I often get asked how I feel about the violence that has been rocking Mexico over the past few years. Does it affect my lifestyle? My work?
I can’t truthfully say it doesn’t effect us, it does, but perhaps not in the way some people think. It effects us because of how its portrayed in the news in the US and Canada, which influences people’s vacation or second home choices – which effects me through my business and other businesses I work with.
It has effected the way we do business, but not our lifestyle. We do the same things we have always done. We go out to restaurants frequently, attend many events. We enjoy all the sports activities that Vallarta has to offer. Its a great lifestyles that many, many people enjoy. Once you are down here participating in the community, you really realize how distant the violence is from our own lifestyles.
But then we don’t frequent bars and nightclubs, or have anything to do with the drug trade. The people who for the most part have been victims of the violence have been those either involved with drug trading or have been employed (police and the army) to fight narco terrorism. I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone in the business (but then how would I know?), neither through doing business here or my personal life, and when I asked friends about this, they say the same thing.
Its like asking someone back in the USA or Canada if they know someone in the Mafia; they most likely don’t. The drug cartels are very similar. If you aren’t involved with their business, you don’t see them or have anything to do with them.
Do I feel the mainstream media (MSM) is over sensationalizing the drug violence?
Very much so. Especially when violence takes place in a part of Mexico that is hundreds of miles away from Puerto Vallarta, but they refer to it as drug violence in “Mexico”. Just last week a the head of the Montreal Mafia was shot down in Montreal. Same thing happens in Mexico with drug cartels fighting amongst themselves. Now if a drug king pin was killed in Puerto Vallarta, it would be construed in MSM that Puerto Vallarta is a dangerous place to be, and people would believe it, perhaps deciding not to visit PV because of it. But when MSM wrote about the Mafia Don being killed in Montreal, people read about it and realized that they have nothing to do with the mafia, so it doesn’t effect them. Even if they live in Montreal. But do people decide not to travel to Montreal? Of course not. Or to Quebec? Or Canada? But that’s how its portrayed in MSM – a killing takes place in one part of Mexico and the whole country becomes a dangerous place to live or visit. What really are the chances? (Read this post and this one)
I don’t know of anyone who has been a victim of drug violence and I’ve been here over twenty years and I live here most of the year.
I don’t know of anyone who has been kidnapped or a victim of extortion.
So how has Puerto Vallarta become in the minds of many, a dangerous place to visit? It baffles the mind.
Read your local newspapers and watch the news, and listen to the violence that happens in your own cities in the USA and Canada. You don’t notice it because over they years there has been so much you’ve become numb to it. While traveling to Canada this summer we had to overnight in Seattle at an airport hotel. We turned on the TV to watch the local news. We could believe what was going on in the city on a regular basis – that night – we didn’t want to leave the hotel room! Same thing happened during our stay in Vancouver – I was amazed at the amount of drug violence taking place in the city on a regular basis.
There is drug-related violence taking place in Mexico, but its contained primarily to the drug cartels, the police and the army. Most of it involves the drug cartels fighting amongst themselves for turf (regionalized drug distribution) in Mexico. It especially is happening amongst small mini-cartels, who fight over who will be distributing drugs in their communities or regions. But they are killing each other, not citizens and certainly not visitors to the country. Kidnappings do take place in Mexico, but it is primarily isolated to Mexico City and again, very rarely does it involve visitors. Remember, more than 20 million people a year visit Mexico! With that many people, something is bound to happen – in any country!
I have never heard of a disgruntle employee in Mexico going into ex-place of employment and killing them, loaded with weapons. I have never heard of a student in Mexico going to his school and shooting his fellow students and/or teachers. But this happens in the USA. Does this mean that you shouldn’t go to work or have your children in school? Or course not. You understand the odds of it happening to you and your family are very rare. Your cognizant of it (and should be), but it doesn’t mean you don’t go to work or school.
As mentioned in a previous posting, “Many Mexican states have murder rates at or below the rate in the U.S., and The Economist reported recently that, based on official government figures, “Yucatán, where tourists snorkel with whale sharks, sees fewer killings per person than Canada.”
A concern I do have is whether the violence is escalating. I hear that there’s more of it, but I think that’s because the government is winning the war. I hear about cartels suffering from the efforts of the government in confronting the drug cartels. Violence is probably going to escalate some before this war is won. They are not going to go down without a fight. But from what I’ve been reading, the in-fighting alone could bring them down, or at least make it a lot easier for the government.
Countries around the world have internal problems, Mexico is not alone in this regard. But it needs to be taken into proper perspective, by everyone, especially the media!