Safety in Mexico

Old May 3rd, 2005, 03:58 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 132
Safety in Mexico

On Crime in Mexico? Yes there is crime in Mexico--and every place else! I live in a moderate-size midwestern town of around 300k people. We have just had our 14th homicide--and its only May 3rd!
I have traveled Mexico for 50 years--lived there 4.5 yrs. Have been in Mexico 5 times in the past two years. Have never been a victim of serious crime--don't personally know of ANYONE who has. A few minor things over all those years. That's all.
Had my pocket picked in the Metro in Paris 15 years ago. Also in Cuzco, Peru. Never in Mexico. When my wife and I go to Mexico, we feel very relaxed. It is like going to the 'stress-free zone'.
I have spent a lot of time in Mexico City, ride the subway, take taxis, etc. Mexico City is very conservative. I don't go around in Burmuda Shorts, an Hawaiian shirt, and a camera around my neck announcing, "Hey, I'm an American. Come Get me!" I merge with the population. I am a blond (now grey) Gringo, but I have had Mexicans stop and ask me for directions.
We have traveled a lot and, I think, travel smart for the most part. Most of that is just common sense. Don't set yourself up as a victim. I learned that in Paris and Cuzco.
Suggest: Don't take expensive watch or jewelry on trips. Don't carry large amounts of cash, driver's license, or credit cards in your wallet--I just use it for ready cash for the day--nothing more. Have a money belt, chest pack,or leg puch for money, CC's, etc. Don't leave money, jewelry in your hotel room unless you have a secure safe box or put them in the hotel desk safe. Be careful where you go at night. Don't drive at night. Don't drive at all in Mexico City. In Mexico City avoid green VW taxis--take regular officially marked taxi sedans with driver only inside, from in front of a hotel or other taxi stand. Be aware without beng too obvious about it.
Much of the crime we hear about these days is drug related around the border--Nuevo Laredo, etc. Such things get very generalized. Mexico is a big country with larger populations than England, Germany, France. There are high crime areas and low crime areas. Most crime is Mexican on Mexican, not Mexican on tourist. Tens of thousands of tourists go to Mexico every day. Most have no problem. Incidents of really serious crimes, rape, abduction, murder, etc. of tourists is very low--so rare in fact, that when it happens, it is big news. Tourists are, of course, unfortunately sometimes victims. But they are probably safer in Mexico City than almost anywhere in Chicago or L.A. Everyone should get a reliable guidebook on the country(ies) they are going to and read it. Know something about the place before you go: its history, its customs, crime problems, how to deal with money, a bit of the language, etc. A few hours of reading and you will be much better prepared. Mexico is an incredibly interesting and diverse country.

Having taught pre-Columbian art history for 35 years on the univeristy level, I never ceased to be amazed at the total ignorance* of our students about Mexico, or major trading partner and NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR.
*I didn't say stupidity. It was simply a lack of knowledge. And it wasn't their fault. It is the fault, at least in part, of our educational system. And I am amazed at the number of times I hear Mexico spoken of as (a part of) Central America!...even on national news reports. Mexico is a part of North America. Surprised? Look at a map.

Mexico is a wonderful country. Enjoy it.


norbrad393 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2005, 07:10 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 20
Excellent advice, norbrad. The important thing is to be as cautious traveling as when one is at home. I hadn't been to Mexico in a few years, and I heard a lot of horror stories of an increase in crime, especially against tourists. In April, I went to Mexico City and Guanajuato. I did not feel threatened and I felt as safe as I did on previous trips.

Rugosan is offline  
Old May 4th, 2005, 01:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Amen from San Miguel de Allende.
Also, having taught at the post doc level, no ignorance surprises me.
mikemo is offline  
Old May 4th, 2005, 03:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 191
Mexico City is a wonderful place to live or visit but it can be dangerous for tourists and Mexicans alike. In the last couple of years my closest Mexican friend, a Mexico City native and resident, has been "express kidnapped" two times. A friend I was traveling with in Mexico City was mugged in the middle of the afternoon on the Metro. I, on the other hand, have never had a problem. Mexico City can be very dangerous and that's important for tourists to know. That knowledge does not detract from the great things to do and see there.
JohnK is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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Posts: 132
Yes. Precisely why one has to travel smart. I wanted to post an after-thought. There is an increase in crime in Cancun City. You have to be careful there. Muggings, mostly. Not so in the hotel zone as far as I know, but I never go anywhere in Cancun except to pass through it, so I could be wrong. Isla Mujeres is probably the most crime-free place I have ever been. In all the years we have traveled there, I only know of one incident (theft). Most crime against tourists is in the pilfering ctatgory motivated by poverty.
Another serious warning is don't get involved with drugs down there. The seemingly freewheeling Mexican lifestyle might make some think they take the same attitude toward hard drugs that they do with alchohol. No so. Some Americans have learned the hard way.

norbrad393 is offline  
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