Is it safe to travel to Mexico for Canadians?
Mexican police say the gunmen were trying to hit a man riding a motorcycle, when two bystanders were injured.
Di Lorenzo, who is recovering in a local hospital, said despite the violence and the fact he was hit just four blocks from his hotel, “I feel safe here.”
From the article at CTV News Canada:
When asked if he had a message for family and friends back home, Di Lorenzo told CTV News
Channel: “I’m in very good hands here. I’ve been having help… I didn’t know that they had so many good people, so many friendly people, nice people.”
His doctor said the bullet went right through Di Lorenzo’s leg, causing a fracture just above the knee that required surgery. Di Lorenzo has needed two blood transfusions, but he may be released from hospital before Monday.
Di Lorenzo said he and his wife, who was not injured in the incident, were approaching the plaza when he heard the gunshots.
“My first instinct is to push my wife down to safety on the side of a little concrete wall,” he said. “After that I fell, and I didn’t know I was shot.”
The couple was approached by another Canadian tourist, who called an ambulance when she saw that Di Lorenzo was bleeding.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs website advises against non-essential travel to Sinaloa state, as it is located in a part of Mexico where “shootouts, attacks and illegal roadblocks may occur at any time.”
Additionally, Ottawa warns that foreign residents and tourists have been injured in drug-related violence in Sinaloa and Canadians “should be particularly aware of their surroundings” as a result.
One expert on travel to Mexico says that although Canadians can ask for consular assistance when they run into trouble in foreign countries, “travellers have to do their own homework” when heading to regions known for violence or corruption.
“They’re the ones who have to deal with everything local that’s happening,” said Gabor Forgacs, an assistant professor at Toronto’s Ted Rogers School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
“Laws, legislation are different in that country, law enforcement might be different. There are (also) language issues, cultural issues.”
Mexico’s drug wars don’t deter sun seekers
The Vancouver Sun did another article covering the safety in Mexico for Canadians:
In the eight times that Reta Kurta has travelled to Mexico, she’s always felt safe.
And when she leaves for Ixtapa this week, she’ll have no qualms about her security.
“When you hear about all that’s been happening there, safety is always a concern.
“But as long as you don’t leave your resort at night, you stay with your tour operator, and you don’t go looking for drugs, you’ll be fine.”
Kurta said there are certain parts of Mexico she would avoid, especially after last week’s gangland execution in Mazatlan that left a Canadian with injuries when he was caught in the crossfire.
“I wouldn’t go to Mazatlan right now; there’s a lot going on there now, and I wouldn’t go to Acapulco, either. It’s not very safe there,” she said.
Kurta said Mexicans are still some of her favourite people on the planet, for their kindness and generosity.
And she argues any place in the world can be dangerous at any time, you just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“You can go to Tucson, Arizona, and get shot in a Safeway parking lot.”
WestJet Airlines, meantime, said it hasn’t seen a decline in its business to Mexico.
“In fact, Cancun is up significantly,” said spokesman Robert Palmer. “I can’t give numbers for competitive reasons, but it is way up.”
Mexican violence deters few travellers
Another good article from The Vancouver Sun:
Travellers eyeing cruises to Mexico are generally still going, said Dave Waltman, owner of Expedia Cruise Ship Centers Windsor.
“I would tend to think some people are a little bit hesitant,” he conceded.
“It’s relatively safe. It’s not really more of a problem than going anywhere else.”
Waltman said vacationers who stay at a resort are generally safe from drug violence. He said most tourists don’t end up in the areas where the fighting is at its bloodiest.
“They’re not people who generally stay at a resort,” he said of the victims. “The resorts are generally in a secluded place. They’re off the beaten track. You’re not going to be in the middle of a drug war sitting in a resort.”
We agree, as we have said many times in the past: Drug violence is very real, BUT, it does not mean that the whole country is engulfed in it and also, not to minimize the casualties, but truth is almost all of them are between drug cartel members. As the Canadian news report, as long as you stay out of trouble (looking to score drugs, etc) you should be perfectly fine. Even Mr Di Lorenzo, hit by a stray bullet says it himself: “I feel safe here.”
We believe no country on earth is 100% safe, danger is everywhere and precautions need to be taken at any place you visit. Using common sense and staying out of risky activities will increase your safety while on vacation in Mexico.
Shark Attack UPDATE:
Yesterday, Jan 31, a Canadian tourist was attacked by a shark in the beach shore. Although a very unfortunate incident, it is important to keep in mind that this is not something related to the safety of Cancun. This was a rare and isolated event that can happen at mostly every place where there’s a beach.
Check out the comments on a USA Today article about the incident:
Apparently the shark was close to the shore to give birth and the woman, who was with a large group of swimmers, got too close, according to El Diario de Yucatan.
Shark attacks are rare in Mexico. The News agency Notimex reported a shark attack near Cancun in 2008 that killed a local man. In 2008, two swimmers died on the Pacific coast near Zihuatanejo.
Link: Cancun shark attack seriously injures tourist – USA Today
You can also check out Trip Advisor’s Cancun Forums, there is a thread about Shark Attacks:
Again, I understand how unfortunate this is and I feel truly sorry for the person involved.
More useful links and info:
Is Cancun Safe? You bet! – A post with testimonials about the safety of Cancun and Riviera Maya, from “ex-pats” living and working in the area.
Is Cancun safe for Spring Break 2011? Top 10 tips for your safety Coming to Cancun to enjoy your Spring Break 2011? We talked to a local doctor and came up with this list of Top 10 tips to ensure a safe & fun Spring Break Cancun 2011. Check it out!
Is it safe to travel to Mexico? The answer is yes. Good post with lots of recent facts & figures, including a map showing the conflict areas in Mexico.
How safe is travel in Mexico? Our most popular post!
Is it safe to travel to Cancun? Cancun tops ABC News “7 safe places to visit in Mexico” list
Is It Safe To Visit Mexico? – A very complete post by Aysha Griffin, an American travel writer.
“Is it safe to visit the resorts and popular tourists destinations, like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, Playa del Carmen, etc? Probably as safe as it has ever been. The decent, kind-hearted Mexicans, who know the value of tourism, welcome you. … be aware of your surroundings, as you should no matter where; and continue to visit and enjoy the diverse scenery, culture, food, climate and genuine hospitality of Mexico.”
Why I’m Not Afraid of Mexico – An excellent post by Candice, a Canadian 20-something traveler.
“… danger is real, but it’s real anywhere. Get schooled about the places to go and the places to avoid, don’t go venturing down any shady alleyways, mind your own business and be polite. Do your research. Being smart will get you a lot further than being afraid.“
All photos courtesy of Sweet Caribbean Foto