Four Americans from South Carolina visited Mexico for a medical procedure. They were kidnapped by a drug cartel that likely mistook them for Haitian drug smugglers. The gang murdered two of them. Two survivors are back in the US.
This event raises the question, is Mexico a country where American visitors are likely to be murdered? Or is it a place where people can safely have fun in the sun and drink umbrella drinks on the beach? The answer depends on whether you read the media or if you look at the facts.
Let us start by acknowledging the obvious. Mexico has a high murder rate. At 28.4 per 100,000 people, it is the 9th highest in the world — more than four times the US rate (the highest among developed countries). Without context, that statistic alone should convince Americans that visiting Mexico is a suicidal idea. So let us give it context.
The first question is, who gets murdered in Mexico? The answer is overwhelmingly Mexicans. If Americans were a significant percentage of the victim pool, the US media would run non-stop pieces about the slaughter. Yet most days, there are no stories of Americans gunned down south of the border.
The second question is, where do murders occur in Mexico? The American media — and most Americans — see Mexico as a monolithic country. It is not. It has the same range of regional differences as America itself. And like the US, it comprises states, The country’s official name is Estados Unidos Mexicanos — the United Mexican States. There are 31 of them, along with Ciudad de México (CDMX) or Mexico City, the Mexican equivalent of Washington DC. Although with a population of 9 million, it is significantly larger. And besides being the country’s capital, it is also responsible for a significant piece of Mexico’s economy.
As in America, states in Mexico are not equal. There are relatively wealthy and poor states. Some are rural, others urban. There are coastal, plain, and mountain states. And most relevant to the crime rate, there are states with narco-traffickers and others without. To know where violent crime is worst in Mexico, look to where the drug cartels are.
The murder rate is highest in border states and along the Pacific coast, where ‘traditional’ drugs flow up from Central America, and cartels use precursor drugs from China to manufacture fentanyl.
On the other hand, from the center of the country to the southeast, the murder rate is significantly lower. The Yucatan peninsula is relatively safe —spring breakers traveling to Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel face a similar level of risk as they would in Florida.
The state of Yucatan, which occupies the north of the peninsula, has a lower murder rate than 46 American states. And the state capital, Merida, has been named North America’s second safest city — after Quebec. But that unexciting fact will not get much air time in the US.
What does play in the American media is the decision by the State Department to hand out its highest travel alert warning (level 4 — do not go) to six Mexican states — and lesser alerts to another 24. A typical headline is, “State Department warns against travel to much of Mexico” That sounds grim.
However, the potential traveler should consider that in 17 states, the warning is level 2, “exercise increased caution” — not “do not go.” It is the same alert level assigned to Israel, Belgium, Denmark, France, and Germany — in fact, most of Western Europe and much of the Caribbean.
Essentially the State Department is telling Americans to keep their eyes open and pay attention to their surroundings — advice I would give an American traveling in America.
The key is to avoid bad neighborhoods. I am a New Yorker who can remember New York City in the 1990s. No sane person would go to East New York, Hunts Point, Bed-Stuy, etc. But I lived in East Midtown — the 17th precinct — where the crime rate was low and murder non-existent (and still is). In Mexico, if you look around and see a bunch of foreigners, the odds are good you are in a safe place.
If you travel to Mexico, you will probably visit a tourist destination. The vast majority of these see little violent crime against foreigners. Mind you, keep your purse closed and count your change. Mexico has petty criminals, but no more than many other countries. The most prevalent “crime” is the shlock sold to visitors.
I also lived in London during the troubles in Northern Ireland. If you read the American newspapers at the time, you would have thought that the UK was a country under siege with a citizenry lucky to survive the day without being blown up in a pub bombing.
Now I live part-time in Merida. I see the same misunderstanding of a foreign country. Sensationalism sells ‘papers’ — and the killing of Americans in Mexico is sensational. However, it does not reflect the far more mundane reality — that a murdered American is exceedingly rare. Call it ‘shark attack’ journalism. What they report is the one swimmer dead by fish bite — not the millions who swim without harm.
Mexico is home to 1.6 million Americans — a population that will likely increase as virtual work become more commonplace. Forty million more visited in 2019 — the vast majority with few worries — no more than they might experience in much of the US. If Mexico were as dangerous everywhere as the media makes it appear, you would hardly expect that number of visitors.
Do not get me wrong. There are places in Mexico an American should not go. Everywhere else the visitor will find a warm and generous population — with a far different sense of urgency than the average estadounidense. Visit the history. Then find a spot. Order cervezas y botanas. And wonder why the media so often gets things so wrong. Salud!
March 8th: Women’s political rights in Yucatan
March 7, 2023
MÉRIDA, Yucatan, March 4, 2023.- As part of the activities alluding to International Women’s Day, to be commemorated on Wednesday the 8th, the former Yucatecan senator Angélica Araujo Lara, said that in recent years progress has been made in terms of women’s political rights, but much more needs to be done, for example, to put an end to gender violence.
“It has been demonstrated that women have a great capacity to generate effective solutions to multiple problems of daily life and, as public servants, we enjoy a well-earned prestige of being honest and transparent in the management of resources,” said Araujo Lara.
In a well-known restaurant in the north of Merida, the group A.L.A.S. (Asociación de Labor y Apoyo Social A.C.) organized a breakfast talk in which Dr. Rubinia Teresa Sandoval Salazar, professor-researcher of the Faculty of Law and Criminology of the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, spoke on the subject of “Mediation, a method to reduce the gender gap”.
The event was attended by women of different profiles who are in a continuous struggle to improve themselves in an integral way. One of the objectives of A.L.A.S., presided over by former councilwoman Claudia Medina Caballero, is to provide the women of Mérida and other municipalities with channels for personal, professional, social, and political improvement.
Angélica Araujo recalled that as a civil servant and legislator, she dedicated special attention to supporting women: as director of the Yucatán Housing Institute she created programs to provide homes for heads of household; as a federal congresswoman, she legislated to prevent and eradicate gender violence, while as a senator she was part of the Legislature that achieved that gender parity had constitutional rank.
Currently, the also former federal congresswoman is part of a project for the development of “differentiated housing”, that is, houses with a gender perspective since 32 percent of households in Mexico are headed by women.
“We have to stay united and prepare ourselves more to conquer greater spaces in the political and public life of the state. Our dream is that the development of Yucatán will have the stamp and sensitivity of women leaders,” concluded Araujo Lara.
- Construction companies prepare for the start of works on the new Progreso elevated viaduct
THE PROJECT WILL LINK THE PUERTO DE ALTURA AND THE MÉRIDA-PROGRESO ROAD / THE PROJECT WOULD HAVE AN INVESTMENT OF $1,500 MDP / THE ICA COMPANY OPENS ITS OFFICES IN PROGRESO AND PERSONNEL ARRIVES PRIOR TO THE START OF THE PROJECT /
PROGRESO.– The construction company ICA Infraestructura, which heads the conglomerate of five companies that will be in charge of the construction of the new elevated viaduct of Progreso, has already installed its offices in this port, has already begun the arrival of engineers and is advancing with the preliminary works facing the official start of the work on 82nd street in this city.
While residents of Calle 82, 84 and 86 have carried out various protests and seek to file legal appeals against the project, the construction company is advancing as planned, after being awarded the ruling for the execution of the project in which a investment of $1,500 million pesos and that will grant a 30-year concession for the operation and use of the viaduct, which will be paid.
As is known, the 82nd street viaduct project is a coordinated initiative between the federal, state and municipal governments that seeks to expedite the movement of cargo and passengers between the Port of Altura de Progreso, which is a federal precinct, with the highway federal Merida-Progreso.
Even thinking that it was only a state and municipal plan, the residents went to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to whom they delivered a letter-petition to stop the project, but as far as is known, they have not received a response.
Neighbors also tried to seek support from PRI Senator Beatriz Paredes Rangel, who weeks ago was visiting the Chamber of Commerce premises attended by PRI and PAN members. Thinking that they would receive the support of the PRI legislator, she asked the residents who oppose the plan – more words, less words – to join the development of Progreso and to support the project.
As is known, the new viaduct project was announced by the then Integral Port Administration (API, now Asipona), but due to the lack of resources for its realization, the state government took the baton and tendered the project among private investors.
In accordance with Public Tender No. GE-Incay-Concesión-LP-002-2022, Incay ruled in favor of the national companies ICA infrastructure and Controladora de Operaciones de Infraestructura (Conoisa) -owned by the former-, as well as the Yucatecan Constructora Proser, Grupo Emprendedor Proser (Geproser) and DASA Distribuciones.
As part of the project, engineers from the ICA company and others involved have already been in this city for two weeks and have as a meeting point the aforementioned company offices in the Ismael García neighborhood, to the east of the port, where they even have with private security.
In fact, it has come to our attention that since the opening of its offices several weeks ago, the property even had a sign with the company’s name, which days later was erased and more recently was removed in its entirety.
According to reports, the staff occupy several hotels in this city and are getting ready for the start of the work.
As we reported, the most recent protest of neighbors against the plan was two weeks ago, on February 22, during the “burning” of Juan Carnaval, in the basement of the municipal palace, where they even read their own version of the “testament ». (ProgresoHoy.com)