A recent article in The Washington Post offers a great, updated guide to traveling safe in Mexico, along with a fair compendium of facts, statistics, and quotes from official and non-official sources. An estimated 4.7 million Americans visited Mexico from January to October 2011. From the article:
Of 2,500 municipalities (what we call counties), only 80, or fewer than 5 percent, have been affected by the drug war, which accounts for only 3 percent of all crime. Mexican cities are also safer than some urban centers north of the border: Mexico City, for example, has 8.3 homicides a year per 100,000 people. That’s fewer than Miami (14.1) and Chicago (16.1). On a global scale, Mexico is safer than many of its neighbors. In 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported Mexico’s homicide rate as 11.6 per 100,000, significantly lower than Honduras (60.9), Jamaica (59.5) or El Salvador (51.8). Without a solid understanding of the geography (761,606 square miles) and the nature of the drug wars (internecine fighting), many foreigners assume that all of Mexico is a war zone. But it isn’t.
Violence by and large is limited to specific areas, and unrelated to tourism. The article suggests areas that are safe to visit, areas to visit with caution, as well as areas to avoid.
Safe to Visit
Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Campeche, Merida, Tulum, Uxmal and Chichen Itza, Leon, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro, Chiapas, San Cristobal de las Casas, Oaxaca
Go with Caution
Avoid traveling alone and at night in Tijuana, and beware of street crime in Mexico City.
Places to Avoid
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Copper Canyon, Baja California, Guadlajara, Veracruz, Monterrey, Mazatlan, and Acapulco
Says U.S. and Hampton, VA expat Margo Lee Shetterly – who relocated to Mexico with her husband 6 years ago: in the article:
“There’s a big gap between perception and reality. It’s a real shame for people to write off a whole country without looking at the map and at the statistics.”
To read the full travel guide, go here.