Tourists all over the world are wondering if Mexico is safe to visit. Travel advice is issued after two tourists were killed in one week in Oaxaca.
A 27-year-old male Canadian holidaymaker was shot and killed on Monday in Puerto Escondido, a popular Pacific seaside resort in the state of Oaxaca. He was the second foreign visitor killed in the same region of southern Mexico in less than a week. The other victim, a 23-year-old man from Argentina, died from injuries sustained in a machete attack. He was among a group of three Argentinians assaulted by a Mexican man in the hamlet of La Isla, at the mouth of the Laguna de Chacahua. The other two tourists were also wounded, but their injuries are not considered life-threatening.
My first thought on learning of these tragic events was sorrow tinged with horror. My second was a memory of a trip to the state capital, also called Oaxaca, some years ago that has stayed with me for the atmosphere, architecture, and food, and the sense that this was a somehow archetypal Mexican city – colorful, convivial, and beautiful.
On the heels of this thought came another recollection. There had been trouble in Oaxaca prior to my own visit, including violent clashes between police and a teachers’ trade union that resulted in 17 deaths. These were neither the first nor the last such street battles in a town, and state, known for their restive politics. I recall twitching nervously when an explosion rang out on a street close to the plaza. I thought I was about to find myself in the middle of a standoff. But it was a firecracker, and the commotion was a parade for some saint or devil. In Mexico – a land of smiling skulls and death cults – you never know.