One of the things that I have enjoyed most in my travels to a number of cities in Mexico over the years is the bustling atmosphere in the downtown areas that continues well into the evening. The sidewalks are full of people. Street vendors are common. Small specialty stores of all kinds stay open at least until 10:00 p.m. There appears to be a real sense of community among the people. Last night when we arrived via a commercial airline it was very different.
At 9:00 p.m., the streets were deserted. There were no people on the sidewalks. The traffic was minimal. A man near our hotel told us that the citizens decided on a self-imposed curfew. They communicated this choice to each other via Facebook. It is sad to see such a dramatic change in traditional Mexican culture.
The violence generated by warring drug cartels has created an atmosphere of fear among the people. The economy is being impacted negatively. Tourism is affected. The people that once filled the sidewalks at night have retreated to the safety of their homes.
What is the answer? I don’t have one. I have a few suspicions regarding the root cause of the problem. But they are just that… I feel badly for the people down here. The atmosphere has changed the way that we travel and visit here. It could ultimately cause us to cease making trips here completely if a resolution to the problems is not reached.
As I think about the situation here, I am reminded that fear destroys community. That is a principle that applies to a number of life situations. We are afraid of social situations, so we hide. We have been damaged by a relationship, so we cower down. Fear can cause us to retreat to the safety and privacy of our home and become social recluses. What is the answer to such challenges? I say: branch out and refuse to let fear be the controlling factor!