Kidnapping In Mexico
What is the likelihood of your being kidnapped in Mexico?
I wrote this page on kidnapping because kidnapping was high on the words searched for on my site. I am not an apologist for Mexico, or one of those travel writers who sees nothing but bad, or nothing but good. I am a realist.
Because of the violence on the border cities of Mexico (Laredo, Cd. Juarez and Tijuana specifically), and the highly-publicized reports of violence in Michoacán and Guerrero, it is natural to worry about safety traveling or driving in Mexico. President Calderón seems to be serious about cracking down on drug gangs, so I am hopeful for the future of Mexico. There may well be more clashes between the police and military and drug gangs this year.
Your chances of getting kidnapped in Mexico are slim, unless you are a really rich person and then you probably have bodyguards. If you don't, I can recommend a company that does that. Most of the violence is really drug-related, so you are unlikely to be beheaded too. Overall, your chances of having something bad happen to you in Mexico are slimmer than in the United States. There are certainly more murders in New Orleans than any comparable Mexican city.
However, getting robbed or abducted while using an ATM is something even middle-class Mexicans worry about. Should this happen, the abductees are held for 3 days and forced to use the ATM to withdraw money. That happens in the USA too. If you are unfortunate enough to experience this, your best chance of getting away is to do it right away. That may be easier said than done. Some people have thrown their wallets at their assailants, which distracted them long enough to get away. Fighting with them could be dangerous, but if there are any other people on the street, screaming is your best defense.
I recently engaged in a civilized dialogue with a gentleman who had encountered a rogue taxi driver in Puebla and he and his girlfriend were detained and forced to use their ATM cards. They cooperated and were released unharmed after a few hours (which no doubt hardly seemed "a few" to them). Stuff happens, as I have always said. It happens everywhere and you just have to be aware and careful in cities, as you would anywhere.
Just be as careful, or more careful, as you would back home, i.e. watch who's around you in a city, especially when using an ATM, don't take gypsy cabs. Even with regular cabs make sure there is only 1 person - the cab driver - in it. Don't flash a lot of money and probably nothing will happen to you. In smaller towns, you are much safer in Mexico than in the States. In cities, you are probably safer too, but just be realistically careful. It's probably not a good idea to drive your Ferrari or BMW to Mexico, although you will see a few driven by local rich guys and gals.
All that said, well-to-do Mexicans do worry about kidnapping. It happens. But it doesn't happen as often as the media would have you believe. They know the precautions to take, but their situation is not the same as yours, as a tourist or a gringo expat.
Believe me, children are ten times safer in Mexico than in the USA. Yet. I get tons of questions abut whether it is safe to take children to Mexico. Absolutely yes. In smaller towns, kids still play in the zócalo after dark. While there are perverts in Mexico, there don't seem to be as many of them. Mexico is a very kid-friendly country.