Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mexico is packed with tourists-Is EPN's narco news blackout working?

Boogie board heaven in Cabos San Lucas. Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
Tourists are pouring back to Mexican beaches after a security image facelift
Mexico is receiving record foreign visitors. It must be safe again, right?

By Ioan Grillo for Global Post
Sunbathers stretch out along white beach after white beach on the sweltering Caribbean coast. Tequila-swigging revelers pack the glittering nightclubs wall to wall. Surfers carve up the Pacific waves.

Yup, that sounds like Mexico all right — but it’s actually been a summer like no other.

As the season draws to an end, officials here are boasting a bumper season in the country’s top resorts, including Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Cancun, where hotels have been packed to the highest levels ever.

The total number of tourists in Mexico hit a record in the first half of the year, with more than 14 million foreigners touching down, almost 20 percent more compared to last year, the Tourism Department said.

The spike in visitors, especially Americans, comes after several years of stagnation in the travel sector here amid a slow global economic recovery and fears of gory cartel violence.
The arrivals first dropped in 2009, when cartel killings rocketed and an H1N1 flu scare swept the country. Tourists continued to arrive in fewer numbers from 2010 to 2012, as mass graves and gang massacres tarnished Mexico’s name.

Last year, tourist numbers finally recovered to just over the 2008 level. This year they soared.

The return of visitors follows an ad campaign, including images of Mexico’s crystalline waters, curving coastlines and Aztec pyramids behind soothing music and this play-on-cliche slogan: “Live it to believe it.”

The pictures of dreamy beaches, financed to the tune of $43 million, hit TV stations, websites, and print pages across the United States, reminding Americans of the nearby jewels.

But perhaps more important has been another campaign by the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. He’s talking less about the bloodshed and more about what he sees as the positives in his sweeping reforms agenda.

Previous President Felipe Calderon kept the drug war on the front page by trumpeting a head-on battle against cartels and dressing up in military uniform as he addressed Mexican soldiers.

In contrast, Peña Nieto and his officials rarely mention the narcos, sticking to a script about modernizing Mexico through measures like opening up the oil industry to foreign investors.

The switch in style impacted media coverage as soon as Peña Nieto took office in December 2012.

A media monitoring group found that in the first three months of his term, local reporting on cartel violence halved, with the Spanish words for “organized crime” appearing 52 percent less and “drug trafficking” 54 percent less.

Following the Mexican press, there was a distinct change in foreign reporting on Mexico, with pundits such as The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman highlighting the nation’s potential rather than its problems.

Rising conflicts in other places like Ukraine and the Middle East also have jerked news anchors’ attention away from Mexico’s violence.

The authorities still go after drug kingpins. Remember the February arrest of most-wanted drug lord Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman? But officials are no longer parading their prize catches in front of the cameras in perp walks.

There has also been an end to videos of cartel hit-men confessing to police about hundreds of murders. Those used to air on primetime news shows, terrifying Mexicans and foreigners alike.

Marc Murphy, who directs tourism efforts for hotels on the upscale Pacific coast’s Riviera Nayarit, says the change in Mexico’s security image has been the most decisive factor in attracting tourists back to the beaches.


  1. Mexico is packed with tourists....Yes,now the Mexicans can carry everyone's bags into the hotels they themselves could never afford.
    Mexico is packed with tourists..woop de fuckin dooo...I know,,cynical .
    At least EPN has his priority's right,,nottttttt..

  2. "14 million foreigners touching down".. Why aren't there that many kidnappings of foreigners compared to Mexicans? Is EPN telling the cartels that they can do what they want as long as they don't mess with his tourism?

    1. Locals getting kidnapped is not news worthy in the government eyes. It's the governments "dirty lil secret" they don't want tourist to know about.

  3. Just spent a whole week in Playa Del Carmen. Didn't seem as if any Europeans, South American or Americans had any concerns. I say they because I don't travel much. Met a lot of people from different parts of the US and South Americans who had also spent time vacationing this year in Cabo and never mentioned anything about safety concerns. I think it's just the media focusing on the bad!

  4. I any going I have no $$$$$$$$$$$$$ to lose my car I will take a bus better

  5. But the same thing claim some people on this forum !
    They say: Mexico is very very safe.

  6. As long as you avoid any shithole bordertown south of texas ,acapulco(those sawed off natives are pretty vicious) and what the hell throw in michoacan (mexican version of somalia without the skinny people )everthing else is just grrrreat!!!!

    1. Hahaha that's right!! No other country would better describe michoacan

  7. Wen u pour the news about narco news , not only does the govt. lose but millions of innocent people depend on tourist to make a living.

  8. Why take the chance? You're about 10 times more likely to die. And 25 times more likely to be victimized by a country where corruption is socially accepted.

  9. I feel safe in Puerta Vallarta, Cancun and Mazatlan right behind that. I did not feel so safe in Acapulco. In Cabo I felt safe. You do not worry so much about your life in these areas. But you have to worry about theft and loosing things and also scams. Got caught in a rental car scam with a big name company. I did not take the insurance. They picked me up at the hotel after I dealt with a rental agent there. The next morning the car was gone. they were demanding full payment for the car before I could leave. A guy that I met and worked at the hotel new what was going on. We had become friends. He took me back to the main rental agency and we went to the back of the building. They had the car hidden there. They just came in the night, used a key and took it. Do not leave your money at the front desk safe. There are many scams that are not life threatening, but could leave you a little light in your pocketbook. Outside the resort always keep your drink with you if you go to the bathroom. You can be drugged.

    If you just use common sense you will have a great trip. Just like any vacation spot in the world.

    I live in Chihuahua, Chihuahua and I used to drive to these places. I try not to if I have enough money to fly. Because it is getting there in the roads that can get you in trouble. I recently had friends driving to Mazatlan in two vehicles. They hot a road block and lost their vehicles and every dime and possession they had. Far fewer Americans killed in these locations then most cities in the USA. But things can change fast!

  10. Mexico has it's safe parts and its unsafe parts just like the US. I think a lot of US readers who have never been to Mexico think all cities have heads rolling down the streets, but in reality there are parts just as calm as your neighborhood in the US.

    Just don't be dumb and get yourself into trouble.. that rule works for every foreign country you visit.

    Mexican people are some of the most beautiful and friendliest people. This is coming from a white dude 6000miles away. Sure some people were dicks at times, but every place has its bad apples.

  11. I was just in cabo and la paz 1 month ago, seems safe.. Lots of police presence specially at night.. Honestly it seemed safe..

    1. Cabo is safe because the foreign investors and business owners pay a lot of money for the extra security in the tourist areas. Apparently it is working since Cabo is one of the safest tourist areas.

  12. The US media wants to scare people away from Mexico so they spend their money/vacations at home.. Vacation destinations in Mexico are way safer then vacation destinations in the states hands down..

    1. I doubt that Cancun is safer than Miami Beach, Panama City Beach or South Padre Island.

  13. No thanks. The only way you will know the dangers of Mx when it comes to tourists is if concerned & adamant mothers report things. You simply cant trust anyone in Mx to tell the truth; for fear, apathy, whatever.

  14. Corruption is still rampant, false prosecutions still are ongoing, no government crooks are prosecuted, no atracomulcos either.
    But you are free to eat the propaganda and lick the dish all you want, I hope BB is not being used by the mexican department of propaganda to spread their shit around...
    But this well written article it, to high heavens; fuck pena nieto and his front line team of FAKE PROFESSIONAL TITLE HOLDERS...

  15. Anonymous said...
    Why take the chance? You're about 10 times more likely to die. And 25 times more likely to be victimized by a country where corruption is socially accepted.

    September 1, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    A quote for you friend:
    "Ships are safe in harbors, but that's not what ships were built for".

  16. @ 9:23
    You would be wrong.
    It is so easy to check stats but taking you first example of Cancun

    It has the ultra low homicide rate of 1.83 per 100k
    Miami is 15.4
    Panama city 8.1
    orlando 7.5
    and although SPI has a low murder rate it has an astronomical violent crime rate of 911, the US average is 214

    most of the Yucatan is safer than the US, ditto for cabo and 2/3 the country is safe or safer than US. one must be educated to where those places are .....and are not.

    1. Touché Chivis but I believe the city of Miami and Miami beach are separate cities.

    2. Homicide rate in Miami Beach is 0.50 murders per 100k. SPI had 0.00 murders in 2013.

  17. I have never stopped going to baja california I go there every month the usa was trying to cock block mexican tourism face it the usa is boring and everything fun is against the law, in mexico you experience true freedom

  18. What the story failed to mention was the number one daily concern of every-day Mexicans -- their personal safety and security. This has been shown in polls consistently. The Mexican government spends a wack of (borrowed?) money on boosting the image of Mexico, while sending the Army into public housing construction sites to protect workers and contractors from extorsion and kidnapping.

    That said, nothing wrong with tourism-created jobs.

  19. ... There Was An Epic Hurricane Swell That Hit Mexico And California With Huge Waves... Google It... People From All Over The Wold Arrived Just For It...

  20. i lived there for 10 years........they still kill and's hide under the carpet...there are cities like C.D.OBERGON SONORA, they rob and kill there everyday, sometimes 10 people a's not all roses, unless their black's safe in really northern more....

  21. I lived in Puerto Vallarta for a year and loved the place and felt safe. Lots of crime is not reported. I witnesed a guy get thrown into a car with a gun to his head. Police were there in minutes. Very good response. No news at all.This was north of vallarta 45 min, la cruz.


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;