Pimping for Baja

There are a series of blog entries over on The San Diego Reader by Tom Gatch which are nothing more than thinly disguised free advertisements for Baja businesses.

I guess there is no law against pimping for ones friends. But you have to wonder what kind of company Tom Gatch keeps down there. This week’s installment from Gatch is a promotion of Las Parrillas, a new restaurant near the Estero Beach Resort on the south end of Ensenada.

Gatch writes:

“Owner Roy Topik, an East Coast transplant, and his managing chef, Tom Baldwin, who has decades of experience in the food service industry, met for the first time at the local swap meet. Baldwin was busy serving handcrafted burgers to a hoard of hungry shoppers when Topik, who was already thinking about opening a restaurant in the area, tried one and immediately noticed its superlative quality. The two began talking, and it didn’t take long for them to realize that they might have a viable business plan for catering to the desire of both resident and visiting Americans who occasionally yearn for some of the tastes and aromas that they grew up with.”

[Image: Las_Parrillas_photo_-front_t500x340.jpg?...4f4b97542d]
Roy Topik and Tom Baldwin

One could debate why there should be a restaurant in Ensenada serving “Real American Food,” but is seems Gatch could do just a little more research before pimping these businesses.

Owner Roy Topik seems to have gone from one disaster to another all his life. Here are a few examples:

1. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint against Roy Topik and his companies in Rhode Island, after it learned that four children had been lead poisoned at properties owned by Topik. He later did not appear in court and had a default judgment against him for over $240,000.

2. As a landlord in Burrillville, Massachusetts, Roy Topik was charged with felony larceny for allegedly seizing the possessions of a tenant whom he had asked to move out, and then dumping that property along a roadside. He was also charged with trespassing and vandalism.

3. While living in Florida, our restaurateur was jailed for battery and domestic violence, doing time in the Jackson County Correctional Facility.

Topik is also alledged to be past due on child support payments and have IRS tax liens.

This is not the first time Tom Gatch opened his mouth and inserted his foot. In an article on Fishing off the rocks in baja, our journalist gleefully explained how to illegal take mussels to use for fish bait. Apparently, Gatch was unaware –or unconcerned — that foreigners are forbidden from taking shellfish in Mexico, even with a fishing license.

To cover this faux pas, after Fulano reminded him that what he was recommending was illegal, Gatch recovered his balance with a lame and fabricated-on-the-spot excuse:

“Fortunately, Baja California is usually a place where the letter of the law is dutifully acknowledged, but most of the authorities in the field are far more likely to enforce the spirit of the law than their counterparts in the U.S. Hence, a local or visiting angler out on the rocks at low tide who is gathering bait or a few mussels for dinner will generally be viewed as exactly that, not as someone who is illicitly taking large quantities of shellfish for commercial purposes. Undoubtedly, in California, such a menacing miscreant as the aforementioned would be quickly issued a citation for several hundred dollars while a record check was simultaneously being made to make sure that he wasn’t in arrears on his child support payment.”

Child support payments in arrears? Is that why Roy Topik is in Mexico? Actually, Tom, most of the Mexican authorities in the field are more likely to try to extract money out of a gringo for looking cross-eyed while whistling. Just ask anybody driving through Tecate these days.

To finish off justifying his hard work at pimping for crooks and recommending Americans break Mexican laws, Tom ends with this admonition:

“By the way, my numerous writings that promote Baja as a great place to travel, recreate, vacation or eventually retire are well known and are very much appreciated by many of those who are in prominent positions within Baja California’s governing body. They fully realize that my work is important, because it offers a viable counterbalance to the negative barrage of comments that generally come from folks such as you.”


Official corruption surrounds the death of American Val Robichaux in Mexico

On April 11, 2012, while training for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Colorado, American Val Robichaux lost his life in an accident on the old coastal highway in Cozumel, Mexico. The official version given by the police commissioner, Eduardo Isidro Gutiérrez Sánchez, is that, “the bicyclist entered the lane the car was driving in.”

However, the impact on the front right side of the taxi puts that version in doubt, and Robichaux cannot give his version because the died in a private hospital moments later.

Inexplicably, the Attorney General for the Mexican state of Quintana Roo notified the Robichaux family that they have to pay for the damages to the taxi, which was being driven by Jocías Gabriel Díaz, when the taxi struck Val Robichaux head-on as the driver sped through a stop sign travelling at more than twice the posted speed limit.

Here is the story told by Rex M. Robichaux, Val Robichaux’s son, who was bicycling with his father and witnessed everything.

“First and foremost a little on Val Ian Robichaux- the man I have had the privilege of calling dad for the past 26 years. Although he was born in Tempe, AZ- he has lived the last 35+ years in Colorado. Up until his death he lived in Cortez Colorado where he had been enjoying retirement for the past 10 years. Val was not an Ironman- nor was he training for the ironman…although he had the UTMOST respect for triathletes and ironmen athletes. He always joked about his swimming abilities and how that kept him away from Tris. That being said- you would be hard pressed to find a more avid cyclist than Val. This year alone his odometer on his Trek Madone had clocked well over 3,000 miles. He WAS training to finish the Iron Horse Classic Bike Race in Durango, CO in the end of May- one of many feats we planned to complete together. As far as personality goes- well I can’t even express in words- I will simply leave it at that. Val and my mother came to Cozumel to suprise my girlfriend and I on Saturday knowing that I would be proposing to my girlfriend on Monday night here. He wanted to be here to help celebrate, and was nearly equally excited when I told him that we could rent bikes for a couple of days and loop the island. Luckily he was able to see his son get engaged the night before the last day of his life.

“On the day of his death we departed our hotel north of town around 9:30, and enjoyed a refreshing shower through San Miguel- we headed south out of town just moving right along with the tail wind that we joked would make our life a living hell when we hit the other side of the island. We had decided that when the opportunity allowed- we would jump on the “old highway” as it was slower and lower traffic amounts. At the first opportunity I did so- but my dad missed the turnoff- I (on the old highway) yelled over to my dad and he said “I’ll meet you on up ahead” signaling forward towards the upcoming crossover- the entrance to the Ocean Beach Club / Resort. As he slowed and started to turn in / over towards the old highway to meet up with me I noticed a taxi FLYING towards me / us. I signaled with my left hand for my dad to stop and yelled over my left shoulder “DAD! CAR!”. I remember thinking “Please GOD let my dad have stopped in time”, but as I turned and looked over my right shoulder I witnessed taxi #73 plow into my father at 60+ km/h disintegrating his stout Scott mtb, and sending him torso first into the windshield, then 3+ ft over the vehicle. My heart stopped. The taxi coasted to a stop ~150 meters down the road as I sprinted over to my father screaming. He was motionless in an already large pool of blood. I noticed an ambulance just 100m further down the road and screamed for their assistance. To my amazement my father was breathing with extreme labor but unconscious with obvious lacerations, fractures, bruises and other injuries. Some concerned by standing tourists came to our aid as did some Ocean club employees as the medical staff braced and loaded my father who was still unconscious. The driver never came over and within minutes there were 3-4 other cabs down in the area surrounding the lethal car.

“The 15 minute drive to CMC was the longest 15 minutes in my life as I heard my father fighting for his life in the back of the ambulance but was powerless to do a thing. We arrived, I offered what information I could and was asked to wait in the lobby as I watched the doctors try their hardest to keep my father alive- an effort they eventually could not succeed with as he passed away from cardiac arrest caused by complete torso trauma / lung collapse approx 30 minutes later. We later found out that he had multiple shattered bones, head injuries, extreme bleeding, shattered rib cage, collar bone, collapsed lungs, and several other injuries which simply are not possibly caused by a car traveling at 30 km / h (the posted speed limit). It was an absolute miracle he survived the initial impact- a testament to his health and strength. The medical examiner later told us one of the causes of death was due to his age and fragile condition. I nearly lost it on him.

“At this time I cannot release too much legal information- but what I can tell you is that the cries for justice from my mother, fiance, and myself have fallen on largely deaf legal ears here in Cozumel. We have hired attorneys and a legal team from Cancun who will continue to fight to clear my father’s name after we leave the island tomorrow. The corruption here is unreal- as is the power of the taxi unions in this country. I truly pity everyone involved.

“The FACTS: My father had NO yield, stop, or otherwise regulatory traffic sign. My father reached and yielded at the intersection long before the taxi arrived. The Taxi was traveling at OVER DOUBLE the posted speed limit. THE TAXI HAD A STOP SIGN 50 METERS before he killed my father which he blatantly ran. According to the current “expert” opinion which was generated by the local DA’s office my father was at fault because he ran a stop sign and failed to yield to oncoming traffic. The report makes NO mention of the vehicle speed (because there was no skid marks because the taxi ran right through my father, and slowly came to a stop afterwords), nor the FACT that the taxi had just ran a stop sign a high velocity. The press is in our hotel so if anyone would like to know more- I will gladly post more later. Thank you all for your support and I hope this clears up any doubt of my father’s unnecessary and innocent death which you will likely continue to hear from local “authorities”. It is my hope that my father’s case brings a heightened level of awareness to people around here to both watch out for athletes, as well as to the deep corruption that goes on largely unquestioned here and in so many other places in the world. He would light up with an illuminating glow if he knew an athletic event would be dedicated to his memory. You have no idea how much that means. God bless you all and watch over you.

  • Rex M. Robichaux”

Val Robichaux


Foreigners leaving Scorpion Bay in Baja California Sur

[San Juanico is a small seaside fishing village in Baja California Sur that has become popular with American ex-patriots and surfers. Surfers know it as “Scorpion Bay”. The following is a translation of an article in the April 2, 2012 El Sudcaliforniano.]

Ciudad Constitución, Baja California Sur – The population of San Juanico, Baja California Sur, a town considered one of the principal surfing tourist destinations, is going through one of its worst periods due to the failure of authorities to restore order, in light of the terrible and violent events that have pushed some foreign residents to temporarily leave that community.

A letter from an American businessman who has lived in San Juanico more than 15 years lays out his concern for the difficult security problem that prevails in San Juanico. A group of people there have spread fear, and the saddest thing is the authorities continue to merely fold their arms over their chests and do nothing.

Over many years, foreign residents have enjoyed peace, tranquility and the waves to surf in San Juanico. So far, in the current administration, the townsfolk have witnessed various acts of violence, including kidnappings, robberies and threats from a person who is clearly identified, and who has been reported to the state Attorney General, which has done nothing to stop the crimes.

For the moment, a group of Argentinian investors have decided to postpone construction of a cabin-style hotel after learning that some residents have been the victims of robberies and are being threatened by criminals who have control in this town located 90 miles from Ciudad Constitución.

Link to article in Spanish in El Sudcaliforniano