Despite Violence In Most Of Mexico, Mexico City Remains Safe For Americans

January 16, 2014

new-york-cityForbes, 01/14/2014

In the U.S. government’s latest Travel Warning, Mexico City was excluded from a list of 17 Mexican states that, according to the State Department, are off limits for Americans due to serious threats to safety and security. Throughout the drug-war violence of the previous six year administration, Mexico City, the nation’s capital known as the Federal District (DF), has remained relatively safe –not immune, but not overtaken by violence.

The DF’s Minister of Tourism Miguel Torruco, told me that the city, a world-class metropolis known for its history, culture, cuisine and crafts, has a murder rate of 22 per 100,000 people, which is comparable to Philadelphia’s 21.5 per 100,000 and far below Detroit’s 54.58 per 100,000.

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As crime ebbs, Juárez coming back to life

December 9, 2013

ciudad-juarez-en-mexicoThe Albuquerque Journal, 12/9/2013

One of the most frequent questions I have been asked recently by family and friends is, “Do you still go to Mexico?”

The person asking the question usually phrases the words in a way that reminds me of being a kid and being asked by an aunt or relative, “You’re not going outside in this kind of weather are you?” Or, “You’re not going to eat that whole bag of chocolates, are you?”

I almost feel like they are scolding me before they hear my response. Their faces usually have an incredulous look on them when I tell them that yes, I go to Mexico and most frequently to Juárez on business.

Today, violent crime in Juárez, especially murders, is a fraction of what it was even two years ago. The daily mass murders, most attributable to the war between drug cartels and Mexican law-enforcement agencies for control of this important portal to the U.S., are down significantly.

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Drug War Continues But Most Of Mexico Is Safe For Travel And Business, Experts Say

November 26, 2013

Tourists still heading to Tulum and other destinations in Mexico

Fox News Latino, 11/25/2013

Tucked into a protected bay on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Acapulco has in recent years become the poster child for how the country’s vicious drug war has turned a once idyllic tourist destination into a killing field.

Headless bodies, gang rapes of tourists and hours-long shootouts have driven even the hardiest of visitors away from the city’s famed beaches and high-rise hotels. Foreign visitors flying in have decreased from over 350,000 in 2006 to fewer than 61,000 in 2012 and the once popular spring break destination saw the number of U.S. college students visiting drop by 92 percent in the last three years.

While Acapulco – and border cities like Ciudad Juárez and Reynosa – have dominated the headlines for the gruesome drug violence, much of Mexico’s 761,606 square miles remain relatively safe for both tourists and business interests. Analysts and travel experts tend to agree that Mexico is both as dangerous and as safe as it ever has been; it just depends on where one travels.

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Political Risk: Is Crime Rising In Mexico City?

June 19, 2013

Mexico City - nunavut (Flickr)Forbes, 6/18/2013

A string of violent incidents in Mexico City has left residents looking for answers. In February, a gunman riding a motorcycle killed a nightclub owner in La Zona Rosa, a central district not far from the U.S and British embassies and the headquarters of many foreign multinational companies. On May 9, Malcolm X’s grandson was beaten to death in a bar near the city’s famous Plaza Garibaldi.  On May 26, in the same neighborhomod as the nightclub owner shooting, armed assailants kidnapped a dozen teenagers from Tepito, one of the city’s rougher outer neighborhoods. On June 6, two gunmen entered a gym in Tepito and killed four people. Josefina Ramirez, the aunt of one of the victims, explained, “two masked men came and just started shooting.”

Although some residents worry that the recent increase of violent incidents that appear to be connected to organized crime could undermine Mexico’s City’s success story, many analysts continue to view Mexico City’s community-focused police program as an adequate buffer from a regression to the sort of crime wave they city went through in the 1990s.

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Despite Mexico Security Improvements, Public Polls Betray Deep Worries

June 19, 2013

Cops - Jesus Villaseca Perez (Flickr)InSight Crime, 6/17/2013

A government survey reveals how certain social behaviors in Mexico have changed due to public perceptions of crime, even though much of the country has seen violence levels plateau somewhat. According to a newly released portion of the National Survey of Victimization and Perceptions of Violence, known as Envipe under its Spanish acronym, Mexicans are substantially altering their lifestyles in an effort to insulate themselves from the violence. As a result, violence linked to organized crime is no longer considered an issue limited to public security, but is seen as a much broader problem, one that affects commerce, investment, education, and social life in general.

One of the most basic manifestations of this is the reluctance to enjoy the nation’s nightlife, previously a famous staple of towns like Mexico City and Monterrey. The survey — produced annually by INEGI, the government statistics agency — counted more than 23 million Mexicans who said they avoided public places such as bars and soccer stadiums because of fears of violence. This is not idle fretting: as InSight Crime has reported, bars have periodically been targeted and their patrons killed at random, as different criminal groups use terror tactics to advance their position. In one notorious incident in 2011, a first-division soccer game in Torreon was called off after just 45 minutes, due to a gun battle that started outside the stadium.

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Mexico: Tourism picture is brightening for Mazatlan

June 18, 2013

ocean waves and beachLos Angeles Times, 6/18/2013

Things are looking up for tourism in Mazatlan, Mexico. The Pacific Coast resort, with 20-plus miles of beaches and dozens of high-end resorts, has long been a favorite with American tourists. Mexico’s ongoing drug war, however, caused concern on both sides of the border. But recent infrastructure changes, coupled with an overhaul of Mazatlan’s police force, have quieted fears.

Now the Mexican Riviera city has just had its best spring season ever and is poised to have a record-breaking summer season, according to tourism bureau statistics. The London Financial Times named it one of the Top 10 American Cities of the Future, rating it as Mexico’s top medium-sized city in terms of its future economic expectations and cost effectiveness.

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Mexico: As dangerous — and safe — as ever

June 10, 2013

crime sceneCNN, 6/9/2013

Violence in Mexico is back in the news and so is the perennial question: Is Mexico safe? In just the last few weeks there have been stories of 12 young people allegedly abducted in daylight from a Mexico City club; the death by beating of Malcolm X’s grandson, also in the capital; the kidnapping of a U.S. Marine reservist from his father’s ranch; the freeing of 165 people, including two pregnant women, who had been held prisoner; and the case of an Arizonan mom traveling on a bus who was arrested and jailed, accused of smuggling drugs.

That’s all before you look at the staggering toll of the years-long war between security forces and drug cartels — at least 60,000 people killed in drug-related violence from 2006 to 2012, according to Human Rights Watch. Other observers put the number even higher. Outside of war zones, more Americans have been killed in Mexico in the last decade than in any other country outside the United States, and the number of U.S. deaths jumped from 35 in 2007 to 113 in 2011. But those numbers do not lead to any simple conclusion.

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Mexico May Drop out of Top 10 Tourist Destinations

March 20, 2013

800px-Cancun_BeachAssociated Press, 3/19/2013

Mexico’s top tourism official said the country may drop out of the world’s top 10 tourist destinations, a spot it has held for years. Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu hasn’t said why the drop occurred, but there were declines in 2012 in two areas that have been affected by violence: border tourism and cruise ship stopovers.

The number of cruise ship passengers stopping in Mexico dropped 3 percent in 2012 and more than 15 percent over the past two years. The number of border visitors dropped 5.3 percent in 2012, according to Tourism Department figures. Mexican border cities such as Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo have experienced continued waves of drug cartel violence, and a number of cruise operators have dropped port calls along Mexico’s western Pacific coast. Both areas have been affected by drug-fueled violence that has cost more than 70,000 lives in the past six years.

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In Mexico, tweeting about the drug war to fill the void of traditional media

March 18, 2013

Twitter_256x256Nieman Journalism Lab, 3/15/2013

A study on social media use in Mexico found that Twitter users are taking up the role of informal correspondents on the sidelines of the country’s ongoing drug war. In cities like Monterrey, Veracruz, and Saltillo, Twitter users are spreading the word on shootings, arrests, and clashes between the cartels and police. And, researchers say, they’ve developed a kind of media-esque ecosystem that values traits like sourcing and attribution.

This is far from the first time conflict and citizen media have risen hand in hand, a pattern repeated in countries like Egypt and Syria, among others. That’s because there’s a common set of circumstances in many of these situations: “For many Mexicans, social media has become a fluid and participatory information platform that augments and often replaces traditional news media and governmental institutions,” the study says.

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Texans put aside fears of violence, flock back to Mexico for spring break

March 18, 2013

spring breakThe Dallas Morning News, 3/15/2013

The popular Mayan Riviera is seeing a resurgence of spring break tourism, underscored by the heavy presence of Texans frolicking on white, sandy beaches, after a period when warnings of violence kept many away. For the first time in three years, the Texas Department of Public Safety didn’t widely publicize a travel warning for Mexico, although it continues to warn on its website of “continued violence throughout the country,” including some resort towns.

The move has contributed to an easing of tensions between Texas and Mexico and to more Texans traveling to Mexico now and in the weeks ahead, residents and hotel officials say. About 100,000 visitors are expected for spring break this season, including the Discher family of Plano.

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