7 Reasons I Tell People Mexico is Safe for Travel
Last week some guests with a trip coming up emailed me with the news. Having been enlightened by an article in the New York Times on the dangers of travel in Mexico, they were postponing their trip there.
Interesting point tucked into the article is that no tourists have been harmed in areas mentioned–a common but rarely mentioned fact.
Anyway, cancellations like this happen periodically—and is often prompted by such an overblown article, usually put together by someone with limited experience in Mexico and with a fairly narrow view of events there.
[[[NOTE ADDED the morning after: Last night after I first published this blog, the worst mass shooting in US history happened in Las Vegas. My prayer is for those killed, hurt and traumatized by this horrific event. And in now way do I mean to use it simply as an arguing point. But I will tell you that numerous times my friends in Mexico will smile and ask me if I think it is safe to travel the USA–and they are dead serious. I recall a gentleman on the train in Chihuahua’s Copper Canyon putting down his newspaper as he read of one of our high school shootings several years ago, and asked me if I really thought he would send his kids to school in the USA if he had a chance. Hmmmm.
One of the basic pieces of reality with the violence that does happen in Mexico is that it is about 100% involving bad guys, police, and people who are purchasing or trading in drugs. On the other hand, the violence we have here is public, and involves lone gunmen or a few terrorists and lots of innocent people (including tourists) in a public place considered to be safe.
So it strikes me that we should simply deal with reality and stop classifying Mexico as unsafe.]]
While I cannot guarantee safety to any location (in any country), I regularly have groups in Mexico and I have no hesitation offering small group trips there.
Am I crazy? No just trying to be realistic and rational with my travel business. We do many tours to Mexico every year and I want our guests to be safe.
Here are my reasons:
- When you look at the nature of what few incidents happen with tourists in Mexico, they are often related to late nights, drugs, lots of alcohol, night clubs, etc. A friend of mine (who should know better) told me he had been held up in Chihuahua City. When I asked him about it in detail, he revealed he had been walking across town at 2am a bit tipsy, and got bumped on a dark street. Bad idea in any city—even in the good old USA!
- Our groups in Mexico regularly relate that they not only WERE safe on their trip, but that they FELT safe there. Beyond this about 99% of my Authentic Mexico Travel guests say they loved their trip. (We get about 1% grumps.)
- The statistics show that Mexico is quite safe as compared to many other common worldwide destinations. A few years ago I had some folks decline a trip to Mexico, but take one to South Africa on the basis of safety. They actually moved down a couple of rungs on the safety ladder statistically. We gringos just seem to have this thing with Mexico—and often you see Europeans traveling there. Not coincidentally, the press across the ocean (like “The Economist” from Britain) is much more reasoned and realistic in their reporting of issues in Mexico, and how they relate to travel there.
- I walk the streets of every one of our locations—I know these places. And I am the guy who actually walked across Juarez a few years ago just to make the point. USA Today wrote “Is he brave, or just stupid?” A little of both I suppose, but I had the time of my life. I love Juarez. I tell people that Juarez is a lot like Phoenix to me—except that the food is better and cheaper, the hotels are better and cheaper, the people are friendlier. But most of all, I feel safer there. Really.
- I have local guides in each of our seven Mexico locations. I regularly ask them about the safety issue—like a safety audit. They typically say “Yes, Dave, still seems ok. And by the way, how is that safety issue near where you live there—in Chicago. How many shootings did you have there last weekend? And you feel safe there in Chicago?” Hmmm.
- Press reports and books are usually the “cause” of our perception of the situation in Mexico. Articles won’t sell that aren’t inflammatory and books won’t sell with boring things like kids playing soccer and walking to school in Mexicali. But the way it shakes out, if you write for the New York Times or write a bestseller like “Born to Run”, you are somehow a bona fide expert on things on the ground south of the border. And you better make it sound bloody or it will end up on the editing floor. If it bleeds, it leads.
- The rational of why the bad guys don’t much mess with USA people in Mexico seems to allude us. Reality: we are big drug business to them, so they don’t want to mess with us. Nor do they want attention. Beyond this, they are busy fighting each other for a share of OUR gargantuan drug appetite. If they WERE shooting American tourists helter skelter as we are lead to believe, we would have invaded Mexico years ago and gone after them. But reality is, the drug trade goes on day after day relatively undisturbed on both sides of the border. And the billions of dollars of trade involved is not interrupted by issues with tourists.
One more observation is that when people refrain from travel in Mexico the people who are hurt by it are those that are the lowest paid anyway in the current tourism system. So a bad situation is made worse. I have commented on this some in my “fair travel” initiative.
So I invite you to travel with us to one of Mexico’s enchanting destinations. You will love it!
PS: I sent the travelers I mentioned in the opening paragraph my thoughts contained in this blog–and they have been back in contact to say that they DO want to consider a trip to Mexico after all–a rational and positive decision. They will love it!
PPS: Think about this: after the Boston Marathon bombing, what was the immediate response? Avoid Boston? Stay away from Marathons? Don’t go to public places? Boston is a bad place? No. None of this. Actually quite the opposite. Most of us felt a kind of “Boston Strong” defiance and we had a sense of reality about what should be done. And I observe the same thing happening here with Las Vegas after the tragedy there. Why not take this approach with Mexico? WE are the country demanding the drugs. So are we just going to give the place over to the bad guys?
PPPS: Related to this and related to the note on “Fair Travel” above. When we don’t go to Mexico the real hurt is NOT felt by hotel and resort owners or government tourism people or politicians there. They are insulated from financial impact by an unfair system that is wrecking Mexico and may actually be part of the cause of the violence issues. (See again the New York Times article on violence in Mexico).
I am a Christ follower and my leader is widely known as one of the best teachers ever. He taught plainly that a system where people do honest work, but make almost nothing, and are laid off when we don’t travel is wrong and immoral. Seems like to me any decent person of whatever religion should affirm this–agnostic or Muslim or nihilist or whatever.
The big owners do fine when tourism slumps. They just close the doors for a few weeks. The little people were poor to start with and end up in an even more desperate situation. This is wrong.
And when we don’t travel there we miss the wonder and enchantment of a culture, landscape, and people that are available to us close by and at a reasonable price.
Lets go to Mexico–safe, enchanting and I will get you there!