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Safety in Mexico

Hi,

We would like to talk about a sensitive but important topic: do you feel safe in Mexico?

How would you define the level of safety in the country?

Can you walk safely during the day and at night without any fear?

Do you think there is a high rate of criminality, social problems or tensions?

Share with us your insight on safety in Mexico and in the city you live in.

Thank you in advance,

Christine

Absolutely.  Zacatecas has very little violence.
When I travel, I go by 1st Class bus and there has never been any trouble.

My experience living in Baja has been that the  farther away from the border you live the less possibility of crime and undesirable people.  Walking around at night depends solely on the area you live and the prevalence of crime.  I would not walk around at night in places like Tijuana or Nogales where there is a lot of drug-related activity.  Same with driving at night.

Yes, I feel pretty safe. My neighbors have been very helpful and supporting. For the most part people are very honest here. I trust my housekeeper completely, and the workmen I have met have worked hard and respected me, and my things. I walk on the street without problems, but not at night. At night the bug population increases significantly, The road problems become invisible, and people who want a few drinks after work may be out having too good a time. I also wouldn't walk the streets in the U.S or Canada at night. Some of the U.S. streets I wouldn't walk in day light. .
Like others have said, I don't have the same attitude about border towns. There the risk goes up significantly. Towns away from the border have never been a problem for me. I have always found people who will help or provide directions.

Living in Coatzacoalcos Veracruz I have not had any problems this far.Having said that I do take precautions,im in my house by sundown each day,i dont frequent bars or overdress.Kidnapings are frequent here so it is important to keep your financial dealings to yourself.My girlfriend works for pemex but does not put on Her uniform until she arrives at work as Pemex workers are thought to have money,making them targets.As i was told by a taxi driver friend "night or day If they want you or what you have then thats it.I have been here 8 months and appart from two lost Canadian tourists who were looking for the bus station i have not seen another white person,so im sure i stand out.Im always aware of my surroundings without being paranoid.But I would not advise anybody to walk around this town and "feel safe".

This entire issue has been blown completely out of proportion by the U.S. news media and the hysterical U.S. State Department and its "warnings." Generally, one is safer by far in Mexico than in the U.S. The entire narco violence thing, with very rare exceptions, takes place between the narcos and the cops and soldiers, and it's rare and isolated. Also, as another person noted, the farther you are from the border, the less likely you are to encounter problems. Similarly, the farther you are from Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, etc., the less likely you are to encounter someone pointing a gun at you in that country.

I feel far safer in Mexico, 15 years now, than I ever did in the U.S.

I live in Merida.  I feel very safe.  I haven't encountered any problems. I moved here from Belize where there is a danger increase.  I'm now moving to Chetumal.  Im comfortable with my surroundings for sure!

I live in Puerto Morelos, between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, here we have almost no crime, but as in any city in any part of the world I would never walk alone at night. There is such a misconception regarding crime, here in MEXICO YES there are cities that have crime here, just like Oakland, New York, and just about every other city.  If you are smart and use good judgement, you stay away from those types of cities and situations. In our area, the tourist income it what keeps the cities alive, and the police try very hard to keep crime at a minimum.  KEEP SAFE EVERYONE.>EVERYWHERE

Just looking over the posts this far it is noticable that there is a world of difference between the tourist towns and the industrial or agri orientated towns.I have visited Huatulco and San Criss and had no reservations about walking alone at night.It is clear the civic leaders know which side their bread is buttered.I did not see any police or army convoys patroling the streets in either.No garbage or sewage in the streets.Outside the historic zone I cant say.but I have to say I felt safe in both places.

My wife and I have lived in San Miguel de Allende for eight years and have never had a problem. This country is safer than the US--I am an author and have traveled all over Mexico--and we feel safer here than in the States.

I have lived in San Miguel for 18 years, and have been involved with Security issues for the last 5. There is a reason why our organization, SANMIGUELENSES UNIDOS, has been active here....largely because of the large number of house robberies in our city. The numbers are disproportionate to the size, and we believe that is partly a result of the poorly trained Policia Preventiva, and the small amount of money that the present Municipal Administration devotes to Security. This month, In one 5 -block area of one Community (Col.  San Antonio) there were 7 house robberies..mostly in empty houses belonging to expats...over a period of two weeks. As a result, 100 residents turned out for a meeting there last week. The Director of Security was there, and the meeting was a good one. Now, there are regular patrols, and the residents are beginning to work together on issues like graffiti and abandoned cars. The Community is making progress. 

The only way to turn things around is to first acknowledge the problem. There is still a lot of denial here, especially by some of the business interests. Only when you or a close friend becomes the victim, do people seem to get involved. Expats need to realize that as wonderful as our city is, they need to take reasonable Security precautions with their homes ( alarm systems, strong locks and doors, camera surveillance, etc) and when walking on the streets at night. SMA is certainly not Baltimore, but neither is it the Utopia I found almost two decades ago.

David

Our family has been living in Tampico (southern part of Tamaulipas) for the past year - and we are currently leaving because of the crime and violence in the area.  Our home was robbed within the first two months of living there.  We called the police for help and they never showed up.   You need to follow a lot of the same precautions in our area as others:  do not go out at night, be careful where you drive, etc., but even following those rules we still found ourselves fleeing from a park due to shootings.  We knew many people who themselves were also victims of similar crimes (robberies, assaults, kidnappings) and it started to become too uncomfortable for our family.  We did a lot of traveling while in Mexico (Mexico City, Xilitla, Cancun - to name a few) and never felt uncomfortable in those places following the precautions.  But we would not recommend Tampico.

I personally know someone in Coatzcoalcos who was kidnapped for ransom and killed anyways.   So dont believe that its all hyped up US newspaper reporting.  Mexicans are very much concerned take it seriously probably alot more than many expats.  Its not just the rich that are targeted.

I have lived in Tehuacan and San Juan Del Rio. Both places are extremely safe. I have no problems walking after dark or and any other time for that matter. People are friendly and I am never afraid.

We feel very safe in Playa del Carmen, even walking at night.  Of course we take normal precautions, don't flash money around, etc.  We do not stay out late and don't frequent nightclubs or seedy bars.  Playa feels much safer than many places in the US.  We've never had any problems here with crime or safety.  There is a lot of police presence in and near the tourist zone, but we also feel comfortable in more local areas.

I live in Queretaro, this city reminds me of any mid-sized city in the US or Canada. I've been here for a few months and take the same precautions that I would if I was in the US or Canada. I also lived in Oaxaca de Juarez for a few months, lovely city and quite safe.

Feeling safe is relative.  We live in a small town, but there are real safety concerns.  My husband has been kidnapped, my nephew has been kidnapped and tortured, the mother of three of my students was gunned down on her way to the gym, another parent was recently dismembered, and a third parent stabbed and had his taxi stolen.  On the surface, these incidents make it seem as if I live in a high crime area.  That isn't true.  These crimes were committed with the complacent knowledge of the local, state and federal police.  Do I feel safe?  For the most part, yes.  The key to my feeling of safety is knowing who to fear.  It's not some random dude off the street.  It's the guys in charge.

Its refeshing to read a post from someone who admits that there is crime everywhere in Mexico (including SMA, Baja, etc.) as most expats won't face that; or at least that's what I've discovered on the majority of these expat forums.  I've come to the conclusion that the reason is because most don't read/write/understand Spanish and tend to read only the English websites which rarely mention anything about crime.  The best way to avoid being a victim of crime is to be AWARE of what is going on in your surroundings...and most expats here are not in that category.  Regardless of where you live, be it the U.S., Europe or Mexico there is crime; that is human nature esp. in a country with the majority of people living in poverty so crime does exist.  And the more aware you are of whats going on the less likely you will be involved in a crime.
I've lived in Mexico/Baja in several places/cities and never (fortunately) been involved in a crime and I attribute that to being aware of whats going on everywhere I go or travel.

Looks like you are pretty close to Mexico city. Which would raise your risk. If your are also native it would raise your risk even more. I have friends that tell me the kidnappings, and most violence is focused on natives. Generally speaking the authorities, and cartels know tourists are a source of revenue that should not be attacked. Sorry for all the suffering you have been enduring. Hopefully you can find a safer place.

I agree about the aware part maryellen1952 , but not the most expats on the forum being clueless part. There is a  number of newer people who don't bother knowing where ever they are in the world, but there is also a core group who live here and are just honestly stating their experiences. Those people do read and understand Spanish. I can tell you for instance that locally a 15 year old boy killed himself over a 15 year old girl, Campeche University scored 38 out of a thousand top Latin universities. No kidnappings or murders lately. I can tell you that people going to a concert stole the emblems off of my car, and my neighbors were affronted by this. I can tell you when a family member died my neighbors made sure I had help to deal with it, and didn't even accept gas money. That's just real life.

The prison escape by El Chapo is focusing the world's attention on Mexico and the corruption that evidently allowed a sophisticated tunnel to be built from a remote location to the drug kingpin's cell.

There are multiple reports on this thread about the kidnappings that go on in Mexico.  Scary stuff.

Does everybody here believe the posters who say it's just certain cities where trafficking/cartel violence is a problem or affects Expats?  Or is there a difference of opinion?

Does the trafficking/cartel situation impact the safety of Expats in such communities as Lake Chapala and Älamos?

cccmedia in Quito, Ecuador

I don't think anyone is saying there is no crime in some areas. What many of us are saying is much of the really ugly stuff is at the border, on both sides of the border. There was an attempted robbery of Liverpool here about a year ago. It was handled quickly. Lake Chapala  had the murder of a Canadian couple perhaps a year or so ago. I personally feel the more you stand out as different and separate the more risk you will be likely to have. I think that some of the potential problems come with the expats.

I have heard two things from the locals here. One is the kidnappings are directed at natives and many of them are more like extortion than kidnapping because they call the family of the victim and claim the have the family member which they may or may not. The other thing that they have told me is there is resentment of cities like ciudad del Carmen where Texas oilmen have taken over. That makes that area less safe, and friendly for expats.

Acapulco is on the drug route. According to newspapers there are almost daily killings between drug gangs. I heard of 1 or 2 in the area of the Zocalo over the last 10 years or so. I live in the tourist zone near the Zocalo, visiting dance places up to 3 in the morning almost weekly, returning by low cost taxi (beetle). I would not want to walk the 4 km. I have never seen even a fight in the dance place or around the entertainment strip. Burglers / thieves are known to invest the area where people live, after 1 in the morning. I simply do not go there walking about.
Years ago we had local police at every corner in the tourist zone. This city and traffic police has been eliminated due to corruption. Now we have had the Federales for about 3 years, far less people.
Pocket and hotel thieves are around too, I know of people who have been careless.
I myself have been robbed and heavily maimed in Pie de la Cuesta, a suburb of Acapulco 2011 in a Trailer Park at midnight, where the door was left open during the night. Yet I feel pretty safe in ACA, including in the traffic, which does hardly ever cause an accident.

torriani :

Acapulco is on the drug route. According to newspapers there are almost daily killings between drug gangs. I heard of 1 or 2 in the area of the Zocalo over the last 10 years or so. I live in the tourist zone near the Zocalo...thieves are known to infest the area where people live....city and traffic police has been eliminated due to corruption....I myself have been robbed and heavily maimed in Pie de la Cuesta, a suburb of Acapulco 2011 in a Trailer Park at midnight, where the door was left open during the night.

Extremely sobering to read this post and your prior post about machete maimings in the Acapulco area.

Hard to understand how an intelligent European would choose to keep coming back to Acapulco each year in light of such goings-on as you have described not only being commonplace but you have experienced it so personally.

cccmedia in Quito, Ecuador

So let me put something into perspective for you. This is especially for people for whom violence has never touched their lives.

I lived in a quiet, mostly peaceful city in Florida for close to 20 years. In March of 2010 in Clearwater, FL my son went to his 18th birthday party at a friend's house. All of the kids he grew up with and went to school with were there. Around midnight another kid who they didn't know well came into the house with 2 GUNS. At close range he shot and killed 2 kids and wounded another. His motive? The brother of one of the victims was dating his ex-girlfriend. These kids were just sitting at a table, they hadn't done anything to instigate being murdered. I thank God that my son was in the kitchen and not sitting at the table when this horrible, tragic crime happened. The shooter escaped, he fled, the kids fled. The shooter was later found, he refused to put down his weapons and was shot by the police. He was a kid, he was 19 years old.

So, please tell me why I should fear living in Mexico when crime is everywhere including your own backyard?

I have lived in several cities' in Mexico,most of the time I feel safe as I would in the U.S..Now,I live with my girl friend in San Miguel De Allende.There has been a lot of break in's in the neighborhood we live in,numerous meetings have been held and a larger police presents during the day has been seen.
During the day,this city feels safe,but after dark,robberies,rapes,and sometimes murder happen.Going out alone,especially if you have been drinking to the late hours,almost guarantees a mugging,or worse.
I have escorted women to and from events after dark for their safety,we rarely go out past ten.
It could be because there are so many expats there who are very old,and the ratio of women to men in
retirement age is 20 to 1.These are easy targets for crime,I have a base ball bat at my front door,and we have a large dog.Corruption is a problem,however,you can work around it,even though it is illegal to
offer a bribe.If you have a firearm,make sure the Mexican military doesn't use the same one.Small caliber weapons,such as .22's,.25,,and rifles calibers that only the U.S. makes and uses.You can get a permit to have a weapon for home defense,make sure you will use it,if need be,or don't have one.The criminals will take it from you and use it on you.Home break in's are common,the state department says,
let them take what they want.I say,hurt them,so they will stop robing,and raping,some of them are very big men,others are kids who see a drunk American,or an elderly man or women,easy pickings.
Just like any city in the world,you have to be alert,do not flash money,do not wear expensive jewelry,do not go out late at night alone.If you use common sense,your going to be OK,I have lived in Mexico 6 years,and only had to chase a young man down the road once,when he demanded money from me.
Just like the states or Canada,most Mexican citizens are peaceful,and friendly,people you have rely on
when you make friends.Thief is common,and it is excepted as normal,do not leave valuables laying about,they will go missing,and no one will know anything about it.

itsmejuli :

So let me put something into perspective for you. This is especially for people for whom violence has never touched their lives.

....please tell me why I should fear living in Mexico when crime is everywhere including your own backyard?

Your post gives me only a limited perspective.  In fact, I think your vision of the world is probably colored by the horrific incident you described, which I suppose is only natural.

True, crime can occur anywhere.  But that doesn't mean you have the same chance of surviving an attack in Acapulco as you do in Tumbaco, Ecuador, or Chiang Mai, Thailand, places where instances of machete and gun violence are historically low.

I walked the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand's second largest city, late at night on many occasions in the 2000s and never experienced a whiff of fear or violence even on deserted streets.

I also visited Tijuana, Mexico, in the same decade, and my bag and person were repeatedly searched by police.  In one instance, the cop threatened me with time in a Mexican jail if I couldn't produce a prescription for some pills I had on me (fortunately, I did).  A few weeks later a Tijuana cop unholstered his gun on me during a traffic stop while I was outside the vehicle and following instructions to keep my hands on the hood.

Here in Quito, Ecuador, I've been robbed on half a dozen occasions, mostly grab 'n go or pickpocketing, but I have never seen a maldito carrying a weapon.  Not even the time a gang of four men put me on the ground in South Quito and stole $55 from my pockets.

Quito is certainly not drug-free, but the lack of gun and trafficking culture here is such that the police I have encountered, now in my third year living here and in numerous visits here before, never have hassled me.

Your odds of surviving some kind of criminal attack, IMO, are far better in most of Ecuador or northern Thailand or a lot of other places than anywhere on the Mexican drug trail or even a city in Florida.

As I said, I used to visit Tijuana.  But I would never live there.  Nor Ciudad Juárez.  Nor anywhere else on the Mexican drug trail.

cccmedia in Quito, Ecuador

Excellent point itsmejuli. FBI statistics show the incidence of violence related death in the U.S. is twice that of Mexico, yet people talk about how dangerous Mexico is.

"The US has higher rates of homicides from guns than Pakistan. At 4.5 deaths per 100,000 people, the US rates aren’t much lower than gun homicide rates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.2 deaths per 100,000 people). Annually, the US has about two fewer gun homicide deaths per 100,000 people than Iraq, which has 6.5 deaths per 100,000."

Comparing nationwide crime statistics is misleading for this purpose.

New Fairfield, Connecticut, is historically far safer than Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Saratoga, California, is historically far safer than Tijuana, Mexico.

IMO you pick not only by country, but more importantly by community.

cccmedia in Ecuador

I think national statistics give a meaningful perspective over all, but if you prefer quiet city to quiet city we have this :


Campeche, Its official name is San Francisco de Campeche, capital of the same name and has the very low rate of 285 crimes reported per 100 000

VS
Hartford Ct, Annual Crimes
VIOLENT    PROPERTY    TOTAL
1,495    5,039    6,534
annual crimes per 1,000 residents
11.96    40.31    52.27

Much less quiet cities : 530 persons were murdered in Ciudad Juarez in 2013. This is a substantial improvement over the 730 murders reported in 2012 .

Violent crime rate in 2013,  Murders
(per 100,000)  251
(6.5)
Los Angeles:   
239.0
U.S. Average:   
203

So Juarez is more violent than L.A., and Hartford Ct is more violent than Compeche Mx.

The Connecticut community to which I referred --  New Fairfield, not Hartford -- is far less violent that the cities on the Mexican drug trail.

And all of this proves the point that you can choose a less violent community in whatever country or region.

If you post statistics again, I suggest that you compare apples with apples.  The point is, if you give statistics per thousand for one city and per 100,000 in another, it is unreasonable to expect blog readers to do an extrapolation in order to figure out if your conclusion is correct or incorrect.

Hartford -- the third-largest CT city and the state capital -- has some really bad sections, and your calling it a "quiet city" is a dubious description.

cccmedia in Ecuador

travellight :

530 persons were murdered in Ciudad Juarez in 2013. This is a substantial improvement over the 730 murders reported in 2012.

Such homicide statistics are cited at the U.S. State Department's osac.gov website.

This statement about murders in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and Chihuahua City also appear there....

"A significant number of homicides in both cities are cartel-related.  However, there have been cases in which innocent people are caught in the line of fire or are mistakenly targeted."

This Ciudad is not a place for Expats to visit, let alone reside.

cccmedia in Ecuador

I'm not saying there's no crime in Mexico, far from that. And I'm certainly not comparing the crime in the US to the crime in Mexico. I certainly have no intention of visiting or living near the frontera nor living in any of the crime and problem plagued states such as Guererro, Michoacan or Chiapas. And I don't live on the "narco trail". Rumour has it that Queretaro is "narco neutral" as many narco children attend school here.

What I am saying is that there are many places in Mexico where it is safe to live. Just like in the US or Canada or anywhere else in the world you shouldn't apply a blanket statement about safety across an entire country.

If you don't want to live in Mexico so be it. If you fear for your safety everywhere in Mexico then don't come here.

And of course my perspective on the world is as individual as yours.

People use what ever tools are available to determine relative risk, which makes sense. (I didn't use Fairfield because it didn't pop up). The closest I could get was Hatfield.

When I was driving through Mexico I checked the Stanford crime map to determine which states were safer , and it worked very well for me. Looking at information on Juarez would not have been of much help at all..

I don't choose to visit Quito Ecuador because I have read some very negative stories about the crime there. Would a full statistical map of Ecuador change my opinion on the relative safety there ?

It's a matter of peoples experience, and relative feelings of safety. There  are dangerous places in the US and Mexico. Generally there are more dangerous places in the U.S. than in Mexico. The purpose of this thread is being lost. It is supposed to report feelings of safety, and people should be encouraged to do that.

travellight :

The closest I could get was Hatfield.

When I was driving through Mexico I checked the Stanford crime map....

And by your mentioning the Connecticut cities of Hatfield and Stanford, I suppose you mean Hartford and Stamford. ;)

cccmedia, Connecticut resident 2001-07

travellight :

The purpose of this thread is being lost. It is supposed to report feelings of safety, and people should be encouraged to do that.

No, it's much broader than that -- re-read Christine's Report #1 if you need to -- although we may have discussed Connecticut and Ecuador more than was originally intended. :)

cccmedia in Quito, Ecuador

travellight :

I don't choose to visit Quito Ecuador because I have read some very negative stories about the crime there. Would a full statistical map of Ecuador change my opinion on the relative safety there ?

We'll have to consider that question rhetorical since it cannot be reliably answered.

Well, certainly there are places in Quito and the rest of Ecuador that I would avoid.

I stay out of South Quito, except for the El Recreo shopping mall area, as much as possible, especially since my encounter with the Gang of Four.

I would never live near the EC border with Colombia...in Ecuador's dangerous and largest city of Guayaquil...nor the northern oil-fields area including the ecologically-devastated city of Lago Agrio (Sour Lake).

Turning it around, what are several of the safest places in Mexico?

cccmedia in Quito, Ecuador

cccmedia :

Turning it around, what are several of the safest places in Mexico?

cccmedia in Quito, Ecuador

Check the teal colored states on this map of Mexico.  We have lived in Quintana Roo and visited the Yucatan, Campeche, and Chiapas states.  Have never had any safety issues or felt we were in any danger in these places.

http://howsafeismexico.com/mexico_states_safety.html

There are also some good safety links in the left-hand column of this page where you can see crime rate comparisons of Mexico vs. the US and other countries.

CaribeGal :

Check the teal colored states on this map of Mexico.  We have lived in Quintana Roo and visited the Yucatan, Campeche, and Chiapas states.  Have never had any safety issues or felt we were in any danger in these places.

http://howsafeismexico.com/mexico_states_safety.html

Fascinating State Department map.  It's compelling, if not surprising, to see that the "safe" areas in non-tourist zones are Baja California Sur and states most distant from the U.S., including inland areas and Mexico's extreme south.

cccmedia in Ecuador

Well 'cccmedia expert'   No actually Stanford is a University in California. They are the ones who as a research project developed a crime map of Mexico.  Given that this particular  subject has drifted so far from the topic, I will not be contributing to it any further.

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