Ecotourism’s 25th anniversary: Conversation with Hector Ceballos-Lascurain

by Ron Mader

The Planeta Forum features a Q&A with Hector Ceballos-Lascurain in celebration of the 25th anniversary of ecotourism. Winner of the Colibri Ecotourism Lifetime Achievement Award, Hector Ceballos-Lascurain is a Mexican architect, environmentalist and international ecotourism consultant. He is widely credited with coining the term ‘ecotourism’ and its preliminary definition in 1983.

Hector has agreed to participate in an online conversation to celebrate ecotourism’s 25th anniversary. The Q&A is featured on the Planeta Forum.

Hector Ceballos-Lascurain in Borneo

What are some of the lessons learned? Hector says that in some nations (including Mexico), ecotourism has been in recent times strongly promoted by government authorities, interested in improving the quality of life and economic level of poor rural communities. He points out that many of these experiences have failed, because of excessive paternalism of the public authorities and due to lack of interest and proper training of local groups.

“Generally speaking, I think ecotourism is going strong around the world, and is providing important tangible benefits to local communities and to nature conservation in many places of our globe,” says Hector.

How did the word ‘ecotourism’ develop?

Hector coined the term ‘ecotourism’ in early July 1983, when he was performing the dual role of Director General of Standards and Technology of SEDUE (the Mexican Ministry of Urban Development and Ecology) and founding president of PRONATURA, an influential Mexican conservation group working to conserve the wetlands in northern Yucatan as breeding and feeding habitats of the American Flamingo.

Among the arguments that Hector used in the Celestún estuary was the growing number of tourists, especially from the United States. Hector was convinced that visitors could play an important role in boosting the local rural economy, creating new jobs and preserving the ‘ecology’ of the area, and began using the word ‘ecotourism’ to describe this.

The Q&A continues through June/July 2008.

Mexico’s Folk Wisdom

MP News Staff

Here are some great proverbs that capture the dichotomy and mystery that is Mexico. We found these in a cool little book, “Folk Wisdom of Mexico”, by Jeff M. Sellers, published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco in 1994.

En boca cerrado no entran moscas
Flies don’t enter a closed mouth.

Dios les da el dinero a los ricos, porque si no lo tuvieran, se moririan de hambre.
God gives money to the wealthy because without it, they would starve to death.

La amistad sincera es un alma repartida en dos cuerpos.
True friendship is one soul shared by two bodies.

Mas vale morir parado que vivir de rodillas.
Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

El que mucha abarca, poco aprieta.
He who grabs much grasps little.

Un hambre sin alegria no es bueno o no esta buenos.
A man without happiness is either not good or not well.

Quien todo lo quiere todo lo pierde.
He who wants everything will lose everything.

El tiempo cura y nos mata.
Time heals and then it kills.

El muchacho malcriado dondequiera encuentra padre.
The ill-mannered child finds a father wherever he goes.

Aunque la jaula sea de oro, no deja der ser prision.
Though the cage be made of gold, it’s still a prison.

Historic Cantina, El Nivel, Goes Dark

by David Simmonds

I like good drinking bars. The kind that don’t need goofy themes or gimmicks, like green margarita pitcher specials filled with lots of mix and ice, but scant tequila. And I don’t like paying more than $3.00 for a bottle of beer, or mute bartenders who use a shot glass to measure exactly one-ounce.

In Mexico I have visited (maybe visit isn’t the right word here) more bars than I should admit to, but just three of them have earned “best bar in Mexico” status, and now two of them are gone. In Puerto Vallarta, on the Malecon near the Oceano Hotel, once stood  Casablanca restaurant and cantina. The restaurant was good….but the bar was great. It had a Bogie-perfect atmosphere, featuring large open-air windows looking out to the sea and the Malecon strollers, tropical plants, ceiling fans, and comfortable seating that encouraged world-wide strangers to become fast friends. And they always had a mesmerizing, eclectic mix of music, volumed just loud enough to hear without drowning out the conversation. No one danced on tables and flashed their boobs. The Casablanca was always full (this was Richard Burton’s hangout) and then, suddenly, they were closed, replaced by a tourist trinket-and-tee-shirt shop. I can’t remember exactly when it closed, but it must have been 15 years ago, and it has never been duplicated (apologies to La Bodeguita del Medio, which is pretty good).

The one-of-a-kind Hussongs Cantina is still going strong in Ensenada, although not quite as wild as it was in the 70’s and 80’s. Opened in 1892 by German immigrant Johann Hussong who landed in Ensenada in search of gold, the bar has changed very little over  many decades. It is a fairly small room, maybe 15 bar stools and 12 tables filling about 1,200 square feet. Once dominated by young gringos looking for one-night love and older fishermen drawn by the strong drinks and cheap prices, Hussongs now draws more locals than tourists, with the young gringo crowd preferring the newer, darker clubs in the area. No matter, it’s still Hussongs and ranks at the top of my Mexico bar list.

My third choice, El Nivel in Mexico City, has now tragically closed its doors, unable to reach a lease agreement with the building owners, National Autonomous University of Mexico, who should know better. El Nivel is Mexico’s oldest cantina, opened in 1855 on a small side street just off the historic zocalo, very near the National Palace. It has been the preferred drinking establishment for many of Mexico’s political leaders and is reported to be the place where Fidel Castro met with Che Guevara as they plotted the overthrow of Cuba’s Batista regime. That is some history.

Now the doors are shut amid many angry protestors, who have demanded that the University change its position. The activists say they will now ask the government to step in and declare the building a national historic site, allowing the bar to reopen.

Mexico needs to protect its cultural history at every opportunity, not just the well-preserved iconic archaeological sites, but also the thousands of centuries-old buildings located throughout the cities and towns. Once they are gone, they are gone for good, and a little bit of the heart and soul of the country goes with it.

Double-Duty Drivers

By Lola

OK, so we’ve all seen them – the guys shaving, the girls actually CURLING THEIR EYELASHES, the other one texting (fer chrissakes)… The list goes on and on.

Apparently in Monterrey, Mexico they’ve had enough of this nonsense, especially regarding the shavers. Oh, and the people who drive with “another person in their lap”. HUH? I’m assuming they’re referring to a small child. One can only hope.

Jose Cuervo Launches Groundbreaking Campaign

By MP News Staff

Three-Time World Cup Participant Alberto ‘El Beto’ Garcia Aspe to Promote Social Responsibility and Mexican Pride to Millions of Soccer Fans

JOSE CUERVONEW YORK, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ — Jose Cuervo, the world’s best selling tequila, has partnered with three-time World Cup participant Alberto Garcia Aspe to launch a groundbreaking campaign boasting Mexican pride. The campaign underscores the Cuervo Tradicional brand’s long-standing commitment as an official sponsor of the Mexican National Soccer Team here in the United States, and concentrates on soccer to deliver a social responsibility message to the multi-generational Mexican consumer.

With the slogan “Mexico, You Always Have It On,” Jose Cuervo Tradicional positions its brand at the forefront of Mexican national identity and at the center of its passion for soccer. This landmark campaign is a completely new approach for the brand. The innate pride of the Mexican culture is the driving concept behind this innovative campaign. Jose Cuervo Tradicional dresses in the team colors and waves its country’s flag to promote the traditional values that define the Mexican community.

To communicate its message, Jose Cuervo Tradicional has engaged Alberto Garcia Aspe, one of the best players in the history of Mexican soccer, to act as the official spokesperson.

“I am proud to join an effort that centers on the values of our culture,” said Alberto Aspe. “Wearing the jersey means representing your culture with dignity and honor. As a soccer player and team captain I always tried to be a role model on and off the field. Now my goal is to motivate the fans and remind them that, to us, living life responsibly is not an option, it is a tradition.”

Cuervo’s multi-faceted marketing strategy is fully integrated and incorporates an important investment in television combined with print materials, interactive, point of sale, events, and experiential marketing programs in a campaign designed to promote social responsibility. The first phase of the launch is scheduled to begin in February and coincides with the USA-Mexico match taking place in Houston, Texas. Cuervo Tradicional will present its new television spots which will be broadcast by Fox Sports en Espanol, Galavision, Azteca America, ESPN Deportes and the Discovery Network. Recently, these same Jose Cuervo Tradicional social responsibility spots were the first spirits advertising permitted by the Spanish language cable channel Galavision and national cable giant ESPN, breaking new ground for the spirits industry.

“Jose Cuervo Tradicional is proud to represent the rich history of Mexican culture, and shares a deep sense of identity with the Mexican National Soccer Team. With this campaign, Cuervo Tradicional embraces the honor and responsibility that lie at the core of its Mexican heritage,” says Toby Whitmoyer, Brand Director, Cuervo Portfolio. “We put on our team’s jersey to focus on our shared values,” he adds.

The campaign also includes an aggressive public relations program and radio spots scheduled to air on the leading radio station in Texas, California, Illinois and Colorado throughout the year.

Cuervo Tradicional is the first tequila created by the Cuervo family, and continues to be the best-selling 100% agave reposado tequila in Mexico. No one understands Mexican passion, tradition and pride better than Jose Cuervo. With its new campaign, Cuervo Tradicional emphasizes its intimate relationship with the Mexican consumer by joining the Mexican National Team for the next two years of soccer.

About Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo is the largest producer of tequila throughout Mexico and around the world. The Jose Cuervo portfolio of tequilas includes Jose Cuervo Especial, the number one tequila worldwide, Jose Cuervo Clasico, Jose Cuervo Black Medallion, Jose Cuervo Tradicional, Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia, Jose Cuervo Platino, Jose Cuervo Golden Margaritas, Authentic Jose Cuervo Margaritas and Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix. For more information, visit

Jose Cuervo Tequilas are imported and marketed in the United States by Diageo North America, a subsidiary of Diageo plc. Diageo is the world’s leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, wine and beer categories. These brands include: Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff, J&B, Baileys, Cuervo, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, and Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards wines. Diageo is a global company, trading in more than 180 countries around the world. The company is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (DEO) and the London Stock Exchange (DGE). For more information about Diageo, its people, brands and performance, visit