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Rosarito Beach begins issuing bilingual citations


If there's one thing visitors to Rosarito Beach no longer have to worry about -- if the plan is implemented smoothly -- it's confusion regarding traffic citations issued by local police.

The long-popular haven for surfers, fishermen and other outdoors enthusiasts is largely deserted these days because of the unrelenting war between drug cartels throughout northern Baja California.

Hugo Torres, mayor of Rosarito Beach, has taken many steps to alleviate visitors' fears. He has expelled corrupt officers, bolstered police ranks and created a citizens' watch group and a special tourist police force.

The latest measure, now in effect, is the issuing of bilingual traffic tickets. The city also now allows visitors the option of paying fines by mail. This is designed to make tourists feel less intimidated by police officers when they're pulled over.

"Before it was necessary to follow an officer to a station to pay the fine," Torres said. "Now in most cases they can simply be mailed in."

On concerns about bribery, Torres added, "A traffic fine can never be paid directly to an officer, and we ask that people report to us the name and badge number of any officer that requests that they do so, or any that does not offer them the option of receiving a bilingual ticket."

Bilingual tickets are being issued by tourist police and regular city police to motorists who commit an infraction within city jurisdiction. The tickets list amounts owed for each offense and instructions for paying by mail.

Motorists can still appeal a ticket.


Bilingual tickets are strictly limited to within Rosarito Beach city limits and may not apply on the transpeninsular highway, where state or federal police have jurisdiction.

Laura Wong, president of the Rosarito Convention & Visitors Bureau, has stressed that the drug-related killings generally involve rivals and occur well beyond tourist zones late at night.

Wong also reminds tourists that last year's spring break, Memorial Day and July 4 periods, as well as the Rosarito-to-Ensenada bike ride, "went smoothly and without any serious incident involving any of our many visitors."

-- Pete Thomas

Top photo: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (26)

My husband and I traveled to Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and Ensenada many times in the late 1960's and early 1970's. In fact, we spent our honeymoon at Rosaritio Beach in 1969, since as a young Marine Corps family it was all we could afford. I remember staying at Tony's Motel there for $5 per night, and eating at Tony's Chinese Restaurant next door. All of my memories are positive - the people were charming and friendly, and the scenary spectacular. Our only contact with the police was when we were stopped by an officer in late 1970. He had seen our baby in the back seat of our Karmann Ghia, and told us he wanted to congratulate us on our beautiful baby. I can't believe I'm reading about the same place. This article made me so sad.

You can keep Rosarito with its drugs, gangs, mules, dirty cops, and Papas and Beer. My next trip is to Canada.

Torres and Wong and the LA times are at it again. Allowing the mayor of Rosarito another attempt at trying to convince us that his city is safe. It is not safe and will only get worse as the construction industry boom begins to go stagnate all across Baja.

My advise to Torres and Wong, don't cover up the truth and give back. You need only to visit the local Cruz Roja (Behind Waldos) Red Cross to discover that they rely on a 1967 x-ray machine. Instead of making this billigual ticket program, why not sponsor a new x-ray machine for your local hospital? Also remember that if an American is hurt they will end up at this local hospital. Give and you shall receive. For too long you have only received.

This article is about people coming back to baja mex?And i personally belive that tourist will be back some day (i hope) but that will happen on it's own. Last summer was a mess, not with just the usual police bribes and con artist shaken down vistors, but at the sand dunes (catamar) gun battels and death. How much doe's
Fricken BEER cost in baja? (about double the amount) ice,beer,food,and take out
just ain't the same as it used to be which made the trip worthwhile before inflation.

Personally i would not trust anyone who says come on down and we now have user friendly tickets,cause i was in rosarito beach 2 weeks ago and the cops had the locals pulled over for entire holiday season taking bribes for vehicle vialations. If you decide to go lock up everything they just stold our catalatic converter (muffler) while eating at elnido, crime is extremely high at this
time. Inflation,gas,beer,ice,groceries, cops,kidnappings,car thefts,gun bar fights,
brutal assaults,and being nervous for the entire trip ain't worth it.

Regarding comment from Jon K: "Yeah, right."
" Every single time I've visited Mexico and driven, I've been given tickets for nothing and have had to pay them to an officer as a bribe.
The corruption of that society is repulsive."

Must be Karma, Jon...I've been going to Mexico for 25 years....living here for the past 5, and have never, not once paid money to an officer - some Americans, unfortunately, do automatically reach for their wallets rather than take the time to do the right thing-insist on a ticket and go to the police station to either dispute or pay it. It's all in your attitude - try taking a positive note next time you want to talk about your neighbors.

Calderon belongs to the human race,

Bilingual traffic tickets for Rosarito are a good first small step. But tourists still have to drive through Tijuana to get to Rosarito and the TJ police are there to pick up the slack with a ticket for DWG -- Driving While Gringo.

And for those who like to play the race card everytime somebody is critical of Mexico, it's time to change your tune. Being Mexican is a nationality, not a race. If you don't beleive it, please explain which race does President Felipe Calderon belong to.

I am gettting REALLY tired of hearing Mexicans bash us PIG Americans... If this place was SO BAD and we are such RACISTS why do we have to spend BILLIONS (how much is Mexico contributing to this cost?) to build 15 ft high fences across our entire SOUTHERN (not Northern, dont have this problem with Canadiens) border to keep MILLIONS and MILLIONS of your countrymen from coming here illegally.

Would Mexicans appreciate their government having to spend BILLIONS on a fence to keep MILLIONS of us "gringos" from streaming illegally across your borders, bringing crime and taking jobs, as well as clogging and overwhelming your legal system, your schools, your hospitals, your roads... what does this COST US AMERICANS????

The NUMBER ONE contributor to the Mexican economy is illegals sending back cash from working here, cause there is NO JOBS in your country apparently. Then, we buy your drugs, your oil, your tequila.... WHERE WOULD YOU BE WITHOUT US???????? And in lieu of all this, YOU SPIT IN OUR FACE????

All of you go home since us gringos have treated you all SO BADLY. I wonder how many Mexicans living in Mexico pick up a paper and have to read white people that are there illegally saying how racist Mexicans are, and how Mexico sucks, and... I could just go on and on.. INGRATES, one and all!!!


Mexico sucks. Why do you think millions of Mexicans risk their lives to illegally immigrate from that country? If you think telling the truth makes me a racist, well, that makes you a very insecure person.

"On concerns about bribery, Torres added, "A traffic fine can never be paid directly to an officer, and we ask that people report to us the name and badge number of any officer that requests that they do so, or any that does not offer them the option of receiving a bilingual ticket.""

Yeah, right.

Every single time I've visited Mexico and driven, I've been given tickets for nothing and have had to pay them to an officer as a bribe.

The corruption of that society is repulsive.

Please ! are you saying you don't have to look over your shoulder in calif. or other parts of the States, drive by shootings, muggings, rapes, If something happens in Mexico the reporters make a big deal of it. Things much worse happen every hour in the united states.

Again the racists come out of the wood work when articles about Mexico come to light. Even positive changes brings about negativity. I am an American and ashamed of my countrymen. Living on the sucesses of past generations, as if they were their own. Our forefathers at least had the back bone to fight for what is right. The recent generations habit of creating problems (the war on drugs for one) then walking away... Americans should reach out to its neighbor, rather than trying to isolate it. Americans are the huge consumers of illegal drugs.. Things have to change. Attitudes for one.

Finally a good comment from the LA Times about Mexico and Baja North!
I live part time in Rosarito and my wife lives there full time and we have never encountered a problem in over three years.
So let the drug gangs kill each other and finally the government will win.
Congratulations to Mayor Hugo Torres for all the good he is doing for Rosarito and both Mexicans depending on the the tourist trade and buying homes there and the Americans who already live there.

Really do you think Mexico is going to turn into another Afghanistan? Did you hear about that at a MENSA meeting? A better comparison might be another Columbia of the 80' and 90's and its well on its way there.

The drug war is sad but as long as the people of the U.S. fuel this multi billion dollar market then there will be men with guns that will kill over it. Legalization of cocaine seems pretty far down the list of things that are likely too occur. At this point I think surrender might be a viable option for the Mexican government - they can spend there small resources to fight it and see thousands die, people live in fear, kill tourism and still lose because if you take down one cartel another is going to pop up and replace it because there is too much profit involved.

We really appreciate you not coming down here with your Gringo arrogance and ignorance - it is totally amazing! I used to be one of you for 35 years, but couldn't stand the narrow mindedness! So I have been happily living in Mexico for 12 years now...not in one of those disgusting Gringo colonies, my friends and neighbors are 100% Mexican. Why else would anybody move to another country, if not to submerse themselves in the local culture?

Amigos you need to ask yourself if you are a humble guest or a narrow.mined invader, then you can expect to be treated equally.

Mr. Torres:
"Our" demand?" I am in Mexico and understand the problem firsthand. Regardless of the source demand, a major part of the problem is Mexico's intrinsic culture of corruption.

If you have lived in Mexico, you know two things: first, that there is no rule of law here as it is understood in the industrialized world, and secondly, every level of law enforcement and the court system has been corrupted by the drug trade.

The only answer to the problem is decriminalization and usurping the revenue flow to organized crime.

why vacation in Mexico when I can go down the street in L.A. and actually be in Mexico..with over 5 million illegal Mexicans in L.A. country I don't have to go any place

I was there just a short while ago. All through the night you could hear gun fire. The store by the beach was riddled with bullets. I heard a tourist cry about her dog being shot while walking one night.

Stay the heck out of the place, matter of fact stay out of Mexico period. Many many nicer places to go just in California alone.

In the 60s and 70s we traveled often to Mexico with our children. It's a beautiful country and the Mexican people are as hospitable and generous as any I know. Now I wouldn't go there at all. So sad. I hope this isn't going turn into another Afganistan.

To Pooky and Mr.Pink, the problems wouldn't exist if your demand for the Nose Candy that Americans seem to Love wasn't in such high demand. as far Mr. Pinks comment, yes, Wong in Mexico, it might surprise you to find out that all the Chinese that leave china or pretty much any other ethnic group does NOT end up in the USA, there is a large community of Chinese, Japanese, Germans and other people from around the world. My least favorite are the retired americans that come down south of your border and try to haggle down to the last nickel...I feel the same way most of you Americans feel, Its nice if you visit us, but Please DONT stay.

never have and never will step foot in mexico. have heard too many stories of friends headed south to golf and holiday, only to be extorted by federalies and worse yet, drive thru a haze of rifle shots from hills along the interstate.
i have seen the bullet holes.

animals rule the zoo. the mexican people know something when they come to the united states. we welcome hard working decent people, and apparantly, mexico is no place to survive and raise a family. shame on mexico.

Hooray War On Drugs! Take note, the Tequila trade doesn't cost thousands of lives every year, nor does it corrupt nor imprison tens of thousands more. The only difference? It's legal! Tax it. Regulate it. Legalize it. We might even solve some budget woes by tapping into the multi-billion-dollar trade, and eliminate overnight the violence and corruption by legalizing something the people are going to use anyway.

Most people have a predetermined discrimination when it comes to Mexico or Latin America (look above, "Wong? Mexico?" Can't people migrate wherever they wish?).

There is a reason why many people from various countries hate the U.S. and it's because of people's arrogance and ignorance (not all). Unfortunately, these are the people with the biggest mouth. I am American and ashamed of these such people.

Getting to the point, Drug Cartels have nothing against tourist and/or everyday citizens. It is against each other, just like the Italian mafia wouldn't go chop-off your horse's head just for fun, neither do these drug dealers in doing you harm. Stay away from outside "Colonias" (so you don't get caught in crossfire) and you will be fine.

By the way, the deaths reported are, for the most part (99%), of people involved in the drug trade. You are safe! Just like walking through Central L.A. (I'm sure some of you won't even do that)

With so many other beautiful places to vacation why take the risk in Mexico. Even a small risk is still a risk and I don't like going places where I'm always looking over my shoulder.

It probably would have been safe to go before this article. Ms. Wong's (Wong? Mexico?) statements will seem ominous once the narcos decide to take their violence to the beach.



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