This story originally appeared in the second edition of the SanCarlos Wireless.
By Alex Calvo
Have you been to Puerto Vallarta or Cancun? Perhaps Los Cabos, Tulum, or Mazatlan? What about Puerto Peñasco? Odds are many of you have been to one of these towns. Do you know what the big difference is between San Carlos and any of these world-class resorts? Beauty? Definitely not because we have it; Beaches? No, we have beautiful beaches. So, really the main difference between these developments and San Carlos, is that they are their own “municipios” or in English incorporated.
San Carlos is in the municipio of Guaymas which means Guaymas owns San Carlos. That means San Carlos has no administrative or legal autonomy and does not enjoy self-determination over their own budget policies, projects and programs that enable self-sufficiency and mainly the progress and welfare of its inhabitants.
So now many are wondering, what are we waiting for or what do we need to do to get that autonomy? Well, it’s very simple but also complex. First of all, INFORMATION is required: we need to disseminate information that allows the society to be well aware of the benefits and of course, the obligations to incorporate. UNITY: Everyone needs to get on the same page which is no easy task. People have their own special interests, ambitions, plans. It is not so easy for people to unify for their own collective good. ORGANIZATION: If we could ever achieve unity then the hard work of devoting TIME and COMMITMENT to the project begins. Incorporation will require many hours of work by many people. FINANCIAL RESOURCES will also be needed to handle and manage the whole process. But the most important thing of all, WILL, the will of the general population. Apathy is our main enemy; we always expect others to do things for us.
Quite often, I have asked myself why San Carlos has not incorporated? The answer lies in the lack of all of the items listed above. And we could add a few more, like fear, and lack of creativity. Does San Carlos full fill all legal requirements to incorporate? The answer to that question is Absolutely and completely yes!!!
First of all, we must understand the geographic boundaries that encompass the new Municipio of San Carlos. The geographic area of San Carlos does not just start at the Fiesta Hotel and run west to La Manga and north to Los Ranchitos. No, its boundaries are enormous and reach far beyond that!. Get ready for this. San Carlos stretches from La Manga to Los Ranchitos and then continues east past the estuary El Soldado to Ejido Buenos Aires then continues east to Santa Clara, La Cuadrita, La Resvalon, Ejido San Jose. From San Jose it stretches to Empalme. North from Santa Clara it stretches as far as Ejido Sahuaral, almost to Hermosillo.
Sonora consists of municipalities that exist today and that are erected on the basis of electoral districts. You cannot alter district divisions. That is, for example, the town of Guaymas, not all of it, but most of it, belongs to the Local Electoral District XIII and also is part of the Federal Electoral District 04; for this reason, the current comisario in San Carlos is part of the XIII Local District, and the Federal District 04. If San Carlos were become its own municipio, the law states that the new municipality of San Carlos would be part of the Local Electoral District XIII and the Federal Electoral District 04.
Article 64 of the Constitution of the state of Sonora, states that the creation of municipalities, their new boundaries and limits of the existing ones are subject to the requirements of the Constitution. Article 64 of the Constitution of the State of Sonora establishes the powers of the State Congress, the point at hand, is located in subsection XII, which empowers Congress to erect new state municipalities within the boundaries of existing ones; Here are the requirements for that to happen.
a) That the territorial portion in question has a population of at least ten thousand inhabitants.
b) Show to Congress that it has fulfilled all requirements to provide for is political existence. In other words can San Carlos pay for itself to exist.
c) File a petition to grant to the city or municipalities concerned the right to be heard within a period of two months from the day they receive the respective communication about incorporation.
d) The latter report must be filed within sixty days of the date it has been applied.
e) That the creation of the new municipality is approved by two-thirds of the Members of Congress.
Let’s start off with population. Does this enormous area that would become the municipio of San Carlos have 10,000 inhabitants? It probably does but if it does not what then? Here is where political will comes in. The following table shows a portion of the population census of 2010 by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography INEGI.
We have not included the whole table in print if but if we had you would see that 50 of the 72 municipalities that currently exist, do not comply with a population of ten thousand inhabitants. That is, 69.44% of the municipalities do not comply. There are extreme cases, such as Oquitoa with 443 inhabitants, and even more so is the case with 399 inhabitants of Onavas. These areas have less than 500 people yet they have their own municipio.
In Sonora 36 municipalities have less than 5000 inhabitants, 30 fewer than 2000 inhabitants, and 9 have less than a thousand residents. The Sonoran state constitution establishes the power of the State of Sonora to abolish these municipalities for lacking the elements necessary to be their own municipios but they have not done so.
In any case, the number of people, and the ability to generate resources, for the Municipio of San Carlos, would be greater than 70% of the municipalities that already exist in Sonora.
In our case, the number of people in San Carlos may be obtained by simple calculations that are perfectly measurable by looking at registered voters. San Carlos has 3 electoral districts (1082, 1083 and 1090) Section 1082 has a list in its electoral boxes of 1,946 voters and is located in the vicinity of Ranchitos usually installed in the Cuauhtemoc elementary school. Section 1083, is located in Santa Clara, has a voter registration list of 1,535 and is located in their Kindergarden and section 1090 has 1,575 voters and is located in San Jose de Guaymas.
These electoral sections, allow us to know that they accumulate a total of 5,056 voters overall, which equals residents living here. The nominal list includes the average 68.37% of the population, because the rest are underage children who have not yet been registered in this governing body; which means that there should be around about 7,395 inhabitants within the demarcation of the San Carlos Municpio. Now this population data is from 2010. Assuming an annual growth rate of 1.46% (i.e. eliminating deaths), we can assume, now in 2013, San Carlos has 7,723 inhabitants.
To this total must be added all foreigners since by law foreigners with temporary or permanent residency visas are considered as inhabitants. That means that any foreigner living in San Carlos simply prove residence and they would count as inhabitants. How many are there? There must be at least 1,000 and those numbers could be verified by immigration.
Continuing with the analysis of the requirements Point “b” from above. San Carlos must establish proof before the State Congress that is has resources necessary to provide for its political existence. You bet San Carlos does and Guaymas would hate to see all that revenue which they never give back to San Carlos go out the window. All of the taxes from San Carlos go to Guaymas at the moment and what comes back is not much. San Carlos generates equity of over 25 million pesos in property taxes, transfers of ownership, rights and permissions. It has additional potential to generate considerably more. Other taxes such as 2% lodging, federal maritime zone operation, money form sport fishing permits could be requested, sectorial permits, et cetera.
The people of San Carlos, also generate a whole host of activities imposed by business professionals, commercial and private business ownership, both individuals and corporations in all forms of tax systems generate tax, the tax base and the range of taxes is varied, just to mention some as the Income Tax (ISR), taxes on the Work Product (ISPT), Value Added Tax (IVA), and licensing procedures for operating permits and renewals of establishments, renewals Alcohol licenses, health licenses, permits for street sales, street vending permits, permits for holding mass events, among others.
In the vehicular and automotive category, driver’s licenses, license plate renewal, tenure, ownership changes, traffic tickets, to name the most common. If to all that conglomeration of income shares are added from state and federal funds, I estimated an annual budget of no less than 75 million pesos.
With respect to “c” and “d” above, which states that the city councils or municipalities concerned are granted the right to be heard and the governor must reply within the period of two months from the day they receive the respective communication from the new Comisaria building in San Carlos. San Carlos would also have to respect the right of an audience with the Municipality of Guaymas. In other words the Mayor of Guaymas would come to the new government office in San Carlos and argue that San Carlos cannot truly be incorporated because then Guaymas would not get all of our tax revenues. At that time San Carlos would simply have to generate sufficient response to any disagreement that may be presented by Guaymas by saying sorry guys but we are tired of you guys sucking us dry and would really like to improve our town and the only way to do it is to break the chains that bind us. Adios Guaymas.
Point “e” San Carlos would have to do the necessary lobbying to secure a yes vote by two thirds or 22 of the 33 members of the State Congress. We all know how the two Guaymas representatives would vote on that one.
While the lobbying process goes on the following things must be taken into consideration with short, medium and long term goals be set to insure the following:
– Offices where you will install and operate the New City Hall
– Municipal and Sanitary Control
– Local law Court
– Police Department and Delegations
– Administrative Delegations in different populations (you have to understand that those who previously were delegations would become comisarias, such as San Jose, and those that were villages would become Delegations which would require San Carlos to offer basic services, such as security, garbage collection, public works, etc.).
– Fire dept.
– Red Cross (Rescue)
– Clinics and at least one General Hospital (medium and long term)
– Civil Protection
Imagine a San Carlos that would get to keep all of its tax revenues. Imagine bilingual police, public bath rooms, palapas on public beaches. Imagine enforcement of building codes on main boulevard. Imagine if San Carlos could be in charge of Semana Santa and actually take control over the nightmare that each year we must deal with. For all the Mexican Nationals out there realize this. As it is now there are only around 5,700 voters here. Guaymas politicians do not care about mexican voters in San Carlos, San Jose or Santa Clara. They do not have to. With 150,000 residents in Guaymas the candidates for mayor virtually never come here and campaign, they don’t have to. A candidate from Guaymas for mayor could lose ever single vote that San Carlos, San Jose and Santa Clara has to offer and still become mayor. In the end San Carlos will never be all that it can be if it remains a belonging of Guaymas and unable to control its own destiny.
An autonomous San Carlos would mean access to resources for different programs that until now only Guaymas can take advantage of. Like the malecon and the cruise ship terminal, that has benefited virtually no one but the Holland America Cruise Line. Autonomy would mean access to financial institutions, and funding that would allow for development and job creation that would spill over to the economy and the entire municipality.
The road is long, but not impossible. How long it would take depends on ourselves and acquiring at least 22 of 33 votes in congress. For San Carlos to incorporate will take work and dedication but it is completely achievable, the main thing is the unity of the social base. San Carlos, Santa Clara and San Jose must all support each other. Old habits must be broken and personal interests must be put aside. This may prove to be the most difficult of all.