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Tijuana Inaugurates New Mayor

Audio

Aired 12/1/10

A new mayor took the helm in Tijuana Thursday afternoon. The 65-year-old Carlos Bustamante was born in National City and has made his fortune in Tijuana.

Tijuana's new San Diego-born mayor, Carlos Bustamante, was sworn in Tuesday afternoon at a packed ceremony at City Hall. The 65-year-old Carlos Bustamante was born in National City and has made his fortune in Tijuana.

Bustamante says one of his top goals is to help restore economic prosperity to Tijuana. He says his other major responsibility is public security and told the crowd of about 2000 that he will not tolerate corruption or impunity. “We will never allow organized crime to be more powerful than state institutions,” he said. Last week, Bustamante appointed a new police chief saying he wants the police to return to fighting common crime, in addition to organized crime and corruption.

Bustamante also promised to create a better life for the city’s poor. “Today, there are 160,000 people living in poverty in Baja California. That means that one in 15 Tijuanenses lives in adverse economic conditions. That is unfair. Tijuana has always been a city of opportunity, and today we are denying hundreds of families a better future.”

Bustamante said promoting culture and sports in Tijuana are part of his strategy to improve the city.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders listened to Bustamante from the front row, flanked by Tijuana’s outgoing mayor and Baja California’s Governor. Sanders said he has already met with Bustamante about a half-dozen times.

“I have told Bustmante I’m happy to come to Tijuana to meet as often as he’d like, and he can come up as often. But, I think tourism is the biggest issue for him, and letting people in San Diego know that if you’re a tourist and you’re in a normal tourist area, you’re probably very safe,” said Sanders. He added, “Tourism is important to both of our economies and when people come to San Diego, they want to go to Tijuana. Tijuana is one of the draws to San Diego.”

Bustamante is a successful Tijuana businessman from one of the city’s oldest families. He owns the city’s only skyscrapers, including the Grand Hotel. Bustamante is from the opposition PRI party. He beat out the 34-year old PAN party candidate, Carlos Torres, in a surprise victory last July. The PRI swept all five mayoral seats in Baja California last summer, though the state is governed by the PAN.

Baja California was the first state to cast off the PRI back in 1989 and has since been a PAN stronghold. The PRI ruled Mexico for seventy years, until Vicente Fox was elected in 2000.

Bustamante attended Carlsbad’s Army Navy Academy and got his business degree at the University of San Diego.

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