17 February 2007

More attention given to crime in Mexico

At some point this rash of stories about Canadians meeting misfortune and death will quiet down - but not just yet. The Globe and Mail ran an excellent investigative piece on the 2006 murders of Domenic and Nancy Ianiero in Playa del Carmen in the Saturday paper. It's quite possible what the victims' son and his high-profile lawyer allege - robbery and later murder - isn't so.

For many expats living down in Mexico, this whole saga - more specifically, the intense media coverage - has been bothersome. No media outlet that I'm aware of has mentioned that for all of the bad news streaming out of Mexico, the Canadian expatriate population in Ajijic, Jalisco keeps on growing. (It probably numbers around 7,000.) And if the expats are looking for a dose of bad news, a friend here commented, "Everyone down here can watch City TV, which they get through their satellite system, and see crime and shootings back in Toronto on a regular basis."

Why some of the other cases down here - the story of Peter Kimber, the B.C. native rotting in an Oaxaca jail, case comes to mind - suddenly receive attention is curious? I exchanged emails with a British couple near Huatulco, whom Kimber's supporters allege screwed over the Canadian. The couple, Kevin and Tess Hunneybell, seemed rather perplexed that two years after Kimber's incarceration began, the Canadian media suddenly showed interest. No one bothered to contact them for their side of the story either.

Or most egregiously, the excessive coverage on the London, Ontario couple struck in a hit-and-run in Ajijic last month. Since when does a snowbird getting hit in a foreign country warrant a front-page story? (the Guadalajara Reporter quoted a public security official who said the male victim had alcohol in his system ... Not sure if the Canadian media has mentioned that.)

Other Canadians have met misfortune in Mexico and returned - I include myself in the group. I once interviewed a prospector from Vancouver who was drugged and robbed while travelling on a bus from Guadalajara to Michoacan. He expressed no bitterness towards Mexico; here's what he told me back in the spring: “I’m not down on Mexico at all ... I think this could have happened anywhere.

“Just be a little more intelligent than me.”

The couple of Canadians caught up in a recent Acapulco shootout expressed similar sentiments and drew ridicule from back in Canada for their positive feelings towards Mexico.

One thing puzzling in all of this: why are some of the Canadians meeting misfortune in Mexico receiving such attention, but not others? The Ianieros' deaths were preceded by the murder of a Canadian in the Lake Chapala area in late 2005. The facts are murky - a lot of people have theories - but only the Vancouver Sun ran an opinion piece on the case. Kristen Deyell, an exchange student from Calgary, was shot dead outside a Guadalajara-area nightclub in April 2004 (I lived 200 meters from the crime scene and was at the same place that night). The main suspect is the son of public enemy No. 1. This case hasn't received near the attention of the Ianieros'.

Perhaps most unfortunate in all this - speaking for myself - is seeing how ignorant Canadians are about Mexico and Latin America. There's more to this country than sleaze and sin in Tijuana and murder in Playa del Carmen, but you'd never know that by reading a Canadian newspaper.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am the mother of Kristen Deyell. Like you, we felt that crime happens everywhere, you can be shot in your own hometown. After our daughters death, and through research, we learned a lot more about the situation in Mexico. For example July 7 2004the Mexican Minister of Public Security recognized publically that his country has a grave security problem. It states that 4 1/2 million crimes are committed annually, but only about 1/3 are reported to the police and 95% remain unpunished. He admitted that this illustrates the lack of confidence of citizens in the police and justice systems.

This is only the tip of the iceburg. Don't get me wrong, my daugher loved Mexico and some of the finest people I've met in my life are Mexican. That's why it's important to continue with international pressure for change. The Mexican people deserve it! Do some research on the subject. You may be surprised as to what you will learn.