05 February 2007

A Canadian finally talks straight on Mexico

The bad news on Canadians meeting misfortune while travelling in Mexico seemingly won't abate, but at least one person - the inadvertent victim in a shootout - is finally voicing a lot of what the "don't travel to Mexico" crowd completely overlooks: that this country has many redeeming qualities and that once experienced, are difficult to overlook.

Rita Callara, a woman from the Niagra Falls area, and another Canadian, suffered injuries at an Acapulco hotel after a gunman opened fire. Despite being in the wrong place at the wrong time, here's what she told Toronto radio station AM 640, “I'm not scared ... That's some of the things that happen. What about Toronto – every night they kill people?”

Finally someone with the courage to point out that Toronto hasn't been the most tranquil spot. A buddy in Ajijic reacted to the Adam de Prisco shooting by saying, "People here can turn on City TV (Toronto), which they get via Star Choice, and see shootings all the time."

I've been accused of being insensitive to the bad things happening to Canadians - some are just dreadful, like the British Columbia resident rotting in a Huatulco jail - but I've had my own brush with tragedy. A classmate from Calgary, who I never met, was shot dead after leaving a Zapopan nightclub in April 2004. Ironically, I was at the same nightclub on the same night and lived 200 meters from the crime scene. The alleged perpetrator is none other than the son of a notorious narcotics trafficker. Despite all this, I returned to the Guadalajara area in 2005 - and so has every other Mount Royal College exchange student studying in Mexico at the same time as the victim. The victim's family, obviously distraught due to a lack of justice, urged my alma mater to discontinue exchanges with Mexico.

Two things:

1. The world doesn't work like Canada - and there's value in witnessing that. Canada is quiet, supposedly safe and very safety conscious. While visiting another Canadian friend here in Guadalajara, we took the dog for a walk and carried our adult beverages out the door with us. We both commented on how nice it was to not have some busybody scolding us.

2. A feeling runs rampant in the forums about the Canadian deaths that the government should be protecting Canadians abroad. How? Contrary to popular belief, maple leafs sewed onto backpacks are not protection. Bad things happen to Canadians - and foreigners of all nationalities while travelling abroad. Why is Mexico being singled out?


Hyphenated Canadian said...

Why is Mexico being singled out?

Maybe because so many Canadians travel there. There are countries that are more violent than Mexico. I just saw something in the New York Times about carjackings in Kenya. I haven't been to either Mexico or Kenya, but Kenya appears to be a lot more dangerous than Mexico. So why don't we hear about Kenya in the Canadian media? Probably because Kenya isn't a major tourist destination. At least that would be my guess.

Brenda Maas said...

We have been living in Mexico for about 1 1/2 yrs. now and feel safer here than I ever did walking down the streets in Edmonton, Alberta.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people wherever you are and sometimes bad things happen to people doing stupid things.
I would say that our area (Guaymas,Sonora) is safer than most areas of Canada and the USA.