Violence in Mexico is back in the news and so is the age-old question: Is Mexico safe? According to Mariano Castillo of CNN, yes it is. In her article “Mexico, As Dangerous – and Safe – As Ever,” Castillo lists the many troubles and victories that have affected the country.
Travel experts and analysts concur that security in Mexico varies, sometimes significantly, from location to location. Of course you can find trouble everywhere, but the hazards are distinct, whether you’re there for a company trip to the capital, or seeking sunshine and sand in Cancun. Both safety and danger reside within their own context.
Yes, the problems have continued. Residents of Mexico City were shocked this week by the disappearance of 12 young people from an after-hours club in a favorite entertainment district. Researchers have affirmed that the group was in the “Heavens After Cabaret,” but the situation stays surrounded in mystery: There was no hint of an armed group or of a battle in the club, officials said.
The episode seized attention since it had been a particularly brazen crime for the country’s enormous capital. Through the violence spawned by the drug war, Mexico City has stayed comparatively safe, not secure, but not awash in violence either.
Twenty years back, the city had a status as a harmful area, but consistent local organizations have made it risk-free for citizens and visitors. Analyst Shannon O’Neil points out that there’s a big police and safety camera presence to make sure it stays that way.
Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X, died last month after enduring an apparent beating in Mexico City. Most of the facts of his evening out remain unknown, but he’d been at a tavern one block south-of Plaza Garibaldi, a rough but famed garden of the capital known for its mariachis. Those who know the town say that, just as every other major city, there are places that tourists should avoid at particular hours. No travel advisories are currently issued by the State Department for Mexico City.
The bulk of the countless Americans who visit Mexico head to resort towns along its shorelines. The most popular destinations, according to Mexican authorities, are Riviera Maya, Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. Drug trafficking may occur in Cancun, but the resort areas are generally safe.
The place where Mexico abuts the U.S. is culturally distinctive and sees hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cross-border trade pass by on trucks. However, the closeness to the United States makes many border cities vital to illegal markets too.
Drug cartels battling for money-making smuggling routes participate in turf battles that may turn cities into battle zones. Nuevo Laredo experienced this in the mid-2000s, and later, Juarez endured the same. Mass killings and brazen daytime shootings further south in the areas of Tamaulipas, across from where Texas meets the Gulf of Mexico, are not regularly in the news.
“Physical safety if you are in the main tourist areas and you are sensible is not a problem,” said John Bailey, professor emeritus at Georgetown University, who has researched public security in Mexico. “Bad things happen to good people, but that’s just a small fraction.”
Safe travel in Mexico has a great deal to do with one’s instincts.