Expats Put Morelia’s 15/S into Perspective

Recovering lawyer Linda Breen Pierce, the engineer of The Pierce Simplicity Study and author of Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World and Simplicity Lessons: A 12-Step Guide to Living Simply, moved to Morelia with her husband, Jim, this year.

They were in Morelia’s Centro Historico on the evening of September 15th, leaving just before the attack. In a post to Mexico Connect’s Living, Working and Retiring Forum the next morning, Pierce wrote:

As I write this, I hear the sound of helicopters overhead from my house 2 blocks from the main plaza in Morelia. It’s been a frequent sound all day today, a not surprising sound after explosions last night at El Grito celebration in the main plaza, resulting in a reported 8 deaths and about 100 wounded. As Jennifer Rose opined in her blog, Morelia lost its innocence last night. We spent several hours at El Grito celebration last night, but didn’t have the stamina to stay up late enough for the 11 pm traditional ceremony with the Governor’s talk and bell ringing. The earlier hours were wonderful – a truly family event, wonderful music, happy people dancing in the streets.

Five days ago, my husband and I signed a contract to purchase a house in Morelia. We love this city. After two years of exploring Mexico, trying out San Miguel de Allende, Ajijic and Guadalajara (for 1 to 3 months in each location), we fell in love with Morelia. We fell in love with the architecture, the size (large enough to have a fair sampling of restaurants, theaters and other cultural events, and small enough to not get lost), the challenge of having to learn Spanish (not many English-speaking expats here), and the friendliness of the people – it all felt great to us. Now I wonder about our future – will Morelia become a constant target of violence? Will we be afraid to walk the streets at night (this city is so gorgeous at night, it takes your breath away)? Will the sound of police helicopters be our constant companion?

Strangely enough, I don’t worry about being killed in an act of violence. At age 60, I can say that I’ve lived a great life. If I get killed by a narco bullet or cancer or some other unanticipated cause, I won’t feel cheated. Many have not had the blessings I’ve had in my life. I am not afraid of death. If I were 40 or had children to raise, I might feel differently. Still, I feel the odds of getting killed in Morelia are far less than when I lived in Hollywood, California for 10 years or when I lived in San Francisco for 8 years.

But it would just break my heart if the violence increased in Morelia to the point where living here was no longer the pleasure it is today. The sound of helicopters remind me of the 10 years I lived in Hollywood when we constantly heard police helicopters overhead. We never walked our neighborhood at night. I’m not up for another 10 years of that.

Today, I am cautiously optimistic. I hope and pray that the violence last night will not be a frequent occurrence in our adopted city. I’ve always been a risk taker, and if buying a house in a city that may have an uncertain future ends up being a poor financial risk, well, so be it.

Viva México

And her husband, Jim, responded:

A somewhat unrelated observation is that this recent violence in Morelia may be illustrative of the good job being done by Calderon. If his government’s efforts weren’t hurting the drug gangs, I doubt they would have stooped to throwing grenades into a public gathering and hurting women and children at a cherished Mexican event. This unprecedented act, which will help to turn the populace against the drug lords, seems to suggest that Calderon is hurting the gangs. Like the Prohibition era in the US, when the bootleggers were really being hurt by the Feds, they started taking actions that ultimately contributed to their demise.

On yet another related topic that has received little comment, these drug gangs exist almost entirely to serve US consumers of their products. Yet the richest nation on earth has turned down requests for assistance by Mexico, apparently in hopes that a poor nation will solve their problems on the cheap. These are complicated issues–don’t get me started!

But I digress. Absent better data, I agree with Jennifer Rose–we are safer here in Morelia than in much of the USA.


3 comments on “Expats Put Morelia’s 15/S into Perspective

  1. Jim Miller says:

    Thanks, Jennifer Rose and Jim, for your thoughts and reflections on what has been a very troubling incident. My wife, Magdalena’s, mother, sisters, nieces and nephews live in Morelia, and we also love the city. We,too, have the dream of having a home there. It is such a beautiful city, as you say, especially at night, and having family there makes it so much more attractive. This incident, along with some recent stories of kidnappings for ransom money, has given us pause. However, I agree with you, Jennifer Rose, we are probably safer there than in many places here at home. I hope it all settles down quickly and that we will see each other some evening not too far off strolling along Avenida Francisco I. Madero.


  2. D.J. Nissenholtz says:

    My husband and i bought a house in the historic district a couple of years ago with the intention of retiring there in a few years. Now we are beginning to worry, on the front page of the ny times today their is a story about the kidnappings in Phillipe Angeles and also in Michoacan. We don’t know any expats in Morelia only Mexicans we are having a hard time getting a candid view. Can you help?


  3. D.J. Nissenholtz says:

    thanks for your response. However these stories including the gang killings of folk singers gang on gang violence and now kidnappings are a concern. Do you see expats leaving? How if at all does it effect your everday life do you feel safe at night? I still feel uneasy. Thanks for your response it is good to feel connected to what is happening.dj


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