The Knock-on Effect of Mexico’s Drug War

Colombia used to be the bloodiest country in Latin America but recently the baton’s passed to Mexico. This doesn’t necessarily mean Colombia has become any less dangerous, just that fewer journalists are sticking around to tell the country’s stories.

Almost 10,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since the start of 2007 when President Felipe Calderon declared war on drug traffickers. But it’s not just dealers and addicts who are badly affected by the escalating brutality: families are relocating to neighbouring US and Belize to escape the problems, journalists are being terrorised out of the country by drug lords and the towns that rely on holiday-makers are practically deserted.

For a country that depends upon tourism the drugs trade is debilitating to its economy. Whilst Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, its culture is arguably one of the richest. It’s a country of Mayan ruins and idyllic beaches with dense jungles and dry deserts.

Although most deaths occur far from the resorts and cities that attract thousands of Americans each year, both rural and urban communities are seeing a lack of overseas visitors due to security fears.

Last year I met a family of Mexicans all involved in tourism around Tulum (an area on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula). The father was a taxi driver whisking backpackers around the town and the mother sold snacks to hungry travellers while her daughter tried to persuade them to buy water from her. However, the US State Department has urged its people to delay unnecessary travel in the country, so holiday-makers are staying away. This means that the street vendors who rely on their trade are being forced to find other ways to make a living because when they do not sell they do not eat.

But with tourism in decline where else can they turn? Too often, into the arms of the drug lords who promise them a better living. Thus the correlation between drug wars and dwindling tourism is exacerbated.

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1 Response to “The Knock-on Effect of Mexico’s Drug War”


  1. 1 hanumanta December 2, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I have seen the decline of the tourist industry first hand. This Drug War is a serious situation for the stability of Mexico. More money, more equipment, more troops and training will not win this War. Many economist, law enforcment officers, politicians, lobbiests, historians, and everyday citizens have come to the simple solution of legalization of drugs to evaporate this black market. This War is in the shadow of Afghanistan and is a much closer and much more real threat to the US. With legalization, regulation and taxation our future generations will have chance, our economy could improve and our borders could be safe. my friend has become collateral damage of this War. http://freebabalalo.wordpress.com


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