There’s no doubt that there has been a big uptick in violent crime in Mexico related to the drug cartel wars. This crime wave, which is tragically fierce, is concentrated in the northern states along the US border and in some of the central/western areas.
Mexico City is NOT within the area of Mexico suffering a crime wave. In fact, it is about 1000 miles away. I spent an hour one night recently online pouring over crime statistics. The homicide rate in Mexico City is about 12 per 100,000 population, which is down from a rate of 20/100,000 in the late 1980s. I live in Chicago. Alas, our murder rate in Chicago is 17.8/100,000–higher than Mexico City’s. Washington DC (where my 23-year-old daughter lives and works) has a murder rate two times that of Mexico City. And Baltimore? Three times higher than Mexico City’s rates.
You may read about alarming events such as assaults at ATM machines, kidnappings, etc. I asked my hosts about rumors that businessmen are employing bodyguards. They hadn’t heard of any such practice. In the modern center of Mexico City, where the IPA Congress will be, you will be and feel as safe as in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles. I walked for several hours on my own and felt not the slightest unease. Of course there are areas of the city you wouldn’t go to alone at night, just like in any world-class city. And you should conduct yourself with basic big city precautions. One important safety issue has to do with unauthorized gypsy taxis. It is unwise to take these. The Congress and congress hotels will have plenty of information about how to get around safely and find authorized taxis.
While in Mexico City I attended several meetings with police officials and the Citizens Council, which works with police on security issues among other quality of life matters. These officials were proud to point out that in recent months they have hosted enormous events related to Mexico’s 200th anniversary and other historical events, with hundreds of thousands of visitors, and no associated crime incidents. They are paying careful attention to important venues, and were proud to tell me that in two years of reorganized oversight, there have been no incidents of petty crime at the airport. It was obvious to me that the leaders of Mexico City are eager to highlight the modernity of their city, and its safety. I was invited with a group to tour a brand new video surveillance center which tracks live feeds from key areas in the city. Chicago has a similar system.
I was surprised to see that in many parts of the city there was almost no trash and much less graffiti than in European and US cities. Mexico City despite its overwhelmingly large population was clean and bright and open and actually didn’t feel crowded.
Mexico city is a busy, enormous, very urban city. Crime rates are going down, not up. Be smart and alert and you will be as safe as in Chicago or DC–or maybe safer. That’s my read of the current situation. The Congress staff and Local Arrangements Committee will be providing you with extensive information that will make your visit very comfortable and stress free.
The photograph at the top of the page looks to the street from the Congress venue