March 25, 2005

Protecting the tourists

By Luis Alonso Pérez

For San Diegans its Spring Break, for tijuanenses its Semana Santa, but for everyone, it means taking a well deserved rest from the routine, as well as an opportunity to visit the beaches and recreation centers or maybe visiting family and friends on the other side of the border.

To maintain tourist’s order and safety, authorities from both sides of the border created a tourist protection project, designed to inform Americans crossing into Tijuana and Mexicans crossing into San Ysidro about their rights and obligations.

Although many of the people who live in this region already know some of the cities and traditions of the neighboring country, the ignorance of laws and regulations often serves as an excuse to disobey them, but at the same time, not knowing them can put the tourist in risk of extortion or abuse from police or authorities. That’s why since Friday March 18, personnel of academic institutions and Mexican government authorities will be distributing informative pamphlets to the tourists who cross walking towards Tijuana.

The pamphlet includes information about consumption, possession and distribution of drugs, considered a serious federal crime for Mexican authorities. It reminds the readers about acts of public disorder and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs which can lead them to jail, as well as the possession of firearms or knives. It also indicates that the age difference for the alcohol consumption isn’t an excuse for abusing and it ends asking the tourists “don’t do in Tijuana what you can’t do in your country”.

The tourist protection program was announced in a public meeting on March 17 in the Tijuana’s city hall. Authorities from both sides of the border where present at the event. The consul of Mexico in San Diego, Luis Cabrera Cuarón stated that he had been working in coordination with the consul of the United States in Tijuana, David Stewart, so “the border is not, at any moment, an excuse for impunity, to commit excesses on either side of the border, or to show to disrespect to the law”.

David Stewart pointed out the importance of sharing the obligation of protecting each other’s citizens “a Mexican who visits California has rights and responsibilities, the same here, for Americans who visit Baja California. When a tourist behaves inappropriately is subject to the laws and penalties that exist in any of the two countries, but under any circumstance, authorities must respect their rights and treat tourists with respect and consideration”.

The American consul applauded the statement made by the director of public security of Tijuana, when he mentioned that the era of the extortion to the tourist was finished and reiterated the support of his government to reach this common goal.

Tijuana’s mayor expressed his concern in making tourists who visit his city have good stay, a good return and a good memory of the city. That’s why he considers very important to explain what can and cannot be done in this town, and offer equal or greater protection than to Mexicans, since tourists come from a different country “because we, the tijuanenses are the hosts here”.

The program began on March 18 and will continue working every Friday and Saturday for the next four months.

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