We have passports, plane tickets and pesos mixed with the dollars in our wallets. For a week beginning Jan. 1, Collegian Executive Editor Skyler Leonard and myself, a Collegian news editor, will be in Todos Santos, Mexico, reporting on the Colorado State University Center that opened there in October 2015.
For the last year and a half, Skyler has been covering the development of the CSU Center in Todos Santos. He has written two in-depth articles: one published in June 2014 that highlighted residents’ concerns about the University’s ties with a housing developer, and one published in October 2015 that described possible water scarcity due to CSU’s presence. The Collegian also published a letter to the editor from Kim Kita, director of Special Projects and Partnerships at CSU, that directly responded to the October article.
From Skyler’s October article:
The Mexico-based company MIRA is planning a housing development called Tres Santos that could triple the size of the town. In 2014, MIRA donated land and helped construct a center for CSU. MIRA feeds water from the town’s supply into a tank that provides CSU’s recently-opened center with water.
Since its announcement, MIRA and CSU have received criticism from locals who say the plan could drastically affect the town environmentally and socially.
Despite assurances of good will from MIRA and CSU, many residents insist that public relation statements are contradictory to what is actually happening. John Moreno, an attorney who has lived in Todos Santos all his life, said PR statements cover up many of the problems MIRA is causing.
“Mexico has changed. These guys (MIRA) are using old-school, old Mexico tactics — they basically ignore the community,” Moreno said.
After hearing vastly different claims from both University officials and Todos Santos residents, those in charge at the Collegian decided Skyler should visit the town and find out what is really happening. But since he doesn’t speak a word of Spanish, they also decided to send me with him — I’m a Spanish major and have been studying the language for a decade.
While in Todos Santos, we will interact with key stakeholders in the community, such as fisherman, farmers and expatriates. We will also follow CSU students and researchers as they interact with community members and work at the newly-constructed CSU Center.
Although we will have a fuller report when we return, look for updates while we’re away — it will be a busy week, but we’ll post as often as we can.
Collegian News Editor Ellie Mulder and Executive Editor Skyler Leonard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.