Mexico has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, and we have received a few emails from people asking about the safety situation in Mexico. This two-part blog gives a précis of the causes of the violence and examines how safe Mexico is for visitors.
The escalating criminal violence in Mexico reported in recent news is being driven by certain drug cartels, who are vying for control of lucrative drug trade routes from South America to the United States. Mexico itself is not a big narcotics-producing country; however, it is the ‘bridge’ between South America (Colombia, especially) and the USA: the world’s biggest consumer of cocaine.
Control of the trade routes is conservatively estimated to be valued at some $40 billion US dollars a year. To put that number into perspective: AT&T, the communications giant which also owns BellSouth, reported sales of over $30 billion in 2007; General Motors sold $43 billion worth of automobiles world-wide; and Exxon-Mobil, the oil giant, reported net earnings totaling over $39 billion in 2007. Mexico’s total GDP is around US$1.1 trillion. The drug trade which feeds US retail narcotics demand is economically colossal.
Internationally, the demand for cocaine is on the rise. A recent media report in the UK stated that cocaine had become the new ‘drug of choice’ for young middle-class men there. Although the United States is the market that drug cartels value most, demand in Europe is also rising. It is somewhat ironic, therefore, as we concern ourselves and point fingers of blame for the escalating drug-related violence near to us, that it is our own society’s continuous (and increasing) addiction to poisonous substances we do not need, and should sensibly desire to eschew, funding the violence.
There exists, clearly, a joint-and-several responsibility from all sides in the endeavor to mitigate the illicit drugs trade and the violence it propels. This point has been labored by observers and some policy makers for a while, and continues to be made now as the Mexican government deploys over 30,000 army troops and Federal Police to the cities currently affected by the drug-gang clashes.
The drugs-related violence in Mexico has been primarily contained to certain cities and most of the people killed have been involved in, or connected with, the drugs trade in some way: be it private citizens, public officials or police.
Meantime, people are asking: is Mexico safe to visit?
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