The safety of living and vacationing in Mexico as of late has been under attack by a media sensation that is largely successful by playing on people’s fears rather than examining the actual facts of the matter concerning crime-rates and the recent waves of violence in Mexico. The truth of the matter is, media companies make money by creating a hype storm and one of the best ways to do that is through through scaring people with unnecessary concerns so they are enthralled by the danger, completely ignoring the fact that most of Mexico is very safe with crime-rates comparable, and often lower, than our own.
Let’s take moment here to do what the media chooses not to – examine the facts a little more closely.
· Unfortunately the US is still currently ranked the #5th most dangerous country in the world to live based on intentional murder rates, ranking above Mexico.
· Statistics show that the most deadly violence is happening in northern Mexico close to the U.S. border where smuggling occurs, and in the states where marijuana and heroin are produced, many thousands of miles away from anywhere you are likely to visit on a holiday. Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros are the specific towns travel warnings have been issued for…have you heard of them? Most people haven’t it seems, this is because they are not normally very popular choices as tourist destinations.
· Almost all the recorded violence has been dealings involving organized crime, cartel-on-cartel; these are not just murders happening between random individuals for whatever motive involving whatever reason. These are specific targeted killings in areas very far away from tourism based areas – so unless you are in fact a Mexican citizen involved with such organized crime, selling or smuggling drugs etc, then the calculated chance of being injured, let alone killed, in such violence is extremely low.
· The murder rate of Mexico in 2009 was still lower than it was a decade before, long before the Mexican government began a crackdown against the cartels, which being said is a very good thing for North Americans and our own drug control issues.
• The state with the lowest murder rate is Yucatán, the Gulf of Mexico state known for its beaches, Mayan ruins and being Mexico’s most popular tourist destination. Its murder rate of 2 per 100,000 was comparable to Wyoming and Montana and has a homicide rate 14 times lower than Orlando, 10 times lower than Miami, 9 times lower than West Palm Beach, 6 times lower than Tampa and lower than that of Honolulu.
• If you examine Washington, D.C.’s murder rate; it is found to be nearly quadruple that of the Mexican capital, Mexico City. Washington’s murder rate was 31.4 per 100,000 people in 2008; Mexico City’s rate in 2009 was 8.
It’s all a matter of keeping things in perspective and making an an educated, informed decision. Sure there are places that are less safe than others in Mexico, just like anywhere else in the world. Thus the reason why the U.S. State Department has issued these alerts for specific areas and not targeted at the whole of Mexico, since for the most part it is very safe for foreigners regardless of the happenings in some of the less desirable areas.
What is a little amusing however is how many of the 1 million US citizens now living or retired on Mexico’s paradisaical coasts won’t protest the media’s over-sensationalistic portrait of their new-found home, claiming in jest they want to keep their little piece of heaven all to themselves
So then, let’s put the hype and the scare-tactics to rest, lets understand it is the media’s job not only to report the news but also to raise revenue, something that they have had much success by using peoples fear as a generator, for example; the Y2K scare…if anyone even remembers that anymore.
“If you look at history, today we have fewer murders, both in raw numbers and rates,” said Mario Arroyo, a researcher with the Citizens’ Institute for Crime Studies, a Mexico City think tank. These are the facts people, it’s true that Mexico is still a safe place to live and vacation.