Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Life and Crimes in Mexico City

Mexico City has long held an unfortunate reputation for high levels of crime. Murder, kidnaps, armed robbery - they have it all here. But are you seriously at risk? Probably not. But first a disclaimer. My rough guide below is from both my experience and the shared experiences of others I converse with in the city. It is just a guide. Of course it's possible to fall victim to crime, no matter what city you visit. It's simply about assessing the dangers and reducing the risks, like any other place you might visit.

At the moment Mexico is in the news around the world, with beheadings and other grisly murders taking place on a daily basis. But these crimes are all part of the narco wars, and generally in specific areas. The perpetrators really don't give a monkeys for the odd tourist walking past. Tourists just aren't on the radar, hitlist, whatever you want to call it.

Kidnappings are up again this year too. But again, tourists (and resident gringo TEFL teachers for that matter, fortunately!) are not on the radar. These kidnappings are being done by very organised gangs who are picking their (always very wealthy) targets very carefully.

If you remove all these crimes, what do the statistics look like? Well, any stat with anything other than a '0' in the murder column can be improved upon! But they look a lot less scary. The reality is that even with all these narco murders, there are still quite a few cities in the US with higher murder rates.

What about robbery, pickpocketing and the such? Well, again, they do happen. I got robbed at gun point earlier this year. But I am the only TEFL teacher here who has been so unlucky, and I was walking around a dodgy area at 5.45am, in an unlit street, going past a load of dark alleys....I could have avoided it! Should have, even.

Another visitor recently got her wallet pickpocketed on the Metrobus too. But that too should have been avoided. There are simple precautions you can take! I've given a couple of examples of the negatives. I could write thousands of words about all the people here, and visitors we've had, who left Mexico City without ever seeing or hearing of a crime. There is a chance of something going awry, of course. But if you just take the same basic precautions you would elsewhere, the chance of something going awry with you is pretty slim. As for casual violent crime, I feel a whole load safer here than I ever did in the UK! The people here are really very friendly and non confrontational.

Another thing to bear in mind is that if someone does decide to rob you, they are probably just desperate, and really just want a little cash, not to actually hurt you. Hand over a little cash, and they'll be gone. And you'll have a story to tell when you get home! But it's unlikely. There's really no need to be unduly alarmed. There are thousands of tourists here right now having a fine, crime free, time.

Any questions?! :)

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