As trade talks loom, US halts avocados from Mexico.

Jalisco producers upset after last-minute snag stops historic shipment


Producers celebrate the departure of avocados from Jalisco.

Amidst steadily growing worries over the future of Mexico’s trade with the United States comes an incident on the border that some might think is a presage of things to come. But what will Americans say if there’s no guacamole to go with their Super Bowl nachos?

Five trucks carrying a shipment of 100 tonnes of Jalisco avocados were stopped last Wednesday at the Mexico-U.S. border and rejected by American authorities.

The director of the avocado producers’ association of Jalisco was surprised by the decision issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as producers in the state had been working alongside that agency for months to meet its technical requirements.

“We are unaware of what happened,” said Ignacio Gómez, adding that it was not clear if the decision was related to President Donald Trump’s assuming office on Friday.

The Rural Development Secretariat of Jalisco stated that last May the USDA officially certified the avocado production of several municipalities, granting them an export-grade qualification.

However, more administrative barriers went up, further delaying permission for the fruit’s export. But further negotiations cleared the way.

The endorsement in their pocket, producers from the municipality of Zapotlán el Grande shipped the first batch of avocados aboard five trucks with an official ceremony last Monday where representatives of the federal government and the USDA were in attendance.

Two days later, the shipment was stopped at the border in Reynosa, Tamaulipas due to “setbacks in the implementation of the required protocols,” as the Rural Development Secretariat of Jalisco explained it.

On Friday producers decided to redirect part of the shipment to Canada and the remainder to the domestic market.

Apparently, the agreement between both countries was that Jalisco avocados would be granted access to the U.S. if that country’s potatoes could enter the domestic market in return.

That part of the agreement “got complicated” earlier last week, triggering the USDA’s rejection of the Jalisco avocados, said the state’s Rural Development Secretary.

“This will pass simply as an awkward moment,” said Héctor Padilla, who acknowledged the anger of producers but urged that everyone involved must move on because “in the end what we’re looking for is to open up an important market for the producers and business people of the state.”

“. . . Negotiations with the United States are always variable, never comfortable. This is not the first incident, but we’ll get nowhere by fighting,” he said.

“We are not in a hurry to sell, it isn’t that we have no markets. We are interested in entering [the U.S.] because it is a market that we want to win . . . Our fruit is currently sold in 18 or 19 countries.”

“The fruit of Jalisco is of the best quality, thus we’re in no emergency situation. It’s no big deal if they do not open their doors now,” asserted Padilla.

But what if they do close the doors on both Jalisco and Michoacán avocados? A columnist with the Spanish newspaper El Independiente suggested on Friday that the avocado was a key in the debate over imposing tariffs on Mexican products.

American voters, wrote Marta García Aller, might not take kindly to an import tax that causes avocado prices to skyrocket and makes Super Bowl guacamole a luxury.

“In a time of post-truth politics, it’s the most unexpected things that raise awareness among the population,” she wrote. “And the stomach is one of those things.”

García cited the rising price of Marmite in the United Kingdom and the fact that it became a symbol over the fear of inflation that Brexit (the U.K.’s exit from the European Union) would cause. Comparing Marmite (“a peculiarly British spread,” wrote García, being kind) to avocados is a bit of a stretch, but perhaps the analogy is valid.

“Should Trump renegotiate NAFTA,” the columnist concluded, “not even something as American as the Super Bowl might be safe.”

Source: Milenio (sp), El Informante (sp), El Independiente (sp)

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What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

From Here

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? I have a great suggestion! Right inside the main entrance to Galerias Vallarta, there will be an art exhibition’s Grand Opening. Join me in congratulating artist Francisco Partida for putting this show together. Look for an interview in The Tribune next week.

The Third Annual Guadalupe Church Benefit Concert took place last week. It was glorious! To listen to some of my favourite Baroque composers in that environment – soaring ceilings and rarified air – was so moving. Every performer professional, and giving their magnificent gifts of music – for free – was amazing. I haven’t heard how much money was raised to help repair our beloved church but will let you know when I know. This free concert was the brainchild of Canadian David Boz of Victoria, B.C. and, according to those in attendance there were significantly more people this year than last and certainly more than the first year. That being said, I plan to help this group of mostly Canadians do this again next January and hope to have the church steps holding the overflow.  I would have loved a program to have as a keepsake of such a beautiful evening, but there were no funds for printing. Next year… I briefly have to thank Shanti Doelger who pushed me to come to listen (she played the organ beautifully). Also to David with whom I would like to speak more before next year’s concert. David plays piccolo trumpet that I have heard in recordings but had never heard solo, live. (Just FYI, a piccolo trumpet is half the size of a regular trumpet and an octave higher – a sound I immediately tie to baroque music, right after the harpsichord.) Thank you to all the performers and to all who attended and pitched in some money to keep Guadalupe beautiful.

(Here’s a thought to throw out to Paco Ojeda: how about next January doing a night on the piccolo trumpet for your Music Appreciation series “El Placer de Escuchar”? Thought number two: perhaps invite David Boz; he will quite likely be here.)

The other very cool thing I did last week was go to Nathalie’s party. It was ART VallARTa’s Opening Night to celebrate the artwork of Tony Collantez. The show will run to January 30th and if you are “in the market” for one of Tony’s masterpieces I suggest you get there pronto! Half his paintings were sold by the end of the first night. They will remain, I assume until THE DOOR closes on the exhibit.

Friend and fellow columnist in The Vallarta TribuneMichael Nolan was there. We grabbed a few minutes to chat – his Guadalajara University Radio Show has doubled to two hours. It’s called Good Morning Wake-up Show. Hear it in English, Saturday, 9 am, 104.3 FM.

If I had a radio I would listen; that’s it, From Here!

Upcoming Medical Matters Event and Other Matters.

Upcoming Medical Matters Event and Other Matters

We are in the home stretch preparing for Medical Matters 2017! Save the date! This is an opportunity to have a chat with healthcare providers from the Banderas Bay area.  We have eighteen speakers this year, a record amount and running three rooms simultaneously of speakers is going to be a huge challenge but we can do it (thanks go my stellar group of volunteers!).  I urge you to plan your day ahead of time and during the day take a break to enjoy a meal at one of the several restaurants at the Hotel Marriot (with a discount as an attendee!).

Please know that this event is for all nationalities.  Some people think because the US flag is on the flyer, it is only for US citizens. Not true! The Canadian Consular Agent, Adam, will be there as well (and we welcome him!).  This year (new!) we will have drawings for prizes for those attending the event. If you have something that you would like to donate for a drawing, please contact me.

There are many with colds/flu right now and many who say they have been sick for a month or so but for whatever reason, chose to self-medicate or ignore their symptoms. By the time they see a proper physician, they have developed pneumonia and end up being hospitalized.  Please people, don’t wait too long!

We continue our interview from last week with Christina Boover, our audiologist as she tells us about her charity, which is called “Speech, Hearing and Balance Institute”.  She says: “I’ve been travelling to Vallarta, Honduras and Nicaragua since 2008.  We have developed several programs at schools and orphanages to dispense free/used hearing aids to people that cannot afford proper care.  Here in Puerto Vallarta, I have worked with children and veterans.  The generosity of one person (Murray Macham) who collects hearing aids from all over Canada and sends them to my Colorado office has helped so many people here!”

If you have a hearing problem, need hearing aids or a hearing test, we urge you to contact Christina! Her office is located at Vallarta Medical Center.

Does anyone else feel like this is the busiest “high season” we have had in many years? It surely feels like it. I know we are all crazy busy but if we take a moment to assist a tourist we see that has that “lost look” standing on a corner with a map it would be nice – myself included.

Awhile back, I did an article on “Pick Your Passion” – explaining the need for a group of volunteers to assist in various situations with patients.  I am so very pleased to say we now have a very small group of kind-hearted folks who are doing this and we are becoming organized. We can always use a few more hearts and hands so if you are willing to spare a few hours now and then, please let me know.

Have a very kind-hearted week!

4th Edition of Festival Sayulita set for February 1-5, 2017.

4th Edition of Festival Sayulita set for February 1-5

Café Tacvba and Nortec Collective are headlining the Jungle Live! concert, where they expect four thousand more spectators than last year.

The 4th edition of the Festival Sayulita, Film, Spirits, Music & Vida, is ready to go from February 1-5, 2017—and it’s going to knock it out of the park. There’s plenty of heart and soul going into it as the goal is not only to promote this Magical Town and the Surfing Capital of the Riviera Nayarit, but also to raise funds for a future cultural center, this according to a recent press conference where they laid out all the details of this event. For starters, they’re expecting a crowd of anywhere from seven to eight thousand people.

Festival organizers Gabriel Villarrubia and Alonso Aréchiga, together with Richard Zarkin, Public Relations Manager for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau, presented the updates for this year’s event and made it clear that nearly every event is free.

The Jungle Live! concert is, without a doubt, the most highly anticipated event of the week, as it’s being headlined by the famous Café Tacvba along with Nortec Collective, Troker, Sotomayor, Burton and Sayulita’s Los Gatos Negros. They will take the stage at Las Quintas Trujillo and doors will open at 1 p.m. Tickets cost MX$490. The concert is on Saturday, February 4th.

Over 50 features, shorts and documentaries will be projected on a giant screen on the beach. Everyone is welcome to this free event, though there are paid packages available for access to a sofa, food, drink or a souvenir.

As happens every year there’s plenty going on in the culinary arena. Standouts include the Pairing Dinners on Thursday, February 2nd at 6 p.m. One of the concepts is to create pairings with Mexican spirits such as tequila, mezcal and raicilla, creating new libations and mixes.

There are plenty of sports to be enjoyed as well, including surfing, Stand Up Paddle, boxing, races, riding, yoga and the famous Borracho FestStretch to get rid of the hangovers. Kids will also have their special day on Friday, February 3rd, with rock music and games made just for the littles.

Check out the program, places, ticket sales and much more at Festiva Sayulita.

Students develop oats-based packaging.

Biodegradable product also increases shelf life of some products

Two students from the Technological University of the Central Valleys of Oaxaca (UTVCO) have developed a biodegradable polymer out of oat starch that could replace plastic packaging.

Engineering students Esbeydhy Oyuky Yescas and Marlen Hernández have developed a product they call Bioplastic, a biopolymer that begins to degrade after just four months, in comparison to as much as 10 years for commonly used plastics.

The product’s characteristics allow for the conservation of the physical, chemical and other properties — like taste and smell — of packaged goods.

The students’ product also has antimicrobial properties that give it the added commercial benefit of doubling the shelf life of certain perishable goods.

“Besides naturally preserving products, our project is environmentally friendly, as once disposed of it is 100% biodegradable,” Yescas told the news agency Conacyt Prensa.

Hernández added that by developing biopolymers their hope is to curb the massive production of environmentally harmful synthetic polymers.

The two estimate they could reduce the use of synthetic polymers in the city of Oaxaca by 5% through the use of their product, which was developed under the tutelage of professor Javier Daniel Ramírez Anaya.

According to data furnished by the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, discarded plastic represents 11% of all trash in Mexico, of which only 12% is properly disposed of.

Another positive aspect of Bioplastic is that it uses oat grains and stimulates the local production of the cereal, added Hernández.

Yescas and Hernández hope their product can help fuel the economic, social and environmental sectors of the state of Oaxaca.

In November the two students won a national innovation contest designed to encourage the development of such projects and put them in touch with sources of funding.

Source: Conacyt Prensa (sp)

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