The subject is a controversial one that has persisted in one form or another for many years. That being the emancipation of San Carlos from being a “comiseria of Guaymas” to being it’s own municipality. A comisaria basically means that San Carlos is owned by Guaymas, not unlike a suburb of a major city. Our tax revenues go to Guaymas and then they pay the salaries for our comandante, our comisario and our local police force, and that’s about all we get besides garbage collection for the money we give to Guaymas. My first recollections of this controversial subject comes from sometime in the mid 90’s, perhaps someone might remember the exact dates that Gerardo Pliego was comisario here. Gerardo brought up the touchy subject matter with the powers that be in Guaymas when he was comisario. Essentially Gerardo wanted to know why none of the tax dollars San Carlos was paying into Guaymas ever came back to San Carlos. As many can imagine that conversation didn’t last long and when Gerardo’s term as comisario ended I don’t believe he was ever asked to come back.
As we fast forward to 2015 there is a small and persistent group of local Mexican residents that have brought back not only the idea of San Carlos becoming its own Municipality but an actual strategy for making that happen. One of those people is Juan Carlos Gonzalez and anyone who has followed the San Carlos TV blog will know of his ground breaking work on the subject of the water company or as we jokingly say in Spanish “La Maldita CEA” and it’s continual price gouging of San Carlos residents. We have covered that story in-depth and will continue to cover it this winter. It was such a controversial subject that Mega Cable in Guaymas actually picked up my video on it and re-edited it and put it on local television. CEA or the Commision Estatal de Aqua actually thinks the controversy is over. They are mistaken. The links to the two posts with video are below.
The problem with CEA is something that the community of San Carlos needs to continue to discuss. Besides the fact that CEA extorts money from unsuspecting San Carlos residents is really only one part of the story. The other issue that I find far more disturbing than the price gauging is the not widely know statistic of how much water CEA allows to leak into the desert through failing infrastructure. Are you ready for this? The percentage of water via leaks in San Carlos/Guaymas ranges between 55 to 65% of total water pumped through the system. Yep that is right, up to 65% of the water pumped to San Carlos is simply allowed to leak into the ground. And guess what, it is not just Guaymas but cities all over Mexico that loose similar percentages of municipal water due to failing infrastructure. It is just that in other areas of Mexico they have more water than us here in the Sonoran desert. Puerto Peñasco, Rocky Point, up north is a good example of failing infrastructure. In a 2012 study called “Moving Forward from Vulnerability to Adaptation: Climate Change, Drought, and Water Demand in the Urbanizing Southwestern United States, and Northern Mexico” researchers studied Puerto Peñasco from 2008 til 2011. The study reports that
“Puerto Peñasco’s water supply system is 40 years old and composed of 90 m (30 ft) diameter pipes that extend for 71 km (44 mi). It is estimated that the municipality loses approximately 60 percent of its water due to age of system’s infrastructure and lack of investment; limited maintenance is provided and system upgrades are rare due to the high cost”
There is no reason to think San Carlos or Guaymas is any different from Puerto Peñasco and CEA officials have admitted to water researchers off the record that water loss here in Guaymas is on par with Puerto Peñasco. Yet you heard absolutely nothing about investment in infrastructure during the last Mayoral election in Guaymas, where Lorezno Decima from PAN trounced the PRI candidate. This lack of interest in a problem of such vast proportions and social consequences is really the perfect example of how incapable Guaymas is of managing San Carlos.
So in the coming weeks and months residents in San Carlos are going to start to hear more about how San Carlos is going to break away from Guaymas to form its own municipality. There is even a Facebook page called La Independencia de San Carlos. The issue of independence is an interesting one and when I think of it I am reminded of the road trip I went on last year to Cancun with Ines and the kids. As you descend the central plateau of Mexico towards the Yucatan Peninsula it is well worth your time to stop off in the small city of Orizaba. I have a close friend in Orizaba that I had not seen in many years so I was very interested in finally visiting this town that is based just north of the volcano Pico de Orizaba, the third highest peak in North America. Although Orizaba is not an official Pueblo Magico de Mexico it could easily be one. The valley in which Orizaba is located is perhaps 25 kilometers long from the small town of Nogales in the western valley, yes that is Nogales Vera Cruz, to the town of Cordoba at the eastern end of the valley.
Now here is were it gets interesting. Within this 25 kilometer distance, roughly the distance between San Carlos and Guaymas, there are no less than 18 different municipalities within the valley of Orizaba. Yes you read that right, 18 different incorporated cities if you like. Each with its own police force, ministerio publico (district attorney), and court system. They collect their own property taxes and the money from those taxes stays in the community. I asked my good friend Vicente why were there so many municipalities within such a short distance. His reply was simple. No body wants some one from some where else in the valley telling the locals how to run their town. It was a revelation really. Vicente also worked for the city government a few years back when a of a friend of his became the mayor. To give you an idea of how much money Orizaba generates in tax revenue the city vehicles that we saw driving around were all Mercedes Benz. How much money does San Carlos generate yearly? That question and more will be asked and answered in the coming months. The answers may surprise us all.
Within this 25 kilometer distance, roughly the distance between San Carlos and Guaymas, there are no less than 18 different municipalities within the valley of Orizaba
For reference here is an article written by Alex Calvo. A friend of ours who lives in Hidalgo. His father owns the Iceberg water store. The article deals with the how part of the San Carlos breaking away from Guaymas scenario. It is worth the read if you have a moment. Imagine if you would a scenario such as this. San Carlos would be the 73rd municipio in Sonora and it could mandate priorities. Here are just a few of the priorities I would like to see mandated.
- San Carlos as it’s own city would have it’s own ministerio publico/ district attorney who would be mandated to prosecute real estate fraud. In Mexico basically 98% of all crimes go unpunished. I would say that for white collar crime it is probably closer to 100% thus if you are a white collar criminal it is virtually guaranteed that you will not be prosecuted for your crime. Look around town at some of the unfinished real estate fiasco’s and try to tell me that this one aspect alone would not invigorate investment in San Carlos.
- How about a bilingual police force that is well paid and subject to zero tolerance in regards to committing acts of extortion against locals and tourists? Pay your police officers well but make them understand that if they extort tourists they will be fired.
- How about some public palapas and bathrooms on the public beaches.
- How about the city actually clean the beaches
Everyone gets the picture. San Carlos becoming it’s own municipio would not be a panacea for all that ails us but it is certainly a good place to start. I think most would agree that San Carlos has a great deal of potential and there is a lot of talent here, Gringo and Mexican alike that could be brought to bear on our little town. It is a lack of leadership in Guaymas and it should be mentioned here as well that allows everyone to accept the status quo. It would seem that some in town are no longer willing to accept that the status quo should be the norm.