|If you have been following my columns (and if not, why not?), you know I am embarking on a series of articles, prompted by reader's comments on the "Illegal Alien" issue.|
Reader's Comment Two: How could you live in a country that is so dangerous?
At first, I thought this individual was referring to the United States--I am not being sarcastic. Not until I figured out he was making a commentary on the state of criminal affairs in the country to which my wife and I had expatriated could I form a cogent reply.
There is violence in Mexico. In addition, and what may surprise some of my critics, is my admission there has been some violence against and kidnappings of some Americans. That is a fact.
I had a reader quote an article by Tracey Eaton, with the Dallas Morning News, in hopes, I suppose, of supporting his claim that crime is massively rampant in Mexico. Ms. Eaton does quote some figures and then points out, and quite correctly I might add, though the dead include
"…university students, assembly-plant workers, farm hands, businessmen, journalists, money couriers, drug gang henchmen and dozens of police officers. They ALL are thought to be linked to organized crime."
I spoke with Ms. Eaton, who agreed with me that Americans need a great deal of perspective when reading articles like this and coming to such emotively blustering conclusions that each time anyone, whether Mexican or an American expat or tourist, walks out the front door, it is time to play the "let's dodge the bullets" game.
She told me,
"I agree with what you wrote. I lived in Mexico City inthe 1980s and again in the 1990s and I know what you mean about perspective. It's not like you walk out your front door and have to dodge bullets."
The issue is one of perspective. Ms. Eaton agreed.
So how much crime is in Mexico? Is the criminal element that exists in Mexico killing masses of innocent Americans daily? From the hype that has been in the Minuteman Project reports and from their supporters, you would certainly think so. Also, from the State Department's unfounded "traveler's warnings", you would think you do have to dodge bullets each time you dare take one step over the Mexican-American border.
You would think it must be some humdinger of a statistic to warrant the State Department's and the Minuteman supporters' frightening warnings.
The truth is, when Narco News reporter, Bill Conroy tried investigating this little statistical wonder, here is what he got:
“We don’t have figures to respond to this question at this time,” said Diana Page, assistant press attaché for the U.S. Embassy Mexico. “The consular section is working on helping Americans, so getting statistics together has to wait.”
Next, Conroy filed the Freedom of Information Act with the U.S. State Department. Here was the reply from Greg Blackman, a State Department program analyst:
"... I severely doubt we have the information you're looking for," Blackman said. "... I have people looking into it now, so I don't know for sure what records are kept or how yet."
Again, I exclaim, "Say what?"
Then, what is the deal with the State Department's warnings and the Minuteman supporters' claim of the massive Mexican criminal element?
I cannot explain this. Who could? Perhaps God Himself could explain just how the U.S. State Department's bureaucracy works and why they do what they do. Then again, maybe even The Almighty might have trouble doing that!
So, what is the truth about Mexican violence against Americans?
According to a report, U.S. Citizen Deaths From Non-Natural Causes, By Foreign Country, there were some interesting revelations:
"In 2003, the first full year for which homicides figures are recorded, a total of 42 U.S citizens were murdered in Mexico, the report shows. A total of 18 homicides that year occurred along the U.S.-Mexican border. In 2004, through Dec. 31, a total of 35 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico, with 17 of those homicides occurring along the border. That’s right. The murder rate actually dropped between 2003 and 2004", reports Bill Conroy.
I grow weary but can manage to croak it out again, "Say what?"
I encourage a great deal of perspective when a potential expatriate or tourist is evaluating the issue of crime in deciding whether to move to or visit Mexico.
Look at this:
In Mexico in 2003, there were 13 murders per 100,000 people in the entire country. In the United States in 2003, that was the same homicide statistic for the state of Louisiana! These stats come from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports for the year 2003.
"Another conclusion that can be drawn from the State Department report, which some in the U.S. government might find shocking, is that Mexico appears to be a safer place to be for U.S. citizens than their own homeland. The State Department figures show that a total of 77 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico during the two-year period ending Dec. 31, 2004. That’s for the whole country.
By comparison, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, in 2003 alone, 109 people were murdered in the mid-sized city of Milwaukee. In Washington, D.C., where State Department officials cook up their policies, a total of 248 people were murdered in 2003, the FBI report shows. New York City weighed in with 597 murders that year." —Bill Conroy NarcoNews.
So, why the hype? Americans need to learn how to detect "Phony-Boloney" when they hear it. Stay tuned and we will learn how to do that—together.
 'It's a war' along the Mexican border 300 have been killed as drug crime thrives in Mexico 08:23 AM CDT on Friday, June 3, 2005 By TRACEY EATON / The Dallas Morning News
 Tracey Eaton in conversation with author.
About the Author
Doug Bower is a freelance writer, Syndicated Columnist, and book author. His newest book Mexican Living: Blogging it from a Third World Country can now be seen at http://www.lulu.com/content/126241
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