SAN DIEGO. - The Mayors of San Diego and Tijuana, Jerry Sanders and Carlos Bustamante respectively, gathered this past Tuesday at the Institute of the Americas at UCSD to share their vision about this border region which they described as “enviable” and “privileged”.
Before dozens of members, both Mayors talked about the advances made on both sides of the border mainly on the tourism, commercial, and safety areas.
Jerry Sanders highlighted the financial growth that both Mexico as a Country and Baja California as a State have achieved to a point that he even implied that in a not too far future, san diegans will be the ones aiming south to find a job.
“All indications are that Mexico, especially Tijuana is creating jobs faster than the United States”, emphasized the Mayor of San Diego, on a conference entitled "Tequila Talks".
“In a not too far future we could see san diegans looking for job opportunities in Mexico”, he added.
Therefore, Sanders felt that an investment must be made in expediting border crossings both north and south, and thus, enhance the economic development of the region.
He said that so far, the biggest obstacle to accelerate expansion projects on the border with Mexico, have been the lack of budget by the Congress, for which he considered feasible to assign a type of fee, mainly in commercial sentry boxes, or for those who want a faster service.
“This way, we would have funds to build sentry boxes in addition to their maintenance, although, we definitely must maintain free lanes for those who prefer it", suggested Sanders, although he said this is a matter that belongs to the federal government.
One of the biggest barriers to attract tourism to the Tijuana region has been the perception of insecurity that the American community has.
In this regard, the mayor of Tijuana, Carlos Bustamante argued with statistics received from his security agencies, noting that from 2010 to 2011, crime rates declined by 40 percent, and so far this year, there has been another decline of 20 percent.
To support this release, the U.S. General Consul in Tijuana, Steve Kashkett, who was among those present, ruled out that the travel alert issued by the U.S. State Department in February of this year, mentioned Baja California.
"There is a general warning, but does not point to each State, and in no way it includes Baja California," he said. "Many people talk about this alert, and they know it exists, but have never really read it.
Mayor Sanders stated that regarding the security issue, Tijuana is very similar to San Diego.
"If people don’t go where they are selling drugs on the street, there’s no difference in regard to San Diego, there are places where people can go and feel safe," he said. "If you go to tourist attractions, restaurants, or shopping centers, I don’t think that increases the chances of getting hurt”.
After six years in office, Sanders will leave the office after the November elections, so he took the opportunity to give advice to his successor in regard to the relationship with the authorities south of the border.
During his administration, Sanders was able to strengthen ties with Mexico, and he even said he has had more meetings with the mayors of Tijuana, than with mayors from each city of the San Diego County.
“It is important for San Diego and Tijuana to work together to solve problems," he said. "The next mayor will have to work very closely with Mayor Bustamante, and with his successor”.
Original Text : Alexandra Mendoza
Translation : Daniel Blanco