Fear, drugs and tan lines

Darren D'Altorio

Last year, some friends of mine went to Acapulco, Mexico for spring break. They returned with the typical tales of lavish nightclubs, crystal blue water and insane cab drivers.

But the sight of Mexican military officials posted on nearly every street corner with fully automatic weapons was not part of the picturesque vision I imagined. Nonetheless, that was the reality of the place. Oh yeah, and there’s that kid they saw beat to a bloody pulp outside of a club by some local thugs – memories of a lifetime.

Mexico has not been the happiest place lately. Since the beginning of 2008, more than 6,000 people have been murdered in the midst of a raging turf war between Mexican drug cartels and law enforcement authorities. The violence is mostly contained to border cities, but tourist cities like Cancun and Acapulco are starting to experience an increase in crime.

Tourist cities in Mexico will also begin to experience an increase in coeds as the spring break 2009 season dawns.

Because of the violence, the U.S. Department of State issued a new travel alert, highlighting the risks associated with traveling to Mexico. Also, some colleges are rallying around the Department of State’s alert, telling students to take extra precautions when traveling to Mexico for spring break, or simply not to go at all.

This alert is designed to be precautionary and informative. But it is actually ridiculous.

The reason the U.S. Department of State issued this alert is simple: fear mongering.

Now, this is not to say there isn’t some serious stuff happening in Mexico. These street wars are real. Drug lords, police officers and innocent people die every day amid bullet exchanges and grenade blasts. People are kidnapped and held for ransom, only to be executed after the ransom is paid.

But the same climate exists right here on American soil. Chicago is one of the most violent cities in America, boasting high homicide rates through the South Side neighborhoods. Colorado has had its fair share of gang violence because of the medicinal marijuana laws that enable growers to set up shop, creating animosity among street peddlers, leading to murders to settle scores for lost profits, according to an article in Maxim Magazine.

At its heart, Washington D.C. is one of the most down-trodden districts in the nation, masquerading under an elite status. Detroit is the new armpit of America, ravaged by crime and poverty. Every day in America children are kidnapped, women are raped and people are murdered for vengeance and in cold blood.

Those scenarios sound like the accusations made against Mexico, accusations causing establishments of higher education to promote the boycott of travel between nations.

You don’t see the Department of State issuing domestic travel alerts for cities with escalated violence. Why? That’s a simple question that needs answered if this biased finger-pointing is going to continue.

Mexico is having some tough times, but America is in the breadline right behind them. Unfortunately, according to statistics, Americans consume more illegal drugs than any nation in the world, and the supply route feeding the habits of the American populous is Mexico. America’s dependency on drugs fuels Mexico’s economy; that’s the truth. It’s economics, supply and demand, causing the bloodbath along the border cities. The heathen cartel members probably have mouths to feed at home, too.

Maybe American policymakers should take some responsibility for fostering this guerilla war instead of slapping warnings on an entire country.

Spring breakers in Mexico will be fine, no precautions necessary. Drug dealers and cartel members don’t want to kill American college tourists. They want to walk up to them, flash the fat sack of green, see the white boy flash the fat stack of green, make the transaction and part ways. Both parties are happy. The college kid gets his kicks with a smoke and a drink in a foreign land on spring break. And the dealer gets to live another day feeding his family.

These dealers aren’t stupid. They aren’t going to kill the customers, especially when they will be flocking in mass quantities.

Darren D’Altorio is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. You can reach him at [email protected].