Move Comes In The Wake Of Video Showing French Tourists Falling Victim To Local Police
The Tulum authorities have announced that they will be taking measures to help combat police corruption in the area. The measures will be focussed particularly on tourist extortion.
A recent video published and shared on Facebook sparked the announcement. In the video, a group of French tourists is extorted after being pulled over for speeding. The tourists are told they must withdraw money from an ATM before having their licenses returned to them. In this instance, the officer in question was identified and has been released from duty.
The reaction appears to be in line with Tulum’s new zero-tolerance policy. According to Óscar Aparicio Avendaño, director of Public Security, Tulum will not allow any officer caught engaging in any form of corruption or extortion to continue working on the force. He did stress that there are good officers on the force, and not to let the poor decisions of a small group tarnish the greater majority.
Police extortion cases are common in many of the world’s major tourist hotspots. Officers will stop tourists for small infringements and claim they need to pay a fine on the spot or be arrested. Many tourists, panicking at the thought of being in a foreign prison will hand over as much cash as was requested. In reality, no ticket would necessarily have been issued or a warning would have been sufficient.
Instances such as this are a frustration for the tourist industry in Mexico. The country is currently fighting a war of reputation against neighboring countries and the world media. Although Quintana Roo and the majority of the other major tourist hubs in the country are safe, several high-profile incidents have led to negative global headlines and official warnings from the United States.
In Quintana Roo, tourism equates to almost 87% of the total GDP. The state is too heavily reliant on visitors for fear to prevent many from arriving. Tulum is expecting a new airport in 2023 as well as the arrival of the Maya Train. Both projects should boost tourism in the area greatly but many fear situations like this will result in fewer making the trip. There is even the concern that those who do come may find themselves too uncomfortable to leave their resorts.
Most of the incidents in question have revolved around the increase in violent organized crime that Quintana Roo has seen in the past months. One tragic event left two tourists dead after being caught in the crossfire between rival gangs. Another global attention grabber was the recent double assassination at the Hotel Xcaret which saw two men shot in broad daylight.
Although situations like this are the exception and not the rule, state and local governments are scrambling to find solutions to help steady potential travelers’ nerves. 1500 soldiers from the National Guard have been placed in Quintana Roo in an effort to calm the nerves of visitors to the area. It is hoped that the increase in soldiers will greatly reduce the probability of any further violence taking place.
The future is not bleak for Tulum or Quintana Roo. Tourist numbers are still high and, with the epidemiological traffic light level returning to yellow, more can be expected soon. The violence and other unfavorable sides to the region have so far proved that it takes a lot for tourists to be deterred, but as the state seeks to turn itself into a consistently world-class destination in the years following the pandemic, police corruption will most definitely have the attention of government officials.
No further details about the measures being taken have been announced.
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