Jan 042016
 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a final ruling at the end of 2015 favoring Mexico in its long-running trade dispute with the U.S. over the labeling of tuna products. The acrimonious dispute began, more than 20 years ago, because the USA refused to allow Mexican fishermen to use the coveted “dolphin‑safe” label.  The “dolphin safe” labels certify that tuna fishing is in compliance with the International Dolphin Protection Program.

The USA is the world’s largest importer of tuna, imported tuna worth more than one billion dollars in 2014, only 2.1% of which (about 20,000 metric tons) came from Mexico.

Dolphin-safe-logoWhen the dispute began, there is no doubt that Mexican fishermen were catching many dolphins as by-catch. Part of the conflict revolved around the very different methods of fishing employed in the two countries. USA tuna fishermen use long‑line fishing in which every species hooked is killed. Mexican tuna fishermen, on the other hand, use the encirclement method which involves locating tuna by tracking the dolphins that swim with the tuna schools. Large nets are then employed. Any dolphins trapped in the nets are released by hand and returned (alive) to the ocean.

Mexico has introduced far more stringent restrictions on tuna fishing methods since the dispute began, including professional observers on every ship to record each tuna catch; conservation measures over the past two decades have reduced dolphin by-catch by 99%. Mexican fishing methods are now recognized as fully sustainable by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Mexico is one of the world’s ten leading tuna producers. Mexico’s tuna catch (mainly yellowfin tuna) rose to 166,000 metric tons in 2013. Domestic demand exceeds 190,000 metric tons a year, so Mexico currently has to import some tuna.

Mexico’s leading producer of canned tuna for the domestic market, worth close to a billion dollars a year, is Pinsa Comercial. Its three main brands – Dolores, El Dorado and Mazatún – account for more than half of the local market. Consumption of tuna has been rising steadily in Mexico, and Pinsa has introduced various new presentations of canned tuna in order to boost it still further from its current level of around eight cans/person/year. Pinsa is a vertically-integrated firm with its own fleet of tuna boats and freezing plants. (The firm also has Mexico’s largest fishing fleet for sardines, used to make fish flour, sold to agricultural and pharmaceutical industries.)

Mexico’s tuna fishing quota, set by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Fishing Commission, is about 35% higher than its current annual catch. Modernizing the tuna fleet is one way to raise catches and reduce tuna imports.

About 20,000 families in Mexico depend on tuna fishing for their livelihood. This figure includes not only fishermen but also those working in associated processing and packing plants. Mexico’s 130-vessel tuna fleet is the largest in Latin America.

The WTO ruling means that Mexico may now seek compensation for its trade losses.

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Jan 012016
 

For the fifth year in a row, Mexico was the world’s leading exporter of beer in 2014. The final tally shows that Mexico exported 1,700 million liters of beer in 2014, worth 1.6 billion dollars. (Export figures for 2015 are not yet available but will show that Mexico remains well in the lead over Belgium and the Netherlands)

Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewery in Monterrey

Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewery in Monterrey. Photo: Tony Burton.

Mexico is the world’s sixth largest producer of beer and is predicted to leapfrog Germany and Russia this year (2016) into fourth place, behind only China, the U.S. and Brazil. Significant investments during 2015 have raised national production capacity 39% to 125 million hectoliters.

The two largest beer producers are Grupo Modelo and Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma (formerly Femsa). Grupo Modelo is building a new 310-milion-dollar brewery in the state of Yucatán and also expanding its breweries in Zacatecas and Coahuila. Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma is building a new 450-million-dollar facility in Chihuahua. A third brewer, Constellation Brands, is undertaking a 500-million-dollar expansion to its Piedras Negras plant in Coahuila, which will triple its annual production to 30 million hectoliters by 2017.

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Dec 292015
 

This short PostandFly.com.mx video, by Enrique de la Cruz and Tarsicio Sañudo, shows the spectacular inland scenery of the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico. The highlights are views of the Sumidero Canyon (near Tuztla Gutierrez, the state capital) and then some magnificent shots of the Lagunas Montebello, near the border with Guatemala, and the river scenery of Agua Azul.

This video is apparently the start of a collaborative effort between PostandFly and photographic director Enrique de la Cruz to generate additional audiovisual resources utilizing new technologies such as drones. We will be keeping our eyes open in the New Year for more.

Want to learn more about Chiapas? A good starting point is our very own Chiapas Map and Index Page, which has links to articles about the geography of the indigenous Lacandon Indians, poverty and inequality, musical instruments, tourism, agriculture, tectonic hazards, and lots more.

Sadly, my one and only trip so far to the Lagunas Montebello was cut short by a vehicle malfunction. At least I was still able to make my way out of the park and back to civilization before nightfall! Presumably cell phones now work in the park, so such adventures are probably a thing of the past.

May you have lots of your own adventures in Mexico in 2016, and always return safely!

Happy New Year to all our readers!

Other video resources on this site:

Dec 232015
 

Some parts of Mexico have been working on Christmas for most of the year… For example, the manufacturing of beautiful handmade Christmas tree decorations is the main industry today in the former gold and silver mining town of Tlalpujahua in the state of Michoacán. The production of Christmas ornaments in Tlapujahua has a great series of photos by Arturo Toraya of Notimex, showing some of the steps involved.

ornaments-2

As the accompanying text explains, “Making baubles for Christmas trees is the main source of jobs in the town, which is now one of the top five producers in the world. Due to their quality, 90 percent of the total production is exported to the U.S. and Canada. There are 200 family workshops in the town with seven-hour shifts, and each worker can make up to 550 baubles per day. Each workshop decorates about 500 per day. Red, blue, green and yellow are the top selling colors in Mexico, while black, brown and grey are more popular in the U.S.”

The village of Tzintzuntzan, on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro, also in Michoacán, is another settlement where Christmas seems to be a year-round source of inspiration. The village handicraft market is a cornucopia of straw work in every conceivable color, design and size, which make ideal Christmas decorations or gifts.

Happy Christmas from Geo-Mexico! – ¡Feliz Navidad!

Craft market in Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan

Craft market in Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan

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Dec 212015
 

The National Statistics Institute (INEGI) has released the results of its inter-census study carried out in March 2015 which involved visits to more than 7 million households across the country.

Children in Zitácuaro, Michoacán. Photo: Tony Burton. All rights reserved.

Children in Zitácuaro, Michoacán. Photo: Tony Burton. All rights reserved.

As of March 2015, Mexico’s total population was 119,530,753 (48.6% male, 51.4% female), up from 111,954,660 million in 2010, a growth rate averaging 1.4% a year. This is the first time for 45 years that the rate of growth has not fallen. Analysts had expected a 1.2% growth rate over the period, but attribute the 1.4% figure to a slightly higher fertility rate than anticipated, together with an unexpected fall in the number of young people emigrating from Mexico. [Note that the total population figure is slightly lower than the figure released in July from Mexico’s National Population Council (Conapo) of 121,783,280.]

Since 2010 the proportion of seniors (over age 65) has risen from 6.2% to 7.2% of the total, and the proportion of households headed by a female is up from 25% to 29%. The median age in Mexico is now 27 years. The youngest median age is in Chiapas (23), the oldest in the Federal District (33). Overall, Mexico’s dependency ratio is falling, continuing a period of “demographic dividend“.

INEGI found that the number of households in Mexico is rising 2.4% a year and now totals about 32 million, giving an average number of 3.7 occupants/household. 98.7% of homes have electricity, 74.1% have piped water inside the building, a further 20.4% outside the building but on the property; 75.6% connected to drainage.

Mexico’s most populated states remain the State of Mexico, the Federal District (Mexico City) and Veracruz, while the smallest states in terms of population are Baja California, Campeche and Colima. The most populated municipality is Iztapalapa (1.8 million), followed by Ecatepec (1.7 million) and Tijuana (1.6 million). The most rapidly growing municipality in the entire country is Pesquería, in Nuevo León, which has grown a startling 35.2% a year since 2010, mainly because of the new Kia vehicle factory opening there.

The item of inter-census news that attracted most press attention was INEGI’s so-called discovery that there were 1.4 million black Mexicans. This was hardly news to most demographers, but the inter-census survey was the first time INEGI had included a question aimed at identifying Afro-Mexicans, as a pilot question for the full 2020 census: “Based on your culture, history and traditions, do you consider yourself black, meaning Afro-Mexican or Afro-descendant?”

INEGI did indeed find that about 1.4 million citizens (1.2% of the population) self-identified as “Afro-Mexican” or “Afro-descendant”, with significantly more women opting for the category than men (755,000 women; 677,000 men).

It was no surprise to find that most Afro-Mexicans live in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz. The survey showed that Mexico’s self-identified black population is not currently disadvantaged in terms of access to education and health services or work opportunities, putting it well ahead of Mexico’s indigenous population in that regard.

Afro-Mexican activists welcomed the inter-census question and results, but called for Mexico’s history books to reflect their contribution. Benigno Gallardo, an Afro-Mexican activist in Guerrero, pointed out that, “In school they teach our children about Europeans and indigenous natives, but the history books practically don’t recognize our history.”

Certainly more awareness of the long history of Afro-Mexicans is badly needed. For example, how many people realize that Blacks outnumbered Spaniards in Mexico until after 1810 or that Vasconcelas’ “Cosmic Race” (La “Raza Cósmica”) excluded Mexico’s African heritage?

Want to learn more? A good place to start is Bobby Vaughn’s website Afro-Mexico or his Black Mexico Home Page, Afro-Mexicans of the Costa Chica, on MexConnect, which provide links to several of his articles including Blacks in Mexico. A Brief Overview.

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Dec 172015
 

Is mass tourism a form of colonialism or imperialism? This, essentially, is the question thoughtfully considered by Denise Fay Brown of the University of Calgary in her article, “Tourists as colonizers in Quintana Roo, Mexico”, published in the Summer 2014 issue of The Canadian Geographer.

Map of Quintana Roo. Copyright 2010 Tony Burton. All rights reserved.

Map of Quintana Roo. Copyright 2010 Tony Burton. All rights reserved.

Brown draws on decades of personal ethnographic fieldwork related to Maya spatiality and sociospatial organization in the Yucatec Maya zone, Quintana Roo. She argues that tourists, albeit unwittingly, are increasingly able (financially and in terms of ready access) to engage with “exotic landscapes”, but that their presence in such landscapes “results in the reterritorialization of the destinations that mimics the colonial enterprise.” In particular, in Quintana Roo, she claims that “an important segment of the landscape of the Yucatec Maya people has been appropriated and reterritorialized.” (How many tourists visiting Cancún and the so-called Riviera Maya region realize that this coast was largely terra incognita fifty years ago?)

One of the classic indicators of colonialism is spatial appropriation. Maya infighting aside, the earliest attempts at spatial appropriation in Quintana Roo were by Spain during early colonial times in the early sixteenth century. Even after independence in 1821, the Yucatán Peninsula resisted integration with the rest of the (new) nation. This resistance was not only due to cultural differences, but also to the Yucatán Peninsula’s location in the periphery, a long way from the seat of power in Mexico City. Indeed, despite the massive program of railway building that helped consolidate other parts of Mexico during the late nineteenth century, a rail link from central Mexico to the Yucatán Peninsula was only finally put in place in the 1950s.

Brown makes the case that the assault on Maya territory has continued into recent times, even if, “Today, it is not the conventional notion of nation state colonialism but a much more subtle invasion brought about by the ability of tourists from richer nations to travel south.”

She makes a strong argument that the growth of tourism in the Yucatán Peninsula has been “predatory” and that foreign tourists, especially those engaging in mass tourism, are, in fact, unwitting colonizers.

Brown concludes that, “The case of Quintana Roo, Mexico illustrates how the tourist can be seen as a pawn in a larger political project. Exposure of this predatory nature of tourism reveals processes that have implications for other Native regions of the Americas and beyond that are suffering similar “invasions.””

Thinking about the extent to which tourism is just one more manifestation of colonialism adds a whole new dimension to traditional tourism studies looking at economic, social and environmental advantages and disadvantages. Brown’s argument is persuasive, and, clearly, the political and cultural impacts of tourism deserve equal consideration.

Reference:

  • Denise Fay Brown. 2014. “Tourists as colonizers in Quintana Roo, Mexico”, The Canadian Geographer, vol 57, #2, Summer 2014, pp 186-205.

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Dec 142015
 

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, continues to showcase Mexican textiles in a major exhibition entitled Viva México! Clothing and Culture.

The exhibition opened in May this year and closes 23 May 3, 2016. It occupies the museum’s Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume. Even though the museum’s collection of Mexican textiles is one of the largest and most important collections of its kind in the world, very few items from the collection have ever been publicly displayed previously.

“Vibrant expressions of creativity, the pieces in this exhibition combine remarkable technical skill with exquisite artistry. Over 150 stunning historic and contemporary pieces are on display, including complete costume ensembles, sarapesrebozos, textiles, embroidery, beadwork and more.”

Rebozo (detail), Ikat-patterned silk, Mexico, 1825-1875. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Newcomb.

Rebozo (detail), Ikat-patterned silk, Mexico, 1825-1875. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Newcomb.

As the promotional material claims, “The evolution of Mexican fashion reflects the history of Mexico, where the textile arts reach back over many centuries. After the Spanish Conquest of 1521, European styles influenced the distinctive clothing of the Maya, the Aztec and other great civilizations. Contemporary Mexican textiles owe their vitality to the fusion of traditions. ¡Viva Mexico! celebrates this rich and enduring cultural legacy.”

The guest curator for this exhibition is Chloë Sayer, a specialist in Mexican popular art and author of numerous works on the subject, including Costumes of Mexico (1985); Arts and Crafts of Mexico (1990); Mexican Patterns: A Design Source Book (1990); Mexico: The Day of the Dead: An Anthology (1993); Mexican Textile Techniques (1999); Textiles from Mexico (2002); and Fiesta: Days of the Dead & Other Mexican Festivals (2009).

Sayer believes, with good reason, that Mexican textile handcrafts should be named a UNESCO cultural heritage, due to their centuries-old history, and because they are still worn by Mexico’s indigenous peoples. She sees the challenge as being how to ensure that “new generations of Mexicans continue to learn how to make these textiles”

The exhibition comprises about 200 pieces, some dating back to the nineteenth century. “The collection tells the story of Mexican textiles through centuries, and that’s why it’s so valuable,” Sayer said. Sessions when visitors to the exhibition can watch Mexican artists hand-crafting traditional textiles are also scheduled on a regular basis.

There are significant regional differences in the “typical” traditional textiles in Mexico. This exhibition delves into the geography of Mexican textiles and brings long-overdue attention to their extraordinary diversity.

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Dec 102015
 

The award-winning video team at PostandFly.com.mx continue to produce some powerfully-evocative short videos focusing on Mexico’s extraordinary scenery.

Many of the individual clips in this video were filmed in Baja California Sur, with occasional forays into Chihuahua and central and southern Mexico:

For those that like to match names with places (that’s what makes you a geographer, right?), here is the list of places in order of their appearance in the video, with a few clues to act as “landmarks” along the way:

1Bacalar, Quintana Roo21Puerta del Cielo, Queretaro
2Isla Partida, Baja California Sur22Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur
3Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur23Playa Escondida, Nayarit
4Isla San José, Baja California Sur24Acapulco, Guerrero
5Bacalar, Quintana Roo25Isla San Francisquito, Baja California Sur
6San Ignacio, Baja California Sur26Isla Partida, Baja California Sur
7El Cielo, Tamaulipas27Basaseachi, Chihuahua [waterfall]
8Isla Partida, Baja California Sur28Xicotepec, Puebla
9Basaseachi, Chihuahua [waterfall]29Caleta y Caletilla, Acapulco, Guerrero
10Isla Coronado, Baja California Sur30Islas Marietas, Nayarit
11Isla Partida, Baja California Sur31Angel de la Independencia, Mexico City
12Basaseachi, Chihuahua [waterfall]32Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
13Punta Colorada, Baja California Sur33Estrella de Puebla, Puebla
14Bacalar, Quintana Roo34Guadalajara, Jalisco
15Cholula, Puebla [church on hill]35Arco, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur [marine arch]
16Laguna ojo de liebre, Baja California Sur36Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala
17Laguna ojo de liebre, Baja California Sur37Taxco, Guerrero
18Loreto, Baja California Sur38Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur
19Loreto, Baja California Sur39La Paz, Baja California Sur
20Tequila, Jalisco [railway track at 1:49]40Isla San Francisquito, Baja California Sur

Want to learn more about some of these places? Before resorting to Sr. Google, try our site search function.

Enjoy!

Other video resources on this site:

Dec 072015
 

The 2015 hurricane season in Mexico for Pacific coast storms started on 15 May and ended on 30 November. For Atlantic storms, the hurricane season extended from 1 June to 30 November. Hurricanes are also known as typhoons or tropical cyclones.

saffir-simpson-scale

This year, predictions for hurricane activity in the Atlantic were fairly close to reality, but the Pacific Coast forecast fell well short of predicting the number and severity of hurricane activity.

Atlantic and Caribbean hurricanes

The early season (May) prediction for 2015 for hurricane activity in the Atlantic was that it would be below the 1981-2012 average, with 7 named storms forming in the Atlantic: 4 tropical storms, 2 moderate hurricanes (1 or 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale), and 1 severe hurricane (3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale).

In reality, the 2015 Atlantic season did turn out to be slightly less active than the long-term average, but still saw the Caribbean and Gulf coasts affected by 11 named storms: 7 tropical storms, 2 moderate hurricanes and 2 severe hurricanes.

Eastern Pacific hurricanes

For the Pacific coast, Mexico’s National Meteorological Service (Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, SMN) was anticipating 19 named storms in 2015: 8 tropical storms, 7 moderate hurricanes, and 4 severe hurricanes. The 2015 season actually turned out to be the second most active Pacific hurricane season ever, with a total of 26 named storms: 10 tropical storms, 5 moderate hurricanes, and 11 severe hurricanes.

The number of hurricanes (16) in the eastern Pacific tied the all-time record, and the number of severe hurricanes (11) broke all previous records. The activity included Hurricane Patricia, the most powerful hurricane ever. Fortunately for most of Mexico, this storm lost power very rapidly once it came onshore.

Dec 012015
 

This page lists some of the many maps on Geo-Mexico.com, as of 30 November 2015.

Want to use a map? All these maps [except those marked  (*)] are original Geo-Mexico.com maps. The use of any of Geo-Mexico’s maps for educational purposes is fine, provided credit is given to  Geo-Mexico.com. For commercial use (including business presentations, newsletters, magazines, books, TV), please contact us with details of your project via the link or the Contact Us form.

This page is updated every few months to reflect new additions to our site:

General / Educational:

Physical geography

Hazards:

Population

Economy

Regional and city maps

Crime:

History:

Other:

Mapping exercises:

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