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.
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Well said Katie! I thought the point that a fellow expat made about the ease in reporting and communicating crime was thought provoking as I too have been hearing more about crime lately, esp, in the central highlands part of Mexico. But at the same time, I am now following local Mexican facebook groups and Mexican news in general more so is there some additional crime in this area or am I just hearing about it now? And I think its always good to keep it in perspective with what is happening where we each live as well. While I live in a very safe community of 15K people, if I were to cross the river 15 minutes away, I would encounter an area where there are frequent shootings and violence. I am just very shielded and isolated from it in my specific town. I think it all goes back to your advice on Common Sense, Cultural/Situational Awareness, Language Skills, Kindness and Respect . I follow these pieces of advice here and would follow these in Mexico as well.
So nice to see you here on the blog and thank you for your well-stated and thoughtful comments.
I have a casa in Lo de Marcos, Nayarit, where I live part-time when I’m not in my primary home in New Orleans, LA. When I’m not here (like I am now), I rent it out privately, only to family and friends. Right now, the primary concern for most of my friends in the states is how safe Mexico is for people concerned about the Covid virus. I’m kind of shocked that you didn’t even address that issue here. In my little town of LDM, I feel pretty safe because most of the restaurants and stores are all outside anyway, and people do mask up when they go inside store with AC like OXXO, Kiosko and Mega. But larger cities like Mexico City are real hotbeds, and many people are concerned about how safe it is to fly here (or anywhere). And for a long time, the land border was closed for Americans who wanted to drive here. That may have changed; not sure. But with Covid raging all over the world, surely it’s an important issue to address.
The focus and purpose of this article was not COVID-related.
Each area of Mexico is handling the pandemic in their own way and I am certainly no infectious disease expert to opine on such matters.
There are lots of FB pages and media outlets that are COVID-focused and perhaps a cursory Google search will provide you with some stats.
I have shared many times on my social media pages my observations as to how COVID is being handled in SMA, but again, this article’s theme was not a COVID related one otherwise I likely would have indicated such in the title.
I have to agree with Cree. When I saw the title, I was quite curious about what you would say about going to the third worst covid statistic destination in the world. When I finished the article I looked at the date thinking this was an old article but to my surprise it isn’t.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
I never set out to write this article with a COVID focus, and thus, it was not a theme in this piece.
I am not the expert to opine on COVID statistics nor an infectious-disease specialists, as shared with Cree as well.
No doubt there is plenty of information out there that you seek that a simple Google search will turn up.
I clicked on this article looking to find what was stated in the title.
Covid didn’t cross my mind until I read the comments.. Trying searching Covid in Mexico or something like that.. “Is Mexico Safe” definitely makes me think of violence, kidnapping, etc..
Very well put together and insightful.. Thank you for sharing it!
Well what a breathe of fresh air you are!
Thank you, Brooke, my thoughts as well.
Warm Regards, Katie
I too would have never thought this would be about Covid.
My family and I are moving to Mexico City next summer (polanco area). I have a 9 and 5 year old. I can not tell you how many times I have had people tell me that my children are going to be kidnapped. It’s really starting to make me mad. Plus, who says that to a mother?! I am looking forward to the move. I’ve lived mostly overseas my entire adult life and Mexico City will be the closest I’ve lived to the US. Plus, I would love to have the kids immersed in Spanish. Trying to stay positive…
Good Morning Paula,
Welcome to Los O’Gradys in Mexico & thank you for your comment.
What a wonderful adventure you and your family have ahead of you and no doubt your children will benefit greatly from the experience.
You will only be about 4 and a half hours away from where I live in San Miguel de Allende so if you are ever in our beautiful town, feel free to reach out and say hello.
Thanks Katie! Looking forward to reading more posts about life in Mexico!