Cancun has announced new measures to keep tourists safe and deter crime on popular beaches around the city.
In addition to local police and the National Guard, Secretariat of Citizen Security agents are now patrolling popular tourist areas, including the El Nino and Punta Sam beaches.
The agents will also watch over the Supermanzana 89 area and popular commercial locations near the coast.
The North Zone K-9 Unit will support the Secretariat of Citizen Security agents. K-9s are an essential tool for law enforcement in the Riviera Maya. They are particularly adept at detecting narcotics, explosives, and firearms.
The actions fall under the strategies outlined in the Quintana Roo New Model of Citizen Security.
The principles of the New Model of Citizen Security are to constantly protect the areas of highest public use and tourist beaches.
This is the most recent in a string of actions aimed at reducing crime and protecting tourists in the Riviera Maya.
Let’s review the security build-up in the Riviera Maya and the factors that led to it.
U.S. Travel Advisory
This spring, a United States Department of State Travel advisory singled out Cancun while recommending that tourists should “exercise increased caution” while traveling in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
The advisory stated, “U.S. citizens should exercise increased caution in the downtown areas of popular spring break locations, including Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum, especially after dark.”
The advisory did not discourage United States citizens from traveling to Cancun nor single out Cancun as a particularly dangerous place. The State Department suggests U.S. citizens “exercise increased caution” in many popular travel destinations worldwide, including France and the United Kingdom.
Nevertheless, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took exception to the classification and spoke out against the advisory.
“The State Department has forbidden 30 of the 32 [Mexican] states, but the country is full of Americans,” said President López Obrador. “Quintana Roo is full. Cancun is full of Americans.”
He added that he “does not accept when foreign legislators say that you cannot visit Mexico.”
High Profile Violence
Around the same time, several security incidents in Cancun made international headlines, including a shooting outside of a popular tourist hotel. The shooting resulted in the deaths of four Mexican nationals and was witnessed by American tourists.
In response, the Mexican National Tourism Business Council (CNET) demanded government action.
The organization asked that the government “ensure that the tourist destinations of the country be spaces of personal, social, and patrimonial security so that the local population and the national and international tourists can visit.”
Though violence is rarely directed at tourists, there are occasions on which they are affected as well. Just this March, an American teenager was shot in the leg while on vacation in Cancun.
Amidst the violence, politicians in Mexico downplayed its impact on tourists.
Governor of Quintana Roo Maria Lezama pointed out that only 0.000002% of tourists who visit Quintana Roo are victims of criminal activity. She argued that the United States government and media were exaggerating the violence in Mexico to keep tourist money in the United States.
Nevertheless, the stories of violence and complaints from locals and tourists alike forced the Mexican government to take drastic action to quell the violence.
In response to the violence, the Mexican government sent national guard troops to beach cities and tourist areas across Mexico. The largest group of soldiers deployed to Cancun.
Mexican Secretary of Defense, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, announced the plan before the start of the Easter holidays, one of the busiest seasons for beach tourism in Mexico.
In response, more than 8,000 soldiers are still stationed around the country. Most troops are patrolling beach cities, but some are present in critical infrastructure points, such as highways, airports, and bus stations.
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