Protesters in Mexicali (El Mexicano image)
  • Protesters in Mexicali (El Mexicano image)
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It looks like San Quintín won't become Baja California's newest city after all — or at least not anytime soon.

Baja California governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millan has vetoed a measure that would have made San Quintín the state's sixth officially recognized municipality. The Mexican magazine Proceso described Osuna's action as his "last veto as governor." He leaves office on October 31.

The veto prompted a small protest on Monday, July 29, at the state capital in Mexicali. Miriam Elizabeth Cano Nuñez, a leader among the 20 or so protesters at the state legislature, was cited in the Baja California daily El Mexicano as saying that cityhood for San Quintín is a matter of social justice.

The region, she said, has been abandoned by current political leaders; cityhood would bring with it currently unavailable federal resources to help resolve its problems.

On June 28, the legislature unanimously adopted the measure creating the small community of about 5000 as the state's sixth officially recognized municipality. Currently, San Quintín is part of the city of Ensenada and is best known for its agricultural production (particularly tomatoes) and as a popular area with surfers.

But, as the Reader reported shortly after the measure was approved, there was already trouble in the air: "at least one legislator, even though he voted yes, questioned the legality of the action. That's because the Ensenada city council, which was supposed to have sent its recommendation on the issue to the legislature by June 27, failed to do so. As a consequence, the legislature decided to interpret Ensenada's failure to respond as approval."

In his veto message to the legislature, Governor Osuna said legislators were improperly relying on an October 28, 2012, referendum in which voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of San Quintín as Baja California's sixth municipality. That referendum was later disqualified by election officials, who said that, while voters approved the referendum by a 70 percent to 30 percent margin, not enough voters participated. State law requires that at least 10 percent of eligible voters participate. Fewer than 8 percent of about 330,000 eligible voters cast ballots in last year's plebiscite.

Osuna has said that he favors making San Quintín a city — but only if the legislature takes action based on a legal referendum. Otherwise, he said, Baja California would no longer be "a state of laws."

In the meantime, San Quintín residents — who were celebrating in June with cavalcades through the streets of what they then believed would soon be their new city — are now fuming at yet another setback in their crusade for cityhood.

As the Reader reported in June, "For years, residents of San Quintín have sought separation from the sprawling city of Ensenada, about 120 miles to the north. They say San Quintín has been neglected and needs its own government, closer to home, to provide sewage treatment, street lights, trash collection, and more paved roads — matters that have been largely neglected by Ensenada's city council."

Sources: El Mexicano, El Sol de Tijuana

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