Monthly Archives: April 2011

The 5 Safest Places to Travel in Mexico

26 April 2011

Last week’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle named the top five safest places in Mexico to travel to, based on homicide rates:

1. Tlaxcala (1.1 deaths per 100,000) – the safest state of Mexico, an agricultural state with archaeological and historical sites as the main attractions

2. Yucatán (1.3) – famous for its Mayan ruins, beaches, wildlife attractions and eco-tourism

3. Puebla (1.85) – home of both mole poblano and national dish chiles en nogada

4. Querétaro (2.02) – known for its historic attractions, and home to one of Mexico’s Magic Pueblos

5.  Baja California Sur (2.98) – a diverse mix of artsy, urban and rugged cities, with plenty of outdoor and adventure activities

In addition to these states whose homicide rates are comparable to that of Vermont’s, the areas of Campeche, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Chiapas, San Luis Potosí, the Federal District (Mexico City), Tabasco, Zacatecas and Guanajuato are also all considered safe to travel to, all of which recorded single-digit rates.  As always, a useful point of context is homicide rates in American cities.  While Mexico City’s drug-related homicide rate was 2.2 per 100,000 in 2010, the homicide rate for Washington, D.C. in 2009 was 24 per 100,000 (though this number is not limited to drug-related homicide).  The U.S. national average was 5.0

The article reminds travelers to exercise caution and to avoid trouble areas like Acapulco and Ciudad Juarez.   It also urges travelers not to let Mexico’s drug-related violence stop them from traveling there:

Even if the barrage of headlines makes it sound as if the entire country were in flames, the violence that feeds Mexico’s death toll takes place primarily in just nine of 31 states — mainly along the U.S. border where the smuggling takes place and in places where marijuana and heroin are produced.

To read the full article go here.

To access the Mexican government’s official database of drug-related deaths, go here.

Despite Spring Break Crowds and Little Incident, Cancun Still Suffers from Tourist Worries

8 April 2011

Cancun, Mexico (Photo by Tom Lee Taiwan)

Kitty Bean Yancy’s article “Cancun, Is It Safe for Visitors” in USA Today’s travel section reports back from one of Cancun’s busiest tourist seasons – spring break.  The most popular vacation destination in the Caribbean is still suffering from all the negative media attention on Mexico, regarding drug related violence.  Even though tourism is on the upturn and spring 2011 saw many American college spring breakers, “the beach is not jammed. Hotel occupancy is 71%… the Cancun Hotel Association reports. That’s not impressive for a popular resort area in high season, when 80%-plus occupancy is usual.”  Yancy interviews both spring break tourists, Mexican travel operators, and official tourism industry sources, revealing a sobering picture of a beach town that relies sorely on its tourism industry.

Tourism officials are quick to point out that Cancun sits far away from the drug related violence that plagues Mexico’s border towns, and that “the safest people here are the tourists.”  Still, lower than usual tourist numbers persist, causing problems for Cancun’s local economy.  Reports of tourist casualties are quick to be picked up by the media, but numbers rarely tell the full story.  Although 18 Americans died in Cancun, Cozumel, and Mayan Riviera in the first six months 2010, most of them drowned.  According to the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau, not one tourist has been killed by cartel-related violence.

As for the spring breakers, they’re playing it safe, having a good time, and reporting back with positive feedback about their Cancun experiences.

Said one college freshman, Samantha Kaleck, “We didn’t put ourselves in a position to be in harm. My friends and I decided that Cancun is only as unsafe as you make it. I would definitely, 100%, go back.”

Read the full article here.

Violence Figures in Mexico Compared to Other Countries

1 April 2011

The Catalist’s statistics-driven analysis of violence in Mexico provides a more accurate assessment of Mexico than many of the sensationalistic and non-contextualized news reports.  A website created to “empower the Mexican-American relationship,” the Catalist used international indicators for measuring violence in a country – the number of violent deaths per 100,000 people – to compare figures of Mexican violence with those of other Latin American countries and U.S. cities.

They found that, in fact, Mexico is one of the safest countries in Latin America, having lower numbers of violent deaths than popular Latin American destinations like Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.  In comparing Mexico City to other U.S. cities, Mexico City came out on top in terms of safety.  With 9.8 violent deaths per 100,000 people, Mexico City had fewer deaths than U.S. cities like Houston (12.5), Phoenix (12.6), and Los Angeles (17.1).  While troubled Mexican cities like Ciudad Juarez have much higher violence statistics, they also account for most of Mexico’s violent deaths.

These figures not only help put reports of Mexico’s violence in context, but also paint a picture of what is true in many countries.  Some parts of countries can be more dangerous than others, and should be avoided.  Mexico as a whole is not plagued by violence, but travelers should be aware of dangerous cities to avoid.  Just as people in the U.S. might encourage travelers to take advantage of Chicago, while avoiding Detroit – people in Mexico would encourage tourists to experience Mexico City, while steering clear of Ciudad Juarez.  The article also acknowledges that sensationalistic news reports that don’t provide the whole picture unfairly hurt the cities and communities of Mexico that are safe, by driving away tourism and investment.

Read the full article here.