Luna Blue's PlayaZone

By Tony & Cheri, Live from the Luna Blue in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Safety & Crime in Playa del Carmen Mexico 2011: The Truth

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 14, 2011

Read our most current blog entry about safety:
Safety in Playa del Carmen Mexico ~ 2012

We think it is time to again talk truthfully about safety and crime in Playa del Carmen.

The two acts of violence which took place over the last month in Playa del Carmen raised questions in many people’s minds about safety in this area. Unfortunately many of the people answering those questions have no real information and simply offer their own negative opinions about Playa. So it is time to do several things: talk about the sad events of the last month, discuss the use of the internet by ignorant people to fan anti-Mexico fears, and offer sources where truthful and factual information can be found.

Recent Acts of Violence in Playa del Carmen

In the last few weeks we have experienced two very tragic events here in Playa. First was the killing of a man from central Mexico whose business was involved with drug gangs. According to police he fled here to Playa hoping to avoid retaliation for something he did which angered the drug gangs. He was shot to death in his car near a restaurant in the north part of the city. No one else was injured, and the assassins have not been found.

The second and even more tragic incident was the murder of the Chief of the Tourist Police. This branch of the city police is charged with patrolling the tourist/resort zone. The Chief was killed while getting out of his car on Avenida Juarez, a main thoroughfare from the federal highway leading to the ferry dock. This was the second attempt on this officer’s life in the last year. No one has been arrested, and no evidence has been found to explain why this particular officer was twice targeted.

Those of us who live here in Playa have been shocked and saddened by these events. No one likes to hear of such violent acts happening in their home town. It is particularly horrible to see a young officer killed in the line of duty. The government, the local community and the expats who are guests here have all strongly condemned these crimes.

However these events touch more than the local community. The thousands of tourists who visit here each year want to know what this means for them. In truth, it has very little effect on visitors.

These were not random acts of violence involving innocent tourists. No attempt was made to target tourists or the resort area. There is no evidence that these crimes are related to or represent some sort of burgeoning crime wave. These victims were specifically chosen for reasons which we do not fully know. What we do know is that these crimes did not target, involve or touch tourists, and we know that there has been no subsequent outbreak of violence around the city. In short, these are isolated incidents that do not represent a continued threat.

Put it in Perspective

Still, despite the fact that these two acts didn’t involve tourists, some folks wonder if they are safe when visiting here. Many people have publicly spoken of their fear of coming to this part of the world and question if they shouldn’t change their vacation plans. We say: keep some perspective.

Crime–even violent crime–is a fact of life in just about every city in the world. So why do we consider one safer than the next? If it is the number of crimes, then Playa is most certainly safer than most as its crime rates are lower than many US cities.

If safety is predicated on the type of crime, again Playa still ranks as among the safest. There are no riots here. There are no mass shootings and no crimes involving groups of innocent people.

Recent crimes in the USAThe fact is that people worry about safety in Mexico because they react differently, even unfairly, to hearing about a crime in Mexico than they do about crime elsewhere. For example, when this last summer began with the Memorial Day weekend, gang violence resulted in six deaths in Chicago and eight deaths in New York City. During the same weekend three police officers and four innocent bystanders were shot in Miami Beach.

Then summer ended with the horrifying act of a man with a high powered automatic weapon slaughtering five people in an IHOP restaurant in Carson City Nevada, while over the Labor Day weekend in New York City 13 were murdered, 2 police officers were wounded and 67 were injured by gunfire in 52 separate shootings.

Despite these horrendous acts leaving dozens of people dead and scores more injured, no one on TV or the internet told people to avoid going to New York or Chicago or Nevada. No newspaper article suggested people avoid the upcoming Broadway shows in Manhattan or skip going to the Bears games because of violence. And yet two isolated acts of crime in Playa are treated by many as the collapse of all law and order in that area. People worry that a trip to the Riviera Maya will turn them into victims, when in fact they may be safer here than in their own home town.

How did we end up with such a skewed perception of Mexico? Why do we have such an unbalanced view of crime in Mexico as opposed to crime in the US?

Not long ago it may have been because Mexico was the favorite whipping boy of a news media that feeds on sensationalism. But over the last year even they have come to acknowledge that the dangers of violence seen in Central Mexico do not extend to the peaceful shores of the Caribbean. However where the media left off, the World Wide Web has taken over. We think much of this anti-Mexico hysteria is generated by the ignorant and sometimes prejudiced people one encounters on the internet.

Opinions are Not Facts: Internet Forum Misinformation

In this time of instant gratification and access, most people turn to the internet for information. The travel industry is no different. Printed guidebooks have given way to web sites, chat rooms and forums where people can exchange ideas and opinions. And that isn’t a bad thing…except when opinion is taken for fact and speculation becomes a substitution for proof.

It has been our observation over the last few weeks that on certain internet forums dedicated to discussing Playa del Carmen, the intensity has been exceeded only by a lack of factual information.

On such forums, unless properly moderated, anyone can literally post anything, offering “facts” that have no basis in reality. The intentions of such posters are unknown. Perhaps they are attempts at making the poster feel important or perhaps they are intentional acts aimed to denigrate other peoples or countries. But even if we don’t know the reason for posting fantasy as fact we do know the effect…it creates false information that misleads people looking for the truth.

How Rumors Become “Facts”

We will give you some examples: Recently on a popular forum about Playa del Carmen hosted by a website called playa.info, a thread was started about a woman’s body found in the sea near the Playa shore with a rope tied around her. There followed several days of speculation by posters (the vast majority of who do not live in Playa) over whether or not she met with foul play. It was even suggested by someone with no facts or personal knowledge that her death might be evidence that the cartel had killed her and was moving into the area! Thousands of people read these baseless speculations until the woman’s son posted that she had drowned while swimming, and local fishermen finding her floating in the sea had tied her body to a buoy so that it did not float out to deeper waters before it could be brought ashore. No murder, no gang retaliation, no cartels moving into Playa. But for the thousands who read such irresponsible comments the damage was done. A simple drowning had quickly become the work of the drug gangs, and Playa was dangerous.

In other postings on playa.info about the recent shootings, it was suggested that the cartel would be coming after tourists next, that the drug war was escalating into Playa, and that everyone–but especially those with children–should avoid Playa to keep from getting hit by stray bullets. ‘The bad guys are moving in and they are not going anywhere’ was typical of the statements. Of course no statistics, articles or even governmental warnings were offered in support of these “facts.”

Sometimes People Just Make Stuff Up

A similar situation can be found all around the internet. On TripAdvisor.com (which bills itself as the largest travel industry website in the world), a forum dedicated to Playa del Carmen dealt with the shooting of the Tourist Police Chief by having many posters assert that most Playa businesses were paying protection money to the drug cartels. It went further. One individual posted that many businesses were closing “each day” because of drug cartel pressure.

We were surprised that while living here we had missed a daily wholesale loss of businesses. When we asked the individual for some facts or statistics or even personal knowledge about this massive loss of businesses in the area, his response was that he had been “told” of two businesses that closed. His story went from daily closings of many businesses to an anecdotal story of two unnamed businesses. Never mind that his original claim had been shown to be without basis, the damage was done. Other people had already picked up on his false claim and repeated it as “fact.”

In the same vein was the suggestion on the same forum that patronizing Playa businesses was just giving money to the drug cartels, since they all paid protection money. When we said we paid no such protection money and knew no one who did, the response was that we had to say that because the cartels would punish us if we admitted our support of them publicly!!! Seriously, that was the response.

The result is that people without knowledge created a new set of “facts,” i.e. the cartel is already in Playa; it controls Playa’s businesses; it puts those it can’t control out of business, and it silences the locals with fear of punishment if they talk about it. That is some scary stuff. Except there is not a single shred of evidence to show it is true. It is a fantasy which arises from a “common knowledge” (i.e. assumption and opinion) fed by too many viewings of the Sopranos rather than actual facts. Once again, irresponsible and ignorant people are painting a false picture of Playa that too many people see and believe.

Widespread Damage

In fairness to the forums we have just mentioned, they both have rules that prohibit inflammatory and false statements. Playa.info has barred further posting on a few of their most inflammatory threads, and TripAdvisor has done the same, actually removing some of the more outrageous posts. However neither forum moved to enforce their own guidelines for several days. The prohibition of these false statements was done hesitantly, at best. Why? Internet websites such as these two make money based upon the number of visitors to those sites. They sell more advertising, more tours and more vacation rentals and use the boosted statistics to seek new advertisers. So a controversial issue like crime, even if spinning out of control on their own website, is beneficial to them. Unfortunately, it’s not beneficial to others.

Not only do such irresponsible comments mislead the public seeking actual information, but they do serious and unwarranted damage to people and businesses here in Playa.
Just a few days ago we spoke with a local business owner who said he had had $5000 US worth of cancellations in a single day, and that the people canceling specifically cited their reason as being the frightening stories about crime in Playa del Carmen they had read on the playa.info forum. And the damage is not limited to just this individual or his business. It in turn will cause damage to his employees, to their families and to the local businesses where they shop. It will also cause damage to other businesses such as restaurants, bars and tours that these visitors would have patronized had they not cancelled their trip. The casual comments and opinions of someone with no knowledge can be magnified on the internet to do real damage. That damage is not to drug dealers and criminals. That damage is to local Mexican families. We would ask everyone who posts on the internet to remember that.

For questioning these irresponsible and false statements, we and other members of Playa’s expat community have been branded by many on the internet as “cheerleaders” for Playa. It is said that because we have businesses that rely on tourists we ignore and hide the facts about dangers here. That’s not true.

What we really do is demand that dangers of traveling here or anywhere be discussed responsibly with facts. Innuendo, rumor, speculation and guesswork are not the foundation of responsible discussion. And such opinions should never be the basis of deciding whether you visit Playa or Miami or New York. When deciding where you can go to safely spend your vacation time you need facts. So the question is…where do you go to get real information…real facts…about safety in Playa del Carmen?

Sources for Factual Information

Luckily there are plenty of places where you can get both facts and some responsible opinions about safety in Mexico, starting with the governments of the United States and Canada.

The US State Department assists travelers with information about countries they may be visiting, including issues of crime and safety. When the US government feels an area may be dangerous to visit, it issues a travel warning (as now exists for areas in central Mexico). No such warning has ever been issued for Playa or the state of Quintana Roo. In fact the US government has consistently said that the Riviera Maya is NOT experiencing the drug war violence seen elsewhere. Click here for the US State Department’s web page regarding Mexico.

The International Affairs and Foreign Trade division of the government of Canada has a similar function with a similar result. While a travel warning has been issued to its citizens traveling to the central Mexico/US border area, NO warning exists for traveling to the Riviera Maya or the state of Quintana Roo. Click here for their web page regarding Mexico.

Of course many travelers want more than just bare bones ‘is there a warning or not’ before making a decision. They want an overall picture from an objective source. We suggest checking out major respectable news sources. We googled the following news sources regarding stories on Mexico safety:

The New York Times, CNN, the San Francisco Chronicle, ABC News, the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and USA Today all say the same thing: While there are parts of Mexico that are dangerous and should be avoided, the Riviera Maya is far removed from the drug wars and is a safe vacation destination.

The prospective visitor can also check with major travel writers around the country to see how they feel about safety in Playa and Mexico. An example is the respected travel author and expert Peter Greenburg, formerly of NBC News. (A note of full disclosure…we do not know Mr. Greenburg but he once gave our hotel a rave review based on the experience of one of his reporters.)

Mr. Greenburg recently made a statement about the hysteria over Mexico that goes directly to the heart of so many negative postings on the internet: “I’ll call a spade a spade here. Mexico has been seen in an almost racist way by Americans for so many years. They imagine dusty border towns, guys wearing sombreros and doing shoot ‘em ups. They see it how it was portrayed in the movies. If you couple that perception with the drug cartels or with the swine flu or with select crime reports, suddenly everybody starts running for the border.” Peter Greenburg’s web site has many articles about all aspects of the Riviera Maya, including safety.

Finally if you want to know what is happening here in Playa you may want to ask the people who live here. There are many well-written blogs by expats living in this area. Yes we are sometimes “cheerleaders” about Mexico. We live and work here because we love it here. Yet if anyone thinks we are blind to dangers or problems, they are mistaken. We are here with our children and our families. We walk the streets and go to the beaches. Does anyone think we would do that in the middle of a war zone? More than any visitors, we stay aware of the issues of safety here. If it weren’t safe for us, our families and friends we wouldn’t be here. Here are some of our favorite blogs and websites written by people who live and work here:

And there are dozens more. Of course there is our own PlayaZone, the blog you are reading now. You will also find numerous Playa based pages on Facebook, including our own. On these blogs and pages you will find the voices of people who live here. And we might be worth listening to.

A Final Note

Mexico isn’t for everyone. And those who are interested in coming here often have legitimate reasonable concerns. We neither ignore nor condemn those concerns. We only ask that people seek out responsible factual information when looking for answers to their questions.

We will end on a personal note. We have been living here in Mexico for over six years. Before that we were regular visitors to this area for another seven years. In that time we have never been the victims of a violent crime. We have never witnessed a violent crime. The worst thing that happened to us was the theft of a backpack left unattended on the beach six years ago.

We realize there is crime here, just as there was in San Francisco when we lived there. Crime is sadly a part of life everywhere. But to us, Playa del Carmen is still a safe wonderful place where the pace of life is slower and the Caribbean beckons with warm blue water. It is our home and we feel safe here. If that ever changes, our readers will be among the first to know.

Happy travels to you all. And if you find yourself in Playa del Carmen, please stop by the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar and say hello.

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25 Responses to “Safety & Crime in Playa del Carmen Mexico 2011: The Truth”

  1. Geo-Mexico said

    Glad that you are trying to set the record straight about violence in Mexico. The USA Today figures in your graphic, however, are out-of-date, For more up-to-date statistics on murders (intentional homicides) in Mexico, on a state by state basis, with analysis, see http://geo-mexico.com/?p=4854 and the many other related posts on the site. Keep up the good work!

  2. patty said

    We have visited Playa del Carmen 5 times and have felt safe every time we vacationed. Yes, we went when the dreaded swine flu caused hysterics. The media is a huge culprit in causing people to become hysterical. All the swine flu is, is another strain of the flu of which there are more than you can count. It isn’t a big deal, just stay hydrated and take care of yourself as with any other flu. All you heard was how many people died from it, but no mention of the people who died from the other flu strains. As far as the recent violence in the playa area, ya it’s scarey, but so is every place else in the world where anything bad has happened. I’m from the USA and just 20 miles in 4 directions of our safe little town of a thousand people there have been several murders in recent years as well as drugs in every direction. Unfortunately folks bad things happen everywhere. None of this will keep us from visiting Playa del Carmen…its gentle people, its beautiful beaches, and our favorite place in the world. I’m more fearful of the flight there the the time on land, that’s for sure!

  3. sue carlton said

    Great article, I am planning a trip there in Feb.

  4. Linda said

    Thanks for the useful information. We will be back in Playa in May.

  5. PDC fan said

    Things are rapidly changing in PDC with the recent assination attempt of the mayor of PDC. Comparing violence levels in large american cities like Chicago and Boston to tiny PDC is nonsense. There are already narco cartels in PDC, to suggest otherwise is silly.

    These premediated violent acts are directed at Public officials and law enforcement…not random acts of volence and crimes of passion.

    PDC has a major problem developing…as a frequent visitor and fan of the area I am concern. Suggesting this is not a very serious problem without a clear solution is very short-sighted

    • PDC fan, we normally don’t allow comments like this on our blog. It is exactly the type of commentary that this blog entry is critical of. We consider comments like this to be sensationalized statements with no factual basis. But for the purposes of educating our reading public, we’re going to print your comment and reply.

      “Things are rapidly changing in PDC with the recent assassination attempt of the mayor of PDC.”
      We have no knowledge of an assassination attempt. A single news source at this point has said that there was an attempt to shoot the mayor on a dark street near Cancun late in the evening. The only other source is a TripAdvisor poster well known for his sensationalism and exaggeration. Here’s our problem: Por Esto newspaper, the source of this story, is legendary for being untruthful. They are also legendary for publishing opinion and speculation as fact. How do we this? We’ve experienced it personally. Our Mexican friends let us know early on that if wanted, we could arrange a positive “news story” in Por Esto for an appropriate fee. In the same vein, we once had a small trash fire in the alley behind our hotel. By the time the bomberos arrived, it was out. But simultaneous with the bomberos came Por Esto. By the time the story was printed, our small trash fire had become a blazing inferno with screaming guests and threatened lives. We laughed hysterically when we read the story. The point is that Por Esto is not a source of legitimate information here in Mexico, and that is well known to the locals. Think of it as the National Enquirer in Spanish.

      So until we have more information, we have some serious questions about this incident. Regardless, again, it has nothing to do with tourists here in Playa. The mayor possibly getting hijacked by someone for some reason on a back street near Cancun doesn’t mean the visitor to a hotel or resort here is in any danger.

      “Comparing violence levels in large American cities like Chicago and Boston to tiny PDC is nonsense.”
      Unfortunately this indicates your lack of knowledge both of the area and of the issue. In 2006, the Guinness Book of World Records named Playa del Carmen as the fastest growing city in the world. Playa del Carmen has one of the highest per capita incomes for Mexicans in the entire country. Playa doesn’t end at Fifth Avenue. It doesn’t even end at the federal highway. Playa extends out into many gigantic neighborhoods for miles and miles, with subdivisions, malls and highways. And it still continues to grow at an amazing rate.

      Playa del Carmen may be many things, good and bad, but to describe it as tiny is simply incorrect.

      “There are already narco cartels in PDC, to suggest otherwise is silly.”
      At the risk of being “silly,” we have to question your assumption. On what do you base your belief that there are narco cartels in Playa? Do you have first hand knowledge? Are you a member of a cartel currently operating in Playa? Do you have friends working for them? We don’t mean to be facetious, but to assert with absolute certainty that there are narco cartels in Playa is as silly as saying there’s no crime in Playa. Of course Playa has crime. It’s a big city, and there’s petty theft and violent crime and property crime and punk gangs. But it is a running joke here in Playa that every time some would-be gangster makes a threat or robs a store, he claims to be part of the Zetas.

      Think about it for a moment. What interest would a drug cartel have in “controlling” Playa del Carmen? Drug cartels make their money by shipping large amounts of cocaine and other drugs north across the border to the US where they can get top dollar from dealer. There is no market for bulk sales of drugs in Mexico. Indeed, most Mexicans can’t afford drugs (or if they could, the prices would be nowhere near what a dealer could get in the US). What about 5th Avenue, you might say? Selling joints and lines of coke to tourists on 5th Avenue would not bring the type of money that would justify a cartel engaging in the kind of war that you and others envision. There’s just not enough money in it. The small time hood who is selling joints on 5th Avenue does not foretell an invasion by cartel forces.

      Playa has little to offer a cartel to warrant an invasion. It has no viable sea port, is not part of a land route to the US and does not sit on the border. Unlike Acapulco which offers both access to land and sea routes, Playa sits on a long beach with no harbor, hemmed in by a large reef. So while you may envision that the cartel is already sitting on every street corner–and you are entitled to your opinion–until we see some facts, it’s going to be just that: your opinion.

      “These premeditated violent acts are directed at Public officials and law enforcement…not random acts of volence and crimes of passion. PDC has a major problem developing…as a frequent visitor and fan of the area I am concern.”
      As are we, but for different reasons and in a different way. You are correct. These were not random acts. They were specifically targeted at two individuals. We’ve already said that. However, who targeted them and why is not known. To assume that this is a Zeta invasion and that there is a growing problem misses two important points. First, there are no facts to indicate that this is the start of any sort of turf war between cartels or wholesale attack on the legal/political structure in Playa. Until we know more, it is unfair and to use your word “silly” to assume otherwise. Secondly, the fact that these actions are targeted and not random and not involving tourists or the tourist industry here is what is important for the visitor to remember. As we pointed out in our blog, murders and other violent crimes occur in every major city. There is no reason to react to them differently because they happened in Mexico.

      “Suggesting this is not a very serious problem without a clear solution is very short-sighted”
      We’re not sure what you’re suggesting here. We think you’re telling us that we have to come up with a solution. What concerns us is that we don’t see the same problem as you do. Right now there is no gang war going on in Playa del Carmen. There have been a few isolated incidents. While those incidents horrify and sadden those of us who live here, they really have no effect on the safety of visitors coming here on vacation. Until there are more facts which indicate that, to suggest there is a growing danger to tourists is irresponsible and little more than fear mongering. When you have facts to present, present them. But simply going on the assumption that things have gone to hell in a hand basket here is simply wrong. And please, when you quote us on TripAdvisor, make sure to quote us correctly.

      For our other readers, we will make it clear: We will engage in discussion over facts and proof if you have an assertion that our lovely home town is dangerous to visit. But inflammatory opinions without foundation published on the internet cause more damage to more Mexican families here in Playa than any cartel activity, and therefore we will not allow them to be posted here.

  6. Fantastic article! Thank you so much for laying this all out there! Also thanks for including “Journey Mexico” in your list!

  7. jaine said

    I lived in Playa/Akumal for 10 glorious and happy years with every intention of making it my “forever” home even to the point of taking Mexican Citizenship, due to outside influences/events I had to return to the UK two years ago.
    Having grown up in central London I can tell you that I was and felt alot safer in Playa than here, I left my door unlocked at night with no problems other than a concerned neighbour locking it for me (and leaving me outside with no keys), where as here it is a “bonus” if you return to your car and find it in the same place that you parked it.
    I still have many friends living in Playa and not one of them has experienced crimes of violence, as we say here if you go looking for trouble you will find it.

  8. Ah, some intelligent logic… nicely done.
    stay adventurous, Craig

  9. Dear Tony & Cheri:

    Congratulations for producing a very thorough and objective analysis of the situation. I’m always happy to see Americans defending my country; nothing provides a more strong message for other fellow americans. Thank you guys, I really appreciate it.

    Of course, I’ll make a post at my blog linking to this excellent post.

    Again, muchas gracias amigos. You’ve got my complete and sincere respect and admiration. I can only wish there were more people like you in the world. :)

    Warm regards from Cancun!

  10. Very sad indeed, as I have been to Playa on 4 different occasions and never, ever felt anything close to anything resembling threats or violence. This said, violence is a fact of life and to think that it will just go away is simply avoiding the issue. No one wants to hear about this kind of stuff. The fact remains that, Playa is said to be THE fastest growing city in the world…and with this comes more people, therefore more money and subsequently more opportunities for the ugly side of society to surface. This murder is a very clear message to all future law inforcement officials and will unfortunaltly have very serious repercussions.
    I know that you have the power to delete this message, and understand if you do so. I just had to air my views on this matter as I also have a vested interest in Playa, my well being; and YES I am still coming out this March.
    Regards,
    Roger

    • Roger…this is EXACTLY the kind of opinionated fear mongering we are asking people to refrain from.

      “This murder is a very clear message to all law enforcement officials and will have very serious repercussions”.

      What message..and from who? Was the officer killed because he was fighting drug cartels? Was he killed by some dealers because he was working with other competing drug dealers ? Was he killed by someone because the Officer was using his office to blackmail or intimidate them ? Was he killed by a jealous husband or lover or for reasons of some insulted family honor? Was he killed by other cops for some violation of their local code? Was he killed for some reason of vengeance out of his past? We could speculate all day….but we don’t know so we won’t guess.If you know who killed him and why you know more than anyone else. And what are these dire repercussions you so ominously but vaguely refer to? So far the only repercussions we have seen is an overwhelming hysteria on the internet created by people who have no knowledge of any relevant facts.

      The truth is neither you or anyone else knows who killed the officer or why. So it is irresponsible to start guessing, assert some guess as if it were accepted fact and then decide to warn other of the “repercussions” of the “fact” you have created.

      Again we are simply asking people make decisions about Mexico’s safety based on fact…not personal speculation.

      .

  11. Paul said

    While I agree that violence in Mexico is sensationalized by the US media, and similar acts in the US are not given the same weight, the difference among the two countries is that violence in the US is investigated. In most cases, arrests are made, juries hand down convictions, and those responsible are removed from the street.

    For me, and I live and run a business in Mexico, is not that violence happens, but that the acts themselves, because they are rarely solved, create an atmosphere of impunity and uncertainty for tourists and residents alike.

    In order for Mexico to move past it’s current spike in violence, and it’s bad rap in the foreign press, it needs to do more to strengthen it’s civil society and legal system, routing out corruption most importantly and addressing the endemic lack of accountability.

  12. Excellent article. I will recommend this to all who want to rent our lovely little condo in Playa that we finally caved in and bought this last July. I am an ex journalist and I really appreciate your respect for good sources and reality vs fear mongering. Good links too! Thank you for doing all this work. In order to respond appropriately we need to be able to SEE what is really going on. I feel for the people in the community who will suffer as a result of this bad press.

  13. steph said

    Thank you so much for the great and informative post. This is the newest addition to my collection of articles and maps to send to people who say, “Why are you going to Mexico? It’s too dangerous!”. I appreciate the statistics and references which make your personal experiences, while invaluable, irrefutable by people who have seen too many reports on TV that don’t tell the whole story.

    Also thank you to your contributions to TripAdvisor. We very much appreciate them.

  14. Thanks for posting this. A voice of reason in the cacophony of Chicken Littles. Keep them coming.

  15. candelario gonzalez said

    I have been to Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen and Cancun one time individually and I fell in love with the area. It is a beutiful place and the people are very nice yea you have a bad aple here and there but you cant compare everybody to one another, over all it is a safe place and i just keep going back over and over again. i will not let the cartel violence on the northern part of Mexico change my mind one bit not at all the mayan community are nice people and i be honest with you i am an expatiated Mexican and I would love to have a second home here in the Yucatan Peninsula thanks for reading and keep on posting the good positive comments, dont let negative rumors keep you away from returning to a paradise like the yucatan peninsula. Mexico is for everyone who enjoys it

  16. Nick S said

    On Dec 31st, My son, who has travelled the whole world without trouble, had his rental car trunk open with illegal keys IN PLAYA Del Carmen and his passport, cameras Equipment, B/cert, and other things stolen. His friend lost money. Altogether the loss is about $7000.00. Police and others in Mexico don’t blink at news like this. Mostly, the inconvenience of getting papers and the problems with travel(NO FLIGHTS from PDC to MEXICO CITY for two or three days!!) create VERY VERY unpleasant irritation and delays–especially for people who have to return to other countries and go back to work! World terrorists have made these sorry experiences even worse with lost docs.
    So, people, please remember that it only takes ONE HIT to destroy all lot of good experiences.
    My family will not go to Mexico for a long time.
    Travelling the rest of South America was just great, Africa was great (Even Mugabe country!!), but Mexico–Sorry, Our son and his friends , who have seen the dead in resorts and been robbed blind do not share the glowing stories of some others.
    SORRY, our dollars are better used elsewhere.

    • Sorry Nick…your post doesn’t change our attitude at all. We always say that people should use common sense and act with the same precautions here as they would use anywhere. We don’t think anyone who should leave passports, birth certificates, important travel documents and $7000.00 worth of camera equipment in an unattended rental car in any urban area during the New Years Eve holiday. That is not using common sense. We suspect the same result could have happened anywhere in the US or Canada, and probably did. We still believe it and still say it…Playa del Carmen is as safe as most cities up north.

      • I would have to agree on T/S reply. Leaving that much in a clearly marked rental car in any city in the world is asking for trouble, NYE or not. In HI, when visiting waterfalls and such, tourists are recommended to leave nothing of value in their rental cars and doors unlocked, windows cracked. Petty thieves constantly break in to cars by breaking glass windows. In CO, my home for 20 years, cars would get broken in to at open space parking lots. What happens is someone watches from a distance when hikers pull in and park. Then they’re off on a hike, the thieves know the hikers will be gone for an extended period of time and break in the vehicle(s).

        Nick while your son may have traveled the “whole” world (a lot of territory to cover at such a young age) he just as easily could have encountered a similar problem in another country. Do you honestly think that your sons rental car was the only rental car in the “whole” world that was broken into on NYE? Do you think that no one was pick pocketed in say…Times Square NYC? or that no one was murdered in the good ole US of A on NYE?
        http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/san-diego-murder-suicide-1290086.html

        I am sorry for your sons financial losses and the inconvenience of the incident, it is really a drag.

        SORRY, our dollars are better used elsewhere:

        Is an understandable statement, until something like this happens again elsewhere to you or someone you know. Unlikely odds, so PDC gets a bad rap in your inner circle.
        I have had 16 (and counting) clients that have emailed me in the last four days with glowing happiness on their past (2011) holiday visits to Akumal, PA and PDC. Three of which made reservations for next year while still on the ground!!! (and one of those was taken for 200 pesos at a PEMEX station, the 200/20 swap). We have had our busiest season in the last four years and it will hopefully continue to get better.

        In closing, s*** happens (everywhere in the “whole” world). Nick, get over it, make a homeowners insurance claim and move on.

  17. Janet said

    I am coming with my grandaughter in June and have rented a car to make getting to the attractions easier. I have traveled Europe and all over the USA by myself and never been scared. I have my concerns about this trip because of having my grandaughter with me. But as you have pointed out making the right desicions and thinking about what you are doing makes the difference. I won’t be going out at night. I will be driving the main streets and highways. I plan on the Jungle Place, Tulum, Cenote Azul and Xceret. And of course 5th Ave shopping. We are staying at an all inclusive hotel nearby. All the usual places since this is a trip just for my grandaughter a gift from her grandfather. for her birthday. When in Italy 14 years ago we saw a car being robbed and the bus we were on robbed right in front of us. You can not leave anything in your car and don’t leave your doors unlocked at any time not even while driving in Europe the trunk is not locked if your doors are not locked so you can drive up and push the button to the truck and open it at a light and then run off saw that happen too. Would you do that at home? No. I live in the worst crime city in America. Crime is number one here. Not the cartel but you are very aware of your surroundings and know where not to go. Thanks for the info and I will check back closer to time.

  18. Carolyn said

    Very good prospective, and I hope you keep publishing the facts, as they can be hard to find. After the media publishes that first big headline, we rarely see much more about the facts.

  19. Ami said

    Hi there,
    Im planning a trip to playa in november of this year (2012). I’ve never been to mexico before…im actually not so worried about the city pdc at all…my question and concerns are around getting to pdc. I will be flying into cancun, and im wondering how safe it is driving on the highways (i presume) from cancun to pdc? for some reason this is what im scared of !

    any advice/insight is welcomed :D

  20. Eric said

    See you next week in Playa. The only benefit to this skewed view by the American press is that we get to stay beachfront in a wonderful 3 bedroom unit for a little over $2000 per week.

    4 years ago it was $3500.

    We will keep coming back.

    E

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