Mexico’s New Drug Law Makes Sense

David Simmonds

Mexico has taken a bold and pragmatic step in how they will deal with the “drug problem” that currently is being felt in much of the industrialized world. Here are the provisions of the new drug law:

Drug Users: no arrests for personal possession of 1/2 gram of cocaine, 5 grams of marijuana, 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams of meth, or .15 milligrams of LSD. If caught with less than these amounts the police will give the person the address of the nearest rehab center and suggest that they visit. Hell, they don’t arrest small-time users anyway, instead they shake them down for a little bribe money.

Treatment: third time offenders get mandatory treatment

Dealers: Anyone with up to 1,000 times the legal amounts can be arrested by the state police. People with larger amounts would be deemed to be traffickers and handed over the the Feds. You don’t want to mess with the Feds.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the never-ending “war on drugs” has been a colossal, expensive failure for over 40 years, both at home and abroad. The present system has filled the prisons in the US beyond capacity with pot smokers and has turned Mexico into a country being terrorized by the mighty drug cartels. This ain’t working, and my hat is off to President Calderon and the Mexican Congress for seeking a new direction.

Actually, the same bill was introduced in Mexico in 2006, but the Bush administration went into their predictable hand-wringing hysterics in protest, causing then-President Fox to back down on signing it. This time, the Obama administration has wisely refrained from drawing judgment, no doubt aware of how hypocritical it would appear to the rest of the world given the millions of drug users in the U.S.

I personally believe that this is just the first step by Mexico to eventually legalize and control the sale and use of coke and pot as the only means of driving a stake through the heart of the drug cartels. And I believe they would have huge support from the Mexican people if they saw this as the best way to defeat the powerful, ruthless cartels. Maybe the U.S. will learn a lesson and enough lawmakers will have the stones to do something similar. (Right)

Education and treatment work. Don’t believe me? Just ask the cigarette companies how business is in the U.S. these days.

UNESCO World Heritage Status Likely for San Luis Potosi

By John Mitchell

The Plaza de Armas in San Luis Potosi
The Plaza de Armas in San Luis Potosi

San Luis Potosi has never received as much attention as its famous neighbors, Guanajuato and Zacatecas, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. But this situation could change in 2010, when it is likely that San Luis Potosi will also be added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.

True, San Luis Potosi doesn’t overwhelm your senses with spectacular architecture the way some of Mexico’s Spanish colonial cities do, rather its beauty lies in the details: ornate iron balconies, neoclassical doorways, and understated facades decorated with intricate crests and scrollwork reveal themselves as you wander its orderly grid of streets.

The Spanish founded San Luis Potosi in 1592 after they discovered gold and silver at Cerro de San Pedro in the nearby mountains. San Luis soon became one of the most important and wealthiest cities in New Spain and a major stop on the Camino Real or Royal Road, along which silver and gold were transported from Zacatecas south to coffers in Mexico City.

San Luis Potosi is organized around six plazas, each with its own personality and unique blend of architectural styles representing four centuries of building sprees. At the heart of the historical center lies the sprawling Plaza de Armas with its 17th-century baroque cathedral, and somber-looking Palacio Municipal and Palacio de Gobierno, both dating back to the 19th century.

The 17th-century Edifico de la Antigua Caja Real or Old Royal Treasury Building near the Plaza de Armas is currently being restored to help meet part of the requirements outlined by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee during its 33rd session that was held in Seville, Spain, in June 2009. It is now anticipated that the UNESCO committee will inscribe San Luis Potosi on the World Heritage list during its 34th session in 2010.

For more details, visit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s website

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San Luis Potosi – Images by John Mitchell

Address to the Nation on Health during Third State of the Union Address

Friday, August 28, 2009

President Felipe Calderón

Enjoying good health services is one of the desires and aspiration of all Mexican families. That is why it is crucial for them to have clinics, doctors and medicines available for when they need them.

I know that many families, particularly during these difficult times, are worried about not being able to afford a doctor if one of their children falls ill or about having to cut back on expenses if there is an emergency.

Health should not be a privilege for those that can afford it. Health should be within all Mexicans’ reach.

Federal Government’s commitment is that before the end of this administration, Mexico will achieve universal health coverage, in other words, doctors, medicine and treatment for any Mexican who needs it.

This is a fundamental, historic step for guaranteeing Mexicans’ well-being. It is something that many nations in the world would like to achieve and something that we are achieving.

Today, thanks to the fact that the budget for the Popular Insurance Scheme has tripled in three years, 10 million families that are not affiliated to the Social Security Institute or the ISSSSTE can have insurance that will cover their medical expenses and have access to the health services they deserve, without getting into debt.

We have already begun to do this with all new Mexicans. All newborns come with Medical Insurance under their arm.

With Medical Insurance for a New Generation, we are providing health services for over 2,200,000 children and their families, from the time they are born.

And not only that. As a result of the Health Pregnancy Program, 400,000 women are receiving the medical care they and their babies need during and after pregnancy.

In order to deal with the health needs of more families, this year, we are investing over 9.3 million pesos in the construction and remodeling of clinics and hospitals. This is twice what was invested in clinics and hospitals at the beginning of my administration.

Over the past three years, we have completed over 1,300 hospital works by Federal Government. Moreover, through the Health Caravans, which are mobile teams, with doctors, nurses and a small surgery, we are taking medical services to over 13,000 villages and marginalized communities, whereby we will be benefiting over two and a half million Mexicans throughout the country who had not previously had medical service.

All this has been possible due to the fact that since 2006, the amount of money assigned to health has been increased by 50%. This year, the budget for this sector is approximately $350 billion pesos, a hitherto unprecedented figure.

Rest assured that we will go on working for your health and that of your family. That is our duty and our commitment.

Enjoying good health services is one of the desires and rights of all Mexican families. That is why it is crucial for them to have clinics, doctors and medicines available for when they need them.

I know that many families, particularly during these difficult times, are worried about not being able to afford a doctor if one of their children falls ill or about having to cut back on expenses if there is an emergency.

Health should not be a privilege for those that can afford it. Health should be within all Mexicans’ reach. Federal Government’s commitment is that before the end of this administration, Mexico will achieve universal health coverage, in other words, doctors, medicine and treatment for any Mexican who needs it.

This is a fundamental, historic step for guaranteeing Mexicans’ well-being. It is something that many nations in the world would like to achieve and something that we are achieving.

Today, thanks to the fact that the budget for the Popular Insurance Scheme has tripled in three years, 10 million families that are not affiliated to the Social Security Institute or the ISSSSTE can have insurance that will cover their medical expenses and have access to the health services they deserve, without getting into debt.

We have already begun to do this with all new Mexicans. All newborns come with Medical Insurance under their arm.

With Medical Insurance for a New Generation, we are providing health services for over 2,200,000 children and their families, from the time they are born.

And not only that. As a result of the Health Pregnancy Program, 400,000 women are receiving the medical care they and their babies need during and after pregnancy.

In order to deal with the health needs of more families, this year, we are investing over 9.3 million pesos in the construction and remodeling of clinics and hospitals. This is twice what was invested in clinics and hospitals at the beginning of my administration.

Over the past three years, we have completed over 1,300 hospital works by Federal Government. Moreover, through the Health Caravans, which are mobile teams, with doctors, nurses and a small surgery, we are taking medical services to over 13,000 villages and marginalized communities, whereby we will be benefiting over two and a half million Mexicans throughout the country who had not previously had medical service.

All this has been possible due to the fact that since 2006, the amount of money assigned to health has been increased by 50%. This year, the budget for this sector is approximately $350 billion pesos, a hitherto unprecedented figure.

Rest assured that we will go on working for your health and that of your family. That is our duty and our commitment.

THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen Opens an On-site Civil Registry Office for Weddings

Civil Registry Office ‘No. 10’ Simplifies the Destination Wedding Planning Process

RIVIERA MAYA, Mexico,  /PRNewswire/ — In its ongoing efforts to accommodate all guest wishes and expectations, Real Resorts announces the opening of an on-site Civil Registry Office simplifying the marriage license process. Located at THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen, the new office will exclusively serve brides and grooms-to-be at both THE ROYAL and the adjacent Gran Porto Real Resorts. Ms. Gabriela Joublanc Warnholtz was named Civil Register Officer, by the head of the government of Solidaridad. With this new title Ms. Joublanc Warnholtz can officiate over weddings at both resorts and issue valid marriage licenses in less than four days cutting down on time and red tape. In addition, guests will have the services of a dedicated Justice of the Peace who is bilingual and can perform wedding services seven days a week including Sunday.

“It is simply a pleasure to have this added service for the many couples who come to Real Resorts to celebrate their weddings,” said Fernando Garcia, General Director, Real Resorts. “This added service allows couples to enjoy their time at the resort and their wedding, without having to take time out and experience the hassle of going to an offsite civil office,” added Garcia.

THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen and The Gran Porto Real offer a wide selection of wedding and honeymoon packages, starting with the Complimentary Wedding for couples staying a minimum of five nights in a Master Suite or a Royal Presidential Suite, or booking 20 Ocean View guests suites also with a minimum of five nights.

For couples planning a larger wedding, or who want more romance such as spa treatments, private beach dinners or specialized amenities, Real Resorts offers a selection of deluxe wedding ceremony packages to fit many budgets and lifestyles. Included in the wide variety of wedding choices is a traditional Mayan Ceremony that includes special Mayan touches such as crowns of natural flowers for the bride and groom, a Mayan Shaman who is the ‘spiritual guide’ and requests the blessing of the Mayan gods for the couple, traditional Mayan music; a special offering of fruit, candles and flowers, and a tequila cocktail toast with Mayan fruit tarts. There is also an option to add four prehistoric-style Mayan dancers to the ceremony.

For more information about planning a Real Resort Wedding visit online at www.RealResorts.com/weddings or contact our wedding specialist in the U.S. at 800.543.7556.

Oaxaca Stars Come Out in Mexico City

by Ron Mader

Mexico City – Galería Plaza de las Estrellas hosts the Oaxaca in Mexico Expo from August 28-September 13. The event features a diverse selection of Oaxaca folk art, including friends Rodrigo Martinez (Ayuuk) and Angela Mendoza and daughter Veronica. There will also be local food and mezcal!

Galería Plaza de las Estrellas – Mexico’s version of Hollywood – is located at Melchor Ocampo #193.

Oaxaca en México

GUESTS FROM THE RITZ-CARLTON, CANCUN TEAM UP WITH MAYAN COMMUNITIES TO CREATE A LASTING CONTRIBUTION

Through its Give Back Getaway program, the resort offers travelers the opportunity to volunteer their time to help Mayan towns in need

CANCUN, México – August 2009 – Guests from The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun can team up with volunteers of the award winning resort to help Mayan communities in need. The Mayan Acquaintance Experience is the resorts Give Back Getaway activity, offering voyagers the opportunity to sense the magic of a culture still alive in the jungles of Quintana Roo.

Partnering with Kanché, a local non-profit organization, starting August 14, 2009, the beachfront hotel is offering guests the opportunity to have an extraordinary encounter with the Mayan culture through a full-day giving experience. During their visit, participants travel to a nearby village to join the locals on projects that will contribute to improve the rural conditions of the town and the lack of opportunities for its people.

Once on location, guests work side-by-side with the resort’s volunteers and the community on different tasks, from painting and gardening to simple carpentry and furniture restoration for improvement of the school. In addition, guests can also collaborate in implementing recycling programs to raise environmental awareness in the community. At all times, participants are joined by the hotel’s employees who provide interesting tidbits about this captivating culture and teach Mayan words for visitors to communicate with the locals.

“Give Back Getaways is an inspiring opportunity for guests to team up with our ladies and gentlemen to become more involved with the region and personally enrich their visit” mentioned Hermann Elger, general manager. “The Mayan Acquaintance experience provides a true insight into the Mayan culture while conveying the spirit of giving. We are all eager to join efforts with our guests to create a lasting contribution while providing significant and unforgettable experiences” he added.

When partaking in The Mayan Acquaintance Experience, guests make a donation of $115 USD per person which includes a light breakfast, lunch and round-trip transportation. Donations go directly to Kanché to support its initiatives in Mayan communities.  The activity must to be reserved by a minimum of five participants. Future dates include: August 14, 2009; October 24, 2009; December 19, 2009; February 27, 2010; April 10, 2010; June 19, 2010.

About Kanché
Kanché A.C. is a non-profit organization that seeks the improvement of the quality of life of rural communities through sustainable development. It offers rural communities access to the knowledge needed to create their own productive actions that, by fomenting the conservation of nature and culture through sustainable development, may improve their quality of life. Kanché aims to facilitate the development of rural communities with participative models based on the sustainable management of natural and cultural resources. For more information visit kanche.org

About The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun
Considered one of the most elegant resorts in the world, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun features 365 guestrooms overlooking the sea, a 2,400-foot beach, sculpted outdoor swimming pools, a full service Spa, an impressive Culinary Center and award winning restaurants. For more information contact the hotel directly at 52-998-881-0808, The Ritz-Carlton toll free reservations at 1 (800) 241-3333, your travel consultant or visit ritzcarlton.com.

Calling all Spa Groupies – Head to Ixtapan….

Calling all Spa Groupies !

Ixtapan Spa Hotel and Golf Resort in the cool mountains of colonial Mexico, announces a special program to introduce clubs, churches, charities and other affinity groups to the benefits of a travel program. We are inviting group leaders from organizations on October 11, 2009 for 4 or 7 nights at a 50% discount on our all inclusive package. Ixtapan Spa Hotel and Golf Resort is a well known Group Destination. Our goal is to assist organizations to create or increase group travel for their members. Special rates are:

Rates :                         7 Night Spa Classic                       4 Night Spa Classic

Single:                            $875.70                                              $548.10

Double pp:                    $740.25                                              $485.10

Includes accommodation, meals, organic spa treatments, tennis/golf lessons, fitness classes, walks, bottled water, taxes, gratuities. Transfers from Mexico City and Toluca Airports are arranged separately.

As a special event, Phyllis Stoller, voted Top Agent for Women’s Travel by Travel & Leisure, will give 2 seminars: How To Generate Group Travel and How To Survive Being a Group Leader. Voted one of the most affordable spas in the world by the readers of Spa Finders, you will find our resort in charming Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico a profitable addition to membership benefits.

We look forward to meeting you October 11, 2009. Please call Group Reservations Specialist, Rosie Davila at 1 800 IXTAPAN to book. Or email a request form from ixtapan@spamexico.com or www.spamexico.com

On completion of the trip, we will offer you a credit. This credit will apply on departure of your first group of 10 or more paying guests. It does not apply to repeat groups, or to companions on this trip. We will ask for a letter from your organization appointing you for this trip.