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Wildcoast Speaks: Baja’s a Mess

Friday, November 28th, 2008

baja californiaThe fact that Tijuana, as well as a large part of northern Baja California, continues to remain an unstable and unsafe place for wave-chasers to venture isn’t much of a secret. The Narco war has sparked levels of violence, crime, and corruption in Baja and the risks one takes when heading south of the border far outweigh the rewards.

Our friend Serge Dedina of WiLDCOAST, a bi-national nonprofit conservation group, just returned from taking a quick tour through Baja with New York Times journalist Joe Sharkey. Joe was doing a story on how it is that WiLDCOAST remains safe through all of this turmoil, and Serge’s wealth of knowledge was key for the story. Both released articles following their journey south, each of which are necessary reads for anyone contemplating a trip to Baja.

Serge Dedina(WiLDCOAST)- “Does the media exaggerate the issue of the narco war and security in Baja the problem? Absolutely not. Anyone who travels south of the border should be careful and concerned about security…As for tourists, the mainstay of Baja’s economy, they have already voted with their feet. We counted a total of six tourists on our tour through Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, and Ensenada and in the long line walking back across the border in Tijuana. We didn’t see a single surfer on the entire coast despite the glassy conditions and small clean surf.”

Joe Sharkey(N.Y. Times)- “The headlines from Baja are stunning. Earlier this month, hours after 2,000 people marched through Tijuana to protest violence, drug gangs shot 11 people dead, including a 14-year-old girl. More than 600 people, some innocent bystanders like the girl, are believed to have been murdered this year in drug-related shootouts in Baja California.”

I’ve never been much of a fan of the media’s knack for hyping the violence and crime taking place in certain areas around the world. I recently returned from Nicaragua, and for all of the doom and gloom I heard about how unsafe it is down there, I was very surprised to find a very warm and receptive people in a very magical country. Never once did I feel like my safety was in jeopardy. Baja right now is different. The violence and danger is very real. For now, you may want to think twice about making a trip down there. No matter how good the waves might be.

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