In front of me is a copy of Forbes Magazine from December 2008 with a cover story titled “Mexican Meltdown – Narco Terror, Collapsing Oil Prices, Economic Chaos”. I haven’t had the opportunity to read the article as yet but it will be interesting to see if they made any predictions about the economic and social state of Mexico in 2011.Yesterday I went to dinner with a friend and some of his friends that I had never met before. Naturally, the topic of travel came up and consequently one of my favourite topics – Mexico – followed. This friend of my friend made a statement that saddened me since it seems that many people share her sentiments. The statement was, “I’m not going to Mexico, they are killing CANADIANS there”. My usual reaction would have been to pounce on the opportunity to defend the beautiful country that I very much consider my own, but I decided to let sleeping dogs be sleeping dogs.
For anyone who stumbles across this post, here is what I think. (if it matters). Firstly, I think it is absurd that the Mexican people or the Narcs would put together a strategic plan to target and eliminate Canadian tourists. What is it that makes us so special that anyone would need or want to target and kill us? I urge you to consider the fact that we live in Canada and hence we will only receive news about “Canadians” who are murdered, raped, robbed or beaten up while in Mexico. Furthermore, with the media’s eyes firmly set on Mexico and its current drug war, you will hear much more about Canadian casualties there than in most other countries. How many Canadains have been killed in the U.S of A since the beginning of the year? I have no idea. From my personal experience on the ground in Mexico, I can tell you that the Mexicans that I have met love Canadians and speak quite fondly of Canada. As a matter of fact, one of the number one places that my Mexican friends what to visit or live in is – take a guess – yep Canada.
So am I saying that Mexico is safe to travel in? Well I can’t predict your future and I have no control over who you hang out with or what you do when you are in Mexico. What I do know is that if there is a fight between the drug lords and the government and you get caught purchasing or using drugs while you are there, your ass is grass and the police officer is the lawn mower (I always wanted to use that one). You never know what your treatment will be if you are breaking the law or are in the company of those who are breaking the law , but it is best to assume the worst.
Do innocent people sometimes get hurt, abused or threatened while on vacation in Mexico? Why of course they do – doesn’t the same thing happen right here in Canada? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time unfortunately isn’t something that people predict or they wouldn’t be there in the first place. When traveling anywhere, do your research. Don’t go to Juarez for spring break or a relaxing getaway. Figure out where is the safest place for you to travel and go there – use your brain and street smarts. My sincere condolences go out to anyone who has lost a friend or family member in Mexico. It is unfortunate that there has been an increase in violent crimes in Mexico over the past few years but it is nonetheless a beautiful country with inviting people and a lot to discover – so do your research, pack your bags and head south. Ah, and please remember, you are not being targeted by the Mexican people. They do not want to hurt you because you have the CN Tower, good beer and funny sounding accent.
Live what you love – Joel (AdventureJo)