Cancun struggles to keep surging violence from affecting tourists
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.