FUNERAL FIESTA

posted by / News / January 21, 2003

Americans are big on foreign victory these days, especially in hot sandy climes over murderous enemies. So when word leaked out Tuesday that {{{Baja}}} Mexico’s potential pointbreak killer “Escalera Nautica” is losing political steam, it wasn’t long before the cheers began emanating from surf access camps, especially those behind enemy lines.

“We are claiming a big victory,” said Serge Dedina of Mexico City activist group, Wildcoast, in an email earlier today. “[Punta] Canoas and [Cabo] Colonet are saved and we are close to getting finality on Abreojos, Scorpion Bay and Punta San Carlos.”

It’s easy to understand the excitement. Dedina and Wildcoast began their fight years ago when Fonatur (Mexico’s tourism development organization) first announced plans for a series of yacht harbors for southfacing bays, threatening nearly ever prime righthand pointbreak in Baja. In fact, Surfingthemag first reported on the issue in March of 2001. Now, following a week of intense pressure from a variety of access groups and increased media attention by sources such as the Wall Street Journal, plus debates on Mexican TV and radio, Fonatur director Jon McCarthy has publicly announced that two of the prospective spots — Cabo Colonet and Punta Canoas — are no longer being considered. Furthermore, while the official fate of the other breaks remains to be seen, McCarthy says they are now opting for “floating marinas” at undisclosed locations, which insiders are claiming will likely include San Juanico, Abreojos, and Punta San Carlos.

But before you raise that power fist or drop a heartfelt tear, there are at least two reasons to curb your enthusiasm. First, there are the other breaks more to consider. While Dedina says “we are fine with offshore floating docks,” not everyone agrees. After all, Abreojos and San Juanico — better known as a Scorpion Bay — are the prize pigs in a list of often sloppier, less perfect spots. And even if the proposed offshore docks aren’t a problem now, a successful floating marina could end up being the necessary impetus to approve a permanent structure. Second, there’s no saying the government won’t just as easily reverse their decision, making it all the more important to keep tabs on all new developments and maintain pressure.

Still, most environmental sources agree this is still a time for celebration. Considering how thirsty Mexico is for tourism dollars, any move away from the project is a positive move for surfers — not in terms of the task at hand, but for the broader impact of grassroots activism. In fact, citing the help of such groups as, Pro Peninsula, Surfrider, Save our Waves, not to mention SIMA’s financial assistance, Dedina went on to say this is “the first great international victory for the surfing community in the 21st century and demonstrates the power of coalitions.” Surfrider Executive Director Chris Evans concurs.

“It’s a proud time to be a surfer,” says Evans. “You never know in this business, if the tin can at the other end of the string is getting your vibrations, particularly in other countries. Bu in this case — thanks to the work of Wildcoast, SIMA and others — word is getting down there. And we now know that.” Matt Walker

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