The crime rate against Americans and other expats in Mexico is very low because Mexicans like foreigners coming here. Our main business here is tourism, which drives our economy in Mexico.
If you’re looking for trouble as any common Joe; looking for something illegal or other trouble, you could be a victim of crime. If you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, something could happen. The crime rate is very low but then again in any city anywhere in the world there’s crime.
We don’t have hate crimes, as we don’t see them as much as you would see them in the United States. In Mexico, we try to be very tranquil but there are crime situations. I would highly recommend anyone who is out and about late or whatever, “Do in Rome what the Romans do.” Be very calm. Do not be over exaggerating things or looking for trouble. If you insult someone here they will react. By “insult someone,” I mean for example, if someone tells them they’re an idiot or worst words they might punch you and you might end up in jail if you’re drinking and disturbing the peace, but crime that targets Americans or expats, we really don’t see them. We like Americans and other expats here because they increase our tourism and that’s how many people get jobs.
Americans are not targeted. If anything, when you come here in some of these towns such as Chapala or the Ajijic area, which is the Lake Chapala area, you will see the Mexicans wanting to speak English and trying to make their lives comfortable. I speak more English here than I would in New York City. We here in the Lake Chapala area are a community that goes out of our way to help foreigners, not to abuse them, because that is where a lot of the infrastructure and the working people get their jobs. In addition to the tourism from the people of Guadalajara with their families that come on the weekends, the Ajijic / Chapala area is weekend place for the Mexicans and a retirement place for the expat communities, so we go out of our way for our foreigners and we even try to help them as much as we can.
I had one case about this, which would actually be quite interesting. I was driving my car from one side of the lake to another when I saw two Canadians talking to a sheriff and a bike on the side of the road and a woman yelling at this man. I was being nosey, so I pulled over.
I asked the man, “Sir, are you alright? What happened?”
He said, “No, I’m not alright. This woman is saying that I hit someone when my car has been parked here the whole time. I hadn’t hit anyone.”
I said, “Sir, would you like help?”
“Yes, I have a plane to catch in 4 hours. I’m afraid I’m going to miss my plane. And they’re telling me I have to go to the Red Cross because a young adult was hit by a car.”
“Do you speak Spanish sir?”
“What is your visa status?”
“I’m here as a tourist. I’m looking at the area to buy a house and buy a car. I like this area but I’m very scared. Can you help?”
I started speaking to the cop and I said, “What’s going on?” The woman was trying to see how she could maybe take advantage. I’m trying to explain to the man that we’re helping him that he did not hit the car. His car was parked correctly. I walked around the car, checked the vehicle, and there were no dents of any type collision. They didn’t even call what is our Mexican transit police to see what happened when those types of collisions happen.
The officer helped the foreigner and told the woman, “You’re abusing this person. We’ll take you away for extortion.”
So even our authorities are starting to help the foreign community. The man spoke very little Spanish, so he needed more than anything, a translator. I was just driving from picking up coffee going to my office when this happened and the man happened to be leaving with his wife back to Ontario.
This type of thing could happen anywhere. They were at the wrong place at the wrong time. This was just me being nosey was because I’m a professional lawyer. There are so many people in this community that if they would see a foreigner having a problem, we go and help, or they’ll call someone to help. It’s crazy how many bilingual people you have here. You can get around with your broken Spanish, although it’s wonderful seeing how the expats want to learn Spanish. There are teachers here and people at our Lake Chapala Society who give classes to learn Spanish but the amount of Mexicans who speak English, or want to help the foreigners, would surprise you. We are thankful to all of the foreigners that come and have nothing to do since they retired and open up charitable foundations. We have over 20 different organizations of expats. They get together and do things to help the community. They’re well-loved here. If you love dogs, there is a dog community. If you love children, there’s orphanages you could give time to. If you are a Rotarian, there is an active Rotary Club. If you’re a gardener, there’s a gardener club. If you like playing bridge, there are bridge clubs.
(Mexican tourism poster, pictured.)