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Local Island NEWS in English - Updated Weekly
News for the Week of September 15, 2014

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Beginning in December 2002, Insider was proudly the first website to provide readers the Cozumel News in English.

Articles are slected from local newspapers which we feel will be of interest to our diverse audience. These articles are then translated into English. We cannot always investigate the veracity of a particular article but offer these translations as a reflection of the Cozumel community news just as reporters write it for Por Esto, Diario de Quintana Roo, Novedades and El Seminario and many other sources.

We appreciate hearing from our readers and welcome your questions, suggestions and comments. Please send them to:

Note: All translated articles are the property of Cozumel Insider and cannot be used, displayed or reproduced without express written permission from Cozumel Insider.

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Cozumel Arrivals: 14 Ships this Week
09/14 - Numbers remain very low this week in Cozumel as cruise ship arrivals drop to 14 ships registered to dock for the third full week of September 2014. This is 2 less than the number of ships last week and 6 less than the "20 in port" which marks a "high season" beginning. With summer now over and Fall underway an estimated 42,000 people will visit Cozumel this week via these cruise ship leaving an estimated US$ 3.4 million dollars behind in the local economy.

High season for cruise ship arrivals typically runs from November 15 - April 15 each year with the remaining 7 months of the year considered "low season."

Once again this week Puerta Maya pier will be the big economic winner as 9 ships dock at Puerta Maya, 3 will dock at TMM/SSA International pier while Punta Langosta pier will see 2 arrivals and the downtown San Miguel pier will have -0- ship arrivals.

This week begins with 3 ships docking on Monday, 3 on Tuesday, 2 ships Wednesday, 3 on Thursday, 2 on Friday and then Saturday will bring 1 ship in port and Sunday will see -0- ships.

View the Cruise Ship Calendar for this Week
Cozumel's Mayor Crown's Miss Independence 2014

The Municipal President, Freddy Marrufo Martin, crowned Karla Mercedes Mendoza Bacab, as the winner of “Ambassador of Independence” for 2014. This activity promotes patriotic values among young people and candidates range from 16 - 18 years old. The mayor thanked the participation of each one of the young Cozumeleñas who participated in the contest with their presentations of both beauty and talent. He also thanked the audience who came to support the competitors who demonstrated their pride in the history of Mexico.

The evening’s events included a variety of typical iconic costumes from different regions. It should be pointed out that every one of the participants dressed in traditional Mexican attire which was designed by Arturo Rudy Palacios. Señora Mary Martín de Marrufo, the Mayor’s Mother, participated in the coronation festivities and the evening concluded with several patriotic musical selections. Additionally, the Embajadora Independencia will also be on hand for the traditional re-enactment of the “Grito” which is the cry that fueled Mexico’s independence in 1810.

The Palacio and Parque QRoo is decorated and ready now for Cozumel’s “Grito” celebration which will take place on the evening of September 15th when local residents and visitors congregate around the Palacio Municipal to participate in the traditional ceremonies lead by the Mayor of Cozumel from the balcony at 11:00 p.m. Learn More About "El Grito!"

Following the “Grito” is an impressive fireworks display and other festivities including traditional foods as well as musical and folkloric dance performances. On September 16, Independence Day, the celebrations continue with a parade that goes through Cozumel’s downtown waterfront. Throughout the week, residents and visitors are invited to visit a fair near the Palacio Municipal that includes food stands, games, dancing and shopping. Learn More About Mexico's Independence!

Celerain Lighthouse a Cozumel Icon
The Punta Celarain lighthouse, which is located on the grounds of the ecological park of Punta Sur, is in good condition and at the foot of this tower is a building which houses the Museum of Navigation currently managed by the parks and museums of Cozumel (FPMC) Foundation.

The Celarain lighthouse was built 35 meters high up to its maximum point. Walking up 133 steps anyone can experience the panoramic view and appreciate the extensive grounds of the protected reserve of Parque Punta Sur. This place is home to hundreds of reptiles, mostly crocodiles thanks to its proximity to mangroves. From this part of the island you can also see the arrival of turtles which return to lay their eggs during the summer, and from the top you have an excellent view of the sea and mangroves that form Colombia Lagoon.

The small museum has five exhibition halls with information relating to the Mayans who left a mark near the lighthouse.

The so-called "Tomb of the Sea Shell” (or "El Caracol") is an archaeological relic dedicated to Ixchel, deity of the Mayan culture. This structure was built by the Mayans in the Post classic period. It is equipped with a dome which in turn was covered with sea shells which produce a buzzing sound when strong winds prevail. It is believed that the buzzing served as some kind of alarm warning about the intensity of the wind.
The “Tomb of the Sea Shell” served as a chapel and orientation point for maritime traffic and place to link to the rest of the island. There are theories which indicate that it formerly acted as a kind of Mayan lighthouse. Covered with shells, each positioned according to the four cardinal points, produced a characteristic sound according to the direction and strength of winds giving notice of rains, a storm or a hurricane. With Hurricane Wilma in 2005, the ruin’s structure collapsed and suffered damage. After the catastrophe an attempt was made to replace the shells, but failed to make it work the same way.

Punta Sur has an area for observation of crocodiles, and Colombia lagoon offering walks or catamaran rides for the observation of birds and mangroves along the two miles of beaches which is a sanctuary to turtles returning each year to nest. It is also home to about 500 crocodiles that inhabit the lagoons and mangrove swamps that make up more than 90 percent of the territory of Punta Sur Park. Three of the 23 species of crocodiles that exist around the world inhabit this area and that represents 13% of the total population of this genre. These reptiles, belonging to the Acutus and Moreletii species, are the main attractions of this ecological reserve located in the southern part of the island, as it is also a nesting site for migratory birds.
Princess Cruise Line Highlights Cozumel Destination
The British Cruise ship company Princess Cruises will provide for the first time, six transatlantic voyages to Mexico and the Caribbean for the remainder of the year. It has been stated that there is a strong demand on the part of cruise ship passengers including Latin Americans and Europeans who want to visit this region.

The destinations have been divided into the East, West and South Caribbean. This includes Cozumel as the Mexican port and the private Princess Cays Island which has one of the most spectacular reefs in the region reported Notimex Agency.

To encourage new passengers, the shipping company ( considered to be the most luxurious internationally ) will offer promotional fares which makes travel by boat, with all included, less expensive than even a four star hotel said Ruth Leal Director for Latin America of Princess Cruises.

An official stated in an interview that Mexico has become more attractive in all aspects and its beaches and tourist destinations are the best options for visitors from South America, Japan and Europe. In addition, there are also Mexicans wishing to visit other destinations in the Caribbean and Bahamas.
Project to Pave the "Punta Molas" Road is Near
The project of reconstructing the access road to Punta Molas is still a possibility according to a report from the public works director, Miguel Salas Coral, who pointed out that with an estimated investment of 60 million pesos the project could be completed. The official said that City Hall made a request to the State Government regarding the paving of an alternate road to the lighthouse of Punta Molas. Officials are currently working on this issue.

"SINTRA applied for four projects: the lighting of the South zone, the lighting system of the Northern area, the paving of the road to Passion Island and the reconstruction of Mezcalitos access to Punta Molas," he said. Salas Coral mentioned that this procedure requires calculations and a technical file on all the issues, both economic and environmental. The proposal will consist of a detour from the main road inland and will consist of clearing out plants for paving from the access road to Punta Molas. This must not change the image or damage the mangroves. "The budget is done. They are only verifying the environmental permissions and approval from the Government” stated the official.
Cozumel Promotes the Value of Protected Areas
The director of the Cozumel Marine Park, Christopher González Baca, indicates the Park has developed a course on the value of maintaining natural zones and their ecosystems. In this regard, Cozumel has two important areas: The National Marine Park and the flora and fauna throughout the island.

The interviewee commented that this course will provide important information about how a protected area can be promoted not only for its beauty but for the benefits it offers to the inhabitants of the island, i.e. ecosystem values contributing to the economic development of a destination.

He said that this course project was created so that in a span of four years they can see results whereby locals and tourists will know and understand the island and its natural zones as an important, interdependent ecosystem. As in the case of Cozumel reefs, not only is there economic value with the generation of jobs and foreign money spent, but also the reefs can serve as protective barriers in the event of a hurricane.

Finally the interviewee said that the course information will be distributed among the main participants in society, including Government entity employees and service providers in order that this message reaches the largest number of people and achieve the objective of highlighting the value of protecting fragile ecosystems in tourist destinations.
Brazilian TV Station Films in Cozumel
The TVB Record Brazil chain will promote Cozumel through six programs which will air weekly for six weeks starting in November. From September 11th through 14th affiliates of TVB Record Brazil visited Cozumel and filmed six episodes of the television show "Por Ai". This is a program hosted by Helen Christine Guimares.

Pablo Alfonso Aguilar Torres Manager of Cozumel within the Riviera Maya tourism promotion trust (Fptrm) explained that Cozumel's promotional activity will be held in conjunction with the Tourism Board of Mexico (FPTM) and is aimed at an audience aged between 20 and 65 years of age. This is the target audience in that country.

The television station has a range of more than 5 million viewers and includes a market that likes natural destinations such as those that characterize the island of Cozumel. Recording the show included a visit to Chankanaab National Park, a snorkel on the reef “El Cielo “, a tour of the Parque Punta Sur, a tour around the island, a visit to the Pearl Farm and a walk through “Passion Island.“ A complete episode was filmed in the "Xcaret" ecotourism Park as well.
Playa Del Carmen Bans Circuses With Animals
The Government of Playa Del Carmen will deny the operation of circuses with animals according to the director of culture, Luis Ernesto López Vargas. For the remainder of the current Administration no permits will be granted to circus shows that use animals.

"Authorities are not in the power to ban the arrival of circuses, but do have the means to deny permissions that use animals in tents, arenas, or spaces of similar nature," he said. This has been a request from defenders of animal activists in recent months.

The Director of Ecology and Environment, Liane Ake Canto stated: "In the case of animal abuse, we are not empowered to sanction, but yes we can channel them before the Federal Attorney for the Environment (Profepa)”.

Meanwhile María del Rosario Vivanco Torres, precursor of the Pro Animal movement in Playa Del Carmen, showed her approval and reminded us that there have been several groups who showed interest on the subject which was highlighted with the 361 signatures that were handed over to the Secretary-General last December.
QRoo: State Police Officers Accused of $100K Extortion of Businessman
9/05 - Among those accused are 2 accredited State police officers that are allegedly involved in the extortion of a Chetumal businessman to the tune of $ 100,000 pesos (about US$ 8,000). The State Secretariat of Public Security (SESP), Juan Pedro Rodriguez Mercader, unveiled the charges against the officers at a press conference on this day.

The accused State police officers will continue working while under investigation but remain in administrative areas while they complete the trial phase of this process. If found guilty the officers could be dismissed from their police duties.

Unofficial data indicated that in relation to the alleged extortion involved state agents respond to the names with initials of M.T.S. and R.G.C.
In a press conference at the premises of the agency, Rodriguez Mercader stated that on Monday they were informed by an anonymous call about the alleged involvement of three members of the State Police who participated in the extortion. The department was informed that the day prior, between 11:30 pm and 00:30 am on Monday, the crew of a truck was stopped (supposedly for revision) by 3 members of the State Preventive Police on Insurgentes Avenue in front of the premises of the CBTA 11th near Chetumal. This is where the extortion took place and the anonymous tipster did provide a State Patrol car number. With this detailed information, Mercader Rodriguez launched an investigation immediately.

The crew of the identified patrol car were called in for questioning, but there were only 2 State officers in this unit and this did not match the 3 indicated in the anonymous call. In addition, these officers and patrol car had been assigned to guard a particular area that was not near where the supposed extortion took place.
However, when Mercader Rodriguez interviewed the 2 officers, they provided little detail of their activities except that they had stopped a truck carrying construction lime, which supposedly took 15 minutes. But then the officers began to contradict themselves as each talked about times and different events that took place that evening. Because of these contradictions along with the anonymous tip details, it was decided to turn the matter over to Internal Affairs to initiate an investigation.

An important fact that was learned with the police officer statements was that a third element was involved, which is stated the complaint. It was learned that the third element is one that was to have been in service in Cancun, but he apparently also participated in the alleged extortion while in uniform. In addition, it turns out the State Patrol cars are equipped with GPS now and analysis of this apparently shows that the 2 officers and their Patrol Car who were assigned to guard a very specific location that night, instead, according to GPS dataa, were instead in the area where the extortion took place.

The Internal Affairs investigations have also resulted in the location of the truck and the driver of the alleged extortion. These businesses have been called to present themselves in Internal Affairs to declare and give their statements, but so far it is not known if they have appeared yet or not. When the victims do appear and make their statements, they will be invited to lodge a formal criminal complaint with the Attorney General of the State. Rodriguez Mercader concluded that while investigations are carried out, the accused State police officers will continue working in the department but in positions where they have no weapons and are not on patrol. This is possible due to the implementation of the revised criminal code whereby those accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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NEW August 13, 2014 (Most Recent) Comprehensive Mexico Travel Warning
Because we are continually asked about travel safety in Mexico and Cozumel, INSIDER always maintains the most recent, complete version of the U.S. State Department Mexico Travel Warning HERE on our website for traveler convenience.

The good news continues to be that there are currently no regional security warnings in place that cover Quintana Roo, Cancun, Cozumel or Costa Maya so make vacation plans now to get here for some fun in the sun!

The Mexico Travel Warning dated August 13, 2014 from the Department of State can also be viewed in its entirety on the Department of State website.

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