How Safe is Mexico?

I get this question all the time, and it is the number one search term on this blog. There is not a day that goes by, without someone asking this question, or someone searching on the internet for this. I have written numerous articles and shared other studies in the past, but I came across this today, and thought I would share.

I got this from http://www.howsafeismexico.com, a website which is a traveler’s guide to Mexico and deals with safety over sensationalism, and the USA media bias towards Mexico.

Mexico is safer than many cities in the U.S.

More than 150,000 Americans safely visit Mexico every day. And while the media sensationalize stories of violence in Mexico, Mexico is safer than many major U.S. cities. Travelers feel relatively safe visiting popular U.S. cities like Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington D.C, or Atlanta. Visitors from around the world enjoy these vibrant cities in relative, reasonable safety. Yet each of these cities is statistically less safe than Mexico.

USCities9

Mexico and politically charged Media Bias.

In the debate on immigration reform in the US, the facts on safety in Mexico have become a casualty of politics. To change public opinion and policy, politicians sometimes throw fuel on the fire. If you make up an exciting story about “severed heads in the desert”, it gets a lot of attention and people believe it. The governor of Arizona admitted this story was baseless, but only after months of damage was successfully inflicted to the image of Mexico. The homicide rates above are facts from the FBI, not political fabrications.

Media Favoritism versus Facts.

New Orleans is beloved and its renaissance is showcased in the news. The FBI reports the murder rate of New Orleans is declining, but it is nearly 4 times higher than all of Mexico and over 5 times higher than Mexico City. New Orleans is still an amazing place to visit and the Media is right to champion this inspirational city. But Mexico is at least as remarkable and there is a clear difference in how each of these storied destinations is portrayed in contemporary news.

Every city and country has places that are safe and dangerous. Mexico is no exception. The areas that are dangerous should be avoided. And those that are safe should be enjoyed and celebrated.
MultiNature1

Mexico is safer than many vacation destinations.

While the media often portrays Mexico as the most dangerous place on earth, it is statistically quite safe. According to NationMaster.com which uses U.N.-based data, Mexico doesn’t even make the list of the 36 nations with the highest murder rates. Mild-mannered nations like Sweden and Switzerland top Mexico for murders on NationMaster.com. The assault rate in the U.S. is nearly 5 times greater than that of Mexico in the independent Prominix report adjusted for under-reported crime.

MurderRatesCountriesMexico5

Even when we add on independent estimates for unreported homicides, Mexico ranks 21st behind many popular vacation destinations. Places we think of as idyllic Caribbean retreats have double, triple, even quadruple the murder rates of Mexico. Mexico’s famous vacation areas are even safer than the averaged statistics, and even safer still for tourists.

Which Mexican States and Regions are safe?

The U.S. State Department’s warning recognizes that Mexico’s tourism areas do not experience the safety issues seen along the Texas border. In fact, 27 States and the Mexico City Federal District have no advisories or limited advisories outside of their tourism areas. Travel to only 4 States is advised postponed or avoided.

Safe Mexican States with no travel advisories:

Baja California Sur
Campeche
Chiapas
Estado de Mexico
Guanajuato
Hidalgo
Mexico City DF
Oaxaca
Puebla
Queretaro
Quintana Roo
Tabasco
Tlaxcala
Yucatan

mexicomap10

Mexican States where some caution is advised:
These are States where vacationing is enjoyable, but travel outside of the touristic areas may place you at higher risk. Cartel violence does not target tourists or touristic areas, but it can be present in other parts of these States so some caution is advised.

Aguascalientes Avoid the Zacatecas border.
Baja California
Colima Avoid the Michoacán border.
Guerrero Keep to Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Ixtapa.
Jalisco Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta are warm, welcoming areas. Avoid the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders.
Michoacán Keep to Morelia &; Lázaro Cardenas.
Morelos
Nayarit Limited advisory*.
Nuevo Leon Keep to the area of Monterrey.
San Luis Potosi Keep to San Luis Potosi city.
Sinaloa Keep to tourism areas of Mazatlan.
Sonora Keep to the area of Puerto Peñasco.
Veracruz
Zacatecas Keep to Zacatecas city.

* The entire southern region of Nayarit has no advisories as shown in the map above. This region extends well beyond the famous Riviera Nayarit resort areas on Banderas Bay. Some caution is advised in the region to the north of the historic capital, Tepic.

Which States should be avoided by travelers with safety concerns?

The U.S. State Department recommends against travel to 3 states along the Texas border and the state of Durango because of cartel violence. Visitors should exercise extreme caution. While the entire nation of Mexico is showcased as dangerous. These are the States where cartel violence has been focused.

Chihuahua
Coahuila
Durango
Tamaulipas

It is irresponsible to suggest that every inch of any country or state is completely safe or unsafe. So it is important to note that the violence in the 4 states above seldom targets tourists, making it statistically less likely that tourists will become victims. Yet, the crime rate in those areas is significantly above the national average. Those wishing to avoid the 4 states identified by the U.S. State Department have 28 other states to explore that are statistically safer and at least as beautiful. Travel safely.

Information on this page is based on the advisory on the U.S. State Department website. It is a controversial site worth reviewing as part of a complete snapshot of the safety issues of one of the world’s most fascinating destinations.

Mexico has very low violent crime rates.

The U.S. Assault rate is 5 times higher than Mexico’s. Mexico’s violent crime rates for Assault, Kidnapping and Rape are substantially lower than Canada’s and yet the U.S. State Department issues no such warnings for Canada. The rate for Rape in the U.S. is more than double the rate in Mexico. The numbers in the charts below have been adjusted for unreported crime from the respected 2012 Prominix report and are the most accurate statistics available on this subject.

Unless you are involved in the drug trade, you are statistically safer in Mexico than anywhere else in North America. Even though the U.S. murder rate of 4 per 100,000 is lower than Mexico’s, tourists and visitors are statistically safer in Mexico and much less likely to be a victim of violent crime than in the U.S., Canada and many other countries regarded as safe.
ViolentCrime6

While the infamous cartel crimes in Mexico are disturbing, the rate of violent crimes in Mexico is still lower than the rates in many countries thought of as “safe.”

Mexico is safer than other popular destinations.

Mexico, one of the world’s great travel destinations, is often singled out for violent crime without telling the whole story. While there is sporadic violence along parts of the U.S. border, the majority of Mexico’s key tourism areas are not only safe, but safer than many other popular tourism areas.

The Yucatan is as safe as rural U.S. states.

The magnificent beaches and ancient ruins of the Mexican State of Yucatan are among the safest and most spectacular resort beaches in the world. Yucatan’s low homicide rate is lower than the rural U.S. States of Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and North Dakota, West Virginia and several others.
YucatanHomicideSM7

Mexico City is 4 times safer than Washington D.C.

The U.S. State Department in Washington issues warnings about Mexico, yet Washington D.C. is four times more deadly than Mexico City. Washington’s murder rate has been cut almost in half in the last 10 years, but it still averages 24 per 100,000 vs. only 8-9 per 100,000 in Mexico City. How do you suppose the U.S. State department would feel if the Mexican government posted travel warnings for the U.S. capital? Mexico City is a cultural treasure that is larger than New York, London or Paris. In fact, it is about the same size as London and Paris combined.

Understanding the size and scope of Mexico.

Mexico is the 14th largest country on the planet. Its famous beaches and cultural treasures are hundreds of miles away from isolated border violence. In fact, the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory recommends avoiding only 4 of the country’s 31 states. Take a 60-second crash course in Mexican geography and you’ll feel smarter and safer.

“Mexico’s violence not as widespread as it seems.”

After months of sensationalized stories about Mexico’s border violence, USA Today finally published a story about the media hype. While the story itself became an excuse to re-tell some of the sensational tales, it did set the record straight by comparing U.S. and Mexican homicide figures.

Politics & Profits drive sensational media.
Why is Mexico shown in a negative light? There is money to be made by sensationalize violence. Drug cartels launch graphic attacks to secure and protect their turf. Media firms hype stories to sell more ads or magazines. And powerful politicians have an interest in slowing the growth of Latino voters in the U.S. Each group enhances perceptions with ulterior motives. The reality is simple: if you are in the drug trade looking for trouble, you can find it. If you are visiting Mexico’s touristic areas, you are safer than you are in many U.S. touristic areas.

You can read the whole article and get the facts for yourself at http://www.howsafeismexico.com

Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

5 thoughts on “How Safe is Mexico?

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