14 January 2007

Some people say the stupidest things about Mexico

A young Canadian traveler sadly died outside of an Acapulco nightclub last week and news of his death is generating no shortage of headlines and emotionally charged comments on message boards. The facts are still sketchy, but similar to the case of the two Canadians killed in their Playa del Carmen hotel room last winter, the grieving family is alleging police and judicial ineptness. Many Canadians are also urging the federal government to issue a travel advisory for the entire country - instead of just certain zones like Oaxaca.

That would be overkill. Guadalajara is as tranquil as ever, as is Chapala and Ajijic - where record numbers of Canadians keep arriving each winter - and San Miguel de Allende. I spent the days leading up to New Year's in Mexico City with a Canadian friend and found it an ideal time to visit.

Canadians - even the ones that take winter junkets down to Puerto Vallarta and Cancun - really know very little about Mexico and thus a number of stupid and downright prejudiced comments have been appearing on message boards. These comments on the Globe and Mail's site by someone called Lyn Alg tops them all for sheer ignorance:

"One would be safer and wiser to take a vacation in the centre of Baghdad or in Afghanistan than in Mexico."

Please. It's small town cheap comments like this that make me not miss Canada, which for all of its supposed tolerance and worldliness, is distressing parochial and small minded - not to mention ignorant of Latin America.

To its credit, CTV posted a large collection of comments, which often struck a more reasonable note and included the feelings of Canadians presently residing in Mexico. One interesting theme was how many people had negative expriences in Acapulco. Those going to Puerto Vallarta grouse frequently about pushy time-share vendors, but those in the CTV forum raved about their experiences. Acapulco is badly over-built and ringed by slums. It's also in Guerrero, perhaps Mexico's most corrupt and backwards state. Acapulco is now a playground for rich chilangos (Mexico City residents) and not a prime destination for foreigners.

Update: Mexican authorities attributed Adam DePrisco's death to a hit-and-run accident. The DePrisco family disagreed. Now an autopsy in Ontario confirms DePrisco was struck by a vehicle, but Adam's family said the results "don't add up."

The DePrisco family is also now charging Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and the Canadian government with not doing more to help. Justice is unfortunately bad for Mexicans - not just foreign tourists. The government, in reality, can do little - and Canadians don't have a reputation of pushing for answers like their American counterparts.


Anonymous said...

It is much safer in Mexico than it is anywhere in Canada or the USA. That is just my opinion after living in Puerto Vallarta for a few years.
Jeff Musto
Puerto Vallarta http://www.internetpv.com

Anonymous said...

Having just returned from a great--and completely safe--vacation in Mexico, it's difficult to stomach the media coverage of this latest incident. Or maybe not the media coverage itself, but the ridiculous response to the coverage--calls for the Canadian government to warn Canadians against traveling to Mexico and all that.

As you say, there details are sketchy. But let's say the guy was killed after dancing with the wrong woman. That's hardly unusual. Same stuff happens in Calgary and Toronto. And hit-and-runs happen in our cities too, with alarming regularity...

Anonymous said...

This is just my opinion, but everytime exchange students came to my college the first thing they ask me is "where I can get drugs"... sorry dude, I'm not into that, so no idea, to mess with drugs is bad, but is even worse to mess with drug dealers.

Anonymous said...

Hey Great article. I just went to Mexico for the first time this summer and had absolutely no problem with safety. I used to live in Baltimore and I was constantly on guard there, but in Mexico I felt very at ease. You should check out these two videos I found, they're a more comprehensive documentation of traveling in Mexico.

(playa del carmen)

(Mexico City)

Anonymous said...

Your article missed the most important point, actually .. the only point. This is not about how safe a place is compared to another.

It's about people, - tourist in this case, being preyed upon by killers and that the authorities are not protecting them and possibly helping to cover it up.

That's the story... Why don't you try to see if it as any truth.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I live here in the DF, supposedly the most dangerous part of the country. I find it extremely safe. My colonia is considered quite bad in terms of crime (Santa Maria la Ratera) though I haven't figured out why. I used to live in Ecatepec, and I did have some problems there. That said, I still consider Mexico quite safe in comparison to larger US cities (I have lived in New Orleans, New York City and LA). Statisticly, however, my beloved Canada is still a much safer (and less interesting) place.

El Moe

Anonymous said...

I've lived in Mexico City for over a year and a half with no problem, I read a lot more about violent crime in Toronto than I do here. It's ridiculous to suggest a full travel advisory. However, I believe, based on experience, that the police investigations should be scrutinized and taken with a grain of salt. We can't let accountability evaporate in Mexico or Canada.

Anonymous said...

Agreeing in general with your perspective, I have to take exception with one little phrase: "small town." I guess we all have our prejudices, don't we? Having lived in big cities and small towns, I find no correlation between population density and worldliness or open-mindedness.