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Expats in Mexico: is this accurate?
Old 12-16-2011, 10:18 PM   #1
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Expats in Mexico: is this accurate?

I love Fred, but sometimes he exaggerates to make a point. So I thought I'd ask the expats down there: how much of this is true?

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Then the mayhem arrived here at [Chapala]. In recent months the gringo havens along the lake have seen firefights with automatic weapons and grenades. Bodies are frequently found. Very frequently. Until recently no gringos were killed. The narcos were fighting among themselves and against the police. Expats didn't, and so far don't, interest them.

A few days ago an American was killed in Ajijic, the epicenter of gringolandia. It was just an armed robbery gone bad. The narcos had nothing to do with it. Thing is, when the country falls into chaos because of the war against drugs, every other kind of crime follows.

The expats have begun moving out. Realtors report large numbers of houses going on the block. If this continues, and I see no reason why it won't, restaurants will continue to close, maids and gardeners will lose their jobs, and the doctors and dentists that serve the expatriates will leave.
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Old 12-16-2011, 10:47 PM   #2
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I am not an expat in Mexico, so I can't really answer your question.

We were talking about this over lunch today, and we both agree that it sounds like Fred wants to return to the U.S., in any case. Perhaps the situation is as he describes, but if not then maybe he is just trying to justify a possible decision to move back, at least in his own mind.
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Old 12-17-2011, 11:07 AM   #3
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We moved back to the U.S. this past spring after two years of living at Lake Chapala in Mexico. We have numerous friends there as well as in San Miguel De Allende, Patzcuaro and other parts of Mexico and are headed down for an extended visit in January.

Fred's piece is a good one in a lot of ways, but you do have to take it with a big grain of salt. The part you quoted just adds fuel to the fire long since lit by U.S. cable news that portrays the entire country of Mexico as being just as dangerous and lawless as Ciudad Juarez and other border towns. No question there has been and is an increase in narco related crime all over the country, but most long term expats I know at Lake Chapala and elsewhere still feel far safer there than they do on returning to their former home bases in the U.S. It depends on your frame of reference - for example, friends who spent their working years in Phoenix and Detroit find their new Mexican digs to be almost crime-free by comparison!

BTW the murder Fred mentions (one of two, total, murders of expats in the area in the past 5+ years) WAS drug related and the guy has been caught. Check out (www.) chapala.com and other forums for more of the good, bad and ugly of this area and similar forums for San Miguel de Allende, etc. easily found on the web for a broader perspecetive if you're interested.
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Old 12-17-2011, 11:15 AM   #4
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Ok. Thanks for the report. May I ask why you moved back to the U.S.?
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:44 PM   #5
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I live in PV for 7 months each year. There is no increase in crime here. There has always been petty theft, so you need to be cautious about your wallet/purse especially during Christmas and Easter. And there are more people hurting now because of the recession.

A friend who moved in 1997 to Ajijic, left there 9 years ago because of the petty theft from Guadalajara. Recently, gangland activity seems to have spilled over from GDL.

I have my Jalisco driver's license now so I feel a little more permanent. I was talking to some people from Seattle who were at a high-end hotel on the beach and used to come here for 20 years. For the last 3 years, they have been flying to Hawaii. I asked why they came back and they said they wanted to see for themselves and were convinced that the propaganda is not warranted.

It has depressed housing prices and stopped all new development. So times are tough for the locals.
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Old 12-17-2011, 07:17 PM   #6
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We moved back 'cause we concluded that wise folks like Keith who do the snowbird thing really do have the best of both worlds. There are people we want to spend extended time with and things we want to do in the U.S. at this time in our lives and airfares have gotten expensive enough the past couple of years to eat up a lot of the cost savings of living in Mexico if you travel back and forth too often.

Without a doubt petty crime has increased at Lake Chapala, which is only 30-40 minutes from Guadalajara (2nd biggest city in the country) and serves as their weekend playground. San Miguel de Allende is off the beaten track (and away from drug running corridors) and is safer, ditto Oaxaca, Merida, San Cristobal de las Casas and other less touristed places but of course all is in flux.

"Fred on Everything"'s diagnosis of the causes of crime down there and his pessimistic view of solutions seem right to me, and the 3-4 friends in Mexico I've sent the article to agree as well. Hard times on both sides of the border, with their hard times largely a product of ours.
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Old 12-17-2011, 07:46 PM   #7
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No question airfares are a killer, but my family and I still prefer to live "upwind"!
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:50 PM   #8
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The large number of upper-class Mexicans moving to my city has been very noticeable this year. Most may have intentions of going back eventually, but they're buying homes, starting businesses, social groups, etc. IMO, that is the sort of exodus that does not bode well for the stability of Mexico as a country.
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
We were talking about this over lunch today, and we both agree that it sounds like Fred wants to return to the U.S., in any case. Perhaps the situation is as he describes, but if not then maybe he is just trying to justify a possible decision to move back, at least in his own mind.
Fred loved America, but does not like what it has become. If he is considering moving back, it is because Mexico scares him, as it scares many Mexicans. The idea that a country can be falling apart and murder rates skyrocketing, but foreigners uniquely being spared is interesting, but likely without historical precedent, anywhere, anytime.

Wait until our military "trainers" have been there a little longer, and see how much the Mexican man in the street loves the gringo then.

Ha
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:57 AM   #10
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Fred loved America, but does not like what it has become. If he is considering moving back, it is because Mexico scares him, as it scares many Mexicans. The idea that a country can be falling apart and murder rates skyrocketing, but foreigners uniquely being spared is interesting, but likely without historical precedent, anywhere, anytime.

Wait until our military "trainers" have been there a little longer, and see how much the Mexican man in the street loves the gringo then.

Ha
I see your point, and you may very well be right about Fred's main motives in considering a move back, if he is indeed doing that. Unfortunately the U.S. may seem a lot more appealing from his present location in 2011 than it did when he moved down there. Also I can't help but imagine that even a rough tough world traveler and warrior like Fred might secretly feel a little homesick from time to time, especially now that he is aging and has such bad vision problems. I don't remember if/where his daughter entered college recently, but she might be up here too for all I know.
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:30 AM   #11
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The idea that a country can be falling apart and murder rates skyrocketing, but foreigners uniquely being spared is interesting, but likely without historical precedent, anywhere, anytime.
The murders are not personal, it's business. I thought that the narco violence was targeted at rival groups, be they other drug traffickers, the police or the army. No reason to target the public, be they Mexican or Foreign. Collateral damage happens but there is one good reason for the drug cartels to avoid it: people will tolerate violence if it's bad guys on bad guys.

Think it hasn't occurred to both governments and the drug lords that killing enough Americans could provoke the American government to put sanctions on Mexico? Preventing wire transfers of money to Mexico would hit them hard. Bending the rules of NAFTA to slow cross border traffic down to where it made trade unprofitable would hit them harder.
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:03 PM   #12
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The murders are not personal, it's business. I thought that the narco violence was targeted at rival groups, be they other drug traffickers, the police or the army. No reason to target the public, be they Mexican or Foreign. Collateral damage happens but there is one good reason for the drug cartels to avoid it: people will tolerate violence if it's bad guys on bad guys.

Think it hasn't occurred to both governments and the drug lords that killing enough Americans could provoke the American government to put sanctions on Mexico? Preventing wire transfers of money to Mexico would hit them hard. Bending the rules of NAFTA to slow cross border traffic down to where it made trade unprofitable would hit them harder.
These are all good points, as are W2R's. We will see. But as I say, when and if things go bad, it is very rare that foreigners are in the safety zone. Violence tends to find outsiders, and gringos are #1 outsiders in Mexico. It helps people who are trying to find you if you are unusually tall and unusually pale.

Whatever might or might not be rational, violence tends toward the irrational.

Ha
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Old 12-19-2011, 09:59 PM   #13
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These are all good points, as are W2R's. We will see. But as I say, when and if things go bad, it is very rare that foreigners are in the safety zone. Violence tends to find outsiders, and gringos are #1 outsiders in Mexico. It helps people who are trying to find you if you are unusually tall and unusually pale.

Whatever might or might not be rational, violence tends toward the irrational.

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By 'things go bad' you mean bad as in the State Dept. sends all non essential personnel home and tells US citizens to leave the country pronto? Gotta agree with you there. I hope I'd have the sense to vacate before it got that bad.

Or bad is in the 16,273 murders last year in Mexico? How many of the 15,273 were gringos?

Everybody gets to decide how much risk they want to live with. This map shows murders in 2010. Cabo had 4, Puerto Vallarta 15, Cancun 0, Merida 0, Veracruz 2. On the other hand Mazatlan had 320. Why do some towns have low murder rates and others have high ones? Business infrastructure, transit routes, competition, degree of corruption all play a part. But it's also just good business not to shoot tourists or expats who have an uncle with huge piles of advanced weaponry and a history of intervening in your country.

http://www.google.com/fusiontables/e...z=6&t=3&l=col0
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Old 12-20-2011, 01:26 AM   #14
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By 'things go bad' you mean bad as in the State Dept. sends all non essential personnel home and tells US citizens to leave the country pronto? Gotta agree with you there. I hope I'd have the sense to vacate before it got that bad.

Or bad is in the 16,273 murders last year in Mexico? How many of the 15,273 were gringos?

Everybody gets to decide how much risk they want to live with. This map shows murders in 2010. Cabo had 4, Puerto Vallarta 15, Cancun 0, Merida 0, Veracruz 2. On the other hand Mazatlan had 320. Why do some towns have low murder rates and others have high ones? Business infrastructure, transit routes, competition, degree of corruption all play a part. But it's also just good business not to shoot tourists or expats who have an uncle with huge piles of advanced weaponry and a history of intervening in your country.

http://www.google.com/fusiontables/e...z=6&t=3&l=col0
Well, I respect your opinion. I only give mine as a somewhat abstract observation. I really have no personal interest in this as I can afford to live (modestly) in a very nice part of a very nice US city. I would however likely travel to Mexico for pleasure, as I did from time to time but do not now.

Ha
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:54 AM   #15
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I am done visiting MX until things settle down. Not worth the risk. My SIL will not bring their toddler to visit grandparents down there any more.
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Old 12-20-2011, 09:59 AM   #16
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I think the press scares people and no one should go somewhere where they will be scared.

For me, I like PV because it has less murders than Vancouver where I live in the summer. I also lived in Edmonton when it was the murder capital of Canada. Statistics don't bother me much.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:00 AM   #17
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Mexico's a big country. I wouldn't vacation in the state of Nuevo Leon these days for example but what violence is there in Merida or Cancun or Playa del Carmen, or Guanajuato or .... (you get the picture).

Reminds me of some questions I get from Europeans some times - "Does it get very cold in America?"
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:41 AM   #18
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Reminds me of some questions I get from Europeans some times - "Does it get very cold in America?"
Give 'em the old "Yes & No" hand wobble.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:53 AM   #19
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I was in Cabo San Lucas (tourist areas) earlier this year and it felt very safe. Almost antiseptically safe.
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:36 PM   #20
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Fred on expatism:
Fred On Everything
Fred On Everything
Fred On Everything
and Mexico:
Fred On Everything
Fred On Everything
Somehow I cannot see him going north again. He will find a way.
I like this guy.
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