Is it Too Dangerous to Live in or Visit Mexico?

When I told my best friend, an Assistant U.S. Attorney that my wife and I were moving to Mexico, his reply was as follows:
“I guess you won’t have access to a telephone or the Internet.”

I was dumbfounded to the point of almost not being able to make a coherent reply! Here was a well-educated man, well traveled throughout Europe, who was under the impression that Mexico was still in the Dark Ages without access to modern technology. He, I found, was not alone in his ignorance about Mexico.

While preparing for our move to Mexico, we received, whether we wanted it or not, all manner of “advice” from family and friends which amounted to warnings of how we would be in immediate peril if we went through with our insane decision to expatriate to Mexico. Some of the “advice” was ridiculous while some came from bigoted ignorance. Here are some of my favorites:

“If you dare drink the water you will get bloody dysentery and die.”
“Are you crazy? The bandits will kill you down there!”
“Roving gangs of American-haters will drag you right out of restaurants and kill you on the sidewalk in broad daylight.”
“Will you have to wash you clothes in the river?”
“Mexicans will lie to you every chance they get.”

I mean, where in the world do they get this stuff? And, these are college-educated people saying this. How is it that college educated Americans can be so geographically, sociologically, and culturally ignorant of Mexico?

Have you ever been at a social gathering and someone mentions that so-and-so is vacationing in Mexico? Have you noticed the immediate, harsh, and frightened reaction of everyone?

“Oh, my. I hope they don’t drink the water!”

“I heard that it is so dangerous ‘down there’ that you get snatched right off the street by the police just because you are an American!”

“Oh, they’d better be careful. I heard the cab drivers will take you out into the desert, strip you naked, and leave you for the coyotes!”

Here is where I think they get these fables:

“My sister’s neighbor told her that his cousin knew a friend whose mother talked with the baker whose brother-in-law went to Mexico on business and talked with the waiter in the hotel who told him of this storyâÂ?¦” And on it goes!

I am talking about strong emotions when it comes to the subject of Mexico! And most often, the stories you will hear from your American family and friends are rumor, innuendo, or sheer nonsense. What is the deal here?

I am not sure that I know the answer to that question. It appears the news media has a lot to do with it because they report only the vilest and scary news that does happens in Mexico. When the news media does this, a little phenomenon takes over called “The Spotlight Fallacy”. This is a bit of logic that essentially states,

“The Spotlight fallacy is committed when a person uncritically assumes that all members or cases of a certain class or type are like those that receive the most attention or coverage in the media. This line of reasoning is fallacious since the mere fact that someone or something attracts the most attention or coverage in the media does not mean that it automatically represents the whole population. For example, suppose a mass murderer from Old Town, Maine received a great deal of attention in the media. It would hardly follow that everyone from the town is a mass murderer. The Spotlight fallacy derives its name from the fact that receiving a great deal of attention or coverage is often referred to as being in the spotlight.”

Mexico is not a perfect place in which to live because it contains fallible human beings who make some of the same mistakes and commit some of the same crimes as in the United States.

However, having conceded that point, an American must take a long, hard look at the so-called dangers in Mexico. For example, Mexico is not one of the most dangerous countries in the world. It is the United States, according to online almanac web site, www.aneki.com, that is in the top 16 most dangerous countries in which to live. Mexico is not.

So, to those fellow Americans who get all bent out of shape over their perceived dangers Mexico has to offer, I say, “Get some perspective people!”

The Mexican Central Hotmail chat forum is currently a buzzing fury of talk about the U.S. State Department’s January 26 warning of violence against and possible kidnappings of Americans in Mexico. This warning, as of July 2005 has been renewed three times. “Oh great, not again,” I said to myself.

In this forum, you will read everything from blind acceptance of this warning to some honest questions that this warning has scared them into asking. What is the deal? Do we accept, without question, the State Department’s scare tactics and avoid Mexico?

There is violence in Mexico just as there is in the United States or anywhere else on the planet. In addition, what may surprise you is my admission there has been some violence against and kidnappings of some Americans. That is a fact.
However, how much violence and how many kidnappings are there? You would think that it must be some humdinger of a statistic to warrant the State Department’s frightening warning.

The truth is that when Narco News reporter, Bill Conroy tried investigating this little statistical wonder here is what he got:

“We don’t have figures to respond to this question at this time,” said Diana Page, assistant press attachÃ?© for the U.S. Embassy Mexico. “The consular section is working on helping Americans, so getting statistics together has to wait.”

Say what?

Next, Conroy filed the Freedom of Information Act with the U.S. State Department and here was that reply from Greg Blackman, a State Department program analyst:

“… I severely doubt we have the information you’re looking for,” Blackman said. ” … I have people looking into it now, so I don’t know for sure what records are kept or how yet.”

Again, I exclaim, “Say what?”

Then, what is the deal with the State Department’s warnings?

I cannot explain this. Who could? Perhaps God Himself could explain just how the U.S. State Department’s bureaucracy works and why they do the things they do. Then again, maybe even The Almighty might have trouble doing that!
So, what is the truth about Mexican violence against Americans?

According to a report, U.S. Citizen Deaths from Non-Natural Causes, By Foreign Country, there were some interesting revelations:

“In 2003, the first full year for which homicides figures are recorded, a total of 42 U.S citizens were murdered in Mexico, the report shows (A reporter friend of mine with the Dallas Morning News told those were drug related-Americans involved in the drug trade and not random violence). A total of 18 homicides that year occurred along the U.S.-Mexican border. In 2004, through Dec. 31, a total of 35 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico, with 17 of those homicides occurring along the border. That’s right. The murder rate actually dropped between 2003 and 2004″, reports Bill Conroy.

I grow weary but can manage to croak it out, “Say what?”

I encourage a great deal of perspective when a potential tourist or expatriate is evaluating the issue of crime in whether to visit or move to Mexico. Look at this:

In the year 2003, in Mexico, there were 13 murders per 100,000 in the entire country. In that same year, in the United States, that was the same homicide statistic for the state of Louisiana! These stats come from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports for the year 2003.

“Another conclusion that can be drawn from the State Department report, which some in the U.S. government might find shocking, is that Mexico appears to be a safer place to be for U.S. citizens than their own homeland. The State Department figures show that a total of 77 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico during the two-year period ending Dec. 31, 2004. That is for the whole country.

By comparison, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, in 2003 alone, 109 people were murdered in the mid-sized city of Milwaukee. In Washington, D.C., where State Department officials cook up their policies, a total of 248 people were murdered in 2003, the FBI report shows. New York City weighed in with 597 murders that year.” -Bill Conroy NarcoNews.

The U.S. State Department’s advisory-a lot of hype. Why? Beats me!

Ask God.

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