Saturday, July 24, 2010

the Propaganda Wars against Mexican Travel

State Department warnings as detailed in a CNN report
.....I usually take them with a grain of salt as my idea of travel is perhaps a bit more adventurous than what most folks would undertake but when I saw this story regarding the latest Mexico Travel Advisory I was compelled to read and when I got to the comments section that was where my eyebrows were raised in disgust.

I do not know where to start...phrases like "right-wing hate rhetoric" and "misinformed xenophobes" kept coming to mind when I read some of the remarks. Where do these people get their information from and more importantly have any of the negative nellies ever been to Mexico or as I would ask, have any of them been to the "real" Mexico that exists outside of the tony resorts or bustling border towns?

If any of the following italicized comments are any indication I am given to believe that there are many folks who have no clue whatsoever about that wonderful country.

Ahhh...ole Mexico. Nothing like having a crappy 3rd would country on your southern border. And the stupid Obama Admin sueing Arizona because AZ is trying to stop the illegals from Mexico from sneaking in and costing the tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars a year? And don't forget the crime they do like they do back in their home country. Incredible and stupid to say the least. Close the border already and get rid of the illegals once and for all. AND if you go to mexico for your so called "Pardise vacation", YOU are a moron and get what you deserve. Case closed and have a great weekend!

Or how about this little gem?

Of all the places I have visited, Mexico is one place I will never go again. It is filthy even in the best resorts. I have been there 3 times, but will never go again. People go there because it is cheap and close, not me, I will go where it is safe and clean.

Where was this person staying I wonder? Wow, three times to Mexico and you are now an expert on the subject?

And then there are comments like this one.....comments that are based on years of experience that I can take seriously.....

My husband and I drive from Matamoros/Brownsville to Yucatan every year for the last 5. Mexico is an incredible country! We have always been hospitably treated wherever and whenever we go. The people are generous, kind, obliging, friendly. The scenery is spectacular. The architecture is world class. Hotels and restaurants are great. It is not America but neither is the rest of the world. Yes, there is violence by a few miserable drug lords and their ilk. Highly unfortunate but ask yourselves who keeps this violence going. The drugs go across the border to Americans who demand them. Evil always follows big money. It's in LA. Vegas, New York, DC. If America could do something to curb its own vices, perhaps the Mexican border towns and the streets of America could become safe again.

Driving into and throughout Mexico while not everybody's cup of tea or comfort zone is by and far still the best way to experience that country as a whole. I should know as I have been doing it for twenty years as have many others from various walks of life. And many of my confreres in the travel community are wondering what the motivation is on the part of government to issue these blanket statements that "all" is not safe when there are many Americans, Canadians and Europeans who can attest otherwise and of course let us not forget the Mexican residents themselves for it is those good folks that make that country a great place to live or just visit.

Mexico can no more be defined by border town/cartel violence than America can be defined by the decay of Detroit or the gangland areas of Los Angeles and Houston. I would think that most Americans would bristle with indignation if other governments issued travel warnings saying that America is a no-go zone because of the high levels of gun violence that rock that country. So where do some folks get their justification for slamming an entire country?

Look no further than the phenomena of talk radio - that medium that panders to the angry taxpayer, the working classes who cannot even afford to go to Disney World, those very folks who instead of focusing their anger at the corporate and bureaucratic world instead choose to blame illegal immigrants, primarily Mexican, for all of their economic woes. When times were good folks turned a blind eye to those labourers or dishwashers toiling away but as soon as the tide started to turn?

The violence happening in Mexico that the State Department warns of is mostly concentrated in the cities bordering their American sister-cities. This is nothing new. Border towns are not indicative of an entire country. Like I stated earlier if I were to use El Paso, Brownsville or Laredo as examples of a typically American mindset I would be called to task on that. The violence that makes the news in rather spectacular ways is the gang violence between the drug cartels and I believe that unless you are part of law enforcement, a Mexican progressive politician, a community activist or some gringo brokering several keys of the good stuff then what are you worried about?

We have heard stories of crimes committed against tourists but name me a place where that does not happen. Folks who stay in resorts are deluding themselves if they think that what they experience in a typical tourist trap area, once again, is indicative of an overall Mexican experience. Is the tourist trap that constitutes Orlando representative of America? I can guarantee that a place like Orlando or Myrtle Beach sees more than its fair share of crimes against vacationers.

We live in a society that is becoming ever more fearful and xenophobic. There is no progress or enjoyment of life for that matter when one is stuck in that sort of ignorance. I have had the time of my life getting to know Mexico and its citizens. It has been time well-spent.

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