Foodbank Lakeside will run out of food in two weeks
Foodbank Lakeside team.
Patrick O’Heffernan , Ajijic. .- Foodbank Lakeside has only enough money to buy food for the families it feeds for two more weeks. FBL has been providing despensas to families in Lakeside devastated by Covid-19, sickness, and unemployment since April of this year, operating on donations from the Lakeside community and discounts from local food stores. But donations have fallen to a trickle and there may be no food to dispense after next week, even though there are hundreds of families who depend on it for their daily meals.
Paola de Watterlot, founder and Director of FBL, says that “many people who have donated think that families in Lakeside have returned to work and there is no more need for despensas,” she says pointing out that, “this is not true. There are still many families who need help.”
FBL serves approximately 600 families a week throughout Chapala, ranging from elderly couples to large families with many children. Each family is carefully vetted to insure they need help. Each family receives a despensa – a small one for two to four people, or a large one for 5 -10 people, each one feeding an average family for two weeks; families do not receive money. Food is bought from local vendors in each community who provide discounts to FBL.
“We know all of these families,” says de Watterlot, who was born in Guadalajara but has lived in Ajijic since she was 7 years old. “We have a Mexican member of our team who lives in each community we serve and knows the community and the families”, she adds.
De Watterlot founded FBL in April of this year to help families whose breadwinners lost their jobs when Covid-19 shut down businesses and the economy shrank. But as her team quickly learned, it was not just Covid-19 that was the problem – there were families with other medical problems or chronic unemployment that needed help, primarily the elderly, disabled, and sick. Since they opened, FBL has distributed over 10,000 dispensas to help these people.
“We help one family in Santa Cruz where one member has cancer and another has kidney failure,” said de Watterlot, as an example of the range of families they feed. They help over 200 families in Chapala, using a team of 2 American expats and three local Mexicans. The team even prepares special food for the family with kidney disease.
Food Bank Lakeside is managed by a volunteer board and 30 volunteers, both expats and Mexicans. Many of the expat volunteers help with fundraising, registering the families and purchasing. The Mexican volunteers often deliver the food despensas because they know the communities and the families, but everyone pitches in to do everything. The result is an organization which feeds 600 families at a cost of about 280,000 pesos — less than 125 pesos per person per month, a little going a very long way.
Because the need for food assistance goes beyond families devastated by Covid-19 de Watterlot wants to make the FBL a permanent fixture in Lakeside and has structured it as a registered non-profit that can provide a tax exemption to US donors. But first, she must get the organization through the next two weeks.
People can donate online or in person. Online donations can be made to the Foundation for Lakeside Charities at https://lakechapalacharities.org/donate/. Specify that your donation is for Food Bank Lakeside. Watterlot stresses that monthly donations are the best because they allow her to project income and plan better. Donors can also contact Food Bank Lakeside through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FoodBankLakeside/ or call at 376 765 7084 and a staff member will pick up a cash donation. Donations are tax-deductible for US citizens and FBL will provide a tax receipt for donations. And consider volunteering.
West Ajijic dog shelter inches forward as Human Rights Commission lawyers intervene and Ecology Director commits to a solution in this administration
New dog pen at the West Ajijic animal shelter gives dogs more space.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. Ecology Department Director José Jaime Ibañez tells Laguna he plans to move the offending West Ajijic animal shelter during this administration, but homeowners charge that his department is actually building a more permanent shelter at its present site. Both sides say they want to collaborate to resolve the problem.
In separate interviews, Laguna spoke with José Jaime and Vice President of the Puerto Arroyo Homeowners Association (HOA) Linda Freeman, hearing different views of movement on the issue, but saw signs of potential collaboration and a resolution.
The West Ajijic Animal Shelter was established by the Department of Ecology on land donated to the municipality. The Department supervises animal protection and control. The constant barking of the approximately 80 sheltered dogs has outraged the residents of nearby developments of Puerta Arroyo, Sierra Viva, Los Abinos, Villas Colorado, and Los Alebrijes and La Canacinta. Ecology staff did not consult with the nearby residents first.
“We did not meet with the homeowners in advance because we saw that the developments were not close to the site and we did not anticipate any problems”, José Jaime told Laguna, “we were surprised by the opposition”.
About 200 households in the developments, many of which are Mexican, initially submitted petitions to various agencies to solve the noise problem. They also met with Ecology Director José Jaime to find a new location, although he did not attend subsequently scheduled meetings. Faced with what they felt was a recalcitrant agency, the homeowners filed a case with the Human Rights Commission, which agreed to intervene on their behalf.
This past Wednesday lawyers from the Human Rights Commission, representatives of the homeowners, and a private attorney for the HOA’s all met to move the solution forward, but an expected written agreement did not materialize.
“We gave José Jaime Ibañez a draft agreement at an earlier meeting and he asked for a new clause indicating that we would work in collaboration with the agency, so we brought the revised agreement to Wednesday’s meeting,” said Freeman, who was at the meeting. “He didn’t sign it, claiming he did not have his glasses so he couldn’t read it,” she added, noting that the Human Rights lawyers have agreed to stay involved.
However, José Jaime told Laguna that he stood by the original agreement with the residents to find a new site for the shelter. He did not mention the written agreement but said that he had an agreement with the residents to locate a new site and move the shelter and his department was moving ahead on it. He also promised the homeowners at Wednesday’s meeting to bring the problem and potential solution to the attention of Chapala President Moisés Alejandro Anaya Aguilar to speed things up.
“We will find a new site; that is the current proposal and we will do it. We now have a possible site that we can use if we can obtain electricity from the land across the Libramiento. We are waiting for a decision now,” he said.
That is not the impression the homeowners have. Freeman visited the animal shelter on Wednesday and was shocked to find that it had been expanded. She charged that shelter manager Ana Luisa Maldonado is expanding the shelter and installing permanent buildings that will make it harder to move.
“The situation is urgent. The more they spend at the present site, the harder it will be to move it. Director José Jaime is saying one thing and doing something else,” Freeman told Laguna, complaining that “I don’t think there has been movement. I was hopeful until I saw the permanent structures they are building. It is actually getting worse and worse,” she said.
Director José Jaime pointed to the progress that continues to be made and pledged to resolve the problem during the current administration, saying his plan is to bring electric power to this Libramiento site and move the shelter there as soon as practicable.
“We have looked at 4 sites; three were not usable because they lacked water or power or were not in Chapala, but one site is possible if we can draw power from the nearby lot. We have applied for permission to bring in the power and we are now waiting for a decision,” he told Laguna, adding that the municipality is required by law to operate a humane shelter for homeless animals and they were following that law with the current shelter while they obtained the permissions needed to move it.
There are costs involved, but fundraising seems to be an area of agreement between the agency and the homeowners. Jose Jaime said that his department will pay for water and power, and if the cost of moving the electric lines exceeded his budget, he will work with the homeowners to raise the needed funds – something they have agreed is reasonable for them to do.
Little Lakeside Theater ART production of Moonlight and Magnolias opens at this weekend
Moonlight & Magnolias 2020.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic). – Little Lake Theater’s Ajijic Readers Theater (ART) will open the laugh-out-loud comedy Moonlight and Magnolia this weekend, in matinees Oct. 16, 17, and 18.
Presented by special arrangement with Dramatist Play Services of New York, the play is inspired by actual events surrounding the behind-the-scenes story of Gone with the Wind as seen through the eyes of producer David O. Selznick, director Fleming and writer Ben Hecht.
The play, a live read by LLT actors, opens with the film’s producer five weeks into the shoot of Gone With Wind when he realizes that the script is awful and the director doesn’t have a clue. Over the next five frantic days the script is rewritten by a writer who has not read the book, resulting in some of the most hilarious situations in modern drama.
Tickets are available for all performances at 150 pesos at the box office. Covid protocols including social distancing will be in place.
An interview with Dr. Santiago Hernandez, Medical Director of the new Ribera Medical Center
¿Dr. Santiago Hernandez, Medical Director of the new Ribera Medical Center.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. This past Friday the new Ribera Medical Center was inaugurated in a ceremony studded with stars of the medical establishment, including Secretary of Health Dr. Jorge Alcocer Carlos Varela, as well as local dignitaries like Chapala President Moisés Alejandro Anaya Aguilar. The two story state-of-the-art facility was envisioned 4 years ago by its investors, led by Luis Antonio Michel Ruelas of the Vallarta Medical Center and Humberto Famanía Ortega of Puerto Vallarta. The actual opening is scheduled for October 31, although it could be a few days earlier, if the final equipment is installed early and finishing touches applied to the building.
Two day before the inauguration, the Medical Center’s Medical Director, Dr. Santiago R. Hernandez, M.D. who is also Director of ChapalaMed, sat down with Laguna for a conversation about the new hospital and hospital care in Lakeside.
Laguna: How did you determine that a private hospital was needed in Lakeside, since there is a new hospital in San Antonio, a hospital in Ajijic and new cardiac center in west Ajijic.
Dr. Hernandez: Our vision started in 2016 when one of our main investors planned to open a nursing care center and we did know about the plans for a new hospital in San Antonio. In 2017, when we formalized our plans, we did quite a bit of study and we found that there is a need for a full-service hospital that could handle emergencies, heart attacks and strokes, and had the necessary ICU, labs – everything that would expect to find in a hospital north of the border, where my standards come from.
Laguna: So that capability does not exist in Lakeside now?
Dr. Hernandez: We did not see all that capability in one place in Lakeside. The other medical centers have some of it, but lack other elements like an ICU or cardiac catherization lab, or the ability to accept all emergencies, although they may add these capabilities later. The Ribera Medical Center will have all the capabilities that you would expect from a hospital up north all in one place.
Laguna: What do you plan to offer at the Ribera Medical Center?
Dr. Hernandez: At this point in time, Ribera Medical Center will be dedicated primarily for emergencies and for surgery. We will do all levels of surgery, except transplants or open-heart surgery – we need to be open for a couple of years and have our blood bank ready for those kinds of procedures – but everything else. And eventually, we will be able to handle almost all other kinds of procedures.
Laguna: What kind of equipment and facilities will the hospital have at opening?
Dr. Hernandez: We will have an ICU, a neo-natal unit, a labor and delivery room, and an emergency room; at this point we have 14 hospital rooms, a fully functioning blood bank, an infusion lab for chemotherapy, a cardiac catherization lab – a hybrid lab where we can take care of heart attacks or strokes, three surgical suits, and full imaging. We have CT and full radiology and x-ray and mammography now, and we are expecting delivery of the MRI equipment and insulation for installation in our MRI room.
Laguna: What doctors will have admitting privileges at the Medical Center?
Dr. Hernandez: We are an open hospital, which means that as Medical Director my job will be to vet the credentials of all doctors who want privileges. I will make sure they are trained and certified for the surgery they want to do here. So, if a cardiology surgeon wants to admit a patient for heart surgery, they have to be certified for this kind of surgery. In another example, we can’t have a general practitioner without certification granted privileges to do plastic surgery, which is done in Guadalajara.
Laguna: Do the high standards you describe indicate that the Medical Center will be involved in medical tourism?
Dr. Hernandez: We intend for this hospital to be one of the main hubs in for medical tourism. I am member of the Congreso de Nacional Turismo Medico in Mexico; we promote medical tourism on a national and international basis. We want to promote that the doctors at our hospital have full credentials and respect here and abroad. Plus, our telemedicine partnerships should give patients additional confidence. And it is convenient that the Radisson Hotel is right across the street.
Laguna: Will you take Medicare from the USA?
Dr. Hernandez: The short answer is no…there is no legal way to take Medicare in Mexico. I know the hospital in San Antonio says they work with Medicare, but “working with” and taking Medicare insurance are two different things. There is no legal way for us to take the insurance. Usually in cases where an American has been out of the US for 16 days or less, Medicare will reimburse for emergency care. That is the one way we can do it.
Laguna: You are “inaugurating” the medical center this week, but not opening it? When will it be open for patients?
Dr. Hernandez: Right now, I can tell you that we will open by October 31, but it could be sooner.
Laguna: And who will be managing the hospital?
Dr. Hernandez: The Director will be Julio Carbajal from San Miguel de Allende, and the Administrator is Roselda Dominguez.
Update on the uproar over the dog shelter in West Ajijic
Dogs in shelter.
Patrick O’Heffernan and Domingo Flores, Ajijic. After interviews with representatives of homeowners impacted by the government animal shelter established in west Ajijic and the Director of Ecology, José Jaime Ibáñez, Laguna has learned that possible alternative sites have been located, a financial agreement has been floated, and the parties are working together – although in fits and starts – to move the shelter and create a new one that better accommodates stray dogs.
The shelter was established on land donated to the municipalidad sometime ago for a cemetery, but was not usable for that purpose so it remained on the books until the Department of Ecology, which supervises animal protection and control, decided to use it for a shelter for stray dogs and other animals in the area. However, the 24-hour a day barking of the sheltered dogs has upset the residents of nearby developments of Puerta Arroyo, Sierra Viva, Los Abinos, Villas Colorado, and Los Alebrijes and La Canacinta.
The residents of those developments – about 200 households, half of which are estimated to be Mexican by the HOA officers, submitted a petition to 7 government agencies to solve the noise problem and met with Jaime on July 28 to find solutions.
Since that meeting, the frustrated HOAs have filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission and scheduled a meeting with Mayor Moisés Anaya (which was canceled at the last minute), and met twice with Director Ibáñez. They have also located 4 possible sites for a relocated shelter, two off the Libramento, one near Santa Cruz la Soledad and one near the international university. One of the sites is quite large, has access to water and can be rented for 5 – 10 years, a cost which might be shared between the government and the residents.
The existing shelter is currently managed by Ana Luisa Maldonado, an advocate for animals and a staff member of the Department of Ecology. While her salary is paid by the Department and she has been given wide authority to manage the shelter, she has the responsibility of raising the $75,000mx a month needed to operate the shelter. To do this, she has recruited local volunteers for staffing, and for funds has turned to local donors and to the Meximutt Project, a 13-year-old Oregon-based organization that transports dogs from Jalisco to the US for adoption. The organization, which also partners with Lakeside’s The Ranch dog shelter, provides about $150 per dog plus other costs, according to its website…
To read the full news story, look for our printed edition in stores and supermarkets in Chapala, Ajijic and Jocotepec)
School supplies delivered smoothly in Chapala
The delivery of school packages in Chapala began on July 15.
Manuel Jacobo (Chapala, Jalisco): The «Recreate, Educating for Life» program that provides a package of school supplies to children was carried out in time in Chapala for the 11,660 students enrolled in school for to what is set to be an atypical school year.
Although the packages were delivered smoothly, the were a few children who did not receive their packs due to changes of address and they must go to the Social Development offices to pick up their supplies.
The delivery of the school packages, which include backpacks with school supplies, shoes and uniforms, was carried out in a little over a month, house by house, to avoid creating congested delivery centers. In total, more than $8 million pesos were spent on the supplies, of which $6 million were obtained from the state government and a little more than $2 million from the municipal government of Chapala.
Local officials including Chapala Mayor Moisés Alejandro Anaya Aguilar and Education Director Juan Manuel Arreola Martínez, do not l how many children in the municipality are having difficulties taking classes online or through the radio and television systems, but they are working on an analysis of the situation to provide schools that information.
However, the mayor considers that «we are blessed as I believe that many of the children do have the possibility, although of course some others not » to receive distance education. He added that he is also aware that no municipality in the country is prepared to provide operating systems such as computers. Translated by Patrick O’Heffernan
Expat misunderstanding of Mexican law behind illegal private tree cutting
Photo: Patrick O’Heffernan.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic.- Three to five trees a month are cut illegally on private land in Chapala, according to Chapala Ecology Director José Jaime Albanes, and these are just the ones he knows about through reports and complaints. Many are on property owned by Expats who don’t understand Mexican law concerning trees and other natural resources on their property.
“Trees are the property of humanity”, Jaime told Laguna, “they can give the property owner shade, fruit and other benefits, but they belong to the nation, and here, we control the trees”, noting that many property owners don’t realize that even for trees on their property and behind their walls, they need a permit to cut, transplant, replace or even substantially trim trees…
Find the full note in the print edition. For sale in stores in the Ribera de Chapala.
Chapala Hotel Rejected for Hosting Voluntary Isolation Center
The Hotel Villa Montecarlo is located at the western entrance of the municipal capital of Chapala.
Although the conversion of the hotel to isolation housing was always a long shot, the high incidence of new coronavirus cases in Jalisco resulted in a second look. However, the town council rejected the idea on June 24 in a plenary session. Two days before that rejection, Villa Primavera had begun operations and to date has registered few admissions but in the next few days that could change.
The Voluntary Isolation Centers (CAV) are for patients of Covid-19 who do not require hospitalization because they have mild or asymptomatic cases , but lack a suitable place to isolate themselves from their relatives, necessary to cut the chain of contagion in the state.
To date, Villa Montecarlo, which depends directly on the University of Guadalajara (UDG), has not informed the municipality directly of its proposal; however, Municipal President, Moisés Alejandro Anaya Aguilar, has made it clear that this type of use will not be permitted in the municipality and the town will do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen, or if it does, it will be without his authorization, a position supported by his Municipal Trustee and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA).
The city councilors consider that the incidence of Covid-19 in Chapala is not high. They contrast the municipality with fewer than 30 cases to the municipality of Guadalajara with more than 6 thousand cases registered, excluding those from the municipalities of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Zone. Translated by Patrick O’Heffernan
Editor’s note: Since the Hotel Villa Montecarlo is located in the center of the town and not in an isolated place like the Hotel Villa Primavera, the town’s authorities did not like the idea that Chapala could host a Voluntary Isolation Center.
Merchants asked to comply with health measures to avoid the «emergency button»
Five tarpaulins were placed by the merchants on the Chapala boardwalk.
Manuel Jacobo (Chapala, Jalisco) – Tourists who visited Chapala during the last week of July when the malecón was opened were denounced by the President of Chapala, Moisés Alejandro Anaya Aguilar, for irresponsibly ignoring measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
In view of this, the merchants on the boardwalk followed his subsequent recommendation willingly, putting up banners inviting respect for healthy distance and the use of mouth guards and masks. The municipality could close the shops that do not comply with the sanitary measures, an action possible in response to the announcement that the national epidemiological traffic lights will no longer be taken into account due to the emergency declaration in Jalisco.
Among the actions announced by the Mayor of Chapala on July 9th on social networks is the mandatory use of masks. He told merchants not to serve those who do not have it.
«We are going to reinforce the vigilance with our areas so that any business that does not comply with the sanitary measures will be closed; Wal-Mart, Soriana, if they do not attend these measures, they will be closed,» he said. He added that the same applies to Oxxo branches, vendors in the Chapala malecón, hotels which work at more than 50 percent of their capacity, and restaurants which serve more than 25 percent of capacity.
If the instructions issued by the state governor, Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, are followed, it would be possible to avoid activating the «emergency button» – as the president has already threatened – under which everyone must be isolated for 14 days because the medical services are becoming overloaded. This would exclude medical personnel, public safety and Civil Protection and Firefighters.
As of the close of July 9, Chapala had registered 36 positive cases through the Radar Jalisco system, and 24 on the platform of the General Directorate of Epidemiology. Twenty of these had recovered, two had died and two were active. Of the two deaths caused by the new coronavirus, an 87-year-old man lost the battle with Covid on June 29 and a 77-year-old male on June 6, the first Covid-related death in Chapala. Translated by Patrick O’Heffernan
3,000 hotel rooms planned for Jocotepec
The tourism strategy will seek to position Jocotepec as a destination and not a transit point.
Miguel Cerna: In order to stop being a «passing through» option and turn Jocotepec into a «destination» attraction, the Municipal Government is betting on more hotel rooms.
The plan is to move from the 492 rooms that the municipality currently has, to more than 3,000 in less than five years, according to the Municipal President, José Miguel Gómez López, plan he described in a July 5 interview posted on social networks.
«Our mission is to change the image of Joco from a pass-thru municipality to a destination,” he said, explaining that “we have a very stable economy but people think of us as a pass-through municipality. Why? Because at this point we only have 492 rooms, when Chapala probably has 3,000. I think that in less than five years we could have 2,000 to 3,000 rooms.»
The mayor announced the construction of a 400-room hotel and negotiations with three more developers interested in building resorts, saying that he hopes to raise the number of available rooms to over a thousand at the end of his three-year term in 2021.
Instead of a destination of «disorder or drunkenness», Gómez López said that the tourism strategy is aimed at family vacation tourism, that is, for visitors to holiday in Jocotepec for more than a weekend, reversing the trend of being a transit area for people going to Chapala or Mazamitla.
In addition, the Municipal President invited the developers to invest in the municipality in the form of housing, entertainment and related improvements since, according to him, the Jocotepec Lakeside area currently has the highest probability of economic growth.
He pointed to the proximity to the Guadalajara Metropolitan Zone and the airport, the road infrastructure, the demand for places to relax and the unspoiled environment of the southern area of the lake between the towns of San Pedro Tesistán and San Cristóbal as investment draws in Jocotepec.
An example of the attraction of Jocotepec for investment, Gómez López pointed to the proposal for the sustainable «Poblado del Cardenal» housing complex that will build 1,500 homes in an ecologically sound design that will not to generate a negative impact on the local ecosystem.
«I hope they invest in it,” Gómez López said, “and we are open to seeing how well they do. The only thing I ask is that when an investment is made with sustainability in mind, it is also good for the investors »
Translated by Patrick O’Heffernan