Tijuana Deserves a Better Look

No less than eight out of ten news items in the U.S. media regarding Tijuana are bad news reports. Everyone reads that there are drug cartel gangs in Tijuana, but as one of many examples, how many know that Los Angeles is the gang capital of the U.S.? That’s because it’s not media daily fodder as the Tijuana and Mexico gang coverage.

So it’s not surprising that Californians find it difficult to accept that Tijuana is an international powerhouse and Mexico’s fourth most populated city. Much of Orange County’s international business community is aware of Tijuana’s significance, as Mexico is the county’s number one trading partner, but the general public does not and has a mind-set running contrary to the reality of the size and scope of Tijuana’s achievements and impact not just on California and Orange County, but throughout the U.S., Canada and numerous other countries.

This may take readers to the heart of the issue – all heart valves inserted during surgery keeping thousands of people alive in the United States are made in Tijuana. And in the world of outer space – Tijuana hosted the 1st in 2010 and will host the 2nd International Aerospace Suppliers Forum in 2011. The first forum generated over US$200 million in contracts. The 2010 Forum’s success attracted the British Government’s Trade & Investment Body, and UK’s defense associations along with ILA, the oldest Aerospace Show in the World, agreed to collaborate to promote the 2011 event. Among the 34 aerospace firms located in Baja are such recognizable names like Honeywell, Gulfstream, Rockwell Collin, Lockheed Martin and Crissair.

Many have heard that Tijuana was the television assembly capital of the world, losing that position to China, but those many may not know that China is planning major investments in Baja with Tijuana as a principal location to bring back the television production and assembly there, and while at it, a Chinese brand automobile manufacturing and assembly plant. They will join Toyota in Tijuana that assembles part of the Tacoma line of pickups positioning the city as a major auto assembly and parts manufacturer.

There are over 60 medical products manufacturers in Tijuana making it a major player in that sector. Global consumer electronic product companies like JVC, Panasonic, Sony, Tyco, Sanyo, GE, Samsung and Hyundai have major manufacturing plants in Tijuana, along with nearly 600 other mostly international companies manufacturing furniture, toys, truck chassis, and numerous other products.

Many know that if there is need for quality but affordable dental work, Tijuana is the place to go, or for over the counter brand or generic low cost medicines, or eye care such as Lasik eye surgery. But not many know about heart surgery that can cost around $20,000 at an excellent hospital with highly qualified surgeons representing savings of $75 to $80 thousand over U.S. costs. Sadly, the U.S. press reports only those few cases were a surgery went wrong, or the doctor was not qualified, but not about the thousands of successful medical treatments and surgeries in every field.

Not many know about the Tijuana restaurant row where gourmet Argentinean, Brazilian, Chinese, French, Japanese and of course exquisite Mexican dishes are offered in a wide variety of classy restaurants. Nor is it common knowledge about the various chic shopping malls dotting various neighborhoods close to the border all with a great variety of stores where nearly all domestic and foreign goods can be purchased.

It is small wonder that finally a group of very successful Tijuana business leaders, community activists and philanthropists led by Jose Galicot, an ever optimist and lover of his native Tijuana city, decided enough is enough – let’s show the world what Tijuana is really all about.

And thus his idea of producing a two-week forum (October 7-21, 2010), Innovating Tijuana (Tijuana Innovadora) bringing to the conference some of the best known people not only in the U.S. but throughout the world – former Vice President Al Gore, joined by fellow Nobel winner (Economist), Robert Aumann; Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia and Wikia; Biz Stone, founder Facebook: Carlos Slim, entrepreneur world’s richest man: Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm: Larry King, Television personality, and dozens more.

In addition to the conference, Tijuana will display its tremendous advances in every field – science, medicine, aerospace, the arts and even cuisine (remember it was in Tijuana where Caesar’s Salad was created).

So, come on, let’s get behind Tijuana and be a part of their coming out party.

Patrick Osio is Editor of HispanicVista.com. He can be reached at: POsio@aol.com. Read other articles by Patrick.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. BartFargo said on September 6th, 2010 at 7:21am #

    I visited Tijuana back in 2006 and while that was prior to the escalation of the drug conflict in Mexico, the city wasn’t nearly as bad as the American press had made it sound. Slums do make up a good portion of the residential areas of the city, but it’s no worse than Detroit or Chicago (and certainly with better weather). The contrast may be more poignant because of the fabulously wealthy San Diego suburbs just across the border. For gringos the locals seem to go out of their way to push drugs and strippers on you, but outside the tourist areas you’ll find exactly what is described in this article. The rest of Baja is even more beautiful and is certainly worth a look for its unique culture and scenery.

  2. The Real Tijuana said on September 6th, 2010 at 2:23pm #

    The people who push drugs and strippers on the tourists are not, for the most part, Tijuana locals. They were convicts released early from California’s prisons in order to be deported to a country they left as infants.

    This early-release program, which has been in effect since the early 1990s, helps lower the expenses of the prison system but it creates social and cultural havoc on Tijuana. The convicts arrive here without any orientation, with no family in the area, speaking worse Spanish than English, no money, and no prospects for employment. The ones who aren’t hustling tourists on straight commission wind up in the drug business.

    Don’t let the hustlers annoy you. They are very much afraid of our local police, who are quick to arrest them “just because”. So here in Tijuana the policeman is your friend – the mere mention of him will chase the hustler away.

    You’re invited to visit our blog, realtijuana.blogspot.com, for more constructive advice on how to make your visits in Baja California rewarding and stress-free.

  3. mary said on September 6th, 2010 at 2:43pm #

    Didn’t know that DV were taking ads now.

    PS Wouldn’t boast about having an assembly of weapon manufacturers. (Honeywell, Gulfstream, Rockwell Collin, Lockheed Martin and Crissair…) A lot of your brown skinned brothers and sisters are no longer alive in Iraq and Afghanistan thanks to some of their machines.