18 oct. 2006

DESTINATION MEXICO COMMENTARY Protests, passion part of Mexican culture

Mexico, Protests, passion part of Mexican culture
- Maribeth Mellin, Special to The Chronicle
Sunday, October 1, 2006

The Associated Press recently reported that "growing political unrest and drug violence are making foreigners think twice about visiting Mexico. ... No tourists have been reported hurt in Mexico City, Oaxaca or Acapulco, but hotels are being hit by cancellations of thousands of reservations."

On Sept. 16, 2006, U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza spoke of the "near lawlessness of some parts of our border regions," and warned Americans to be extra cautious when traveling to border cities

Such reports from Mexico are unsettling, even for frequent travelers. Passion is palpable in the streets of Oaxaca, where teachers spent the summer sleeping in the central plaza beneath placards demanding better wages and social change. Many stayed even after school started. In Mexico City, angry voters protesting the results of Mexico's presidential election set up camp beneath the wide-winged golden angel monument on the Paseo Reforma and the massive flag in the Zócalo.

...Mexico is an enormous country, just like the United States. Serial murderers stalking children in Phoenix don't keep tourists away from Disneyland. Barricades in Oaxaca won't stop cruise ships from sailing into peaceful harbors in Cozumel.

Tourism is the third-largest industry in Mexico. You can be sure the government will do all it can to keep travelers safe and secure.

Maribeth Mellin writes a monthly column on Mexico for the San Diego Union Tribune and is the author of several Mexico travel books. To comment, e-mail travel@sfchronicle.com.