After nine U.S. citizens including three children were killed in the Mexican border state of Sonora, citizens on both sides of the border reexamined how they felt about traveling in Mexico.
Blanca Garcia said she used to live in Guadalajara, but for the past 30 years has called San Diego home. Garcia said the brutal killing of the women and children was another example of why she does not want to visit her former country until the Mexican government can ensure safety.
On the other hand, many San Diegans cross the border daily for work or family and one American living in Tijuana said she won’t be moving back to the states anytime soon.
Fernando Gaxiola, the Director of Baja Wine and Food travel agency told us he has seen how violence against Americans can influence a tourist’s perception of safety. He also enforced that no matter where you travel, you always need to avoid dangerous roads or areas.
"The work the government has done to keep police force present, it really gives you a sense of safety once you're there," Gaxiola said.
San Diego resident Ashley Taurman said, "You can be standing on a corner here and something happens to you, but are people not going to come to California anymore?"
On the other side of the border, Tijuana resident of 8 years and American citizen Jill Marie Holslin said, “It was really shocking obviously because of the extreme violence against children and these women who were driving the vans with their kids in the car. It’s horrifying."
For residents of Mexico though, the incident was shocking but not uncommon. Holslin said this incident became international because the victims were American citizens and included children.
“This happens all over Mexico all the time,” she added. “At the same time we have a situation in Mexico where reporters are being murdered for trying to do coverage of this kind of story.”
Holslin said she exercises caution as a woman traveling around Mexico by herself, saying she does feel more vulnerable.
“I’ve wanted to drive down Baja California for years, but I would never do that by myself,” she said. “It’s not so much that I’m afraid of the Narco, it’s like anything could happen you know?”
Compared to Mexico, she said she would feel safer traveling in the United States but would not consider leaving Mexico.
“Like I said, I’ve read about these incidents over and over and over again in the newspaper and you read about the incidents in the United States,” Holslin told Telemundo 20. “I could go to a Walmart and be murdered in a Walmart. I could go to a movie theater and something could happen in a movie theater. So, you know, there’s no real safety.”
The root of the problem is the flow of weapons, Holslin said.
“No one can be safe anywhere as long as the government allows arms to just be used by anyone.”