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Rosarito Beach

Promoting An Accurate & Positive Image Is The Goal
By Ron Raposa

ROSARITO BEACH---About 70 community leaders in Baja’s expatriate community last week attended the first summit of the Baja Image Committee. It was organized for foreign residents who want to promote a positive and accurate portrait of the region.

The two-day summit entitled “Building Baja’s Tomorrow’s Today” was held June 8th and 9th at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, which provided free lodging and meals for those attending.

The event was a response to requests from many of the thousands of expats who live in the region. Many have expressed a desire to do more to help convey an accurate picture of life in Baja, especially to people living in the United States.

The summit featured testimonials from many of those residents, including some who said reports of scattered drug-related violence in recent years had made some friends and relatives reluctant to visit.

Those concerns are considered a large factor in the decline in tourism and visitors the past several years, although a strong rebound has been noted this Easter and Memorial Day weekend, the traditional beginning of the summer season.

The summit included a panel discussion as well as presentations on methods of gathering and distributing accurate and positive information, plus using social networks.

Hugo Torres, head of the Baja Image Committee and former Rosario mayor, said that “always telling the truth” is critical for such efforts to succeed. It is essential that government officials work hard to correct any problems that do exist, he added.

Baja State Tourism Secretary Juan Tintos and Arturo Martinez, director of visitor assistance, told of government efforts to make visitors more comfortable and welcome, including the 078 assistance number which is in operation 24 hours day and seven days a week.

Steven Kashkett, U.S. Consul General for Baja, also attended to give an off-the-record briefing.

Rosarito resident Ken Bell, who leads the expatriate committee of the Baja Image Committee, pointed out that much work remains after the summit to accomplish goals that have been established.

Bell, along with Rosarito’s tourism delegate Cesar River, were summit moderators.

Other speakers included Emerson College Professor Gregory Payne, who has established a Rediscover Rosarito project that he said can be applied to all of Baja.

“You’re all your own TV networks,” Payne said, referring to the access that everyone has to post videos on You Tube and similar sites.

Chris Hill, of the Live Mexico campaign, and representatives of Allison & Partners public relations also spoke.

Expatriate residents from Rosarito, Ensenada, San Felipe and Tijuana who attended the summit are expected to share information and strategies for promoting a full, accurate and positive regional image with others in coming months.

Mayor Torres Tells Expats Of Progress as He Concludes Three Years In Office

Hugo Torres Mayor of RosaritoROSARITO BEACH, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO---Mayor Hugo Torres on Saturday told the United Society of Baja California of three years of efforts that have brought the city crime rate to its lowest since the state began compiling figures in 2000.

“If you thought Rosarito was safe 10 years ago, now it is as safe or safer,” Torres told one of the largest expatriate groups in the city which includes an estimated 14,000 foreign-born residents.

Torres, who also owns the landmark Rosarito Beach Hotel, took office in December of 2007 and leaves at the end of this month. Mayors in Mexico are limited to three-year terms.

Torres said he initially did not want to run for Mayor of the city he helped found in 1995: “I’m a business man not a politician. I was borrowed for this job.”

But he was troubled by corruption in the police department, which included a failure to crack down on drug gangs in the city. “If I had owned a hot dog cart, I might have just moved it,” he said. “But with the hotel, I couldn’t do that.”

The first year in office was marked by an assassination attempt on his new police chief Jorge Montero, an Army captain on leave, the need to replace most officers and killings between rival gangs.

“I was threatened at the same time, but we had to get through it and we did,” he said. “When my police chief survived and decided to stay on, I knew we were going to be OK.”

To ensure that Rosarito remains an excellent city in the future, Torres has worked to expand drug prevention efforts, visited all city schools and helped develop more community programs, including the city’s first Boys & Girls Club.

Also, he said, “We should continue to keep an eye on the police, which is something we didn’t do enough of in the past.”

Torres said he regrets that more people in the U.S. are not aware that Rosarito is safer than ever, in part because of extensive media coverage of struggles with drug gangs elsewhere in Mexico including Juarez, 600 miles to the east.

“Unfortunately, we have not been able to bring the tourists back,” he said. Tourism is the largest contributor to the city’s economy.

Torres thanked USBC members for their support and for being excellent ambassadors for Rosarito by helping inform people in the U.S. what living in the city really is like.

“We loved working with you over the years,” USBC secretary Judy Westphal told the mayor. “You’ve been absolutely fabulous.”

 

Published Thursday, July 28, 2011 9:22 AM by Zinnia Q.

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