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Mexico an unsafe vacation destination?

Judith Benson of Salmon Arm, B.C.  heard the March 8 piece on drug violence in Mexico, and writes about a new security response that she's seen.

For the past four years my husband and I have spent some February time on Mexico's Pacific coast beaches between Puerta Vallerta and Mazatlan. We have returned to the same areas, knowing they are still safe from drug cartels.

As retired seniors living in the Shuswap, our February breaks have become times for relaxation, reunion with friends and family and coveted warmth. We have already made reservations at our favourite places for 2013.

We did notice a few changes this year. Upon our arrival to the town where we stay, a truck loaded with men dressed and hooded in black and carrying weapons were perusing the main highway.

In the next town over, on the main street where we shop for groceries, a truck was parked with men dressed in fatigues and carrying weapons. Their stance was more casual than those of the men dressed in black. No regular residents of these towns knew why either truck had made a presence.

No one stopped us or looked at us with suspicion. Although their presence was a surprise, we prefer to consider them as guardians of the tourist industry, not as threats.


Dawn Wallace of Sidney, BC responded:

I was just listening to Rick M-R's reading of the response of listener Judith Benson of Salmon Arm, BC to the previous week's story of Mexican security issues.  She said that in February she was on the Pacific Coast between Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan and that she saw security forces stopping traffic on the highway at the entrance to two towns -- but that she preferred to regard the presence of these forces as "protection" for tourists!

I had to shake my head -- we were in those towns (Guayabitos and La Penita) in February and saw these State Police forces stopping traffic and searching cars as well -- the first set were 3 trucks with about 6 officers each, all with masks/face shields and AK47-looking weapons. 

The word on the street was that the week before, there were 2 local police officers killed and a local merchant kidnapped for ransom, which was apparently why they were searching Mexican cars. 

We've been staying for long periods in that area for almost 20 years, and always felt safe there, but not this year, not any more ... several robberies and muggings, lots of ATM fraud -- and the final straw was that when a friend had a stroke and an ambulance was requested, our hotel owner advised to hire a reliable taxi driver instead -- apparently, the ambulance services are run by the mafia and extort money.

We will never read about these stories in the regular media because the cartels kill the journalists who report them.  We feel badly for the Mexican people, but we cannot put ourselves at risk now that the tenticles of the cartels have reached into almost all areas of Mexico.

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