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“Mommy, why are they shooting at us again?” a five-year-old asked her mother after being caught in the crossfire of a shootout in the parking lot of Tijuana’s Sam’s Club just before noon on November 25, Frontera reported. Mom had just picked her daughter up from a nearby preschool in what is regarded as one of the best and safest neighborhoods in the city. It was, said the newspaper, the second time the youngster had been forced to duck and cover as bullets flew. Students at the nearby Lázaro Cárdenas Federal Preparatory School could hear the gunfire from their classrooms. A few weeks later, gunmen sprayed the parking lot of a Costco in the city’s Zona Río — in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon — sending shoppers scurrying for cover.

Sometimes the results are enough to make you cry. A two-year-old boy died in a car crash when his mom, trying to evade gunfire during a shootout, was forced off a busy boulevard and into a light post head-on. An 18-month-old girl was seriously wounded when gunmen cut off her parents’ pickup truck, stormed out of their cars, and opened fire with semi-automatic rifles, shredding mom’s and dad’s bodies with bullets as the baby sat strapped in her car seat behind them. About 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night, November 29, gunmen opened fire outside a small grocery store in the Los Piños neighborhood, killing four — among them a 4-year-old named Eduardo and a 13-year-old named José.

“It used to be that they just went after their enemies — you know, other people involved in the narco business,” says the 59-year-old owner of a small and struggling corner grocery near downtown. “But not anymore. They just open fire. Whoever happens to be there at the time is just out of luck. This is a big change from before. Now they don’t care who gets killed. They are fearless, shooting down people in broad daylight. They kill women. They kill kids. It’s a war.”

“Living in Tijuana is easy,” says a neighborhood cop who patrols the middle-class El Mirador neighborhood. “It’s surviving that’s hard.” He was one of a dozen officers who stood guard outside an elementary school two blocks from a government hospital one sunny November afternoon as the school day was about to end. At least ten police cars screamed into the emergency entrance of Hospital ISSSTECALI, sirens wailing. Ski-masked officers armed with rifles jumped out of police pickups and lined the sidewalk. A police helicopter hovered overhead, and motorcycle cops blocked off the street. Two olive-colored half-ton Mexican Army trucks, carrying about a dozen semi-automatic-rifle–toting soldiers, cruised the surrounding streets. Somewhere in the city there had been another shootout, more police officers killed and wounded, and ISSSTECALI, a state-run hospital for government employees and their dependents, is where they take them.

The kids were kept inside the school and away from windows for about 45 minutes, until authorities were certain the killers were not going to come to the hospital to finish the job. And with good reason. Just after midnight on November 22, 2008, masked gunmen stormed into the intensive care unit of Hospital del Prado, one of the city’s best private medical facilities, and shot to death a patient recovering from an earlier attempt on his life. In 2007, two municipal police officers were shot dead at Tijuana General Hospital when a group of armed men said to be associated with a drug cartel tried to snatch a wounded compatriot being treated in the emergency room.

In a late-January visit to Tijuana for a conference on trauma medicine, Carlos Freaner Figueroa, vice president of the Mexican Red Cross, announced that Red Cross paramedics, who staff the country’s principal ambulance system, had adopted a “war-zone policy” when responding to calls for help from victims injured “in whatever manner during operations against organized crime.” From now on, said Freaner Figueroa, police must enter the area first, police must guard paramedics as they remove the injured, and, once a patient has been evaluated and cleared for transport to a hospital, ambulances must be accompanied by police escorts. The reason for the new policy, he said, was to prevent gunmen from finishing off patients on their way to the hospital.

Francisco, who earns his livelihood as a bootleg plumber and electrician out of the trunk of his car, says he has taught his children what to do in case they get caught in a shootout: “Chest on the ground, flat as you can! Hands over your head! Don’t stand up!” His kids, 11, 13, and 15, know well the danger, he says. “They’re not stupid. They have eyes. They have ears.” Television and radio news, along with the city’s dailies, saturate the city with the latest horrors: “Two dead in shootout”; “Body cut into pieces discovered with narco-message”; “Confrontation leaves one dead, two wounded”; “Three found executed in back alley”; “Man gunned down downtown”; “Man shot, crashes into patrol car”; “Two men shot at on Boulevard Agua Caliente”; “Another corpse wrapped in a blanket found”; “Nine dead, seven of them decapitated”; “Killed in shootout near Marriott”; “Commandos kill 16.” And that was just two days’ worth of news.

“I don’t read the newspapers and I don’t watch the news,” said one middle-aged Tijuana woman returning late one Friday afternoon from a day’s work as a maid at a San Diego hotel. “I don’t want to know anymore.” She glanced at her watch and fretted, “It will be getting dark soon. I don’t like to get home after dark.”

While the widespread and sometimes indiscriminate killings are bad enough, it is the heartless savagery that accompanies many of them that has left Tijuana close to emotional meltdown. Masked men kick in the doors of modest homes in predawn raids, singling out fathers to kill in front of their children, or children to kill in front of their parents. In some instances, entire families are slaughtered. Decapitated bodies are left on baseball fields used by youngsters; detached heads are discovered by startled taco-stand owners opening for business in the morning; sometimes, the bodies are found in one city, the heads in another. Rotting corpses are abandoned in metal barrels. Bullet-riddled bodies, their tongues cut out, have been left on the sidewalk in front of an elementary school. Corpses are strewn across the city — some wrapped in plastic garbage bags, others stranded behind the wheel of the car they were driving when death came.

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David Dodd April 1, 2009 @ 5:15 p.m.

This is the most irresponsible piece of trash I've ever read. I've lived in Tijuana for seventeen years, no one here walks around with their head on a swivel unless they are "involved".
What, did the San Diego Union-Tribune lay you off? You write just like those idiots.

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. I'll give you two options: You are either totally clueless or you are outright lying. Take your pick.

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TijuanaOnline_org April 1, 2009 @ 7:40 p.m.

While I guess none of us should be surprised that the Reader is once again allowing "anonymous" individuals masquerading as journalists to write yet another sensationalistic and negative article about Tijuana (Mr. Refried Gringo above has called it what it is), isn't one every three months or so a little too much... Oh, well.

Let me suggest that people can actually visit the safe downtown Tourist District of Tijuana -- stretching from Avenida Revolucion to the Tijuana Cultural Center to the wonderful Caliente Casino -- where they'll see for themselves that the above is a misleading portrayal of the very large and diverse City of Tijuana (a city of 1.6 million people, and the second-largest on the Pacific Coast of North America). Want to see another perspective -- visit www.120ThingsToDoInTijuana.org and really learn about Tijuana!

It's true that anytime you take a few limited impressions, you can write over-reaching, baised articles like that above that tell only part of the story. If the Reader really wanted to tell a story, the above types of articles could also be told of parts of LA, Oakland, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington DC... But, that wouldn't be as sensationalistic I suppose. I wish Mr. "Iverson" good luck on his next trip to Tijuana -- he should enjoy himself more, and relax instead of giving in to his paranoia...

Signed, Anonymous, ("I am writing this under a pseudonym — for fear of becoming the next victim...of bad journalism.")

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TijuanaOnline_org April 1, 2009 @ 8:15 p.m.

Sorry to belabor the point, but since Mr. "Iverson" likes to reprint portions of the Frontera newspaper, maybe he'd like to reprint this quote just covered by the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano (as quoted in Frontera tonight):

========= "Pese a la extensa cobertura noticiosa de los hechos de violencia y la guerra contra el narcotráfico en México, la secretaria de Seguridad Interna de Estados Unidos, Janet Napolitano, asegura que los visitantes estadounidenses están seguros en México.

“El visitar México ahora, para los americanos, que son razonablemente prudentes, van a estar seguros, no tenemos información que indique que los turistas americanos sean un blanco”, dijo Napolitano durante una conferencia de prensa en la garita de carga de Otay Mesa.

“El único temor que tengo es que alguien se vea atrapado, sin deberla, en medio de algún incidente de violencia en Tijuana, pero repito, todos los indicativos son que la gente permanezca en la zona turística y ande con cuidado, no tienen que temer”, agregó la secretaria.

http://www.frontera.info/EdicionEnLinea/Notas/Noticias/01042009/366732.aspx

Basically says that Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano believes that American tourists aren't at all targets, and that they are safe in Tijuana...

Hmmmm... who probably understands security better...? A writer for the SD Reader, or....the Secretary of Homeland Security...?

Just thought a little balance might be useful.

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rickeysays April 2, 2009 @ 2:23 a.m.

The solution to all this violence that is tearing Mexico apart, and the solution to America's budget problems too, is to stop beating our heads against the wall, admit that prohibition doesn't work, and legalize (and tax) weed.

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Fred Williams April 2, 2009 @ 8:43 a.m.

I second Rickey.

This "war on drugs" has gone on long enough. It's a war on ourselves and our neighbors. Time to stop already.

Re: Post #1 from Refriedgringo:

You're a good enough writer. Sit yourself down at the keyboard and submit a story. If it's any good, the Reader will probably publish it. You've commented elsewhere on the poor quality of reporting from your home city, and you seem well qualified to rectify the situation. Go for it...

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elmexicano April 2, 2009 @ 1:41 p.m.

Is okay to talk from the sidelines. Until one of your relatives is kidnapped, ransom money is paid then the dead body is found the next day. Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada I mention these because these are tourist attractions. Any one can be a victim at any time of the day or night in Mexico, whether your mexican or caucasian a stray bullet knows no colors. So play it safe why even bother going down there. By the way I thought the article is correct.

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Visduh April 2, 2009 @ 2:18 p.m.

As soon as the Reader prints a story that reveals the ugly truth abut Tijuana, two apologists jump in to defend its soiled reputation. The reality is that Tijuana is not a safe place for anyone. It never has been one, but the level of hazard has varied widely over the years.

The popularity of TJ as a tourist destination was based on it offering some things that were not readily available in the US, without having to go vary far. It started out as a town offering gambling and horse wagering when such things were illegal or unavailable in California. Then, with the beginning of Prohibition, it offered legal boozing. Over the years its foreignness consisted of handcrafts, people speaking a different language, and a massive display of noise, filth, and visible poverty. For many visitors that dark side to the place made it vaguely exciting. Then there were the purveyors of illicit drugs, illicit sex, and an "anything goes" attitude that was overlaid onto a corrupt city government and police force. For many visitors, a shakedown by a cop was part of the local color and part of a complete visit to the city of sin and sleaze. Over 50 years ago, the Kingston Trio had one of their "folk song" hits, entitled "The Tiajuana Jail".

But I for one am not going to accept the blame for the current level of street and gang violence as totally due to US drug abuse. The US did not bring corruption to Mexico. It has that as founding tradition going back centuries. The drug cartels may have brought it to a new level of money involved and lives lost, but it has been in Tijuana for as long as there has been a Tijuana.

It may be true that everyday US and foreign tourists are not particularly "targets" of the kidnappers and assassins in TJ. But people are being kidnapped there on a daily basis, and not all are ransomed successfully. There will always be a few tourists for whom a near miss in a shootout between the cartels will be remembered as an adventuresome episode in an otherwise dull vacation trip. But I'm not one of those. I suspect few others are.

So, the Reader performs a service not being performed by the U-T when it tells the truth about our south-of-the-border city neighbor. Copies of this week's Reader should be passed out at every tourist information office in San Diego county, starting with the one in Oceanside and also the one at Mission Bay Park. It would save a lot of unsuspecting tourists from a really rotten day or more of terror at the hands of really brutal people, just a few miles south of the border.

If you want to put your trust in some message from Janet Napolitano, which does caution tourists to Mexico, rather than those who REALLY know, go ahead. She's in the same tradition as those in our federal government who "prevented" 9/11.

Thank you Reader for performing a valuable public service, and keep doing it. We need a paper that tells the truth.

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David Dodd April 2, 2009 @ 3:29 p.m.

6 & #7:

Obviously, you're entitled to your opinion, but it's as uninformed as is the article. I'm not an apologist for anyone, much less a country that I did not grow up in, but I'm telling you both that FACTUALLY the tone of this story is not true. At some point I will write a story and dare the Reader to print it. I will ask that they donate whatever the normal payment would be (should they decide to publish it) to a charity of their choice. I won't do it for money. And I'll insist that they print my name in full.

This is what the article will reveal:

  1. Tourists are actually safer in downtown Tijuana at the moment than ever before, at least in the last nineteen years. The police have their hands full with other issues, and have no time to attempt to intimidate tourists into paying them off.

  2. Sensationalizing what is going on down here is made much easier by the fact that deaths are being recorded. Ten years ago, no one said a word, no one recorded anything. The increase in corpses is due to two factors: That the Mexican Government's success at knocking out the cartel's leaders is creating factions that war against each other. The other factor is that the press and the Government are getting more accurate with the body count.

  3. Kidnapping in Tijuana is generally limited to two types of victims: The first are business people who have something going on in back of legitimacy, in that they would have something to lose by not paying a ransom other than getting the hostage released. The second are business people who flaunt their cash or worth in stupid ways, advertising to the bad guys that they are potential targets.

  4. Very few people here are frightened, although in any city you can find a few that are afraid of something. I have a sixteen year old daughter that goes to school ten miles away from where I live. I'm not worried any more now than I was ten years ago. In fact, I'm encouraged by the efforts of the president of Mexico and the armed forces of this country.

Journalists who are targeted by the cartels are targeted because they are attempting to fight them, much in the same way that this story sensationalizes the problems on the border. Some people make money by running drugs over the border, others make money writing stories about it. Even songs.

I've lived here for almost seventeen years. I've seen a lot. My Spanish is excellent now. I read the papers here, talk to my neighbors. I am telling you, people who are not involved in trafficking are not worried, they are living their lives just fine, and they probably have more confidence in their government now than they had when I first moved here.

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Doh April 2, 2009 @ 3:30 p.m.

Good news for Osvaldo!

The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S.:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2009/04/02/myth-percent-guns-mexico-fraction-number-claimed/

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cabezas April 2, 2009 @ 7:28 p.m.

I would write a story about the truth in Tijuana, but SD Reader has made it very clear to me that it will only allow negative and false information about Mexico in general to be published.

I can't believe people buy this? They make TJ seem like Afghanistan or Somalia... It's so sad for the people that rely on this mag to form a prespective. That's horrbile and SD Reader should be ashamed!!!

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gelle_oceanbeach April 3, 2009 @ 10:49 a.m.

Im shocked and appalled.

Did these events the story reported on happen. They are very trackable stories, shootings in walmart parking lots, escorting children in and out of school. People fearing the night time. I MEAN COME ON!

I dont know if this is all true. Im a new resident. But I work in a Mexican Restaurant and they travel through TJ into places like Ensenada and farther quite often, if not every week. They're more cautious if anything. Thats my two cents about what I PERSONALLY know

In terms of this story. Is there absurd violence? Is their senseless slaughtering rather than calculated war? Has the Red Cross truly declared it a war zone?

Lets talk facts her children, before we go calling one another names. We are obviously the few people who care about truth and legitimacy. Lets go find the answers not call others out for not providing them.

The truth lies in that the drug wars are getting more out of hand. Its obviously a sign of the global recession. People are becoming more desperate. Mexico is in a terribly scary place because their history of Patronismo is changing. Their story is changing as a nation. It may return to the previous president's methods. It may change forever. We now as Americans, as bordertown residents, we need to be informed and sensible. Violence is violence is violence. We must keep it out of our neighborhoods and then controlled and then snuffed out. Its a complicated problem having blame on our shoulders and theirs. But we must recognize the reality. Not defend deny or lie. Lets find the truth and work towards the correct solution.... not verbally bashing one another...

God, Im not even in my thirties and I sound older than the lot of you.

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prariefire April 5, 2009 @ 2:59 p.m.

As a frequent visitor to Tijuana, I have to say that Mr Iverson's article is actually good, though very incomplete. It would be much better to tackle such a complex and relevant topic in a four or five part series, because as it stands, it does not do it justice.

How much better the article might have been if it included an interview with a city official, a casual American tourist, a journalist, and at least one police officer. (Remember, in Mexico, law enforcement is divided into municipal, state, and federal police.) Diverse points of view from its citizens would have demonstrated the complexity of the situation.

I take strong issue with the comments that seem to shrugg off the fear simply because no turist has (fortunately) been a victim thus far. That said, I also take issue with Mr Iverson's interpretation that everyone is walking around paranoid like living in a state of seige. Truth is, there is a little of everything and the devil-may-care attitude of many Mexicans is not going to change anytime soon. In fact, my periodontist, who happens to be Governor Osuna Millan's younger brother, personally said to me referring to the violence, "Le hacemos fiesta." Translated: we make a big hoopla out of it. What I neglected to ask, was if he was referring to the populace, the media, or both. Now this remark, coming from the Governor's brother, who is now a candidate for the Federal Chamber of Deputies, is outrageous negation or at the very least, highly irresponsible.

Duh or Doh, I'd look for better sources than FAUX NEWS, if I were you.

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mlanotte April 5, 2009 @ 5:36 p.m.

Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán and Osvaldo's comments do not make me feel anymore sympathy towards the problems they have going on. When I see "Americans make me sick" because Americans buy drugs from Mexico, we all seemed to get lumped together. that's not a fair veiw, we're not all addicts and users. Plus, it is a matter of supply and demand, unfortunately. And whose corrupt police system and joke of a government makes easier to make that happen? Mexico. They are JUST as much to blame if not more. I no longer have sympathy for those people. If it bothered you so much, you should have done something about years ago. But we don't live in "Shouldland", do we? Good luck with all of that, you had it coming. Marc

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David Dodd April 5, 2009 @ 9:29 p.m.

mlanotte: Why would you think that Mexicans are seeking your sympathy? And what, exactly, did Mexicans "have coming"? You're incredibly arrogant.

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nada April 6, 2009 @ 3:54 p.m.

Mexico is to blame more than anything else!? I ask you this: WHO is the biggest consumer of drugs? Who imports illegal drugs from other countries? Where are guns coming from? AMERICA

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mlanotte April 6, 2009 @ 8 p.m.

does it matter who is the biggest user of drugs? who is the biggest supplier of drugs? MEXICO. maybe if mexico would have put the effort forth to combat the manufacturing of these drugs as america has, the problem would stay here in the states, as i think it should. why mexico? why not canada? because mexico was the easiest place to do this. we already go after the druggies here, the prisons here filled with a high percentage of drug offenders. by the people of mexico putting up with a corrupt police force(and have for years), and terrible government (as they have for years) they should have worked harder a long time ago to fight this problem. democracy inaction. i never said they want my sympathy, don't make an arrogant assumption coming from your misplaced pride. but to sit there and blame america for the problems???? both are to blame and we all know it. and to ask you do americans make you sick, too? you live here in the U.S.? want to live in mexico? instead staying and fighting to have a better life there, they come here. and that's great, most i know are very productive and positve roles in america, glad to have 'em. but there is a reason they leave. also, see the article on this site about guns from the U.S.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/election...

i've seen a couple of reports on this on cnn as well. it's easy to point the finger at america, everyone does until they need us.

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David Dodd April 6, 2009 @ 11:36 p.m.

mlanotte:

Wow, where to start with this. Okay, first of all, Mexico does not manufacture most of the drugs that are consumed in the United States of America. There is a moderate amount of marijuana grown here, and a small amount of crack manufactured here, but the vast majority of the drugs consumed in the U.S. are grown or manufactured either in South America or in the U.S. (even Canada in the summer has a large amount of marijuana grown and much of it is sold in the U.S.) Most of the drugs manufactured in South America are distributed through Mexico to the U.S.

Mexico is not a supplier. There is a criminal element in Mexico that are distributors. Wrap your head around this: It's worth 20 billion dollars per year. This is a lot of money. People are willing to die for a chance at a piece of that stash. Cops are willing to become criminals for a piece of that stash.

Twenty billion dollars. Twenty. Billion.

Let's put twenty billion dollars into perspective. Many Americans enjoy playing the lottery, gambling, say, ten dollars per week for a chance to win maybe 20 million. The odds of winning the California State Lottery are far more than 20 million to one. But people play, they have dreams of maybe getting lucky. Who can blame them?

It's a lot easier to run drugs across the border than to win the lottery. There are no Ping-Pong balls to determine your luck. You don't have to buy a ticket. It's simply this: Do what you're told. Get the drugs across. Look the other way. Whatever.

Twenty billion dollars can't be wrong.

I'm a citizen of the United States of America. I'm proud of who I am. I'm also very discouraged by people from where I used to live that are willing to make snap judgements based on sources that are uninformed, or otherwise seeking to exploit a bias that is political in nature. You seem to be a victim of your own media.

Mexico is not pointing the finger at America, although they probably could. Actually, they are doing an outstanding job attempting to combat this problem. Otherwise, you would have no news to read about, your conservative media would have no bad news to report, and you would have no reason to argue a pointless case. I would rather see drugs legalized in order to reduce the body count here, but I can report, as a resident of Tijuana, that otherwise, things are just fine here.

No matter what you choose to believe.

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SpliffAdamz_ April 7, 2009 @ 11:45 a.m.

The only reason people talk trash about TJ , is so people won't look at how much america looks like crap! Before you talk about TJ and their problems worry about this trash azz country called america first. The only reason why drugs come threw mexico to america is because this deceitful azz government that you dumb azz americans vote on allows it. When will people wake up and smell the shyt america tries to cover up all the time , by playing the blame game. Lets blame mexico for the drugs that come in america , sounds like the biggest joke i've every heard. The real reason why drugs come threw mexico is because it's easier for the american government to ship it across the border. Plain and simple!!!!!!

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mlanotte April 8, 2009 @ 6:43 a.m.

of course...TJ, the Jewel of civilization!!! makes the rest of the world wish we were just like it!!! of course, SpliffAdamz is right!!! i was too blind to see what a wonderful city it is!!! maybe i'll honeymoon there, my bride would love it!!

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Visduh April 8, 2009 @ 11:34 a.m.

I must second the comment by Fred_Williams that refriedgringo should write an article of his own and submit it to the Reader. He writes very well--really! But in his refutation to my post #7, refried confirms my claims about the dangers of travel to Mexico. That included blaming the victims of kidnappings for their victimization. He says they are either criminals themselves, or "flaunt their cash." What that means isn't clear. Does that mean that if you have anything you must hide it, as in being unable to enjoy the fruits of your labors?

Whether the little people in TJ are generally afraid or not, the basic message of this story was that Tijuana is a dangerous place. Many gringo tourists do not know this, because they are from far away, or are just clueless. But they deserve to know the story, and a piece like this one in the Reader is one of the few that reveals the grim reality. And the Reader is to be commended for printing it.

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David Dodd April 8, 2009 @ 4:52 p.m.

Visduh:

I am working on it. I do not feel comfortable simply getting a couple of interviews that would support my case, I would rather reflect the true nature of Tijuana, her residents, and how it really feels to live here. Writing it from my perspective entirely would be bias and unfair. Gathering information and reflection on a random basis from random Tijuanenses would be a better approach.

To clarify my statements: I do not blame the victims for their being kidnapped. I simply state that potential victims are targeted based on their potential willingness to pay the kidnappers and leave the police out of the ordeal. Also, by flaunting one's money, it is in drawing attention to one's wealth. Kidnappings in Tijuana are not so random as portrayed by the media. The criminal element here is very smart, and very equipped. In short, the bad guys do their homework.

Think of the most dangerous area you have been to in the greater San Diego area. Would you wear your best clothes and most expensive jewelry there? Rent or purchase an expensive car and cruise down the street? Probably not. Unfortunately, some people here have been kidnapped and that could have been prevented but for a little common sense.

I have often walked the streets of Tijuana with large amounts of cash in my pocket. I've never had a problem. Of course, I'm the guy in blue jeans and an old shirt. I also do not take my money out of my pocket. I wear no watch, no rings, and I refuse to drive unless it's absolutely necessary.

I also speak fluent Spanish, which helps tremendously.

Tijuana is a dangerous place if you want to compare it to the Gaslamp Quarter. Here, if you use poor judgement, you can run into trouble. But there are several areas of San Diego (and pretty much any large city) where good judgement is vital to living comfortably within the confines of the criminal element. In this respect, Tijuana is no more dangerous than anywhere one should use good judgement.

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David Dodd April 8, 2009 @ 5:22 p.m.

mlanotte:

Actually, I recommend Cancun for a honeymoon. It is much more romantic there. However, if you insist on Tijuana, I can recommend many very nice hotels and restaurants. Also, here are some tips for a very enjoyable trip to Tijuana:

  1. Tijuana isn't the U.S., don't expect it to be. The laws are very similar, but enforcement is less strict. For example, prostitution really isn't legal here. There are areas where it is permitted, because realistically, the cops know they aren't going to stop it from happening - they simply contain it. But it isn't legal. Many laws here work similarly.

  2. Do not over-tip. Ten to fifteen percent is generous. If you appear to have money, you could be targeted. Keep cash in all pockets in order to divide it up and not appear to be a big spender.

  3. Dress down. Jeans and a shirt are fine.

  4. Don't drive here. There is no need. Taxis are relatively inexpensive, and you're helping the environment at the same time.

  5. You probably won't be hassled by a corrupt cop, but if you are, respectfully decline to pay the cop off. He or she will eventually lose interest. Even if they decide to put you into their car, just go with it. After they know you won't be intimidated, they'll let you go. Then, report it.

  6. Stay in crowded areas, lots of traffic is preferable. People that live here hate to see tourists get into trouble. Make sure you're seen by some of them.

  7. Learn a bit of Spanish. Even the most basic words convey your respect for Mexican culture. Simple words work just fine, you don't have to be fluent.

  8. Be very polite with Mexicans. You would be amazed with how far that will get you here.

  9. Do not drink tap water in Tijuana. It isn't the microbes, it's the chemicals used to kill them that could make you sick.

  10. Relax. Tijuana has an amazing artistic community, some wonderful restaurants, and a very diverse cross-section of Mexican heritage. Enjoy it.

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SpliffAdamz_ April 9, 2009 @ 9:34 a.m.

Yo mlanotte i'm glad u think Tj is the jewel civilization. i'm pretty sure u think just like alot of over work , under paid , unemployed , no health care , miss informed , racist amerikkkans. Our country is the best in the world it can do no wrong!!!! Come live in good old amerikkka just don't bring your cultural baggage here!!!! Really ask yourself is TJ that dangerous of a place to visit or live compared to amerikkka? People have been dying here in amreikkka over drugs for years , but you act like it's a big conspiracy in TJ just cause the amerikkkan government arrested their own connect in Tj. If you are that blind to understand that the government you half azz believe in is the real reason for drugs coming in this country , then you are a true amerikkan. Brain wash and confused!!!.

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mlanotte April 10, 2009 @ 7:21 a.m.

TJ is a dump. that has no reference to the violence there, or the drugs. it's a hole.

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Bob McPhail Sept. 20, 2009 @ 5:05 p.m.

RE this remark from Refried: "Do not drink tap water in Tijuana. It isn't the microbes, it's the chemicals used to kill them that could make you sick." WRONG! It is the microbes, not the chemicals. Another piece of fiction from a really uninformed ex-pat. I know priests who travel into remote areas of the city to visit families, and, to be polite, they accept offers of a glass of water. What follows is three or four days of gastroenteritis. Chemicals in the water? Give me a break. Anyone with any sense in Tijuana drinks bottled water delivered in 5-gallon plastic bottles. It's cheap and readily available.

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David Dodd Sept. 20, 2009 @ 5:33 p.m.

"WRONG! It is the microbes, not the chemicals. Another piece of fiction from a really uninformed ex-pat. I know priests who travel into remote areas of the city to visit families, and, to be polite, they accept offers of a glass of water. What follows is three or four days of gastroenteritis."

Hey, Bob, "remote areas" are not going to be encountered by tourists (in case you didn't actually read the article). I realize that you are now on some sort of a crusade now, but don't make yourself look like an idiot. In the city, tap water is heavily treated by chemicals (you really should make a trip to your local CESPT, Bob, and ask questions), and it is the chemicals more than microbes that affect the human body. In the city, Bob. Not the "remote areas".

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