Mexico Safety - Where's Good to Go?

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Although the recent US Government safety warning regarding travel to Mexico only warns against ‘non-essential travel’ to just four of Mexico’s 31 states – Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango and Tamaulipas – speculation that Mexico as a whole is unsafe for travelers still continues. So what does this actually mean, in real terms, for visitors going to Mexico for dental treatment?

In fact, 14 states are completely free from the State Department’s warning, including Baja California Sur, Yucatan, Mexico City, Oxaca, Chiapas and Guanajuato, and other states have warnings against travel to selected parts only, but not including any popular destinations, such as Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Cozumel. Mexico has its well-documented problems with the drugs wars, but the perception that the whole of Mexico is a no-go area, akin to the Wild West misses the point as there are plenty of destinations in Mexico that are no more unsafe than other locations throughout the world.

FEWER THAN 5% OF MEXICAN COUNTIES AFFECTED BY THE DRUGS WAR

An article in the Washington Post states that out of 2,500 municipalities (counties), only 80 (fewer than 5%) have been affected by the drugs war, which accounts for only 3% of all crime. It also points out that some Mexican cities are safer than some cities in the US, citing for example, Mexico City as having a lower homicide rate than Miami and Chicago.

The San Francisco Chronicle gives a succinct outline on the latest US State Department’s Mexico travel warning, underlining the fact that the vast majority of tourist destinations visited by US citizens are good to go, with only Acapulco being the exception.

HOW SAFE ARE MEXICAN BORDER TOWNS?

So, what about the safety of the Mexican border towns? The headlines frequently mention border towns as being particularly unsafe. While this is true in some cases, Ciudad Juarez for one, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The US-Mexican border runs for some 1,969 miles (3,169 kilometres) from Imperial Beach, California and Tijuana, Baja California in the West to Brownsville, Texas and Matamoras, Tamaulipas in the East. With around 350 million crossing each year it is the world’s most frequently-crossed border. Dotted along its length are border towns, such as Algodones, that have no more problems with drug-related violence than any US town has, and, as such, are just as safe to visit.

Even cities such as Tijuana, while having a reputation for being unsafe, have a US advisory only to exercise caution, particularly at night – which is something most people would do in any unfamiliar place. Also, recent reports indicate that violence in Tijuana has reduced by 40% and that there is a ‘new cool’ about the place with a burgeoning arts, music and restaurant scene. In fact, looking beyond the headlines, there are plenty of stories recommending Tijuana, even from US citizens that have moved there.The majority of our clinics are in locations where there is no travel advisory at all, and others where there is advice to take caution at night – which the majority of us would do in any unfamiliar town or city.

THE BEST OF MEXICO

The best of Mexico, says one of Lonely Planet’s authors, isn’t on the advisory warning.So, while some areas in Mexico are too risky to visit, others can and should be visited while taking certain precautions. Mexico is a big country. There are plenty of places to visit, well away from any trouble-spots that pose no more significant threats to your safety than anywhere else.

Amanda Duffy

Amanda Duffy is an expert in the field of medical and dental tourism having written extensively on the subject for a number of years. She is currently a key figure on the editorial team at Medical and Dental Departures.
To get in touch with this author, or for more info regarding this article, please contact us at author@dentaldepartures.com
This article is meant for information purposes only and is not intended to be dental advice or instructions for dental diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your dentist or a qualified dental professional before starting or changing dental treatment
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