One can look at just about any tourist literature on Mexico, or any Mexico-centric message boards, and see comments about all the “sensationalized” news on Mexico that is scaring away the tourists. The mantra is that Mexico is safe for tourists, and all that news about drug killings and such is just Mexican-on-Mexican criminal activities of no concern to an American.
I really get a kick out of the “statistics” — actually just propaganda — that is put forth. Most of the “statistics” have no scientific foundation and are not even based on a standard statistical method. For instance, I have lost count of how many times I have read, “More Americans are killed in the US than in Mexico.” Oh, really? I’ll bet more Fiji Islanders are killed in Fiji than in Iceland. At any one point in time there are at most 100,000 Americans visiting or living in Mexico. (Yeah, I know all the propaganda from the Mexican Board of Tourism says there are 1 million Americans in Mexico. But all foreign residents in Mexico are required to report their addresses to the Foreign Ministry, and they can’t find anywhere close to 1 million Americans.) There are 307 million Americans in the US all the time. Since there are over 3,000 times more Americans in the US than in Mexico, it stands to reason more Americans would die in the US, just as more Fijians die in Fiji.
But that has nothing to do with how safe Mexico is for Americans. The US State Department has a website that accounts for American deaths abroad, and breaks the causes of death down.
Here is a link to that webpage.
I broke down the data for Mexico for 2009:
Total American deaths in Mexico 2009 = 230
Homicides = 79
Vehicle accident = 79
Drowning = 36
Suicide = 9
All other accidents = 27
Here are the Ameican homicide deaths in two places in Mexico:
American homicide deaths in Ciudad Juarez/Chihuahua = 23
American homicide deaths in Baja California = 25
Two numbers jump right off the page. One is that homicide is the leading cause of death of Americans in Mexico. While vehicle deaths are tied at 79, they include deaths from getting run over by a vehicle, bus accidents, as well as personal vehicles.
The second is that Baja California has more American homicides than Ciudad Juarez and its state of Chihuahua. Chihuahua, the state which contains Ciudad Juarez, is hands down the deadliest place in Mexico, for Mexicans. Baja is the deadliest place for Americans. In fact, at the current pace, more Americans were murdered in Baja in 2009 than will be murdered in the City of San Diego in 2010. Do I need to mention that San Diego is almost entirely Americans and Baja is almost entirely Mexicans?