Crime In Mexico: the good, bad and the pretty cool

Mexico just can’t seem to catch a break. The news is filled with accounts of gruesome murders, mass graves and brutal drug lords. Regardless of the fact that these incidents are isolated and not a country-wide crisis, tourism suffers. People get things stuck in their heads that are sometimes difficult to shake off. Travelers have a hard time associating a happy holiday vacation with death and crime.

The bad
“Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well” said the U.S. Department of State in a renewed travel alert for Mexico issued Friday.

Certainly, it is appropriate for the U.S. government to issue a warning when at least 177 bodies have been taken from interstate buses, tortured and slaughtered in recent weeks. Survivors say women were raped first then killed and some victims were burned alive. This all in an area a little over an hours drive from Brownsville, Texas.

This particular problem does not look to be going away any time soon. Not that Matamoros, Mexico was on the top of very many travel bucket lists, but the problem runs deep.

“The killings have galvanized an unusual if belated consensus, even among conservative commentators and politicians, that parts of Mexico have indeed been lost to criminal gangs such as the Zetas and the Gulf cartel that control (and are battling each other to dominate) the northeast” said the Los Angeles Times on Monday asking “What does it mean, they ask, when the federal government cannot keep the nation’s highways safe from brazen predators?”

Good question. Bad news for that part of Mexico.

Over in Mazatlan, Mexico though, things are looking up. The Pacific Coast city of Mazatlan, avoided by cruise lines as being unsafe, brings to our attention that they are a “rising star for A-List spotlight this spring”. In a statement Gadling received Monday,, the voice of Mazatlan, tells us the pretty cool:

“Hollywood starlet Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) and her beau Eduardo Cruz vacationed in this vibrant destination over the weekend, where they were immersed in Mazatlan’s rich culture, fabulous cuisine and warm hospitality amid a romantic coastal backdrop. The couple strolled through Old Mazatlan’s charming shops, outdoor cafes and art galleries, visiting the 19th century cathedral and iconic Angela Peralta Theater before hitting the beach along Mazatlan’s oceanfront malecon boardwalk. The pair also joined the state governor for dinner, enjoying renowned seafood and authentic specialties”

The good
Well that sure sounds safe. Strolling along a boardwalk, being immersed in culture, both things travelers do. Mazatlan also continues to distance itself from crime issues, branding itself as a premiere travel destination with a variety of events throughout the spring and summer. Internationally acclaimed dancers take the stage this weekend, April 29 – May 5, as part of the Jose Limon Dance Festival. The world of golf returns May 5 – 8 to compete in the Canadian PGA’s Mexican PGA Championship. Later in June, surf pros from around the globe hang ten on Mazatlan’s big waves for the Quiksilver Surf Clasico Mazatlan.

“Tourism is very important to Mazatlan and its residents. The destination plays host to nearly 2 million visitors per year from all over the world and the number has increased steadily for the past five years” said Julio Birrueta, spokesperson for the Mazatlan Tourism Trust.

So basically, if they got rid of the drug lords and associated rapings, killings and so on, Mexico would be a great place to visit country-wide. Until then, Mazatlan, among other safe destinations, looks good.

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