How Safe is Mexico?

03.08.12

Last week I went to Zipolite Beach for several days. Zipolite is a small pueblo on the Pacific Coast nine hours south of Acapulco. There are no police, stop signs, street lights and only one paved (brick) street. It is quiet and laid back. The beach is clothing optional and probably 50% beach goers are naked. You can get a basic room directly on the ocean for $10 nightly. Meals are fresh and cheap. People come from all parts of the world and everyone has a story. I met Kim laying in a hammock beneath a palapa. She’s from London and books big name rock bands. Now burned out on cold weather and big city hassles, she had been kicked back at Zipolite for two months. Her plans are to stay in Mexico and build her booking business out of Mexico City so she can live a more laid back life in no rush, no fuss pueblos like Zipolite in between bookings.
So what is all the big deal in the American press about violence in Mexico? True immigration and drug issues are serious United States internal problems. Also true are accounts about turf battles between the narcotic cartels and federal law officers, especially along the border towns in Texas and Arizona. Yet when you look at statistics, the murder rate in Mexico is about equal to the U.S. if you discount combatants in drug wars. Yes, sometimes innocent and unfortunate bystanders get caught in the crossfire, but violence is pretty much everywhere in the world.
I have lived off and on in Mexico for more than 10 years and I feel absolutely safe. I tell people that “I fly over the bullets” that predominate the border towns to arrive at my destination in the tropical mountain village of Tepoztlan where all the streets are cobblestone and the main job for police is directing traffic on the narrow streets.
Putting the violence more in perspective, in 2010 more than two-thirds of U.S. cities were more deadly that Tijuana, Mexico, in muders per 100,000. Tijuana, hown as the city most affected by the cartel wars, recorded 7.2 muders per 100,000 people. New Orleans, Baltimore, Detroit and Washington, D.C. had in excess of 15 murders per 100k.
Crime happens everywhere. Even Mexicans avoid certain border towns.
I expect there is a political and monetary agenda for all the press bashing about Mexico. The U.S. government is trying to stymie international travel. Keep people at home and the money stays. And people don’t discover there is another place on the planet where the cost of living is considerably less, education and health care are superior and people are not consumed by media fear and propaganda.
So come join me south of the border. Life is good!

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