How Safe is Mexico for Tourists?

Last Updated: October 4, 2012 by
Categories: Mexico

Enrique Pena Nieto, winner of Mexico's presidential election, won't take office until December, and it's unclear how he'll approach the drug war that has killed an estimated 47,000 people or more since late 2006.

But what if you're thinking about a trip now? Is Mexico getting scarier or safer?

The answer depends on where you're headed and when. It can't hurt to look at recent findings by the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies. The most recent numbers show a marked decline in drug killings this year.

In a new analysis of cartel-related killings reported by the Mexican daily Reforma, the institute has found 6,663 such homicides in the first 34 weeks of 2012, a 23% decrease from the same date last year.

"That's a huge difference over one year," said David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute. "We're expecting this to be the first year in at least five years, probably in 10 years, in which violence has fallen year over year."

As the overall homicide rate has fallen, Shirk said, Nuevo León has emerged as the most violent state in Mexico, with 917 cartel executions as of Aug. 25. Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Guerrero and Coahuila were the other states with the most cartel killings, but their situations vary widely.

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