San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

A Perspective on Violence in Mexico

The entire country of Mexico is not a dangerous place, as portrayed by CNN and other news media. In fact, there are many places people can travel and spend time as tranquilly as ever. The crisis is in the northern states, especially in the huge border cities of Juarez and Tijuana. An all-out "war" has escalated between federal forces and drug cartels, ever since Pres. Calderon declared a "war on drugs" (guided and supported by the US government).

Any students studying through IP in Queretaro are just fine. You could get in touch with Dianne and Sterling Bennett, who have been residing in Guanajuato (near Queretaro, in the central zone) for info on their experience. I spent time in 2 cities on the Pacific coast in January, and found life as tranquil as ever, only a little concern among taxi drivers and shop owners because of the downturn in the economy. A friend (outside the university) and her husband spent a week in Mexico City last month, seeing museums and other sites, going out to dinner each evening, and also traveling to Guadalajara and another city, and NEVER experienced fear or any other problems.

Friends in the state of Veracruz in emails to me are only upset because of the economic situation. My brother lives in a small city (in Mexico) across the border from McAllen, Texas, has 3 children who attend public school, and has not encountered problems. He is rather poor and only travels in that environment. The situation in Juarez and Tijuana right now is truly terrible, and those are not cities to visit.

The reason these alerts are going out is because Spring Break is coming up, when people tend to flock to Mexican border towns. We should remember this: since neither of the two governments ever did anything about hundreds of poor women being murdered along the border (mostly women who flocked to the border to work in factories to help
support their families), bad people have seen they can get away with killing people w/o much reaction. (I recommend viewing the film with Jennifer Lopez, "Bordertown.") Also, the Mexican president, since his arrival has devoted no attention to the economic situation in Mexico, which is a terrible experience for many people, something as basic as
tortillas now costing 4 times what they did before his arrival.

Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez
Chair, Chicano and Latino Studies
Professor, Latin American Literature/Cultural Studies
214 Nichols Hall
Sonoma State University