San Pancho: "Plaza del Sol"
supposedly “The Government of the People”.
In early January of this year the newly formed NAYARIT State Government, under the slogan “PARAISOS NAYARITAS”, surprisingly announced the launch of a major remodeling program for the plazas of several coastal communities. The official launch meeting took place on January 5th in the hotel MARIVAL in Nuevo Vallarta, where over 50 persons, representing civil society of the region, where sworn in to be “vigilantes” for proper execution of the project. About 10 days later the press and members of the Sayulita community were invited for a public presentation of the program, where, however, no details were given what the exact plans for remodeling were (1).
As now has become evident, a double time pressure led to major blunders in the architectural design of the program. Also, the program turns out to be a very unfortunate form of “top-down government”.
Violating existing state legislation.
The process chosen by the new state government clearly violates existing state legislation that foresees public consultations and local participation in these decision-making processes and requires involving the communities “affected” by such major public works programs (2).
According to government officials, the state had to act in a hurry, in order not to loose federal funding that had not been used by the previous state government. Therefore, in September of last year, the newly appointed Secretary of State Tourism pressed hard to initiate this remodeling effort, asking his colleague from Public Works to quickly draw up plans that were necessary to obtain the federal funding. The plans are dated October 2011.
The other reason for the hasty action, although officially never mentioned, is that between 25th and 28th of March of this year, Jalisco (Puerto Vallarta) and Nayarit (Bahía de Banderas) will host the TIANGUIS TURÍSTICO, a major international event for tourist operators. More than 6000 participants are expected. Lots of them will tour the coastal communities, which - at that time - “are supposed to look nice and attractive” (3).
The first phase of remodeling plans for plazas in coastal communities includes La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Sayulita and San Pancho. Higuera Blanca seems to have been added more recently to this remodeling effort of a first phase.
According to the new Secretary of State Tourism, Phase II will include Monteón, San Blas, Lo de Marcos, Santa María del Oro, Jala, San Pedro Lagunillas y la Isla de Mexcaltitan.
The plans for remodeling.
The plans for remodeling the main plazas of the communities are essentially all the same, adjusting the size of the project for the individual communities to the geographical situation in the locations: The same park benches, the same type of water fountains (ideal to attract mosquitos), the same type of garbage cans, the same type of plants (some of them non- native species). AND, in all cases: lots of stamped concrete.
While the new municipal president of Bahía de Banderas and several of his cabinet members participated at the launch meeting and the public ceremony in Sayulita, praising the new state government´s effort, it actually never was involved in the decision-making process, something also required by law.
Only after remodeling began, the state government shared their plans with Bahía de Banderas. The municipio in turn did nothing to inform its citizens. On the contrary, it tried everything to conceal the details of the remodeling, until they were “unofficially leaked” about two weeks ago.
At that time, work crews of a contractor from Tepic had already destroyed most of the traditional infrastructure of local plazas in San Pancho, La Cruz and Higuera Blanca. Remodeling also had started in Sayulita, where small business owners bitterly complained how a supposedly people-oriented government would virtually dig up the center of the town during the height of the tourist season.
In San Pancho, within a few hours, John Deere tractors of the Tepic contractor had destroyed the symbolic “Plaza del Sol”, which had been paved with environmentally friendly interlocking “adoquin” (pavers).
About the same time crews started removing the adoquin on the plaza in Higuera Blanca, removing and damaging the traditional park benches and preparing the ground for tons of stamped concrete, that was applied only a couple of days later (4).
On January 22nd a group of concerned citizens living in San Pancho created an open forum on facebook. Within hours they were joined by another hundred of concerned residents. This group, called SAN PANCHO, Participatory Community elaborated a list of very concrete suggestions for changes for the remodeling of their plaza (5) (6).
Please post this link on your facebook pages and let your friends know about this new space and this movement:
On January 30th concerned community members of Higuera Blanca also filed a letter with Obras Públicas in Tepic, making very concrete suggestions for changes and improvements of the project. There has been no answer until now (7) (8).
Meeting with state officials.
Last week, Friday 3rd of February, there was a meeting scheduled at 4:00pm in Nuevo Vallarta between several members of civil organizations in Bahía de Banderas, including Erik Saracho, resident of San Pancho and a renowned environmental activist, and the Secretary of State Tourism. The Secretary could only attend the scheduled meeting for about 15 minutes, after which the Governor required his presence. When he finally returned to the group, he agreed to call another meeting in San Pancho, still during this week (6 – 11th of February). At this new meeting representatives of the state´s Public Works are supposed to participate. Unfortunately no date and time for the new meeting was mentioned.
Apparently all of these initiated projects and more to come, are part of a master plan called "Paraisos Nayaritas", with some sort of certification, i.e. standardization program, the full scope of it includes requiring the pueblos involved to conform to certain criteria so as to be designated as "Pueblos Mágicos". Some of the standards of a “Pueblo Mágico” include, painting facades in the same color, street drainage, lighting, plaza beautification, handicap access, benches and underground utilities.
These proposed improvements are all designed “to attract and improve the experience of tourists to these areas”. It appears that the authentic rural pueblo, that has been the primary attraction for many foreign residents in these areas, are now at risk of being transformed into modern style, palm tree lined, cookie cutter duplicates of each other.
QUESTION: How would YOU, for yourself, define “Paradise Nayarit” in positive terms?: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
(1) Pone en marcha Roberto Sandoval programa “Paraísos Nayaritas”: http://www.elsoldenayarit.mx/?tema=Pol%EDtica&id_nota=10386
(2) LEY DE ASENTAMIENTOS HUMANOS Y DESARROLLO URBANO PARA EL ESTADO DE NAYARIT.
(3) TIANGUIS TURÍSTICO: http://tianguisturisticomexico.com.mx/
(4) NAYARIT: Un gobierno estatal “OUT OF ORDER” (I). Otra obra de relumbrón en San Pancho, Nayarit: http://rivieranayaritone.blogspot.com/2012/01/nayarit-un-gobierno-estatal-out-of.html
(5) Solicitan ajustes al Programa "Paraisos Nayaritas": http://www.nayaritopina.mx/index.php/editar-locales/2557-solicitan-ajustes-al-programa-paraisos-nayaritas
(6) Construction Project "Paradise Nayarit”, presently implemented by the NAYARIT State Government. REQUEST FOR CHANGES TO PROPOSED REMODELING of “Plaza del Sol” in SAN PANCHO, Riviera Nayarit: http://rivieranayaritone.blogspot.com/2012/01/construction-project-paradise-nayarit.html
(7) PROGRAMA “PARAISOS NAYARITAS”, RIVIERA NAYARIT. Remodeling of the Plaza Pública de Higuera Blanca: http://rivieranayaritone.blogspot.com/2012/02/programa-paraisos-nayaritas-riviera.html