USA Today contributor David Agren recently published an article, “Cancun crime wave threatens tourist mecca”, in which he reports on the regrettable security situation that currently affects the most important touristic destination throughout México and Latin America, the city of Cancún….
CANCUN — Anti-crime activist Teresa Carmona hangs embroidered sheets in a park with details of those killed in this tourist mecca. She started with eight sheets two years ago. Now she hangs up to 80 every Sunday and has 70 more stored at home.
“Most cases are not even investigated and go unpunished” because of indifference by authorities and residents, she said.
Violent crime is encroaching on this Riviera Maya tourist hot spot, as well as nearby Playa del Carmen and Tulum, jeopardizing a $20 billion USD a year business that attracts millions of visitors lured by the white sand beaches, archaeological ruins and pulsing nightlife.
Crime and violence between rival drug gangs has surged throughout Mexico, creeping into other popular destinations, such as Los Cabos on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. Homicides there are up 400% so far this year, underscored by the discovery of 14 bodies in a mass grave in June.
The spike in violence comes as Mexico welcomed a record 35 million foreign visitors in 2016, up nearly 9% from the previous year, according to the Tourism Secretariat.
Tourism officials acknowledge the problems plaguing tourist towns: low wages, inadequate housing for workers and increased crime, problems that recently prompted the Tourism Secretariat to announce plans to improve housing for tourism workers.
“A life like that creates the perfect situation so that many people turn to crime,” Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid told Televisa. “We don’t just work to attract foreign tourists … but above all to improve local people’s quality of life.”
Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located, recorded 133 murders in the first six months of 2017, more than double the total for all of last year.
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