Cancun struggles to keep surging violence from affecting tourists

Mexico’s tourism industry is growing in both arrivals and revenue. And that’s despite a series of travel warnings by the U.S. State Department. So what is Mexico doing to increase security? CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports.

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Cancun is a city divided into two worlds.

Out in the ‘Hotel Zone’, a thin spit of land created by the Caribbean’s currents, enormous hotels and fine white sand attract millions of tourists every year.

But inland, Cancun town is living through a wave of violence that saw murder rates jump by more than 160 percent last year – 2017 saw 29,000 murders in Mexico.

One strip mall, called Plaza de los Tucanes, had never known violence until a few years ago. In the past week alone it has witnessed four armed robberies.

One pharmacist we spoke to told us she is now used to being held-up at gunpoint, and that “security in Cancun is non-existent.”

Another shop owner, who asked not to be named, said, “once the first set of bandits have gone, we call the police to report the crime, and a short while later the second set of bandits – dressed in blue – show up.”

Yet out in the hotel zone the tourists live on oblivious to the problems on the other side of the water.

But following an order by the country’s federal government to assign 5,000 extra troops to tourism hotspots across the country, Cancun’s police force hope to guarantee the safety of all its residents.

“Organized criminal groups are present in Cancun, and they cause a lot of violence. It’s extremely important to protect the tourists, but we care about everyone’s safety,” Darwin Puc, a former military officer and the resort’s new municipal police chief said.

Yet with Spring Break due to start next week, locals and tourists alike are hoping tat the security boost will stop Cancun’s two worlds from colliding.

Read the original story on CGTN America

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Alasdair Baverstock MA is an award-winning multimedia foreign correspondent based in Mexico City, with more than five years of experience covering Latin America. Originally from London, and with full NCTJ certification, he specialises in news and feature journalism for print, radio and television. His work has previously been used as set-texts in British A-Level examinations. He currently works as CGTN America's Mexico correspondent, and has formerly published work in TIME Magazine, Daily Mail, The Atlantic, Penthouse, Fox News, BBC, Daily Telegraph, TRT World, and others.

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