A question many of us Expats in Mexico are asked–Is Mexico Safe?–is one I understand but also admittedly grow tired of it.
Seeing the toxicity in the White House these days and the news channels that propagate fear, racism and all sorts of ugliness, it is no wonder some people question the safety–not just in Mexico–but all over this big blue globe that we humans inhabit.
The bigger, the bolder, the more horrific the headline, the more clicks and ad revenue.
Staying encapsulated in one’s own world, never traveling or adventuring outside the boundaries to experience new foods, people, music and cultures different from one’s own, certainly does not serve to cultivate a broadened and diversified view of life. It is that simple.
Is this to say that bad things don’t happen in Mexico? Of course not. Bad things happen every single day, in every country of this world, sadly. Human free will–a reality since the evolution of man.
Utopia, Where Are You?
We all want that utopic, safe place to live and raise our families.
Alas, there is no magic wand, elixir, or perfect answer to address one’s concerns about safety in the world, including Mexico.
Nonetheless, I will share with you my simple and clear position on this matter:
- Use common sense and situational awareness everywhere you go.
- Limit night driving, know where you are going, map out your travels.
- Do not be flamboyant, rude, pompous, loud nor inebriated in public.
- Learn/speak the language–doesn’t need to be perfect, just make an attempt.
- Don’t hang out with the cartels, drug lords or mafia.
- Learn and respect the culture and customs of the country you are lucky enough to be a welcomed guest in and to call home.
Everyone must define the reality that what works best for them.
The following has been making its rounds on the internet regarding this hot topic of Safety in Mexico–perhaps you have seen it yourself.
Gringo: Hi, where are you from?
Mexican: Hi, I’m from Mexico
Gringo: Ah! The land of Chapo Guzmán, narcos, marihuana, crime and extortion.
Mexican: I’m sorry, are you a drug addict or a TV junkie?
Gringo: No!!! Why?
Mexican: Because if you were an athlete or sports fan, you would have identified Mexico with Ana Guevara, Hugo Sanchez, Julio Cesar Chavez, Finito, Chicharito Hernandez, Canelo Alvarez, Rafael Marquez, etc.
If you were an educated person, you would have asked about the Aztec empire, the Mayan culture, the Olmecs or any other of the great Mesoamerican cultures.
If you were a well-traveled person you would have talked about our majestic archaeological sites, our tourist-friendly colonial cities, our megalopolis or our exotic beaches…the astonishing biodiversity of our rainforests, mountain ranges, deserts, conifer forests.
You could have identified Mexico with our great painters, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco; our composers: Agustín Lara, Consuelo Velázquez, Armando Manzanero, Juan Gabriel Jose Alfredo Jimenez, our writers and poets: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Juan Rulfo, Octavio Paz, Juan José Arreola, Elena Poniatowska, Amado Nervo, Jaime Sabines; our inventors or scientists: Manuel Mondragón, Guillermo González Camarera, Luis Ernesto Miramontes; our cinematographers: Ismael Rodríguez, Emilio Fernández, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Emmanuel Lubezki, and even Luis Buñuel, who, being originally from Spain, chose to adopt the Mexican nationality.
If you were a gourmand, you would have asked about Tamales, Cochinita Pibil, Mole, Adobo, Chilaquiles, Chiles en Nogada, Guacamole, Pan de Muerto, etc. Or our traditional beverages: Tequila, Mezcal, wines and beers.
However, I can see, the only thing you can relate to Mexico is the provider to American drug addicts.
I just want you to realize that México is a lot more than what ignorant people and fear-mongering media knows or chooses to propagate.
There are millions of honest Mexicans, who even without knowing you, will open the door to our homes, and that if you care to visit, you will love to get to know us and to visit us. Mexico is even more than I can possibly tell you!
Thoughts from Another Expat Friend
“It’s a complex and complicated issue. It appears that violent crime is on the rise, but it’s hard to know if that is true or if crime is simply more visible now. There has been a big push on social media the last year or two to report crimes and try to hold authorities accountable in a way that really never happened before. Everyone is certainly more aware of it than they were in the past. With the continued growth of Expat-popular areas and the ever-increasing income disparity, it’s not surprising that the situation is exacerbated. Now, it’s probably worth noting that in just the past few months there was another mass shooting in New York and in San Francisco. And I read about travelers being murdered on a Canadian highway. I guess I’m starting to wonder if anyone is safe anywhere these days.”
My Final Thoughts on Safety in Mexico
I too see the alarming posts and articles on various media outlets and while I am not a Pollyanna with her head in the sand, I choose to limit my exposure to the news while staying as informed as necessary.
Worthy of stating again, Common Sense, Cultural/Situational Awareness, Language Skills, Kindness and Respect truly are golden, anywhere in this big wide world.
Mexico is complex and layered, just like any other country, and we love her dearly. She is not for everybody, and that is just fine too.
We all have to create the lives and make the decisions that sit best with us.
I welcome you to respectfully and thoughtfully participate in this conversation in the Comments section below. Thank you.
*Protect yourself and your loved ones with an Expat Travel Insurance Policy (ask me for a referral) & Carbon Monoxide Detectors *