Anaheim has Disneyland. Las Vegas has casinos. And Tijuana has, well, prostitutes.
Red-faced city officials are back-pedaling ferociously after a high-ranking functionary suggested in a recent television interview that Tijuana should promote sex-for-sale as a way to draw tourists.
Miguel Ángel Badiola Montaño, president of Tijuana's tourism and conventions committee, reputedly unveiled a plan called “Tijuana Coqueta” during an interview televised on Friday, October 23, by Síntesis TV. (A link to the interview is provided toward the end of an October 24 story published on SanDiegoRed.com.) The video includes a short clip of former mayor Jerry Sanders saying it would "be a good promotion" (though the context of the interview may have been manipulated).
The “Tijuana Coqueta” project, according to La Jornada de Baja California, called for various improvements to the Zona Norte, the city's “zone of tolerance,” with the aim of drawing sex-tourists from around the world to the area.
By Saturday, October 24, amid a wave of public disapproval, Badiola had reversed course. He issued a statement to the press and on social media asserting that his remarks had been misinterpreted and taken out of context. He also apologized to Tijuana mayor Jorge Astiazarán Orcí for any embarrassment he may have caused the administration.
To make matters worse, the mayor and Badiola had taken a walking tour of the Zona Norte the day before (Friday, October 23). But the pair's visit to the infamous neighborhood had nothing to do with promoting prostitution, said Badiola. The tourism and conventions committee has always supported “the intention to dignify Tijuana's zone of tolerance,” he said.
For his part, Astiazarán issued a statement, published on his Facebook page, denying any plans by the city to promote sex tourism. “There is no and there will not be any type of campaign that threatens what we are as Tijuanans,” the mayor said. “The government that I head has been characterized by respect for values. I am a man of my word, a family man like you.... We will work together to make a true change in the politics of Tijuana.”
SanDiegoRed noted in its report that Badiola never denied the existence of a project called “Tijuana Coqueta,” only that there had been “no attack against the dignity of Tijuana society....”
“...we will leave it to the reader to figure out what that means,” said SanDiegoRed's report.