Tijuana: Montana de Basura

Mr. Krause: I rarely comment on SDReader articles, but in an article that actually addresses an important topic (issue of poverty in parts of a neighboring city), it's really too bad that you've included an overly-dramatic and totally misleading statement like "Tijuana is one of the world's most dangerous destinations". First, it's completely untrue (Tijuana, a city of 1.7 million people, had a murder rate in 2011 about the same as Oakland, California [28.8 per 100K population for TJ, vs 28.2 per 100K for Oakland] -- would one say Oakland is "one of the world's most dangerous destinations", too?); second, such statements perpetuate false stereotypes that create even more "walls" in our binational community - painting a major neighboring city negatively, and making even more people (the public and policymakers alike) hesitate to visit or to find joint solutions to binational problems; and third, binational NGOs in the region can attest that increased negative perceptions (whether or not based on real facts) has resulted in REDUCED PHILANTHROPIC GIVING that actually might help situations like those you're trying to inform people about. Please - if you care about this issue, use facts about the real situation in Tijuana. It's a LONG ways from being "one of the world's most dangerous destinations" -- but if people keep inaccurately calling it that, we only end up harming our neighbor economically even more, and that doesn't help any of us. Thanks for considering my comment. -Kenn Morris, Crossborder Group
— April 16, 2012 10:05 a.m.

Crimes against Americans in Baja

True, they are using statistics that are now collected monthly by the State of Baja (a move toward transparency that even some municipalities in the US don't do). That that same set of stats shows that Rosarito's total crime is only up 1% (Jan-Aug) compared to 2010, and still significantly below peaks in 2008 and 2009 - which is what I was referring to earlier when saying that the tone of the post (i.e.: "...paints a worrisome portrait. More and more Americans are being attacked, robbed and murdered.") isn't reflected in the data. True, there are monthly variations (so comparing Aug 2010 vs Aug 2011 can show substantial movements - particularly in a city where very few total incidents happen... look at "Robo con Violencia" - up "100%" when comparing Aug2010 vs Aug2011, but the reality is the next month it could easily be down 40% or 80%, since there are so few total incidents). Also, it's an assumption that home robberies are particularly hitting Americans more than resident Baja Californians. It might sound logical (and it could very be the case -- although it might also be assumed that temporary residents from the US leave fewer valuables, so aren't as attractive a target as full-time residents), but citing general trends and assuming that those trends affect one category of residents over others just isn't backed up by the data. That's not to say that crime doesn't happen in Baja, like everywhere. But it's important to provide those not familiar with enough info (and fact-based conclusions) so that there aren't misinterpretations about the levels of risk (which are already hyped enough in general media without much regard for being up-to-date or necessarily accurate). The case you cite of Mr. Hoff is indeed tragic, but it was reported that he actually intervened in a robbery - saw some punks trying to steal a vehicle, and went after them, at which point he himself became a victim. That could happen anywhere in San Diego, too - so isn't really a case of targeting Americans... More tragic certainly is the case with Mr. Frey - who appears to have been a good, community-oriented expat that was viciously attacked and murdered without cause; the only slim piece of slightly positive news from the situation was the speed with which the police investigated and, yes, captured two suspects that are now being held for his murder - something that wouldn't necessarily have happened so quickly 10-20 years ago. Anyway, again, no intention of being argumentative - maybe it's time to start my own blog here! Thanks again for the dialogue, and for your consideration of my comments.
— October 27, 2011 1:44 a.m.

Crimes against Americans in Baja

Fulano: "More and more Americans are being attacked, robbed and murdered"? Not sure what your source of data is, but that's not really an accurate statement. In fact, the opposite is much more likely given that crime rates across the State of Baja CA are actually declining (and have been since they peaked in 2008). In fact, so far this year "More and more Americans are being" murdered in San Diego -- when you compare 2011 YTD versus 2010... So, data's important for such statements (and the data is showing overall a 35% reduction in homicides this year in Baja generally, so I don't think "more and more" is probably true). There might very well be more "reporting" of crime, which could make it look scarier (and fit the tone of the article), but it's also important to have additional context: the reality is that there are over 150,000 "Americans" (US citizens) living in Baja California, so it's equivalent to the population of a decent sized city. Stealing from a car happens in cities, so no surprise that it may also happen randomly to a US citizen in Baja too. Last point: it can be confusing to reader that you include an event from San Juanico, Baja California Sur (over 800 miles from Tijuana) as one of your examples about crimes in "Baja". We both know technically it's right, but most people in San Diego (and SoCal) probably assume you mean the "Baja" they might visit... I enjoy reading your articles, but thought it could be helpful to offer some additional insights on the security issues there, since we analyze such info on a regular basis. -Crossborder Kenn
— October 26, 2011 4:33 p.m.

Greetings from Tijuana

Part #2 So, forgive me for reading your article like a semi-regurgitated hit piece on Tijuana -- that's what it appears to be. I lived for two years in Tijuana with zero (count them zero) times ever being pulled over or hit up for a bribe. I've been doing business in that city for over 15 years, so I'm not a novice either. I can't speak for where your experiences were (or why you appear to have decided to make this so personal) but articles like yours hurt thousands of people that try to make a living in a big city that's always going to be our neighbor (yes, believe it or not, a city of 1.6 million actually has quite a few people that aren't involved with criminal activity, and have their dreams and hopes put out of business because of the succession of over-hyped articles like yours). They are families, they are our friends, they are our customers, they are our fire fighters and doctors, our teachers, our neighbors - and many of them are suffering because of a very hard drug trade that hurts our entire region, and a level of poverty that articles like yours only add to. I'll give you (or the Editor of the San Diego Reader) a challenge: write another front-page article -- this time, with direct access to real sources of information (not hearsay and possibly questionable info). Report about what the thousands of people are doing daily in Tijuana and Baja California to make a change, that risk their own lives (and their families) to fight corrupt forces, that do quite a lot (for a still-developing country) to make Tijuana both a better place for its residents AND visitors from the US, and people that add an important part of what makes the Greater San Diego-Tijuana region great. Write an article that gives a little more insight into a fast-growing and dynamic city in which people live, work, and struggle - not a article that doesn't do justice to the Reader or its readers. That's my challenge to you and the San Diego Reader. I'll watch for a response
— August 8, 2008 8:17 p.m.

Greetings from Tijuana

Sorry…in two parts: Part #1 I've got to say that I'm amazed that the SD Reader - which has some really good journalism -- allows not only MikeH to write a biased and, yes, sensationalist article (or should a say a compilation of 20-years of police reports...which, covering 20 years, could make any city look bad), but then allows him to defend his own article on the comment board without identifying himself. Got to admit, seems like a blurring of an ethical line, in my opinion. But, what do I know - I'm not a journalist. As for claiming you have "sources"...well, your sources aren't always that great, Mr. H. Come on -- using what you even admit is a "Minutemen-friendly watchdog" website to give you insight into what "really" goes on in Tijuana? A real journalist might actually look at truly "verifiable" sources -- not just a statistic found after a Google search from people that aren't necessarily considered quite objective on Mexico... Should I mention using "" as one of your "sources"? Really? A site that is run by a guy up in Vancouver and that stresses "occultism, gnosticism, theosophy, magick, esotericism, the paranormal".... And your source about the four people (yes, one of which was a US citizen, with a criminal record) killed outside of Tijuana, claiming a conspiracy of some sort that the “official record” had changed? Surely it could not have been inaccurate information being updated a few hours after the first press report…and “RightSideNews” is probably a more accurate source than journalists from Frontera and Reuters, right? It's not about wanting to "ignore" bad news -- it's about how articles can mislead tens of thousands of people by highlighting only part of what is a much more complex situation of a city that is the second-largest after Los Angeles along the entire Pacific Coast of North America (yes, that's a real statistic - you can look). It's not about "ignorance" - it's about "oversimplification" and fictionalizing real events. Not in your article, but in your comments, belittling readers like Linda22 who brought up violence in “other cities” didn’t seem quite professional (sorry). I'm sure you already know that San Diego's crime and murder rates are below average for big cities in California, so San Diego's not a fair comparison.... But, again, using what I consider "verifiable" statistics (are 2007 statistics from the FBI okay?), one can find that, yes, cities like Oakland CA, Baltimore MD, Rochester NY, Detroit, Flint MI, and even ol' New Orleans have significantly higher murder rates than “dangerous TJ”. In my book, THAT's a real story - not that a city in a "developing country" next to a major drug consuming one is having some problems with drug trafficking battles... Oh, yes, I know: those are only "official" stats, but I guess we also don't count those that "disappear" and never make it to the "official records" in our own statistics, do we?
— August 8, 2008 8:17 p.m.

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