Vallarta Safe? (Part II)

I just finished reading Fareed Zakaria’s book “The Post-American World“, (not bad, but I like his TV show better), which talks about the fear that has entered the lives of Americans in recent years. (Sounds like its another negative-America book but its actually not). He compares it to how it was when he first came to American as an 18-year old student, how he was in awe of the country and the people, who seemed capable of anything and taking on anything. It reminded my of myself as a young Canadian growing up next to this country, feeling like I got the “short end of the stick” because I was not born south of the border, as an American. But that has changed.

Probably President Roosevelt’s most famous line was “All we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror”.

For Americans to say that they will not travel to Puerto Vallarta because of cartel violence, beheadings or kidnappings strikes me as “unjustified terror”.

Fareed writes: “America has become a nation consumed by anxiety, worried about terrorists and rogue nations, Muslims and Mexicans, foreign companies and free trade, immigrants and international organizations.” 

John McCain, in his book Why Courage Matters – The Way to a Braver Life, (who Fareed also quotes), wrote “Get on the damn elevator! Fly on the damn plane! Calculate the odds of being harmed by a terrorist. Its about as likely as being swept out to sea by a tidal wave.”

Calculate the odds folks. How many visitors to Mexico, to Puerto Vallarta, have been a victim of drug cartel violence? Who knows anyone, anyone, who has been kidnapped? Or of someone you know that has experienced any form of violence down here? And then go read the local newspaper to see what’s happened in your city or state recently. Violence or robberies do sometimes take place in PV (they do everywhere), but they are not frequent. Its just that when it does happen, it blasted all over the international news, over and over again. Sensationalism. Because the robberies or violence in your home town are not “sensational” enough these days. Its much more exciting to talk about drug cartels in Mexico and try and link it to how safe your son or daughter may be down here on Spring Break. The only problems we have had here lately is when they were so drunk they got into fights or fell off terrace railings of hotels.

Drug cartel violence is serious and it does need to be not only contained but curbed. But the violence, for the most part, is a long ways away from PV, and it hasn’t involved foreigners.


5 Responses to Vallarta Safe? (Part II)

  1. Clay Lacy says:

    Hi John:

    I understand your frustration. I am depressed about the adverse effects to the progress my second home country is experiencing. Tourists have been safe in this war, but that could change in an instant if some insane cartel member decides to make a statement to the government. One tourist shot on the beach, it could be years to recover.

    But John, it is the savagery that we are all in shock over and that is bringing the sensationalism. Today five severed heads were found on a roadside in Jalisco, our home state. This is not the first absolutely grotesque and depraved violent act that has occurred. I dont consider this road 2.5 hours from PV “a long ways” anymore, I did not buy in Mexico to have to stay in my compound, I bought because I loved the idea as a homeowner to explore the country by car without fear. That is clearly not possible now.

    Again, Five severed heads today, according to the BBC
    Dont get me wrong there is awful violence, murders and things going on that are terrible in the US. But leaving severed heads on the road as a message to another gang is not something that is happening elsewhere, other than Iraq or Afghanistan. But between aren’t traveling there on vacation or thinking about buying vacation or retirement property.

    Media coverage has intensified, yes that’s true. The war has intensified. What’s changed is more journalists assigned to cover it, the LA Times covering it daily icalled “Mexico Under Siege”, 60 minutes, Rolling Stone, and then finally the national news on the major channels. It has created a tipping point, everyone is focused now on this situation.

    The silver lining if there is one; the Mexican government will finally get the attention and help they need from the US Government & Special Forces. But for the next 12-24 months, the tourist market will be on life support. There is a crisis of confidence in the safety of being in Mexico. Dont know how long it will last.

    From the BBC:

    “Five severed heads have been found inside ice coolers by the side of a road in Mexico, police say.
    A police patrol made the grim find in the central state of Jalisco, on a road leading to the city of Guadalajara.
    The heads were found with messages addressed to rivals of the killers, who were assumed to be involved in Mexico’s bitter and violent drug war.
    Jalisco is close to Sinaloa state, scene of many high-profile killings and home to the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
    The state is home to a number of key figures in the drug trade, including Mexico’s most-wanted man, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman.”

    Your comments are welcome as always.

  2. johnlifestyles says:

    I’m sorry you feel this way Clay. I don’t know else to say it without sounding like I’m repeating myself; these were five heads of drug dealers, not tourists driving the roads of Mexico. If you come down here and you have no intention of getting involved with what seems to be a thriving drug trade, you really don’t have a problem. I am not saying this is not a problem, I’m just questioning how we link this to the safety of being in Mexico when you are NOT involved in these activities. As I said in a previous post, this really needs to be put in perspective.
    Now, with regards to how this could effect the real estate, it will, there’s no question of that. With the coverage its getting, it can’t help but turn some people away. Let’s hope that this important issue continues to get addressed by both governments, as they both have responsibilities here.

  3. Clay Lacy says:

    Thanks. There have not been any problems….yet. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
    A few Spring Breakers do go looking for drugs on their trips, they are putting themselves at higher risk than in years past. It is hard to be upbeat right now on anything, yes the butchered heads are those of drug dealers not tourists, but John, they are butchered heads! Last month it was 14 headless bodies, etc. Heads in a garbage bag left at a school. The savagery of the violence around Mexico has set a new bar of depravity around the world outside Iraq & Afghanistan. Can’t argue with that.

    Good article from the economist. My take away is that by just legalizing marijuana we would reduce revenues to the cartels by 85%. I dont think all about legalization will ever pass for all drugs, but we should start with marijuana especially in the states that border Mexico. Vincente Fox was going to legalize it just before he left office in Mexico. It needs to be decriminalized there as well.

  4. johnlifestyles says:

    And past president of Mexico Ernest Zedillo recently came out as well and said it should be legalized. The approach of The Economist was a good one. Need more people on either side of the border thinking the same way.

  5. CatrinaMateo says:

    Bucerias (north of Vallarta)is my family’s second home, we purchased a home there 3 years ago. My entire family loves this quiet, sleepy part of Mexico. We have had zero problems with safety during our extended visits. However, do not do stupid things, flash large amounts of money, go to an ATM late at night etc. Use your common sense and you can enjoy this awesome place. I love the sounds, smells, sights, language, people, beaches (especially Pt de Mita and Sayulita)and food in this part of Mexico. We do things to keep safe in the USA……dah….do them in Mexico too. If you decide to stay home, just less congestion for those of us who love this country.

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