2015 Mexico Peace Index

Reposted from Borderland Beat from content developed and distributed by Vision of Humanity’s Mexico Peace Index.  Playa Viva is located in the State of Guerrero which is rated as the Least Peaceful state. It appears that the factor contributing most to this rating is the high rate of homicide (most likely taking into consideration the 43 “disappeared” students). However, taking into consideration the other 6 evaluation criteria, Guerrero would rank closer to the middle.”  While safety is the number one concern of our guest, the overall trend shows an improvement in the Peace Index (and correlated safety in Mexico) and tourist areas such as Playa Viva continue to be safe for tourists.  We hope this provides valuable information to help you make an informed decision about traveling safely to Mexico and Playa Viva.

“The Mexico Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, provides a comprehensive measure of peacefulness in Mexico from 2003 to 2014. This report aims to deepen the understanding of the trends, patterns and drivers of peace in Mexico while highlighting the important economic benefits that will flow from a more peaceful society.”
  • Mexico has experienced a large decrease in violence since 2011, with the national level of peace improving by 16 percent.
  • Progress in peace has plateaued in the last year; it is too early to determine if this is the start of a new trend.
  • The level of peace as measured by the 2015 MPI is still 18 percent lower than in 2003.
  • The most peaceful state in Mexico is Hidalgo, followed by Yucatán, Querétaro, Campeche, Tlaxcala, and Chiapas.
  • Of the 76 largest metropolitan areas of Mexico, the most peaceful is Orizaba in Veracruz and the least peaceful is Culiacán in Sinaloa.
  • The eastern region remains the most peaceful in Mexico, while the northern region is still the most violent, although the gap between the north and the other regions is now at its lowest point since 2004.
“The Mexico Peace Index (MPI) derives from the work of the Global Peace Index, a leading global measure of peacefulness that has been produced by IEP annually since 2007. The Index follows a similar methodology to the United Kingdom Peace Index and the United States Peace Index, also produced by IEP, and defines peace as ‘the absence of violence or fear of violence’.
The MPI measures peace at the state level in Mexico. A key reason for choosing this unit of analysis is that, similar to the United States, Mexico’s state governments have wide-ranging powers allowing them to have a significant impact on the level of violence, therefore the response to violence may differ significantly from state to state.”
The Index is composed of the following seven indicators:
— Homicide rate per 100,000 people
Source: Executive Secretary of the National System for Public Security (SESNSP)—cases being investigated by the State Prosecution Authorities
— Violent crime rate per 100,000 people
Source: SESNSP
— Weapons crime rate per 100,000 people
Source: SESNSP
— Number of people sent to prison per year, per 100,000 people
Source: National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI)
— Federal Government funding to States for the Public Security Contribution Fund per 100,000 people
Source: Secretaria de Hacienda y Crédito Publico (SHCP)
— The number of extortions, drug-trade related crimes, organized crime offenses, and kidnapping per 100,000
Source: SESNSP
— Proportion of convictions for homicide to total homicides
Source: INEGI
“All indicators are scored between 1 and 5, with 1 being the most
peaceful score, and 5 the least peaceful. After the score for each
indicator has been calculated, weights are applied to each of the
indicators in order to calculate the final score.”
There is a wide range in levels of peacefulness across both indicators and states in Mexico. A higher score indicates lower peacefulness. Scores out of five.
Most and Least Peaceful States
With a few exceptions, states in the southern and eastern regions of Mexico are more peaceful than the western, central, and northern regions. Of the ten most peaceful states, only two, Querétaro and San Luis Potosí, are not from the south or the east, while Guerrero is the only southern or eastern state amongst the ten least peaceful.
In the last two years, the most peaceful states, while decreasing very slightly in peacefulness, have had only small changes in rank. There has been a much higher degree of variance amongst the least peaceful states. Guanajuato and Michoacán have steadily declined to now be amongst the five least peaceful states. Juxtaposed to this, many of the least peaceful states have recorded large reductions in homicides and violent crime over the last two years. Tables 2 and 3 show the scores and ranks for the most and least peaceful states, both for the overall index, and each of its seven indicators.

Full Report:


Update from US State Department on Travel in Mexico

The US State Department recently updated it’s travel advisory for Mexico. While this is generally for US State Department employees, it also applies to US citizens traveling in Mexico. You can find the full advisory including specific updates for each Mexican State. Below we have included the first few lines of the General Conditions followed by an except from the specific update for the State of Guerrero where Playa Viva is located.  Your security is very important to us and we take certain security measuresUSPassports as well as ask you, our guest, to take normal precautions (many outlined by this advisory). These include traveling during the day on major highways; not displaying expensive cameras, watches and jewelry; and using common sense precautions when traveling.  Playa Viva makes sure that all transportation provided is with bonded taxis and tour guides (or well known employees and contractors).  We provide safe’s for your valuables, accept credit card on file for all payment so you do not need to carry cash and provide on site security 24×7.  We are happy to report that we have not had any incidents with guests to date and assume that part of this has to do with the great relationship we have built with the local community.  We appreciate your continued support of tourism in Mexico, to Playa Viva and support of the local community.

Below are excepts from the US State Department update on Travel to Mexico.

General Conditions: 

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.  The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality.  Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes. 

Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter organized criminal groups that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico.  The groups themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity.  Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. 

Guerrero: Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco and Zihuatanejo are major cities/travel destinations in Guerrero – Defer non-essential travel to the northwestern and southern portions of the state (the area west and south of the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and west and south of the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca), except for the cities of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Ixtapa. In those cities, you should exercise caution and stay within tourist areas. You should also exercise caution and travel only during daylight hours on toll highway (“cuota”) 95D between Mexico City and Acapulco. Use the toll road towards the Playa Diamante area and avoid the highway running through the city of Acapulco for travel to and from Acapulco. In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than 2 blocks inland of the Costera Miguel Aleman Boulevard, which parallels the popular beach areas. Lodging for U.S. government personnel is limited to the “Hotel Zone” of Acapulco, beginning from the Hotel Avalon Excalibur Acapulco in the north and going south through Puerto Marquez including the Playa Diamante area. Any activity outside the Hotel Zone for U.S. government personnel is limited to the coastal area from La Quebrada to the beginning of the Hotel Zone and only during daylight hours. In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence. Flying into the coastal cities in southern Guerrero remains the preferred method of travel. You should defer non-essential travel by land between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, travel to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa only by air, and exercise caution while in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. If traveling by land, use toll highway 200 between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. You should also exercise caution in the northern region of Guerrero (the area north of the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and north and east of the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca). The state of Guerrero was the most violent state in Mexico in 2013, with 2,087 homicides and 207 reported cases of kidnapping, according to the Mexican Secretariado Ejecutivo Nacional de Seguridad Publica. Self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.

Staff Development at Playa Viva

Remember taking your Red Cross Lifeguard Certification training down at the community pool when you were growing up. Well I did and when I got these photos from Monica, those memories just flooded back.

As we were closing for Season 3 (2011-2012), Monica Oyarzun lead our GIIRS re-certification. As part of this process, we engaged out team in several training and capacity building programs. These included fire safety, earthquake and tsunami evacuation and preparedness and basic training in water safety.  These are just a few of the training programs that we conducted with our team and hope to conduct many more training both as a group and with individuals in particular areas of expertise.  Training and capacity building for our team is core to our commitment to regeneration, community and especially the community that keeps Playa Viva vital.

Thank you Monica for arranging all the training and for taking the photographs.

We are often asked, “Is Playa Viva safe?” With all the news you hear, read and see about violence in Mexico, it’s hard not to see how some folks extrapolate the gore across all of Mexico.  So it is with great interest that this story crossed my in-box showing that murder in Ciudad Juarez has gone down and the distinguished title of Most Dangerous City in the World has been relinquished to Bogota Columbia.  Click here to read full article.

Even more surprising is to see St. Louis, Missouri on that list in the #4 spot.  That’s right, a US City as one of the most dangerous in the world.  The honor went to St. Louis beating out Camden, Detroit and New Orleans.  What is interesting to note is how come we don’t hear about this in the US media as much as we hear about the violence in Mexico.  Would everyone be rushing back to New Orleans after Katrina to help rebuild the city and support the local tourist economy if they new it was one of the top 5 most dangerous cities in the US?

I also encourage you to read this blog – Is it Safe To Travel in Mexico – for a more balanced view on this issue.

We want to hear your comments about this topic. Especially those who have traveled to Mexico in the last two years.



Despite Violence, U.S. Firms Expand in Mexico

We keep getting asked how the violence in Mexico effects our business. Here is an interesting article in the New York Times.

Excerpt below:

“Despite the bleak outlook the drug war summons, the Mexican economy is humming along, not without warning signs, but growing considerably faster than that of the United States.

Even as drug organizations battle for turf around them, more TV sets are being assembled, car parts boxed up and electronic widgets soldered together in the large manufacturing plants here known as maquiladoras. The result is a boomlet in jobs in some of Mexico’s hardest-hit cities, a bright spot in an otherwise bleak stream of shootouts, departing small businesses and fear of random death.

Over all, jobs in Mexico’s manufacturing sector increased 8.2 percent to 1.8 million as of January, the most recent figures available, driven mostly by what Mexican officials called regaining health in the auto and electronics industries, the engine of the economy along the border. Even Ciudad Juárez, which has both the highest level of violence and the largest number of maquiladoras, added 1.3 percent more jobs, to 176,824.”

Click here to read full article in the New York Times

Travel Advisory for Mexico – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Below is the newest and most updated information from the US Dept of State for their travel advisory for Mexico as of April 22, 2011.

REVISED ON NOVEMBER 20, 2012 – link here.

The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated September 10, 2010 to consolidate and update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government personnel.

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes. Nevertheless, crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.

It is imperative that you understand the risks involved in travel to Mexico and how best to avoid dangerous situations. Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.

To read the detailed report click here

Here is what the Advisory says specifically about the state of Guerrero where Playa Viva is located. Please note that Playa Viva is NOT anywhere near the city of Ciudad Altamirano mentioned in the advisory. Also, while you need to travel on the coastal road between Ixtapa and Acapulco to get to Playa Viva, the Advisory refers more to the road starting in Acapulco and NOT the section from Ixtapa to Playa Viva. See below.

Guerrero and Morelos: You should exercise extreme caution when traveling in the northwestern part of the state of Guerrero, which has a strong TCO presence. Do not take the dangerous, isolated road through Ciudad Altamirano to the beach resorts of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo and exercise caution traveling on the coastal road between Acapulco and Ixtapa due to the risk of roadblocks and carjackings. Numerous incidents of narcotics-related violence have occurred in the city of Cuernavaca, in the State of Morelos, a popular destination for American language students.

Downtown Acapulco and surrounding areas have seen a significant increase in narcotics-related violence in the last year. Incidents have included daylight gunfights and murders of law enforcement personnel and some have resulted in the deaths of innocent bystanders. Due to the unpredictable nature of this violence, you should exercise extreme caution when visiting downtown Acapulco. To reduce risks, tourists should not visit the downtown area at night and should remain in clearly identifiable tourist areas. In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante just south of the city has not been affected by the increasing violence.

If you have any questions about security at Playa Viva, we would be happy to address any questions you might have. We understand your concern about safety for you and your family, we also understand the concerns of your family and friends for your safety. It is important to know that facts and to make decisions based on information and not on fear. As the advisory informs from the very beginning, “Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year” and we are happy to report that Playa Viva has not experienced any problems with any of our guests to date. We invite your comments, concerns and questions about this important matter.

Contact information for the US Consulate Agency in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo: Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, telephone (011)(52)(755) 553-2100.

Mexico’s Drug War Myth’s Dispelled

That is the headline on this story that ran on CNN recently. In looking at the facts, Mexico’s murder rate per 100,000 people was less than El Salvador, Honduras, Venezula, Guatemala or Columbia. Additionally, it shows how the drug related murders are concentrated in 4 northern states that comprise 60% or more of the murders.

We are glad to see that fact based reporting and not just sensationalist “news”.  Click here to see the video.