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Safety In Mexico - A Rational Discussion

Mexico Is Safer Than You Think

Is Mexico safe? Short answer - for the most part, yes, Mexico is safe, especially for tourists. Each year until this one, I've updated this page with a plethora of statistics. I don't do that anymore. Now I understand people care more about emotions than facts.

Is anywhere safe today? Just listen to the news and tell me the USA is "safe." Are Chicago or New Orleans safe? It depends on where you are and when.

Here is an actual comment from a woman who drove alone from Michigan to Barra de Navidad:

I hope that other people will realize that it is safe to drive in this country. Your maps and directions were very clear and accurate and were a HUGE help, especially in Guadalajara.

All the people I encountered were very friendly and helpful. The only "scary"/drug-related thing I saw was in Texas, where several State Troopers were dismantling two cars by the side of the road." - "Barra" Mary.

Hundreds of tourists drive to Mexico each year with my roadlogs and trip-planning service. Not one has had a problem relating to personal safety or drug-related issues. There are FB groups devoted to tourism run by others. Get the truth from people who actually go to Mexico, not those who don't and say nothing but negative stuff. Decide to believe them (and me) or not. But please, don't waste my time arguing. If you want to believe the worst and not go to Mexico - then don't go. But if you have an open mind and can listen to reason, read on.

The U.S. State Department frequently issues travel advisories & warnings. I greatly respect people who work for the State Department. They do a tough job & are often under-staffed and underpaid. Their mandate is to play it safe. So they are going to be more conservative in their risk assessments than not. Sure, read their advisories. But sprinkle them with a grain of salt. For those of you too young to remember, the State Department had advisories out during all of my travel-writing career in the 1980's and early 1990's. I don't seem to be any the worse for wear.

Most "incidents" you read about had drugs as a catalyst. Kidnappings are less likely to happen to foreigners than residents. Sure there have been gunfights between the army and carteleros. But SWAT teams swoop in an fire real bullets in the USA too. I have it on good authority that the cartel soldiers have been given orders to avoid tourists, because they just bring more trouble than they are worth. I have friends in low places and that is all I'm gonna say about that.

Yep, there is a possibility that you will be served moonshine or illegally and inexpertly (read poisonous) brewed liquor at resorts in Cancun and other party places. Roofies are as common in Mexico as in the USA. Use common sense, go with a friend or two and slow down. The only 100% safe thing to do is not to drink booze. If that is not an option, drink beer opened at your table.

New York City is one of the most visited cities in the world, but muggings, robberies and murders happen there - even in Manhattan. Is New York City safe? A New Yorker (I am married to one) would answer, "Yes, for the most part."

Paris is wonderful. Yes, there have been brutal attacks on innocent civilians there. Yes, people still go to Paris. They realize that these isolated incidents are not what most people experience.

Are churches, schools, shopping centers safe in the USA? "Yes, for the most part."

Don't even get me started on the murder rate in the USA.

I spend way too much time answering e-mails about, Is Mexico safe? Save the digital stamp and read the rest of this page. I won't answer such emails anymore. READ and then decide for yourself.

I am not going to keep repeating myself so that those of you who don't read the whole site ask if things are safe NOW. Yes, they are. There are more Mexicans on the road in 2017 than there were in 2010. I've seen this increase each year since 2010. That was the height of cartel violence, so it is a benchmark. Yes, there has been an up-tick in violence in 2017. But that generally does not affect tourists. Even places that were spared the negative publicity this decade are having cartel trouble. Cancun and Cabo San Lucas are great examples. But, you know what? Foreign tourists still flock there.

This quote was left in, even though it is old. It is as truthful today as it was back in 2012. In an interview with msnbc.com, Pablo Weisz, a security manager for the Americas for International SOS, said in 2012, "If we’re to talk about Mexico in general," Weisz said, "the risks to travelers have not changed that much." Of the 107 American deaths [in 2011], Weisz said he believes many of them were Mexican-Americans involved in the drug trade.

There are some areas of Mexico that I suggest you avoid, but not many. Just because there is trouble in Veracruz city, that does not mean Catemaco is dangerous. And so on. My road logs and maps are specific. I drive between 4,000 and 7,000 miles each year over the entire country and wouldn't do that if I honestly believe driving in Mexico is not safe.

Yes, stuff happens. Yes, bad stuff happens. I live on the border and probably hear more news than you do. And I know I do not hear it all. What the statistics do not tell is that the average American or Canadian tourist is very, very unlikely to be in danger. As one consular official said, "I cannot guarantee my own safety if i visit New York City if I am not aware of my surroundings."

So, yes, read the news stories, but take them in context. Travel smart. Avoid convoys of black Suburbans. If you own a newer black Suburban, take another vehicle to Mexico.

Remember too, that when reports of "American citizens" being killed, that does not necessarily mean somebody like you or me. Many times these Americans are visiting family in Mexico. They are involved in the local community. They are not travelers on the highway to Puerto Vallarta or Tamazunchale.

If you are not involved in drugs (using them counts too) or arms trafficking (many, but not all weapons used by drug gangs are bought by 'good' American citizens with clean police records who take them across the border or sell them to smugglers who drive them to Mexico) and don't plan on vacationing in beautiful downtown Cd. Juarez, Tijuana or other border towns, then you are more likely to be shot at a Walt-Mart, a church or your place of work than to have trouble in Mexico.

Before those of you who are convinced that is not the truth and hit send on the vituperative e-mails you are composing, listen to the US Homeland Security attaché to Mexico:

Further, the Homeland Security Department's attaché to Mexico said the violence in Mexico is not as dangerous to U.S. tourists as has been portrayed.

Alonzo Pena said the violence is in isolated areas of the country and only affects the people involved in criminal activity. He said the violence is not affecting U.S. citizens visiting Mexico and Americans should not cancel their vacations in the country.
- The Associated Press, Thurs., March. 12, 2009.

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