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Sep 272014
 

Today Mexico is hosting World Tourism Day, so this seems like a good time to review the state of Mexico’s tourism sector. The official celebrations are being held in the city of Guadalajara.

The decision by The World Tourism Organization that Mexico should host the 2014 World Tourism Day recognizes Mexico’s importance in world tourism. Mexico is the 13th most popular international destination in the world. In 2013, it welcomed 23.7 million international tourists, who spent 13.8 billion dollars in the country. World Tourism Day 2014 highlights tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic benefits, and its importance in community development.

Earlier this year, Mexico’s Tourism Secretariat published a detailed analysis of the Tourism Industry in Mexico in 2013.

The text of the magazine format publication (link above) is in Spanish, but it includes lots of graphs and maps showing tourism’s trends and patterns. The 21 pages of information cover topics from the origin and spending of tourists to cruise ship ports, hotel occupancy, and number of international flights. The publication offers a wide variety of data and an ideal basis for students who want to design and produce infographics about tourism.

And how is tourism doing in 2014?

So far, all the signs are positive. The number of international visitors for the first half of the year was up 19.6% to 14.2 million, compared to the 11.9 million recorded for the first six months of 2013. Spending in the first half of the year was up 17.6% to 8.435 million dollars.

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 Posted by at 5:54 am  Tagged with:
Sep 252014
 

A series of videos made by “Post and Fly Videos” provides an outstanding visual introduction to many of Mexico’s most photogenic sights. Some of the photography is truly stunning.

For a fun introduction, try this 4 minute video (turn your speakers on) which gives a quick tour of many parts of Mexico. (As yet, there are very few Post and Fly Videos of the Yucatan Peninsula, but I’m confident they will remedy this omission before too long!)

A list of the places shown in this 4 minute video is given below (with a few links to relevant Geo-Mexico posts), for those who like to know precisely where particular shots were taken.

Places in the video (in order of appearance):

Marina San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur
El Sidral, San Luis Potosí
Macroplaza Monterrey, Nuevo León
Las Pozas de Xilitla, San Luis Potosí
Tamtoc, San Luis Potosí
Las Estacas, Morelos
Peña del Aire, Hidalgo
El Naranjo, San Luis Potosí
Xochimilco, D.F.
Tamul, San Luis Potosí
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
Ex Hacienda de Chautla, Puebla
Gran Cenote, Quintana Roo
El Salto, San Luis Potosí
Valle de Bravo, Estado de México
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
Ex Hacienda de Santa María Regla, Hidalgo
Peña de Bernal, Querétaro
Acopilco, D.F.
Atlixco, Puebla
Kiosco Morisco, D.F.
López Mateos . Baja California Sur
Huasca, Hidalgo
Mantetzulel, San Luis Potosí
Metepec, Estado de México
Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
Tula, Hidalgo
Todos Santos, Baja California
Castillo de la Salud, San Luis Potosí
Holbox, Quintana Roo
Punta Allen, Quintana Roo
Muyil, Quintana Roo
Tepotzotlán, Estado de México
Parque Fundidora, Nuevo León
Santa Fe, D.F.
Balandra, Baja California Sur
Arcos del Sitio, Estado de México
Loreto, Baja California Sur
Tulum, Quintana Roo
Loreto, Baja California Sur
Tulum, Quintana Roo
Xochimilco, D.F.
Todos Santos, Baja California
Aktun Chen, Quintana Roo
Prismas Basálticos, Hidalgo
Marina San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur
Peña del Aire, Hidalgo
López Mateos . Baja California Sur

To see more Post and Fly Videos, explore their website, especially their “Explorando México” section.

Sep 222014
 

The illegal tapping of a Pemex oil pipeline in the northern state of Nuevo León caused an oil spill in August 2014 that contaminated a 6.5-kilometer-long stretch of the San Juan River.

According to Víctor Cabrera, state delegate for the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa), about 23 kilometers of channels (mostly irrigation channels) have been affected in total. Profepa advised residents to avoid using water from the places affected and not to consume local fish.

nuevo-leon-oil-spill-Hector Guerrero

Photo by Hector Guerrero

The illegal connection to the Madero-Cadereyta pipeline was first detected on 16 August 2014, and has been attributed to the criminal activities of organized crime. It allowed some 4000 barrels of crude oil to spill into the San Juan River.

The spill affected the agricultural communities of Mexiquito, La Fragua, Soledad Herrera, Santa Isabel, Hacienda Dolores, La Concepción and San Juan, home to approximately 6000 people.

The Nuevo León state governor Rodrigo Medina told reporters that an analysis carried out by water and drainage authorities and the National Water Commission (Conagua) had shown that the local aquifers had not been contaminated. The oil spill did not reach El Cuchillo Dam, located some 70 kilometers downstream from the spill, which is one of three main reservoirs supplying potable water to the Monterrey metropolitan area.

More than 500 workers from Pemex and other organizations have been employed to clean up the spill. Within two weeks, 90% of the oil spilled had been recovered and removed, according to a Pemex report. Officials expect the clean-up work on the river banks and in the irrigation ditches to take another two months to complete.

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Sep 202014
 

Mexico’s total shrimp production in 2007 was 178,000 tons. This total masks a significant trend in shrimping. The high-seas catch has declined since 1990 and less than a third of the total catch now comes from the 2100-vessel specialist shrimping fleet based in the port of Mazatlán. On the other hand, production of fish-farmed (“cultivated”) shrimp has risen sharply over the past 20 years and now accounts for almost 70% of total national production. In the past 24 months, fish-farmed shrimp have been hit by a serious disease, which has caused high mortality and a drop in production.

The main shrimp producing states are Sinaloa (520 shrimp farms; 35,000 hectares of shrimp ponds; 40% of cultivated shrimp production), Nayarit and Sonora (see map).

shrimp-map

Credit: Shrimp News International

Wild shrimp

Catches of wild shrimp have been in decline. Shrimp fishermen are worried about the overfishing of shrimp stocks in shallow coastal waters, allegedly due to clandestine fishing by non-authorized boats. Pollution of coastal waters from agricultural chemicals is also a major concern.  According to Adolfo Gracia Gasca, a researcher at UNAM’s Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (ICMyL), only two species of wild shrimp are NOT overexploited: the brown shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico, and the brown shrimp in the Pacific.

Among the many wild shrimp populations that have collapsed are the white and pink shrimps of the Gulf of Mexico. Catches of pink shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico declined from 10,000-12,000 metric tons a year in the 1980s to around 500 metric tons in recent years. Catches of white shrimp in the same area over the same period fell from 1,600 metric tons/year to less than 200 tons/year. The major problem has been the failure to enforce a closed season for shrimping during their main reproductive periods. On the Pacific coast (including the Sea of Cortés), shrimping resumed on 5 September 2014.

The Shrimp Trade

Shrimp exports are worth $360 million a year. Shrimp imports have risen sharply in the past two years as disease has reduced domestic production. Indeed, Mexico is currently having to import more frozen shrimp than it exports.

Mexico’s shrimp exports in the first half of 2014 were worth US $91.4 million, slightly down from 2013, while imports shot up 935% to $106.6 million. Mexico is importing shrimp from Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize.

Cultivated shrimp

As a consequence of Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS), the production of farmed shrimp dropped sharply between 2012 and 2013, but is expected to recover in 2015. EMS first appeared in 2009 in the southern part of China, and then spread to Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. According to SAGARPA, the disease shows up in the first 20 to 30 days of life of the shrimp, and especially affects tiger (Penaeus monodon) and white (Litopenaeus vannamei) shrimp. The disease adversely impacted thousands of producers, with shrimp mortality rates as high as 98%.

The strain of EMS found in Mexico is very similar (but not identical) to the Asian strain. It is unclear how it arrived in Mexico and whether or not it was transferred across the Pacific.

The National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission (Comision Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca—CONAPESCA) sets the closed season for fishing and shrimping. In general, the closed season is timed to coincide with the shirmp’s summer breeding season.

What is being done about EMS?

Among the strategies being adopted to combat the adverse impact of EMS are research, provision of financing and limits on shrimp imports from infected regions.

In June 2013, a breakthrough in EMS research was reported, when investigators attached to Kinki University and the National Research Institute of Aquaculture in Japan showed that the disease repeatedly manifests itself in ponds where the pH levels are between 8.5 and 8.8.

Shrimp farmers have needed emergency financing to help them restock shrimp ponds. In 2013, fish farmers in Sinaloa received $75 million to help with shrimp production and exports.

In April 2013, Mexico’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Secretariat (SAGARPA) ordered the temporary suspension of shrimp imports originating from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. The suspension included all tiger and white shrimp, whether live, raw, cooked, dehydrated or “in any presentation”. However, this strategy was criticized by international experts as “counterproductive”, given that there is no evidence for EMS being spread via dead shrimp.

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Sep 182014
 

Which countries have the most promising crops of leaders coming up through the ranks today, and where in the world are there more young people likely to develop into business leaders tomorrow? And how can leadership be measured at all? SHL, a U.K.-based talent management consulting firm, released a study in 2012 that aims to provide answers to those questions.

SHL is a giant in the world of employee assessments, with more than 10,000 clients in over 100 countries. It offers services to consultancies like Deloitte and KPMG, multinationals like Unilever and organizations like the United Nations and the European Personnel Selection Office.

Ranking Effective Leaders Today Potential
Leaders of Tomorrow
Ranking change
between leaders for today and leaders for tomorrow
1-25 Country %  Country %   ↑or↓
1 Hong Kong 14% Mexico 54% 21↑
2 Germany 13% Turkey 50% 16↑
3 United Kingdom 10% Egypt 44%  New entry
4 Australia ∞ 10% Switzerland 43% 2↑
5 United States 10% Brazil 42% 19↑
6 Switzerland 10% India 41% New entry
7 Canada 10% Italy 41% 10↑
8 Japan∞ 9% United States 41% 3↓
9 Singapore ∞ 9% Germany 40% 7↓
10 New Zealand ∞ 8% Netherlands 40% New entry
11 Sweden 7% Taiwan 39% 1↑
12 Taiwan ∞ 7% United Arab Emirates 39% 9↑
13 France∞ 7% Denmark 39% 10↑
14 Thailand 7% Sweden 37% 3↓
15 Finland ∞ 7% Portugal 37% New entry
16 Belgium ∞ 7% Russia 37% New entry
17 Spain 6% Spain 37% No change
18 Turkey 6% Ireland 37% New entry
19 Italy 6% Indonesia 37% New entry
20 South Africa ∞ 6% China (Hong Kong) 37% 19↓
21 United Arab Emirates 6% United Kingdom 37% 18↓
22 Mexico 6% Norway 36% 3↑
23 Denmark 5% Poland 35% New entry
24 Brazil 5% Canada 35% 16↓
25 Norway 5% China (Mainland) 34% New entry
∞ Indicates those counties ranked in the top 25 leaders today that fall out of the top 25 for leadership potential tomorrow
“New entry” = countries not ranked in the top 25 today but listed in the top 25 for leadership potential tomorrow
 

This year, executives at SHL decided to mine data from past employee assessments and try to shed some light on the leadership potential in the many countries where it works. The SHL data came from 1.05 million client surveys gathered between 2006 and 2011. It focused on eight different skill areas to measure leadership capability: initiating activity and deciding, supporting and cooperating, interacting with and presenting to others, analyzing and interpreting data, creating and conceptualizing ideas, organizing and executing plans, adapting and coping with others, and finally, performing and achieving.

In September 2012, SHL published a list of the countries it believes have the greatest percentage of effective leaders, and those that it sees as most likely to develop leaders within the next three to five years. The list of current leaders may not be that surprising. The report ranks the country with the most leaders today as Hong Kong (treated as a separate country, though it is a special administrative region of mainland China), followed by Germany, the U.K., Australia, U.S.A., Canada and Switzerland.

The country that emerges as that with the most future leaders is… Mexico. According to SHL, Mexico’s “market is becoming more international and its leaders are strengthening in several different categories.”

This is an interesting analysis, but only time will tell whether or not it holds much validity!

Sep 152014
 

We hope you will enjoy our eleventh quiz about the geography of Mexico.

How many of the following can you answer? (If you answer a question incorrectly, you can have more tries before the answer is revealed.)

Good Luck, enjoy, and Happy Independence Day!

Geography of Mexico Quiz 11

Start
Congratulations - you have completed Geography of Mexico Quiz 11. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.

Previous quizzes:

 Posted by at 5:55 am  Tagged with:
Sep 132014
 

Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil giant, will start drilling the first of two deep exploratory wells in Mexico City later this month to investigate an aquifer deep below the city that is believed to hold vast quantities of potable quality water. For further background, please see our previous post on this topic:

The test wells are part of a $30 million multi-agency study now underway that incorporates experts from the Water System of Mexico City (SACM), the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), the engineering and geology departments of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and Pemex, which is providing the technology to drill the wells.

Later this month, Pemex will start drilling the first 2000-meter-deep test well in the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City area, in the eastern part of Mexico City. Each well will cost an estimated $7.6 million to complete.

Schematic stratigraphy of the southern portion of the Basin of Mexico.

Schematic stratigraphy of the southern portion of the Basin of Mexico.
Source: Adapted from Mooser, 1990.

Ramón Aguirre, the CEO of SACM, says that the two test wells will target two different zones, increasing the chances of demonstrating the value of the aquifer as a viable source of water for Mexico City. In particular, Aguirre expects the wells to help confirm that there is an impermeable cap of clay separating the deep aquifer from the principal aquifer in the area (from which water is already extracted). An impermeable layer would mean that water could be safely removed from the deep aquifer without leading to downward drainage of water from the aquifer above. It is expected to take about two years for the initial studies to be completed.

In its National Water Plan, CONAGUA has warned that population growth in the Valley of Mexico could result in serious water shortages by 2030, reducing annual availability from about 4,230 cubic meters/person to less than 1,000 cubic meters/person.

The major aquifer currently used lies at a depth of between 60 and 400 meters and is heavily over-utilized. There are about 630 wells in the Federal District alone; all are overexploited and have an average life expectancy of 30 years. Current extraction from the aquifer is around 17,000 liters/second, while its natural recharge capacity is only 8000-9000 liters/second. It is believed that the deep aquifer could be capable of supplying approximately 5000 liters/second.

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Sep 112014
 

A toxic spill at a copper mine in the northwestern state of Sonora is the Mexican mining sector’s worst environmental disaster in recent history.

The mine is owned by mining giant Grupo México, Mexico’s largest mining corporation and operated by its Buenavista del Cobre division. Grupo México is the third largest copper producer in the world and has a rail transport division, Ferrocarril Mexicano (Ferromex), that operates Mexico’s largest rail fleet. The Buenavista del Cobre mine, part-way through a $3.4 billion expansion plan, has some of the largest proven copper reserves in the world and is the world’s fourth largest copper mine.

The spill allowed 40,000 cubic meters of toxic copper sulfate acid to enter the Tinajas stream in the town of Cananea on 6 August 2014. Buenavista del Cobre claimed the spill was the result of an unforeseeable heavy rain storm, which triggered a rise in the level of water and copper sulfate in a holding tank being constructed at the copper mine. Grupo México has formed a team of 20 experts from the University of Arizona and Mexican universities to investigate the spill.

However, an initial report by the National Water Commission (Conagua) determined that the spill was caused by a flawed polyethylene pipe at one of the mine’s leachate tanks, together with a faulty valve at another tank. Conagua attributed the environmental disaster to negligence on the part of the company. Mexico’s federal environmental protection agency (Profepa) reported that the contaminants from the spill included copper, arsenic, aluminum, cadmium, chromium, iron, manganese and lead.

Sonora-Copper-Mine-Spill-

Credit: Jesus Ballesteros/Expreso-Cuartoscuro.com

Mexico’s Environment Secretary Juan José Guerra Abud called it the “worst natural disaster provoked by the mining industry in the modern history of Mexico,” and confirmed that the spill contaminated not only the 17.6-kilometer-long (11-mile-long) Tinajas stream, but also the River Bacanuchi (64 kilometers in length), the River Sonora (190 kilometers long) and the El Molinito reservoir which stores 15.4 million cubic meters of water.

The contamination turned the waterways orange (see image) and affected the water supply of 24,000 people in seven communities along the rivers, forcing schools to close for several weeks while environmental authorities clean up the mess. More than 300 wells were shut down. The Sonora state government has been providing millions of liters of water via trucks to residents in the affected area. It has also started a temporary employment program to reactivate the local economy. The mining company has provided 13 million liters of water and $266,000 in immediate assistance to affected communities.

Some 800 mine workers, members of Mexico’s national mining and metallurgical workers union, blockaded the mine entrances in protest at the company’s failure to prevent the spill. Workers have been fighting over contracts since a strike in 2007.

The total clean-up costs are unknown, but likely to run into tens of millions of dollars.

On 18 August, Profepa filed a criminal complaint against Buenavista del Cobre and another Grupo México unit, Minera México, for their alleged roles in the spill. Grupo México could be fined up to 3.3 million dollars if the complaint is upheld.

Sonora State Governor Guillermo Padrés Elías has announced that the seven municipalities affected by the leached copper spill are filing a civil claim for damages.

Eight years ago in the northern state of Coahuila, an explosion in a coal mine belonging to Grupo México left 65 miners trapped underground; only two bodies were ever recovered.

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Sep 082014
 

In mid-August 2014, this significant fissure (see image) appeared near the city of Hermosillo in northern Mexico, with some press reports opting for headlines such as “The Earth Splits Open”:

fissure-hermosillo-eyewitness-news

While many press reports, especially those in English, tried to link this fissure to faulting and earthquake movements, others were more cautious, saying it was caused by movement of water underground followed by subsidence. Which version is correct? Probably neither is completely correct, since geography often fails to provide a single, definitive reason for things!

The crack is about 1000 meters (two thirds of a mile) long and up to 7 or 8 meters wide and 10 meters deep. While some press reports erroneously claimed that the crack extended across the main, paved, highway #26 between Hermosillo and the coast, its location was actually some distance away from the main highway. The road shown in the image above is a rural, unpaved road about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Hermosillo, in an area of farmland, some of which is irrigated.

Could the fissure have been formed by faulting associated with earth tremors or an earthquake? If this was the cause, the fence line, and the line taken by the road would have shifted position and no longer be straight. The image clearly shows that the road has been severed, but provides no evidence that the two sides have shifted position. Indeed, a close-up view confirms that even the existing fence remains in place:

fissure-hermosillo-fence-line

The available evidence therefore rules out faulting (or earth tremors or earthquakes) as the cause of the crack.

Could the fissure have been caused by an underground flow of water followed by subsidence (the collapse of overlying rocks)? This certainly looks more likely though it is hard to imagine significant underground flows of water in an area that is as flat as this. On the other hand, this is (a) an area of newly constructed irrigation ditches and ponds, and (b) it received heavy rainfall a few days before the crack was reported.

In all probability, the fissure began as a deep but very narrow “subsidence fissure” where differences in irrigation (or in water extraction) caused some parts to be much wetter than others. The soil and rock particles in wetter areas would tend to expand, while those in drier areas would tend to contract. Such differences could lead to the formation of small initial fissures.

Once the fissure had been started, localized heavy rains and the resulting overland flow could then result in streams flowing (temporarily) in these initial fissures. The moving stream water would rapidly widen and deepen the fissures into the scale of crack shown in the photos. The initial fissure may have been formed several years before this widening process occurred.

For a more detailed look at the evidence for this fissure’s formation (and its true location), see Debunked: The Earth Splitting Open – Giant Crack in Mexico.

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Sep 062014
 

Hundreds of thousands of dead fish have washed up on the shores of Lake Cajititlán in Jalisco in the past ten days.

Lake Cajititlán is about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) long and 2 km wide. It is mid-way between the city of Guadalajara and Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest natural lake. Fortunately, Lake Cajititlán does not have an outlet, so water and fish from the lake can not enter other nearby streams or lakes.

Map of Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

Map of Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. Credit: Tony Burton; all rights reserved.

According to government officials, about 3 million dead popoche chub (Algansea popoche) with a combined weight of 82 metric tons were removed from Lake Cajititlán in the latest ecocide.

Initial reports contained conflicting versions of events, with local fishermen claiming far higher losses than government officials. The currently accepted figure of 82 metric tons suggests that the fishermen’s estimate was far closer to reality than the early “official” figures.

cajititlan-ecocide

(AFP Photo / Hector Guerrero)

Local authorities at first tried to persuade residents that the die-off was part of a “natural cycle”. However, this idea was quickly dispelled by state and federal agencies who are continuing investigations to establish the precise causes of the ecocide. Their preliminary technical studies have confirmed that the die-off of fish was due to contaminated water with dissolved oxygen levels well below the limits for a healthy fish population. The contamination appears to originate from raw sewage entering the lake and the inefficient operation of the existing sewage treatment plants.

Low oxygen levels could also result from seasonal rainy season runoff washing excess fertilizers into the lake, increasing the water’s nitrogen and phosphorus loads, promoting eutrophication.

State authorities have issued an environmental emergency alert for the lake, but have consistently maintained that the event has not endangered the health of local residents.

This is the fourth fish kill affecting Lake Cajititlán in 2014. This latest ecocide is only one of several ecological disasters that have befallen Mexico in recent weeks.

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