point four -
Among the reasonable questions and concerns expressed by potential permanent and/or semi-permanent retirees thinking about the Mexican alternative is the security issue. Incessant stories in the American press about drug cartels, corruption, violence, "spill-over" into the United States, and other such unsavory things have reasonably affected the impression many people have about retirement, vacationing, or even walking across the border to buy a beer at a nice saloon in Progresso or Reynosa.
(a) To begin, the American press says that 6,000 people have been killed in the drug wars in Mexico, and even on my news channel, Fox News, a reporter states "In a little border town like Cd. Juarez, there have been over 1,000 killed in one year." Ciudad Juarez is a city of 1,200,000. Mexico is a country of 103,000,000 souls. The number of people killed in drug trafficking disputes or as a result of drug addicts assaulting innocent citizens in the United States is reasonably estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 22,000 per year. Which means, of course, that the rate of the drug trafficking violence in Mexico is almost exactly the same, on a per capita basis, as it is in the United States of America.
(b) Those of us who live in, work in, and frequent Mexico have a saying....and there are variations to this admonition.....that if you want to be secure in Mexico, make certain that you pay for your 5 tons of cocaine with valid, non-counterfeit American or Mexican cash, and that you inform neither the American police nor the Mexican Army or prosecutorial authority about from whom you bought the drugs....
I recognize that this is a nearly sarcastic response...perhaps even sardonic...but it is true. One could reasonably estimate that 90% of the homicidal violence in Mexico is intramural, pertaining to disputes between cartels.
The Mexican Army, deployed in vigorous force by the present President, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, has dealt repeated devastating blows to the Cartels. Some 40,000 moderately to extremely well-trained soldiers and marines have honourably discharged their very dangerous duty, taken significant casualties, and delivered devestating, shredding, overwhelming destruction to demonic Drug Baron peacocks and their minions. The fight is not over, but the victories are piling up. Mexican civil authority is turning over people with warrants outstanding in the United States at a rate that would have been thought impossible 20 or even 10 years ago. The Mexican Supreme Court has even rendered an official opinion that Mexicans who commit capital crimes in foreign countries do not have a reasonable expectation to not be extradited to the country of issue in the crime. Literally hundreds of Americans, Mexicans, and other nationalities on the lamb seeking refuge in the "cactus jungle", have been "repatriated to their fate" in the United States during the past five years.
(c) The issue of "secuestros" is also a problem about which to be reasonably concerned. The "express" kidnappings of people....not just the very wealthy, high profile personalities, but upper-middle class small business people as well.....is a concern, especially in Mexico City and certain areas near that MegaUrb.
But, the "secuestros" rarely....very rarely..... involve Gringos. The few times they have, of which I am aware, it remains true that in a majority of cases drug trafficking is involved. Another fact is that this problem can be easily avoided is by staying in environments where you should stay....outside of known high-crime zones, red-light districts, and such dives.....and oddly enough, staying sober in areas away from your home.
And, oddly enough, the Mexican aversion to the death penalty has diminished markedly because of the kidnappings....and now a wide majority of Mexican agree with the death penalty for "secuestradores" even if no-one is murdered during the kidnapping. A capital sentence in Mexico is a European-like 30 years...and in some rare cases with aggravating circumstance...recently enacted....two 30 years sentences running consecutively, or a sentence of 50 years.
(d) In my years, and especially during the recent Era of Violence, I have not seen one "firefight" or skirmish or significant military or police combat action. And...remember, I live in the middle of the belly of the beast. I do see, and pass through, scores of Army check-points, manned by young lads with huge French automatic rifles and Israeli sub-machine guns. I pass convoys of heavy infantry units with Hummer mounted .50 caliber machine guns, and heavily armed company level infantry detachments. I have been and am inspected by the Army at both permanent check-points and impromptu check-points....and HAVE NEVER BEEN ASKED FOR A FARTHING OR LOST ANYTHING TO PILFERING....in all my years of dealing with the military. I am 62 years of age now, and made my first run into Mexico at the age of 2. I owned and operated a deluxe excursion company in Mexico for the better part of 30 years, and I have been a permanent resident, FM-3 for the past 10 years. These are the facts.
(e) Cultural cockroaches exist in every race, ethnicity, nationality, and human arrangement. My job and yours is to seek the environment that excludes contact with cultural cockroaches to the greatest extent possible....and then go about living. Also, we should do whatever is prudent to push back in whatever small way we can against the cultural destruction caused by the easy money, criminal mentality. That is what I do in Mexico, and that is what I do in the United States.
(f) My living situation is in a very rural area....I am completely surrounded by Mexicans, there are no Gringos or other foreigners within 20 miles in any direction.....and most of our "anti-social" problems border on the comical. A occasional alcohol-fueled dispute goes out of control at some "deposito" (place that sells beer for 'off premisis' consumption) every four or five moons, but even that is a mile or two away....although, at times, I am asked to come and adjudicate, separate, and castigate the participants. Even our graffitti is down....it was never really bad....but it has diminished over the months.
Thanks for your attention....remember we invite comments, and will do our best to give you our honest, blowhard, pontificacious response.