A Canadian’s take on Mexico

The following article was featured in the Star Phoenix, a newspaper in Saskatoon, Canada. Its good to see people providing their own deeper insight into the current situation in Mexico, not just relying on how mainstream media is portraying Mexico but doing their own investigation. Best yet, realizing that what troubles Mexico may have should not in any way stop someone from visiting Puerto Vallarta.

Vamos amigo?
Just after I’d decided to book a one-week, all-inclusive trip to Puerto Vallarta -my first trip to Mexico -the really alarming headlines started to hit fast and furious.
In particular, reports featured the serious escalation in gang violence, particularly in and around Cancun and Acapulco, the alleged gang rape of a Canadian woman by Mexican police and growing scandal over the Grand Riviera Hotel gas explosion.
Canadians were advised to “exercise a high degree of caution due to a deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country.”
But we were headed to the less dangerous West Coast, I told myself. You have to play the odds, right? After all, 1.5 million Canadians visited Mexico last year. And travel advisories have been issued in the past about everything from rental cars in Florida to carjacking “bandits” in Sardinia -although granted, 15 decapitated bodies on a footbridge in one day (in Acapulco) is in a different league.
What can I say: I was sick of winter. And, as it turned out, I fell in love with the country…
Aside from the welcome heat, there was the pure beauty of the place. Puerto Vallarta bay, for example, is as beautiful as any bay, anywhere. The immaculate resort, serviced by a virtual army, offered great food, purified water -and free champagne.
In many ways, of course, the demand for drugs represents a new, perverted kind of colonialism.
There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, about an American senator opining that Mexico should burn down the farms of peasants who grow marijuana. A Mexican senator is said to have responded that the U.S. should burn down the homes of everyone who consumes it.
Drug-fuelled violence really took off in 2007, when President Felipe Calderon cracked down on the cartels. His efforts -forward two steps, back three -remind me of the situation in Sicily, where many brave politicians and prosecutors continue to battle the parasitic Mob against a backdrop of both equivalent beauty and equivalent decay.
In Sicily, as in Mexico, it’s the same old story: Corruption, an inconsistent judiciary and a weak social structure. Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, who’s written extensively about the country’s corruption and drug violence, believes drugs should be legalized. “We have to do something different. Mexico is in danger of becoming a failed state.”
But Mexico is also complex. “It’s sometimes simplified for the consumption of newspaper readers, but you will never find out everything you need to know about it.”
Certainly, contradictions abound. The Mexican corruption index is on a par with Egypt and poverty is rife, yet the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, is Mexican. Mexico has oil, but production in aging fields is falling and extraction expertise is limited. “Inviting foreign companies into the country to help is one of the touchiest propositions in Mexican politics,” the New York Times wrote recently
In his new book, The Right Balance: Canada’s Conservative Tradition, Canadian senator Hugh Segal espouses a closer relationship with Mexico, including a European Union-like “cohesion fund” and even a North American assembly.
“With just a touch of statecraft and leadership, it could be about the coming together of our Canadian commitments to both economic performance and social justice with a far-sighted vision that sees Americans and Mexicans as among the very best allies in the world,” he writes.
A month ago, I would have been sceptical. Now, I’m not so sure. Surely, a functional Mexico is in all of our interests and enriches North America, in every sense.
My justification for heading down there next year? Tourism can help.
Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Mexico+beauty+decay/4469749/story.html#ixzz1H9oi3QqI


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