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aploj
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Mexico Security, concern? only for the misinformed Reply with quote
Given the popularity of this topic in the US, and especially when people talk about potentially travelling to Mexico, I want to share this article which explains quite well what is the situation in Vallarta from the experience of a US journalist. I insist that we live in a safer city than most of the US ones:

“Sometimes I’ve been called a maverick because I don’t always agree with my colleagues, but then, only dead fish swim with the stream all the time. The stream here is Mexico.


You would have to be living on another planet to avoid hearing how dangerous Mexico has become, and, yes, it’s true drug wars have escalated violence in Mexico, causing collateral damage, a phrase I hate. Collateral damage is a cheap way of saying that innocent people, some of them tourists, have been robbed, hurt or killed.


But that’s not the whole story. Neither is this. This is my story.


I’m a journalist who lives in New York City, but has spent considerable time in Mexico, specifically Puerto Vallarta, for the last four years. I’m in Vallarta now. And despite what I’m getting from the U.S. media, the 24-hour news networks in particular, I feel as safe here as I do at home in New York, possibly safer. I walk the streets of my Vallarta neighborhood alone day or night. And I don’t live in a gated community, or any other All-Gringo neighborhood. I live in Mexico. Among Mexicans. I go where I want (which does not happen to include bars where prostitution and drugs are the basic products), and take no more precautions than I would at home in New York; which is to say I don’t wave money around, I don’t act the Ugly American, I do keep my eyes open, I’m aware of my surroundings, and I try not to behave like a fool.

I’ve not always been successful at that last one. One evening a friend left the house I was renting in Vallarta at that time, and, unbeknownst to me, did not slam the automatically-locking door on her way out. Sure enough, less than an hour later a stranger did come into my house. A burglar? Robber? Kidnapper? Killer? Drug lord?

No, it was a local police officer, the “beat cop” for our neighborhood, who, on seeing my unlatched door, entered to make sure everything (including me) was okay. He insisted on walking with me around the house, opening closets, looking behind doors and, yes, even under beds, to be certain no one else had wandered in, and that nothing was missing. He was polite, smart and kind, but before he left, he lectured me on having not checked to see that my friend had locked the door behind her. In other words, he told me to use my common sense.

Do bad things happen here? Of course they do. Bad things happen everywhere, but the murder rate here is much lower than, say, New Orleans, and if there are bars on many of the ground floor windows of houses here, well, the same is true where I live, in Greenwich Village, which is considered a swell neighborhood — house prices start at about $4 million (including the bars on the ground floor windows).

There are good reasons thousands of people from the United States are moving to Mexico every month, and it’s not just the lower cost of living, a hefty tax break and less snow to shovel. Mexico is a beautiful country, a special place. The climate varies, but is plentifully mild, the culture is ancient and revered, the young are loved unconditionally, the old are respected, and I have yet to hear anyone mention Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or Madonna’s attempt to adopt a second African child, even though, with such a late start, she cannot possibly begin to keep up with Anglelina Jolie.


And then there are the people. Generalization is risky, but— in general — Mexicans are warm, friendly, generous and welcoming. If you smile at them, they smile back. If you greet a passing stranger on the street, they greet you back. If you try to speak even a little Spanish, they tend to treat you as though you were fluent. Or at least not an idiot. I have had taxi drivers track me down after leaving my wallet or cell phone in their cab. I have had someone run out of a store to catch me because I have overpaid by twenty cents. I have been introduced to and come to love a people who celebrate a day dedicated to the dead as a recognition of the cycles of birth and death and birth — and the 15th birthday of a girl, an important rite in becoming a woman — with the same joy.


Too much of the noise you’re hearing about how dangerous it is to come to Mexico is just that — noise. But the media love noise, and too many journalists currently making it don’t live here. Some have never even been here. They just like to be photographed at night, standing near a spotlighted border crossing, pointing across the line to some imaginary country from hell. It looks good on TV.

Another thing. The U.S. media tend to lump all of Mexico into one big bad bowl. Talking about drug violence in Mexico without naming a state or city where this is taking place is rather like looking at the horror of Katrina and saying, “Damn. Did you know the U.S. is under water?” or reporting on the shootings at Columbine or the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City by saying that kids all over the U.S. are shooting their classmates and all the grownups are blowing up buildings. The recent rise in violence in Mexico has mostly occurred in a few states, and especially along the border. It is real, but it does not describe an entire country.

It would be nice if we could put what’s going on in Mexico in perspective, geographically and emotionally. It would be nice if we could remember that, as has been noted more than once, these drug wars wouldn’t be going on if people in the United States didn’t want the drugs, or if other people in the United States weren’t selling Mexican drug lords the guns. Most of all, it would be nice if more people in the United States actually came to this part of America (Mexico is also America, you will recall) to see for themselves what a fine place Mexico really is, and how good a vacation (or a life) here can be.

So come on down and get to know your southern neighbors. I think you’ll like it here. Especially the people.”


PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:22 am
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Dr. J
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Nicely said!! On my travels to Puerto Vallarta (3 times) I have felt as safe or safer than when visiting any city in the US. The media just blows things out of perprotion. Like you said just use some common sense and you will be fine. My wife will continue to visit PV, its our favorite place in the world!

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:32 pm
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gdremark
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If you are looking for trouble you will find it but that being said nobody can deny that Mexico is getting bad and it is not as safe like it was even 5 years ago. I use to drive all over day and night before but sorry not any more.
If anyone tells you different they are either liars or just plane stupid!

I wish things would get better and return to the way it was but I don't see it happening and that is sad.


PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:00 am
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katnsocal
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Quote:
Mexico is getting bad and it is not as safe like it was even 5 years ago. I use to drive all over day and night before but sorry not any more.
If anyone tells you different they are either liars or just plane stupid!


Mexico is a big country and you are making a generalization about the country as a whole. You must own a business in one of the unsafe areas the way you are trying to beat this fact into everyone's head. Why don't you go find a website in the city and state that you supposedly own a business and post your the sky is falling propaganda there.

The US state department has yet to issue a travel warning or a travel advisory for the state of Jalisco or the city of Puerto Vallarta. So your point is???? In case you are lost....this is a Puerto Vallarta website.


PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:49 am
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charlieb
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As I have said before: Just because you "Feel" safe" does not mean you are safe. Your "feelings" are generally not based upon sound principles but rather what you want to feel or, your ignorance, or both.(No, I am NOT calling anyone "ignorant"). There are many things to look for and to be aware of that you need to take in consideration before you make a good judgement decision that a location or situation is safe. PLEASE don't rely on what you "feel". That could get you in trouble.....your "feelings". Feelings are only good for love. Chuck... Cool

PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:47 am
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katnsocal
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Chuck--what about those "gut feelings" you get when things just don't seem right to you? I think those are the types of feelings people are referring to when they say they feel safe. They haven't felt like they were in a situation that didn't feel right to them.

I have had those feelings a couple of times in PV and only once did I honestly feel that I was in a place I didn't want to be in. However, it wasn't anything that could not have happened had I been walking down any dimly lit street in the states. The hotel I was staying at just happened to be on one of the those streets that is not very well lit, so it wasn't like I had a choice to get there any other way. I had left my broom in the room so I couldn't fly in. Very Happy


PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:53 am
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charlieb
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Spot on, Kat. If a person has a BAD feeling that they are possibly in danger, then, by all means, act on it. You can not go wrong. If you wern't in danger, then nothing lost. If you you were in danger, then you saved your self. However, if you have a feeling that all is ok and it isn't, you are up a creek. The big thing, that Kat brought up, are surroundings; your physical environment. Dark streets, alleys, rooms, empty restaurants, bars, all should send up a red flag that you need to act on. If you go into a bar that is empty, and you really must go there, sit as close to the front enterance as you can. Don't let your feeling of well being tell you to sit someplace else. Just ideas to be safe, and they apply everyplace you can go. Even a church. If you go into an empty church at night, stay very close to the doors. If you just must go up to the front, keep looking around you for red flags and possible exits. I just don't want anybody to put them selves in danger because they "feel safe". Chuck... Cool

PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:10 am
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aploj
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Sincerely, I don´t know which Puerto Vallarta you´re talking about... I live here 10 months a year since Jan 2007 and I have never had any problem, and I have never seen or heard about any situation with me or any friend that should make me feel unsafe. Of course, don´t walk around at night in El Pitillal, but you can walk downtown with zero problems. I don´t know of anyone that has had his house robbed, but it could happen as it can happen in the US.

Getting into a place (shop, restaurant, church!) and looking for a seat close to the door?! I have never listened to anything more ridiculous!! If you´re in an area whre drug dealers operate (Las Palmas, Ixtapa) maybe... but in any of the "tourist" areas of the Bay that sounds like you are talking about Ciudad Juarez.

you said that Mexico is more dangerous than 5 years ago... I wouldn´t generalize, you can say that for Monterrey, all border cities, Chihuahua and that´s it. In fact, since 2006 kidnappings have reduced by more than 50% in Mexico City (and remember that they are never to tourists).

There has been a rise in small robberies in popular areas of the bay, like Pitillal, Palmas, etc but mainly due to the financial crisis that started in 2008. There is a rise in unemployment and that is a concern for the authorities here, but so far this has not affected any tourist area.

There have been a couple of big "fights" downtown, that have not been publicized, and that are related to the increase of the Mexican tourism arriving to Vallarta (record year 2010) and no one got harmed (teenagers just doing same as they do in the US).

By that same comparison, we should avoid anyone getting close to any school in the US as they could get shot in one of those killing-sprees that happen quite often by the way.

I would never go to any State of the northern part of Mexico (not now), but the rest of the country, including Mexico City, which I visit twice a month, looks as safe as it was, with the obvious precautions that everyone should have (same as in New York, etc).


PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:02 am
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katnsocal
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aploj,
Quote:
Sincerely, I don´t know which Puerto Vallarta you´re talking about... I live here 10 months a year since Jan 2007 and I have never had any problem, and I have never seen or heard about any situation with me or any friend that should make me feel unsafe. Of course, don´t walk around at night in El Pitillal, but you can walk downtown with zero problems. I don´t know of anyone that has had his house robbed, but it could happen as it can happen in the US.


You are kidding right?

If you want to believe it is all popcorn farts and puppy dog tails, go right ahead. You are the typical newbie ex-pat in PV that is convinced they have moved to Paradise and nothing bad will ever happen.

Quote:
but it could happen as it can happen in the US.


YA THINK?

Do I think PV is safe for the average tourist, sure I do or I would not have been going there for 20+ years. I would not have owned a business down there for 12 years. BUT, as Chuck said you have to use safety precautions, just as you do at home. My advice to everyone has always been and always will be (until things change radically). Don't walk on dark, deserted streets at night (anywhere, even downtown), don't walk on the beach after dark, don't flash/carry large amounts of money, leave the Rolex and diamond tennis bracelet at home, don't drink so much that you are oblivious to what is going on around you, use caution and look around when using an ATM. Those are same things I would hope people do at home anyway.

PV has her charm and her warm and friendly people that capture your heart and draw you back but she's not perfect.


PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:56 am
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aploj
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I completely agree with your last post, all you mention there is what I would do back home, those are obvious security reccomendations for anyone living or visiting any city in the Western World, and Vallarta is not an exception to those rules.

That is exactly what I was willing to explain (maybe with the wrong words), do the same as you would do back home, there is not an extraordinary threat here, it´s just as safe or unsafe as it is any other city in the US or Western Europe.


PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:35 pm
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longhair
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Joined: 13 Nov 2006
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Location: winnipeg,manitoba canada

Mexico misinformed ? no . about puerto vallarta,yes !! Reply with quote
well said ,
i travel every year to puerto vallarta , have been since 1984
i believe we are one of the longest stayed owners in the condominiums Girasol Sur . my parents where driving down every year for at least 10-15 yrs and never had any problems , there's is a long story about there first trip and went off the beaten path and never went through customs going into Mexico as the took a turn off ( was there mistake they stayed for 5 months had a small problem coming back but made it and the border patrol was all but polite as they had no tourist papers )anyway i believe that people are just misinformed . im sure crime happens in puerto vallarta , the reality is it happens everywhere , some worse than others , and peoples just tend to lump in all of Mexico as just bad, crime, killings , drug cartels, blah blah blah. and ask me aren't you scared to go to Mexico ,? all i can do is laugh at them , i tell them well im not going to vacation on the drug cartels doorstep? or where all the all the crime is happening ....
and then i tell then puerto vallarta is a safer place to live than where i live in Manitoba ,looking forward to retirement in PV ..
and will continue to travel ( i fly every year airfare is much cheaper these days and so does my mother , father past away 10 yrs ago )
I AM A MEXICAN FROM THE NORTH !!


PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:01 pm
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ellen
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Mexico Security Reply with quote
Hi there:
I haven't been on the board in awhile and didn't realize you had joined. We have passed several times in the street as I live in the same general area as you and have seen you walking your dog. I enjoy your writing and have been to a couple of your talks for the writers club. I look forward to "bumping into you" again soon.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:07 am
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charlieb
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What I am reading are many comparison's between PV and other cities. Not valid because we are(or should be) talking about Puerto Vallarta. We are not talking about safety in other cities. So: Is PV safe? What can a person do or not do in PV to be personaly safe? This is what we should talk about, not comparing it with other locales. If we do that, we could go to the extreme and say that compared to cities in Saudi Araba, a single woman is 100% safer walking around by herself in PV without a head covering and bare sholders. Chuck... Cool

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:41 am
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katnsocal
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Chuck,
Well said! I believe that people come to this website to learn about PV not New Orleans, LA, New York, Manitoba, Toronto BC or Mexico City PV is where they are traveling or trying to decide if they want to travel to, not those other locations. PV needs to be the focus in response to their questions. JMHO


PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:16 am
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katnsocal
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Just one comment about the original post in this thread:

This article appeared May, 2009, for the on-line publication banderasnews.com.

With all due respect are you Linda Ellerbee, the original writer of this article?
The way your post is written you give people the impression that it is your own writing.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:42 am
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aploj
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I received this article a week ago in the newsletter from Los Veneros (October 2010), I posted it here so that the rest could read it, because I share most of what it´s said there.

My point of view about Puerto Vallarta´s security is that we are in a medium-sized city and everyone should take the same security measures as you would in a city of this size. There is no extra threat to tourists or to local residents, I´ve been living here since Feb 2007 and never had any problem or know about someone having it (apart from what you read in the local newspapers)...

All my employees and their families have not had any poblem either. Please do not scare people with "dark" stories because there is nothing serious going on apart the normal crimes, robberies, etc of a medium-sized city


PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:50 pm
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Tranquilo
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When you say "El Pitillal" are you talking about a street in Viejo Vallarta or a different area?
aploj wrote:
Sincerely, I don´t know which Puerto Vallarta you´re talking about... I live here 10 months a year since Jan 2007 and I have never had any problem, and I have never seen or heard about any situation with me or any friend that should make me feel unsafe. Of course, don´t walk around at night in El Pitillal, but you can walk downtown with zero problems. I don´t know of anyone that has had his house robbed, but it could happen as it can happen in the US.

Getting into a place (shop, restaurant, church!) and looking for a seat close to the door?! I have never listened to anything more ridiculous!! If you´re in an area whre drug dealers operate (Las Palmas, Ixtapa) maybe... but in any of the "tourist" areas of the Bay that sounds like you are talking about Ciudad Juarez.

you said that Mexico is more dangerous than 5 years ago... I wouldn´t generalize, you can say that for Monterrey, all border cities, Chihuahua and that´s it. In fact, since 2006 kidnappings have reduced by more than 50% in Mexico City (and remember that they are never to tourists).

There has been a rise in small robberies in popular areas of the bay, like Pitillal, Palmas, etc but mainly due to the financial crisis that started in 2008. There is a rise in unemployment and that is a concern for the authorities here, but so far this has not affected any tourist area.

There have been a couple of big "fights" downtown, that have not been publicized, and that are related to the increase of the Mexican tourism arriving to Vallarta (record year 2010) and no one got harmed (teenagers just doing same as they do in the US).

By that same comparison, we should avoid anyone getting close to any school in the US as they could get shot in one of those killing-sprees that happen quite often by the way.

I would never go to any State of the northern part of Mexico (not now), but the rest of the country, including Mexico City, which I visit twice a month, looks as safe as it was, with the obvious precautions that everyone should have (same as in New York, etc).


PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:33 am
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aploj
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El Pitillal is the largest "quarter" of Puerto Vallarta, a very large area between the airport and the town centre, north of the main avenue and Fluvial. It holds more than 50% of Vallarta´s population...

PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:05 pm
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