Category Archives: News

2019 V-Day Brunch Marks 10th Anniversary and Introduction of LH Board of Reps

More than ten years ago, Jan and Carol from EDR-Los Viajeros South “sister-hood” began a tradition of getting all of us together around special holidays.  One of those holidays was Valentine’s Day.  Everyone looked forward to gathering at their place for brunch, mimosas, and a chance to catch up with each other.

As often happens in snowbird 55+ communities, Jan and Carol’s lives changed and they decided to settle down in Arizona, rather than continue to make the trek every winter to San Felipe.  Not wanting to discontinue the get-together tradition J&C had started, the lesbians from LVS (AKA “lesbian village”) and LVN (AKA “lesbian lane”) picked up the proverbial baton and continued the Valentine’s Day custom of getting together.

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the move from J&C’s place in LVS to Lisbeth and Cal’s place in LVN.  Since the move, all of the sister-hoods have added their own twist to the traditional bacon and egg dishes of the past. Dinah, from La Ventana del Mar, can be counted on for her “cheesy grits;” Liz & Kathy, representing LVS and LVN, created a mean, but healthy, fruit salad; Julie, representing the South Campos, introduced us to a genuine Sicilian lasagna; and, Sharron and Susan, from LVN, provided their amazing BB Caesars and Mama S’s Mimosas.

Eating, drinking and visiting make up a big part of why we get together.  Through the years, however, we’ve also tried our hand (or, knees) at flash mob dancing a-la-Eve Winslow of Vagina Monologue fame.  We’ve raised awareness regarding, and fund raised for, several local causes including: VIVA, the Equestrian Center’s horse rescue service, and the local community hospital. This year, we will be supporting the Las Amigas program that provides for the education of a local young lady from the area.  All in all, the annual Las Hermanas V-Day brunches never fail to provide a sense of community, instruction, and good eats and drinks.

As the years have gone by, we have seen lots of changes to our community and to the membership.  Some women have elected to make SF a permanent home, while others have lengthened (or, shortened) their winter snowbird stays.  We have also experienced sad and unfortunate losses to our community as we all age.  Through it all, however, there is a sense of immutable consistency. There always remains a core to carry on the traditions and to tell the stories of our community.  This recognition of permanence has, I believe led to the desire by some to create a more structured organization; one that represents the many faces of who we are; one that can pull us together around a variety of events, occasions and purposes.

This year, with twenty-five women present at the brunch, it was suggested that we create a Las Hermanas Board comprised of representatives from the various sisterhoods in the San Felipe area.  This move marks an herstoric juncture for us. We have always been a strong, but informal, presence in the SF area.  This has been what has attracted so many to come and to remain in our area. But, now, there appears to be a need to create more avenues for us to network and to get together.  To do this will require a more formalized operating structure.  It is hoped that this newly formed Board will provide the mechanism with which to move to another level of community.

The first meeting of the LH Board will be February 27, at 11 a.m. at the Road Runner Grill.  The following sisters have volunteered to represent their hoods: ( NOTE: If your area is not represented, and you would like to volunteer to be on the Board, please let Cal know before February 27.)

  • Masanee (EDR, Palos Verdes South)
  • Alice (EDR, Palos Verdes South)
  • Judy (EDR, Palos Verdes North)
  • Liz (EDR, Los Viajeros North & South)
  • Cal (EDR, Los Viajeros North)
  • Tricia (La Ventana del Mar)
  • Julie (South Campos, Campo Sahuaro)
  • Gloria (North Campos, Campo Ocotillo)

If your name is not on the list, and, you wanted to be included, please let Cal know in the comments below or, in the comments on Las Hermanas FB group page.  Thanks and sorry if we missed you!

We look forward to seeing what good things this new move brings for our community!

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Mexico’s ‘You Are In Your Home’ Plan for Asylum Seekers

“The Ministry of the Interior (Segob), through the National Institute of Migration (INM) and the Mexican Commission for Assistance to Refugees (COMAR), delivered temporary CURPs, an equivalent to a social security number, to 111 migrants, as a result of the plan ‘You are in your home’, announced this Friday by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

In a statement, they informed that the CURP will allow them to remain with a regular in Mexico legally and gives them the possibility of having a paid job during the time they are applying for a more permanent solution with COMAR.

The Government of Mexico reiterates its commitment to respect the human rights of foreigners entering the national territory, regardless of their immigration status.

He also noted that these actions are part of the support of the Government of the Republic to migrants who entered the national territory in an irregular manner, last weekend, by the border bridge of the Suchiate River in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas.

He said that with the accompaniment of staff of the Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the beneficiaries of the plan were transferred by authorities of the INM to the two new open-door shelters, where they will remain while they continue the refugee application processes.

The beneficiaries of this initiative are: families, elderly people, pregnant women, children, adolescents and the disabled. 

While news broke that migrants had rejected Mexico’s offer, the migrant caravan are individuals free to choose the country they wish to apply for legal status and the organizers of the caravan do not speak for the group. Thousands have applied for legal status over the last week and Mexico continues to process requests at its southern border with Guatemala.” –PV Daily News

Mexico’s Senate Looks at Animal Welfare Concerns

The New Alliance party in Mexico’s Senate raised the need to establish a legal framework to provide welfare to animals across the country, ensuring respect for their rights.

In a meeting with representatives of the preservation associations of Quelonios AC, Happy Pets Foundation, Ama y Adopta, Sam Pack and Animal Defender Association Defending Life AC, Senator Adriana Abreu Artiñano said that they seek to implement standards for animal protection and welfare.

In a meeting at the facilities of the national headquarters of Nueva Alianza, with the participation of Secretary General Evelia Sandoval Urbán, the senator said that “Mexico has advanced legislation on animal protection; nevertheless, the regulations that prevail have proved insufficient “.

In the country, thousands of domestic animals suffer abuse through beatings, abandonment, overcrowding and poor diet, situations that could be comparable to harmful behaviors and crimes that are committed against human beings.

The legislator said that animal abuse has become a topic of interest and social demand of Mexicans, in recent years.

According to the national survey of Urban Public Safety 2016 of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), 18 million dogs live in the country, of which only 30 percent have an owner, while 70 percent are in the streets by direct abandonment or by the result of the procreation of the same abandoned animals.

“This situation represents a serious problem that is regaining strength worldwide, and Mexico is not the exception, which places us in the third place worldwide in animal cruelty,” he said.

Russian Interference in Mexican Elections?

Reuters–

The Russian government has launched a sophisticated campaign to influence Mexico’s 2018 presidential election and stir up division, a senior White House official said in a video clip published by Mexican newspaper Reforma.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said in a speech last month to the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation that there was already evidence of Russian meddling in Mexican elections set for July.

“We’ve seen that this is really a sophisticated effort to polarize democratic societies and pit communities within those societies against each other,” said McMaster in a previously unreported video clip from Dec. 15 that was posted on Twitter by a reporter with Mexican daily newspaper Reforma on Saturday.

“You’ve seen, actually, initial signs of it in the Mexican presidential campaign already,” said McMaster, a former Army general. He did not elaborate in the clip on how Russia was seeking to influence the election.

Reforma published a story on Saturday on the comments, which have since been shared many times on social media.

President Donald Trump’s senior national security aide added in the clip that the U.S. government was concerned by Russia’s use of advanced cyber tools to push propaganda and disinformation.

A request for comment sent to McMaster’s office at the White House and a request for comment from the Russian government in Moscow were not immediately returned on Sunday.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied accusations by U.S. intelligence officials and others of interfering in foreign elections.

In July, Mexico will elect a new president to succeed Enrique Pena Nieto, who is barred by law from seeking a second six-year term. Congressional seats plus some governors’ races will also be up for grabs.

According to opinion polls, the frontrunner in the presidential contest is the leftist former mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is running on an anti-corruption platform.

Lopez Obrador, a two-time runner-up for the presidency and a divisive figure in Mexican politics for over a decade, is seen by some analysts as the Kremlin’s favorite, given the positive coverage he has received from government-funded media outlets like Sputnik and Russia Today.

Both China and Russia are taking an increasing interest in Latin America as the United States, under Trump, has adopted a more protectionist stance and the future of the North America Free Trade Agreement looks uncertain.

Lopez Obrador has been a fierce critic of Pena Nieto’s sweeping energy overhaul, which was favored by U.S. officials and oil companies. He has said he would seek friendly relations with the U.S. government but would demand respect.

In 2016, Russia Today’s Spanish-language YouTube channel began running a weekly video blog entitled “The Battle for Mexico,” hosted by a prominent supporter of Lopez Obrador, according to David Salvo at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, who has written about Russian attempts to influence politics in Latin America.

Pena Nieto’s office and the foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on McMaster’s statement.

Some Mexican political commentators said that there was little reason yet to fear Russian involvement in the election.

“The point is that Washington hasn’t provided any solid proof for this,” said Marco Cancino, head of Mexico City-based consultancy Inteligencia Publica.

“So far, it’s just speculation.”

Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Noe Torres in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington and Jack Stubbs in Moscow, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Slim to Help Latinos in U.S. Gain U.S. Citizenship

Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim has joined forces with Mexico’s largest university and the country’s human rights agency to hold workshops for Latinos in the United States on how to obtain U.S. citizenship.The National Autonomous University of Mexico, known as UNAM, says the Carlos Slim Foundation and the National Human Rights Commission signed the agreement Tuesday.

UNAM will train 50 instructors who will give 10 workshops at its satellite facilities in San Antonio, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and Tucson, Arizona. The Slim foundation will publicize the effort through its Acceso Latino web platform.

The workshops will focus on an estimated 2 million to 3 million Mexican migrants who might be eligible for U.S. citizenship but haven’t completed the process.

Migrants will also be taught how to defend their rights. –AP News

Violence Ramping Up Around Vaquita Dilemma

A gang of dozens of fishermen overturned inspectors’ trucks, burned or destroyed 15 vehicles and patrol boats, and beat three inspectors from the office for environmental protection in a town on Mexico’s Gulf of California.The fishermen were angered by Mexico’s attempt to save the vaquita porpoise by banning some types of net fishing in the Gulf -also known as the Sea of Cortez – where only about 30 of the elusive animals are believed to survive.

The office said Thursday the inspectors managed to escape after the attack on Wednesday, but that criminal charges were being filed. The attacks were directed against personnel and property of the office for environmental protection, the country’s fisheries council, and the commission for protected natural areas.

Fishermen lured by Chinese demand for the swim bladder of a fish known as the totoaba, which inhabits the same waters as the vaquita, have decimated the porpoise population.

Vaquitas are caught in the same kind of nets that illegal totoaba fishermen use. Prices for a kilogram of totoaba swim bladders can reach thousands of dollars.

The fishermen in the town of Golfo de Santa Clara, in Sonora state, were apparently angered over a delay approving permits for corvina, another kind of fish whose legal season would normally begin around now.

But experts are worried that corvina boats could also illegally carry totoaba nets.

Mexico has announced that special permits would be needed for corvina fishermen, and inspectors said the fishermen had applied for those permits late.

Totoaba fishermen have mainly cut and run when confronted by Mexican Navy patrols in the past, but activists and environmentalists have warned that criminal gangs appear to be involved in the lucrative illegal trade and that threats have been mounting.

Experts and the Mexican government previously announced a plan to catch the few remaining vaquitas and enclose them in pens for protection and possible breeding.

Mexican authorities already banned gillnet fishing in the vaquitas’ habitat, but that has proved difficult to enforce.

A study done in November by an international committee of experts that used acoustic monitoring to survey the population of the porpoise. The results showed vaquita numbers had declined 90 percent over the last five years, and the study estimated that because numbers have dropped so fast there are probably less than 30 now.

The international committee found that illegal fishing continues, saying 31 illegal nets were pulled from the Gulf of California in October and November.

Experts acknowledge the catch-and-enclose plan is risky, because the few remaining females could die during capture, dooming the species.

Still, some experts say the capture program may be the vaquitas’ only hope. But others worry that fishermen may engage in a free-for-all once the endangered vaquita is removed and thus wipe out other species in the gulf.

Mexico Central Bank Sells 1 Billion to Prop Up Peso

It was the bank’s first currency intervention since February 2016, when it sold $2 billion to prop up the sinking peso. The peso depreciated 20 percent last year alone and was among the world’s worst performing currencies.

Reuters–Mexico’s central bank sold dollars in Mexico and New York on Thursday to fight off the peso’s nose dive to record lows amid fears U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s protectionist policies could further hammer Latin America’s second biggest economy.The central bank sold at least $1 billion in U.S. currency in morning trade, four traders told Reuters, asking not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The central bank said it would keep the amount confidential.

It was the bank’s first currency intervention since February 2016, when it sold $2 billion to prop up the sinking peso. The peso depreciated 20 percent last year alone and was among the world’s worst performing currencies.

Banco Base said in a report following the intervention that the decision was aimed at combating “speculative positions” that had built up against the peso.

Mexico’s peso strengthened after the intervention was reported, but later pared gains to trade around 0.31 percent firmer at 21.38 per dollar, pulling away from a new record low at 21.624 per dollar hit on Wednesday after the U.S. Fed hinted faster rate hikes could be needed under Trump.

However, historically the impact of Mexico’s currency interventions have tended to be short-lived, and the peso has continued to trend lower.

Juan Garcia, director of national operations for the central bank, confirmed the surprise sales and said they would continue over the course of the day, but he declined to specify the amount.

Garcia said Mexico’s currency commission would issue a statement later on Thursday with more information on the intervention.

Prior to the February intervention, the Banco de Mexico had sold dollars in rules-based auctions since a deep slump in the peso in 2014. The February dollar sales were a major policy shift and marked the first time the bank opted for direct dollar sales since the 2009 financial crisis.

On Tuesday, the peso was rocked by Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) decision to cancel a planned $1.6 billion investment in central Mexico.

Also, a major fuel price hike that took effect on Jan. 1 has stirred inflation fears and provoked numerous protests and some looting. President Enrique Pena Nieto on Wednesday defended the hike.

The currency bleed continued on Wednesday, and was compounded after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Dec. 13-14 meeting showed policymakers were concerned that quicker economic growth under Trump could require faster interest-rate increases in the United States.

Trump’s election win drove the Mexican currency steadily lower, with the sell-off fueled by his threats to scrap a trade deal between Mexico and the United States, and to levy punitive tariffs on Mexican-made goods.

On the campaign trail, Trump threatened to halt money transfers from Mexican nationals in the United States unless the country agreed to pay for the massive wall he has vowed to build on the U.S. southern border to keep out illegal immigrants.

(Additional reporting by Roberto Aguilar, Paulina Osorio and David Alire Garcia; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Gas Price Hike Spurs Unrest

Reuters–Mexicans angry over a double-digit hike in gasoline prices looted stores and blockaded roads on Wednesday, prompting over 250 arrests amid escalating unrest over the rising cost of living in Latin America’s second biggest economy.Twenty-three stores were sacked and 27 blockades put up in Mexico City, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said, days after the government raised gasoline costs by 14 to 20 percent, outraging Mexicans already battling rising inflation and a weak currency.

Mexican retailers’ association ANTAD urged federal and state authorities to intervene quickly, saying 79 stores had been sacked and 170 forcibly closed due to blockades.

Deputy interior Minister Rene Juarez said over 250 people had been arrested for vandalism and that federal authorities were working with security officials in Mexico City and the nearby states of Mexico and Hidalgo to address the unrest.

“These acts are outside the law and have nothing to do with peaceful protest nor freedom of expression,” Juarez said in a press conference late on Wednesday.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said earlier on Wednesday that the price spike that took effect on Jan. 1 was a “responsible” measure that the government took in line with international oil prices.

The hike is part of a gradual, year-long price liberalization the Pena Nieto administration has promised to implement this year.

State oil company Pemex said on Tuesday that blockades of fuel storage terminals by protesters had led to a “critical situation” in at least three Mexican states.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

US Trained Dolphins to Aid in Search for Endangered Vaquita

Reuters—U.S. Navy-trained dolphins and their handlers will participate in a last-ditch effort to catch, enclose and protect the last few dozen of Mexico’s critically endangered vaquita porpoises to save them from extinction.International experts confirmed the participation of the Navy Marine Mammal Program in the effort, which is expected to start sometime this spring.

Jim Fallin of the U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific said Tuesday that the dolphins’ participation is still in the planning stage.

The dolphins will use their natural sonar to locate the extremely elusive vaquitas, then surface and advise their handlers.

“Their specific task is to locate” vaquitas, which live only in the Gulf of California, Fallin said. “They would signal that by surfacing and returning to the boat from which they were launched.”

The dolphins have been trained by the Navy for tasks like locating sea mines.

The vaquitas, the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise species, have been decimated by illegal fishing for the swim bladder of a fish, the totoaba, which is a prized delicacy in China.

Although the vaquita has never been held successfully in captivity, experts hope to put the remaining porpoises in floating pens in a safe bay in the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, where they can be protected and hopefully breed.

Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, chairman of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, wrote that “an international group of experts, including Navy personnel, have been working on two primary goals: determining the feasibility of locating and catching vaquitas, as a phase One. And as a second phase, to determine the feasibility of temporarily housing vaquitas in the Gulf of California.”

Rojas-Bracho said the effort by the international team of experts “would involve locating them, capturing them and putting them in some kind of protective area,” probably a floating enclosure or pen in a protected bay where they would not be endangered by fishing nets. Mexico has banned gill nets that often trap vaquitas in the area, but has had trouble enforcing it because the totoaba draws very high prices on the illegal market.

“At the current rate of loss, the vaquita will likely decline to extinction by 2022 unless the current gillnet ban is maintained and effectively enforced,” Rojas-Bracho wrote.

According to rough estimates, with vaquita population numbers falling by 40 percent annually, and only 60 alive a year ago, there could be as few as three dozen left.

Some experts, like Omar Vidal, Mexico director of the World Wildlife Fund, oppose the capture plan, which could risk killing the few remaining vaquitas and open up a free-for-all of illegal fishing once they are removed from their natural habitat. “We must strive to save this porpoise where it belongs: in a healthy Upper Gulf of California,” he said.

Catch-and-enclose is risky. The few remaining females could die during capture, dooming the species. Breeding in captivity has successfully saved species such as the red wolf and California condor, but the vaquita has only been scientifically described since the 1950s and has never been bred or even held in captivity.

Experts including Rojas-Bracho; Barbara Taylor, leader of Marine Mammal Genetics Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Sarah Mesnick of the NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, stressed that the capture program “should not divert effort and resources away from extension and enforcement of the gillnet ban, which remains the highest-priority conservation actions for the species.”

Veterinarians will evaluate vaquitas’ reactions and release stressed individuals, they wrote. Should a death occur, the team will re-evaluate the sanctuary strategy.

“It is important to stress that the recovery team goal is to return vaquita from the temporary sanctuary into a gillnet-free environment,” they wrote.

First Baby in Mexico Given Both Maternal Surnames

Reuters–The first baby in Mexico to be officially named with the maternal surnames of both parents has been registered in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.The tradition in Latin America is to give babies two last names – the father’s surname, followed by the mother’s paternal surname.

So baby Barbara born to Jose Gonzalez de Diego and Alicia Vera Zboralska would normally have been named Barbara Gonzalez Vera, losing both parents’ maternal surnames.

But to honor the maternal line, the couple won a court injunction allowing them to name their child Barbara de Diego Zboralska.

Court records showed the couple got the injunction Dec. 28 and the child was registered Monday in the city of Monterrey.

Raul Guajardo, director of public registries in Nuevo Leon, said it was a first.

“In the history of the country, no boy or girl has ever been given the maternal surnames of the father and the mother,” he said.

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