In this edition of The Cozumel Sun, a recap of the U.S. Consulate General Town Hall Meeting and Passport Fair held on September 22, 2017, an Update on the Mexico Earthquakes, Cozumel Events Calendar, and more. This is Part one of the United States Consulate Town Hall Meeting of Three Parts. Part Two will be the Panel Presentation by the Municipal Government of Cozumel, and Part Three will be the Panel Presentation by Representatives from the Cozumel Hospitals.
Part One The U.S. Consulate Town Hall Meeting
The U.S. Consulate General Town Hall Meeting and Passport Fair was held at the Cozumel Municipal Palace on September 22, 2017. American Citizens Services Chief, United States Consulate, Merida conducted the town Hall and in his introduction described the US Consulate roles:
Fourteen employees man the offices in Merida, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen that service the needs of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Yucatan Peninsula is the most visited tourist destination in the world. 7.3 million tourists visit annually and an estimated 10,000 Americans reside in this area.
The offices provide two types of services Routine, and Special Citizen Services. Routine services are passport applications and renewals, reports of births abroad, and Notarization services. Cozumel does not provide Routine Services. Residents of Cozumel must travel to Playa del Carmen (closest), Merida, or Cancun for these services.
Note: If you are a United States Citizen abroad and have need of a United States document notarized, the United States Consulate provides the only LEGAL notary. Other citizens out of the country holding a notary license in the United States can only legally notarize in the state they are licensed.
Special Citizens Services are things that can happen to a US Citizen while living in a foreign country. The Cozumel Consular Agent provides these services.
Hospitalization: They will visit and be a liaison to explain and negotiate treatment, cannot assist with payment of bill.
Death: There is an average of one citizen death per day in the Yucatan Peninsula, mostly natural causes. Notification of next of kin, assisting in the coordination of getting the remains back home, and providing an English language death certificate. The Spanish death certificate is not accepted as a legal document in the United States when dealing with Insurance and other legal matters.
Arrests: They will visit, provide water, a granola bar, check on your well being and provide you with information on the Mexican Legal system. They cannot get you out of jail.
Victim of Crime: They will help you file a police report and get updates for you on the progress of the case.
Missing Persons (Welfare & Whereabouts of a US Citizen): Privacy laws prevent them from informing your relatives of your whereabouts, but they will contact you and let you know that concerned relatives are looking for you. They will pass along the information so that you may contact your concerned relatives.
At this point in the meeting he introduced Terri Barnhart-Ocejo, the U.S. Consular Agent that serves and lives in Cozumel. She is one of 40 Consulate agents world-wide and the only agent that works out of her home due to the nature of the services that are provided in Cozumel. Terri is on call 24 hours per day and meets the needs of the many cruise ship tourists that visit Cozumel. She stated she spends one day per week in the Playa del Carmen Office.
Other Consulate relate tidbits from the question and answer section:
Merida has the fastest passport renewal turnaround time in the world, in one week your passport is in a FedEx envelope on its way back to you.
- You can renew your passport at any time before or after the expiration date. However, a different form is required if it has expired for five years or more. All new passports will contain 52 pages as they are no longer allowed to add pages to a passport.
- Emergency Passports are available in crisis situations. They are processed in 24 hours and are temporary, good for only 3 months.
- Name changes on passports are processed with a marriage license, or court order document such as in a divorce or legal name change. If you are changing back to a maiden name, and never held a passport in that name, you must provide an original birth certificate.
- Unless you have filled out a form and paid a fee to renounce your United States Citizenship, you are legally a United States Citizen and eligible to receive services in any United States Consulate Office.
The Travel Warning in relations to including Cozumel was clarified: Travel Warnings are issued by State. Because of the crime increase in Playa del Carmen and Cancun, our State, Quintana Roo, was included in the travel warning. When they issue these warnings, the State Department names the popular and most likely recognized tourists designations in those states, as most tourists are not aware of the names of the States. Thus, Cozumel was thrown in the mix. He advised that all we can do is keep passing along the word that Cozumel is safe in our publications.
This ends the Consulate Segment of my Report. There were presentations by a panel from the Municipal Government, and Local Hospitals. The Information on both panels will follow in the next issue.
Our two English Speaking Insurance agents were on hand and those that had made an appointment to renew their passports stayed after the gathering to do so.
Reminder: Sign up for The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step/ . Important not only to receive travel warnings and news, but also finding you in case of an emergency.
Contact Information US Consulate
Cozumel: Terri Barnhart-Ocejo, Consular Agent
You can make an appointment for routine services at the Consular Agency in Cancun or Playa del Carmen by calling (+52)-999-942-5700. (Please note that the U.S. Consular Agencies do not process Reports of Birth Abroad).
THE PLAYA DEL CARMEN OFFICE MOVED TO PLAZA PROGRESO ACROSS FROM SAM’S CLUB.
011-52-999-942-5700 (direct dial from the U.S.)
202-250-3711 (Vonage dialing from the U.S.)
01-999-942-5700 (dialing from within Mexico)
942-5700 (dialing from within Merida)
EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
In the case of a life or death emergency involving a U.S. citizen outside of normal business hours, please call the numbers above and follow instructions to be connected to the duty officer.
HOURS OF OPERATION
The U.S. Consulate General in Merida is open from 7:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday except for U.S. and Mexican federal holidays.
The U.S. Consular Agency in Cancun is open from 8:30am to 1:30pm Monday through Friday except for U.S. and Mexican federal holidays.
The U.S. Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen is open from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday through Friday except for U.S. and Mexican federal holidays.
U.S. Consular information and travel warnings are available in The Cozumel Sun website at under the Cozumel Guide for Residents section: https://www.thecozumelsun.com/cozumel-guide/u-s-consular-news-information/.
Aurita’s Cozumel Corner
Mexico Earthquake Update
As of this morning 320 people are confirmed dead from the earthquakes. 182 of them died in Mexico City, the rest from the States of Oaxaca, Chapas, and Tabasco. Until recently, the effort has been to find and rescue the living. No one has been found alive since last Wednesday, and the different sites are slowly switching from rescue to recovery. The death toll is expected to rise considerably.
In Mexico City, volunteers Teams from 14 nations are in Mexico along with Mexican volunteers who have left their jobs in other States to help victims and earthquake victims of 7.1 degrees on the Richter scale of September 19. The architects inspected buildings, housewives cooked soup, rice with chicken, tamales, cakes, chocolate, coffee and other beverages.
Young and old people alike have taken to the streets and invaded the landslides to help carry buckets with debris, make human chains, carry and bring water, spend hours in the sun shouting that alcohol, gasoline, gauze, vaccines, wood and nails are required. One of the many inspirational stories was of a man in a wheelchair that worked to clear debris alongside other volunteers.
In front of the collapsed building of Álvaro Obregón 286 businesses have opened their doors. They have served food and drinks for free. They have offered their bathrooms free of charge, their electricity to charge cell phones, as do the owners of a Salon that is located on the street Oaxaca, almost opposite of the collapsed building. Uber was giving free rides.
Since the initial earthquake (8.1), on September 8 centering in Oaxaca, tremors have followed regularly (4.5 +, 6.1 & 7.1) destroying much of what little housing was left. Chapas, Tabasco, and Oaxaca are suffering, even though the Capitol, Mexico City is getting the majority of the news coverage.
If you are in Cozumel, there are collection places everywhere on the island, I even saw Starbucks collecting supplies. At this point in the disaster, they will need food, sheets, blankets and plenty of non-perishable food (Canned tuna, sardines, rice frijoles. etc.) powder milk, baby diapers, etc. One person suggested blacking out the bar code of food products to ensure that someone in the future does not try to cheat the victims and resell your donations. (There is always a rotten one or two in every barrel). If you are outside of the united states, find a reputable organization and donate please.
The Cozumel Sun Garage Sale
The Sun Garage Sale, formerly known as “The On-Going Garage Sale” was started as a means to collect gently used clothing and goods to be donated to the poor and/or sold at low cost to raise funds for our many projects in Las Fincas and our immediate neighborhood. WE WILL BE SENDING SUPPLIES TO THE EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS THROUGH ONE OF THE LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS AS MONEY ALLOWS.
WE ARE REMODELING:
I am in the process of remodeling our front terrace/entryway into a permanent area for the garage sale. It has been difficult finding storage space that does not disrupt the household. Bringing the merchandise out and setting up the display is hard, many times having to repack it due to weather. The work involved and weather condition has limited the number of days I can have the sale. (Mind you this is a one person operation.)
The remodeling will enable us to be open daily to the public. I am putting in a high roof and will need to remodel the front section accordingly for security. The rain has prevented us from making any progress in weeks, and preventing us from raising funds when we most need it. I have been attempting to sell larger items pn Facebook.
We have had so many families in the immediate neighborhood without the funds to pay for school supplies, uniforms, and enrollment fees. We cannot turn down helping a child with educational expenses. School just started last month and people are coming in daily asking for help. PLEASE assist us by donating your gently used clothing and household goods or make a cash donation.
Drop off the items you no longer use or need at our home/store #1081 35 Avenida between Calles 17 & 15 Bis. You can also call at 987-118-4453 or 987-120-5903 to arrange a pick up at your home. All Clothing, Housewares, Furniture, Appliances, etc. will be greatly appreciated. Your donations or proceeds from your donations are guaranteed to go towards a family in need.
Cozumel Annual Turtle Breeding Season
May 15th – October 28th
Festival of San Miguel Archangel
September 21st – 29th, 2017
Cozumel ITU 2017
September 30 – October 3
Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) Cozumel 2017
Ironman Cozumel 2017
The Cozumel Sun News
Papeleria y Novedades Mama lilly
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