleground or put innocents in the middle.”
With Mexican drug trafficking violence the “hot” topic over the past year or so, many media groups are jostling for a chance to claim their stake in this story. Of course, the story has been going on for years but the degree of attention tends to correspond to body counts. It’s no surprise that San Diego Magazine would explore this issue in depth, and kudos to the magazine for investing the time and resources in doing so. I look forward to reading the upcoming installments. My only issue with the first article is that I think it takes an unwarranted and unsubstantiated swipe at the quality of border coverage by other media groups in a curious attempt to elevate the article’s authority. You can read my opinion in the story’s online comments section.
Read the first installment of “Blood of Their Brothers: The Border Trilogy” here.
Photo of car dealership in Los Angeles with no apparent link to the Arellano-Felix organization whatsoever.
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Tagged arellano felix, arellanos, Baja California, border, drug trafficking, drug violence, drugs, mexico, police beheadings, rosarito, rosarito beach, rosarito beheadings, s.d. liddick, san diego reader, Tijuana
The Rosarito Beach-Ensenada coastal road is typically populated by speeding and chortling cars, but twice a year it shuts down and the roadway is taken over by the swooshing hum of bicycles. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that this may be the event’s last year because of declining attendance. An organizer tells the newspaper that they need to have at least 7,000 to possibly keep the event going after 28 years. So far they are expecting just 5,000 for the Sept. 27 Saturday event (go to the article to learn more about why).
Doesn’t that sound like a challenge? Maybe it’s time for all of us to dust off our rusty two-wheelers. I know people who have done this 50-mile ride and they say it’s not about being the fastest or having the most sophisticated bike, or sporting the most Lycra; It’s more of a communal event with the highlight being the chance to see the stunning Baja California peninsula up front and close without the fear of being rear-ended.
For more information about registering, go here.
For a first-person account of what the Rosarito-Ensenada ride is like (two guys who start it off in Tijuana) , go here.
YouTube video of the ride from BajaGeoff.