Little Saladita and the New World Order

Another hazy Saladita morning; a view from across the river mouth.

As I’m looking back on my pictures of the Saladita area, one thing stuck out – the sky is never that blue. In fact, except for one memorable day, the sky remained hazy during my entire stay. Unfortunately this atmospheric condition can not be explained by a natural phenomenon, rather an industrial cause.

The city of Lázaro Cárdenas sits due west of Saladita. Within the last twenty years the city has developed into a massive industrial center. During this time the Chinese industry approached the Mexicans with a plan to circumvent the US Longshoremen of Long Beach, SF Bay, and Seattle. Getting the cheap Chinese goods through these American ports became too expensive for the Chinese business model.

The Chinese proposed to the Mexicans that Lázaro become the next super port for Chinese goods entering North America. The Mexicans’ end of the deal was to connect Lázaro with the US via a network of superhighways, through which an endless stream of containers could flow. Today the plan is nearly complete – the highways are done, and the port is nearly in full operation. A truck can now pick up a container from the port and drive 36 hours straight to the Texas border, where it can access nearly all North American markets.

To complement the transportation of goods, the Mexicans have constructed a huge coal/oil power station, la Petroelectrica, to provide electricity for future industrial growth. Mexico doesn’t have much coal of its own; the coal fuel comes from the same place as all of the cheap goods (China). The irony here is that just up the river from the Petroelectrica lies a very large hydro-electric power plant that already satisfies nearly all of Lázaro’s current electricity needs.

The first night I arrived – check out the layers of the atmosphere.

My first night in Saladita, and every following night, I admired the deeply red-tinted sunset. The industrial haze from the power station, steel mill, and other factories creates this color. Unfortunately it also creates many cases of childhood asthma and other respiratory ailments wherever the wind carries it. The wind generally blows from west to east along this coast, so this puts the industrial fallout directly into Saladita, Los Llanos, and other towns surrounding Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo.

The current pollution may be tolerable to many but a local environmentalist says that the Petroelectrica is only at a small fraction of it’s capacity. The port of Lázaro plans on expanding the heavy industry during the next ten to twenty years to include many factories that could not be permitted elsewhere. One of the worst on the list is an industrial incinerator, which will dispose of x-ray and medical waste.

The construction of the Petroelectrica has already destroyed one of the best waves in Mexico and possible the world, Petacalco. The current level of pollution is already causing detrimental effects in the population living in the fallout areas. I believe the take home message of this post is this – go enjoy Saladita and the surrounding areas today! They are changing, both in development and pollution levels. Saladita in twenty years may not be a very desirable place to live or visit if the industry of Lázaro continues to grow to the anticipated level.

Sunset sessions under the red glow of Lázaro.

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1 Comment

  1. Camelia said,

    June 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    We left La saladita only four short days ago and yet it already feels like we were there a decade ago. It’s bizzare how time expands or contracts according to our moods, isn’t it?
    Anyway, LOVE your blog, even though I find the post about the sunsets a bit on the cynical side (…) but only because as a fun-loving tourist I’d rather close my eyes to such things. Now that I’m back in my serious-professional shoes, I totally understand where you’re coming from.
    I will keep reading about your adventures, so keep writing.
    Greetings from Ed, as well.


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