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Mexico's drug war, contrary to report, does not mean all areas are unsafe for tourists

March 9, 2009 |  8:23 am

Rancho Leonero Resort is a sleepy fishing destination in Baja California Sur's East Cape region, far removed from the drug-related violence in Mexico.

I enjoy watching CNN and respect its journalists, but the station blundered Saturday night while addressing Mexico's drug war and the dangers facing prospective visitors to Mexico during spring break.

"CNN Newsroom" anchor Don Lemon stated at the outset of a story focusing largely on border-town drug-related violence that people in the United States might want "to think twice before considering Mexico for a spring break vacation."

This implied that all of Mexico is embroiled in such violence, and it's simply not true.

Cabo San Lucas, East Cape and La Paz? These areas in Baja California Sur, like many areas on Mexico's mainland, have not been sucked into the drug-related violence and do not deserve to be tossed into the fray.

Resort operators from southern Baja spent much of their time at last week's Fred Hall Fishing Tackle and Boat Show in Long Beach explaining to prospective clients how far removed they are from the drug-war front.

Matt Miller of Redondo Beach hoists a dorado, or mahi-mahi, caught on off Cabo San Lucas.

A sportfishing fleet owner from Cabo San Lucas told me that some business owners there are suspicious that U.S. media outlets are purposely trying to prevent citizens from spending money in a foreign country during these hard economic times.

CNN, or the L.A. Times for that matter, certainly would not stoop to such tactics.

To be sure, the CNN piece highlighted a serious problem that festers in border towns such as Tijuana and Rosarito Beach, where violence has been steady (in the former) or sporadic (in the latter).

But the same story also implied that beaches in Rosarito Beach are unsafe for tourists.

In fact, not a single drug-related murder, since the violence in border areas flared up beginning in 2007, has claimed a tourist in Rosarito Beach. And I could be wrong, but I do not think a murder of any cartel member or police officer actually occurred on a beach within a tourist zone.

I don't mean to downplay a serious issue or imply there aren't risks associated with travel south of the border. But as with the United States, some places in Mexico are safer than others, and they deserve a fair shake.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo (top): Rancho Leonero Resort is a sleepy fishing destination in Baja California Sur's East Cape region, far removed from the drug-related violence in Mexico.

Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

Photo (bottom): Matt Miller of Redondo Beach hoists a dorado, or mahi-mahi, caught on off Cabo San Lucas.

Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

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