09 May 2007

Canadian media stick to script

Yet another Canadian tourist met misfortune in Mexico and once again the Canadian media are all over the story. Jeff Toews, a northern Alberta man, is in a coma after suffering a head injury. The family - and some headline writers - say he was beaten at the Cancun resort where he had been staying. Mexican authorities - the same ones handling the Ianiero case - say otherwise.

A friend of Toews told the Edmonton Journal: "He was on the resort property and somewhere between the nightclub and his room, something happened."

I'd like to know what that something was, too. Did he accidentally fall over the stupidly-low railings that are so common in Mexico? Alcohol? (I must ask.) But since Mexico is involved, there can only be one outcome, right?

Somewhat unbelievably, the same Journal story says of the Thunder Bay women erroneously considered suspects in the Ianiero case by the Quintana Roo attorney general: "The two women have launched a website, http://www.mexicoinjustice.ca/, proclaiming their innocence and lobbying the federal government to ban travel to the Cancun and Mayan Riviera regions." (Emphasis added)

I just returned from a jaunt to Culiacan and Mexico City. Surely those places warrant more of an advisory than Cancun and the Mayan Riviera - even though I've never encountered problems on my eight trips to Mexico City over the past year. Also, aren't Canadians free to travel where they wish?

With the Canadian media these days, the only stories from Mexico that matter involve tourist tragedies. It's as if bad things don't happen back home; is there a sudden lack of crime?

Update: Jeff Toews unfortunately has been declared brain dead. He was flown back to Alberta last night. The family alleges a cover up, something many Canadians are no doubt inclined to believe. And why not? In Quintana Roo, the Cancun police chief is now under investigation for links to narcotics traffickers.

But the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa disputes the Toews' claims. It issued a document detailing what supposedly happened on early Monday morning at the Moon Palace in Cancun. Among other things, the victim had been drinking heavily, according to Mexican authorities.

The fact the Mexicans are taking public relations seriously is a welcome change. Having worked as a journalist in Mexico for more than two years now, I find few people down here understand the concept of publicity or communications, but I digress ...

Some Mexico observers are tiring of this endless barrage of stories on Canadian tourists encountering problems in Mexico. The Mexfiles perhaps sums up the frustration best with this headline: http://mexfiles.wordpress.com/2007/05/10/canadian-press-on-mexico-same-shit-different-day/

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