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More, more, more…

13 June 2012

Ciro Pérez Silva in La Jornada (my translation):

More than two million Americans visited Mexico in the first half of the year, 11 percent more than in the same period in 2011, this in spite of repeated warnings against visiting Mexico because of drug-related violence, from that country’s government.

Information provided by the State Department notes that the number of expected U.S. visitors to Mexico will be 4 million, despite warning about the dangers of travel in the country, and reports from the Mexican authorities themselves that violence has increased and spread to 18 cities in recent months.

The State Department adds that the violence that plagues much of our country, has not intimidated Mexico-Americans from visiting family members in Mexico.

“Although the number of U.S. citizens killed in Mexico by Mexican criminal organizations has tripled in the last five years, from 35 recorded in 2007 to 120 recorded in 2011, that country (Mexico), remains the main U.S. tourist destination, partly because it is near-by and economical to visit in a time of financial crisis,” says the document.

Even at 35 killings of U.S. citizens in 2011, that’s still a statistically insignificant number and people in the U.S. find random violence — something nearly unknown here — a tolerable risk. And I wonder if at least some U.S. tourists aren’t attracted by the idea of narcotics… or the vicarious thrill of believing themselves engaged in something dangerous and exciting.

Two things that might drive tourism up this coming year.  If the left wins, or if there is a close election, and the expected political disturbances as a result, I can’t see it scaring tourists off, but rather bringing us more tourists.    Really, street demonstrations are an art-form here, and it’s a shame the tourism officials don’t advertise them more when selling the Mexican experience.

It’s not anything I can verify from any sorts of studies, or polls, but the right-wing types who mention Mexico on the Internet either seem to never travel, or are usually complaining about “that third-world shithole” they claim to have visited years ago:  generally meaning they got lost looking for Boy’s Town in Juarez, or found Boy’s Town.  And right wingers are usually cheap bastards, so no loss.

One exception would be conservative Catholics, who — thanks to the Cristero movie — might come down looking for signs of anti-Catholicism, or to visit the Cristero sites.  And maybe buy books about it.

And if, by some chance, the left does win (which I think is within the realm of possibility), two kinds of American tourists will be coming down.  There are those who’d always wanted to go to visit a Marxist country, and — even though our left is pretty middle-of-the-road Keynsians — a trip to Mexico is a lot cheaper and easier than heading to Venezuela (and less of a hassle than going to Cuba).

Secondly, we’ll get  the “Occupy-curious” types… people who follow the news, but generally put Mexico out of their minds (except for the drugs and violence and immigration issues everyone else in the U.S. talks about) except when it does something they wish they could do… like mount massive protests, and at least simulate a sea change in the political and economic system.  And, these are the kind of people who generally read up on foreign cultures and political history … which would be good for me.

Anyway, they’re really unlikely to get shot… unless they’re drug dealers or hanging with drug dealers, same as always.

Mexico… how do you like it, how do you like it?

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