Cancun has led the nation of Mexico with the amount of National Guard troops in place to protect tourists.
These troops (a total of 1,125) were stationed in Cancun after being deployed to the tourist hotspot to protect visitors during Easter, one of the busiest tourist seasons.
More than 7,000 National Guard members patrolled the major tourist areas of Mexico, including Cancun, Acapulco, and Tulum. Now that the holiday has passed, the number may drop, but Cancun and the Riviera Maya will continue to be some of the most protected areas in Mexico in order to protect tourists.
The main objectives are to protect areas where tourists gather, such as beaches, cultural centers, and plazas.
Additionally, troops patrol significant infrastructure points, such as bus stops, airports, and highways. All deployed troops are part of the General Directorate for Highway Safety and Facilities.
These actions are part of a trend of greater militarization in maintaining domestic security in Mexico.
The Mexican National Guard also recently sent military reinforcement to Tulum’s Jaguar National Park to prevent illegal activities and protect tourists.
The National Guard special force is in charge of protecting the park and the Mexican Caribbean Bioreserve.
“There is a need for National Guard presence to protect the people and resources of the nation found in this park,” claims National Guard Inspector General Gabriel Bautista Tapia.
Since the beginning of the Administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2018, the National Guard, consisting of 70% Navy and Army members, has played a role in Mexican domestic security.
Human rights groups remain skeptical of the utility of the National Guard as a law enforcement organization and are concerned about its role in Mexico.
Violence In Tourist Hotspots
The announcement that National Guard would maintain order in tourist hotspots came after an increase in high-profile acts of violence in Mexican beach towns this spring.
For instance, while visiting Cancun, an American teenager was shot in the leg. Additionally, in Cancun and Acapulco, eight people died in shootings in just one week in early April.
Tourists witnessed the shooting in Cancun, which took place in front of the Fiesta Americana Condesa Hotel, and the National Tourism Business Council (CNET) demanded action in light of these events.
The organization asked that the government “ensure that the country’s tourist destinations be spaces of personal, social, and patrimonial security, so that the local population and the national and international tourists can visit.”
“The country and the tourism destinations should not and cannot continue living in an environment of violence and insecurity,” said CNET.
Tourism Continues Despite Violence
Despite the violence, tourism in the Mexican Caribbean never decreased, and Cancun hotels remain filled to near capacity.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador uses high tourism rates as evidence that the security situation in Mexico is stable.
According to President López Obrador, national crime is down 30%, kidnapping 64%, and intentional homicide 11%.
He also quickly points out that 70% of homicide is related to organized crime. President López Obrador and other Mexican politicians argue that organized crime is responsible for most violence in the country.
Quintana Roo Governor Maria Lezama is another politician who does not believe violence in Mexico is a threat to tourists.
0.000002% of tourists in Quintana Roo are the victims of crime, according to Governor Lezama. Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, receives massive numbers of tourists.
She argues that major headlines labeling Mexico as a dangerous destination are misinformation and propaganda attempts by industry officials in the United States who would rather see tourists spend their money at home.
Nevertheless, the official United States Government stance remains the same. Quintana Roo is under a level 2 travel advisory, instructing Americans to “exercise increased caution” while traveling.
In particular, the Department of State suggests Americans be careful in the downtown areas of beach towns like Cancun, especially after dark.
Other countries under level 2 travel advisories include the United Kingdom and France.
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