Tres Santos; Broken Promises and Evasion of Truth
Timeline 2013 – 2017
Colorado Company Exploiting Baja California Sur, MX
Tres Santos, a real-estate development in Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico, is a project of Denver-based Black Creek Capital, through its Mexican subsidiary, MIRA. Black Creek. This project bills itself as an environmentally responsible real estate development that will also benefit the local economy and integrate seamlessly with the existing activities and communities of the Todos Santos area (fishing, farming, ecotourism, etc). Their “mindful living” project has already had a negative impact on the local fishermen who depend on Punta Lobos beach for their livelihood.
This is an informational release about the environmental and social impacts that Denver-based Black Creek Capital, through its partners and children companies (Black Creek Mira, Tres Santos) is having on the local economy and environment of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, with its construction of a real estate development at the side of the Pacific Ocean.
Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, a small town of 6,000 people an hour north of Cabo that for over two decades has attracted artists, bohemians, surfers and the like from the world over is under threat from a construction development (named “Tres Santos”) that could more than double the town’s population and water consumption. Todos Santos has a limited water supply and sits nestled in the middle of the Baja desert.
The project has also brought along Colorado State University Center from Colorado to bring environmental education workshops and programs to the community, but it has been revealed that the academics from CSU are forbidden from speaking against Tres Santos publicly. This silence came from MIRA/Black Creek Capital with a price tag of a $4.3 million-dollar gift.
It is also important to note that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has endorsed companies like Black Creek Capital to make its mark in Mexico. In June of 2014 Gov. Hickenlooper attended a Summit in Mexico City in regard to investment in Mexico. According to the Denver Post (June 15, 2014), “If you want to do business in Mexico, there’s no better middleman than Gov. John Hickenlooper. As CEO of a state that measures its trade south of the border in the billions, he has ample clout to arrange the personal introductions known to facilitate deal-making among such close neighbors.”
Link to Denver Post June 15, 2014 and Updated on April 27, 2016: Colorado leaders head to Mexico, with business on their minds
The Great Water Debate
In July of 2013, during the MIA required public meeting the company stated that they would not use any of the municipality’s water supply. In which currently they do have municipal water for the CSU site, the town construction site, and the construction site at Punta Lobos. They also no have water concessions for the first 74 homes that are currently in progress of building.
The representatives that presented at The Public Hearing Carlos Asali Harfuch – Director of development – MIRA and Beatriz Ledesma Representing Mira Properties.
We wanted to share the links we had from OEM.com.mx, however they have recently been removed from the internet. So here is one in regard to how residents of Todos Santos have been denied pipes for municipal water for 7 years, while Tres Santos gets all the water they want with no issue from OOMSAPA. *Note OOMSAPA is the local water commission.
The inhabitants of this town located in a hill of Todos Santos must walk more than 2 kilometers to carry water in buckets.
The discrepancies with this mega development soon came to light in the local area, in regard to water usage. The main issue is that the MIA (Manifestation Impacto Ambiental) was modified and was not the same information as presented in writing to SEMARNAT: “A reduction of water required from 2 thousand to only 300 liters per month per housing unit. 2.- They also ensured that, because the municipality had not authorized the availability of water for this space, it would have to obtain the liquid through an efficient desalination system and Reuse of the waters of refuse and waste. “ (Translated from Spanish using google translate).
Tres Santos in conjunction with CSU have consistently maintained in the public eye that they would install a desalination plant, however in documents obtained via CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) the plan the entire time was to use municipal water for the entire development. In the below screenshot is an email conversation with Ernie Glesner of Tres Santos and Kim Kita of CSU speaking about the public water. Even their conversation acknowledges the lack of water.
MIRA/Black Creek and CSU states that they have had the concessions for the use of municipal water. However, this issue has never been clearly clarified with the public. The only responses that the community has had has come via the company or local media.
In early 2015 Tres Santos representatives met with former Municipal President Estella Ponce in regard to obtaining municipal water usage permit with OOMSAPA (local water authority). The concession was to cover the developments first 72 homes in the town farm location. The company paid Estella Ponce $1.3 million pesos to obtain their permissions. The money was never paid to OOMSAPA. After this payment was made the company installed a 6” pipe and started to use the water to build their development. They have no contract to use Municipal water in this regard. It wasn’t until the town created a fuss that they then started to have trucks go up to the town farm pila and look like they were filling the tanks. The town knew this to be false because there were still water issues in the current homes/businesses of Todos Santos.
This issue came to light in front of the public on November 17, 2015, local journalist from La Paz, Ezequiel Lizade recorded an interview with the Director General of OOMSAPA, during this interview he stated that Tres Santos did not have the adequate contracts for municipal water usage. Three days later local media outlet BCS Noticias releases an article that Tres Santos did have contracts. This statement came from Project manager of Tres Santos Beatriz Ledesma. The Director General of OOMSAPA “clarified” his statement to state they had paid for 72 connections for the first town homes of the development. Nothing stated that they could use municipal water to actually build their development. The next article released from BCS Notcias, OOMSAPA was once again stating that the company did not have their contract.
Video with Director of OOMSAPA with English Subtitles. Here he states that there is no contract with Tres Santos.
10 days later, this article is released stating there is no contract with OOSAPAS: Se reunió Tres Santos con OOMSAPAS La Paz por conflicto de agua, pero aún no hay contrato
On December 4, 2015 Tres Santos makes this statement via their Facebook page. “Tres Santos is and has always been in full compliance with all applicable building laws and permits including our purchase of water-use rights. We hope the following documents will help put an end to any confusion; the public’s trust and the trust of our partners is important to us.”
Trouble in paradise….
In 2014 and 2015, Tres Santos began to build their development during the spring/summer of that year of the locations known as the town farm, which includes the Colorado State University Todos Santos Campus, and the hotel San Cristobal (Bunkhouse Group) located in Punta Lobos. The local fishing and town beach. When the development began to mix concrete the town started to experience their first water shortages. When Tres Santos was questioned about this issue, they blamed it on the new pavement that was being worked on in town. Consequently, during this time, they actually stopped working on the roads in town because the workers were not getting paid. The roads were paved in August/September before the start of the tourism season.
August 2014, marks the time period that Tres Santos began to remove prepare the land for the beach location. This process included removal of protect mangroves and covering area that was once wetlands to create a pad for their site.
BCS Noticias article Removal of Mangroves(Mangle): Inician obras de Tres Santos; destruyen zona de manglares en Punta Lobos
Mangroves also known as Humedals and Manglares are a protected species here in Mexico. They play an important role in stabilizing the land area located beyond the beach, and help to keep an areas ecosystem protected.
“Look at the middle wetland- lagoon in the 2002 photo and then see the small structure to the right on the other side of the road at the same level as a point of reference. Now look at the 12/2014 image and find the same little structure for reference and you can clearly see that the lagoon has been covered over by Tres Santos.” “Also covered are the line of mangroves that extended from that small lagoon along the eastern side of the dunes. You can clearly see the area of the coop and their concession in the 2002 photo. An additional note: that they have moved the road south from the original site into the flood area.” Use the below photos for reference of before and after platform.
(Translated from Spanish) “2 to 10-year prison to those that illicitly i. damage, dry or fill in wetland, mangroves, lagoons, estuary or swamp.” Text taken from: TruthSantos Facebook page.