Every so often, the United States Embassy in Mexico sends out Warden Notices, warning American citizens of danger. A few days ago one was issued, repeating a prior warning
from months past, alerting U.S.citizens to the “rising level of brutal violence in Mexico.” In the message, which curiously expires on
April 27, 2007, the Embassy warned:
U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Mexico should exercise extreme
caution when in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Public sources suggest that narcotics-related violence has claimed 1,500 lives in Mexico
this year. In recent months there have been execution-style murders of Mexican and U.S. citizens
in Tamaulipas (particularly Nuevo Laredo), Michoacán, Baja California, Guerrero and other states.
Last year the U.S.media was all atwitter over some loose heads dropped at the stroke of midnight
on the dance floor of a bar frequented by taxi-dancers and those who dance with
them in Uruapan.
The New York Times jumped on the story, and National Public Radio rushed a
camera crew to the bar, only to find themselves less than welcomed.
A customs agent at the Houston airport grilled me last month
about why I lived in Michoacán, punctuating his speech just a little too often
with “you people.” As I tried to explain
to him that Morelia’s a delightful colonial city, a UNESCO World Heritage site even,
he insisted that it was dangerous and crime-ridden, telling me that he knew all
about “you people.” He claimed that Michoacános were a wild and lawless bunch,
words which made me choke. Of course, I was in no position to complain as he
pawed through my luggage in search of contraband that just wasn’t there, but I
offered up that there were some places in Houston you just didn’t enter. I left the customs area feeling violated.
His attitude mirrored that of many who do not live here. Beheadings
made for good stories, but no one paid attention to the backstory, a feud
between rival gangs. No one at the bar was injured. This was no Main Street venue. It was an event as distant from mainstream Mexico as any everyday drug killing or drive-by shooting in the U.S.
On a Mexico-related mailing list, a few weeks ago one woman
So many malls caused me to ask my
Mexican contacts where all the money came from and the answer is drugs. This is
Michoacán, after all.
There’s a huge tendency among the envious and the ignorant
to connote nice shopping malls and housing with drug money. Hard work,
perseverance and business acumen drive those investments, just like anywhere
You’ve read those product safety warnings telling you not to
eat the contents of a laser printer cartridge and to keep your bare mitts off the
moving parts of a chainsaw. Just as manufacturers have to identify every known
risk, the embassy warning necessarily has to go to great lengths warning of
every potential danger to its citizens. But how many can distinguish between
over-warning and reality? Whatever happened to common sense?
jennifer in Morelia