The surge in crime recorded in some parts of Mexico this year has also been seen in the once peaceful Bajío town of San Miguel de Allende, and has touched its prominent expatriate population.
Calculated at 13,000 people, or 8% of the city’s inhabitants, the expat community has had to modify daily habits and routines to avoid becoming victims of criminals, reports the newspaper Reforma.
Resident David Bossman told the newspaper that just five years ago he could walk around town at any time of night without any worry.
An American and head of the citizens’ organization More Security For San Miguel, Bossman now recommends that residents avoid walking through neighborhoods and areas in which there are few people about after 9:00pm, as there are no guarantees of safety.
The best option, he said, is to hail a taxi. Otherwise, “it is probable they’ll be targeted by criminals as the incidence of muggings has increased.”
According to figures compiled by More Security For San Miguel, that particular crime has increased by 75% between January and June to 215 reports, a worrying spike when compared to the 123 recorded during all of 2015.
The surge in violence climaxed with the recent bomb attacks on three downtown bars, the first on August 5 and two more a month later.
Last year, three American nationals were murdered in the Guanajuato town, but Bossman said that the prosecutor’s office has provided little information regarding the crimes.
Bossman told Reforma that during the first five months of 2016 there have been 23 murders, “but no one knows who has been arrested . . . I believe that no one is behind bars.”
Despite the worsening security conditions, the state Tourism Secretariat reported that weekend hotel occupancy rates remain high, as does the number of couples who want to marry there.
Nonetheless, Tourism Secretary Fernando Olivera Rocha thinks that the agencies tasked with keeping San Miguel safe should attend to the concerns of the American community.
The state of Guanajuato, with one of the strongest economies in the country, has become a de facto battleground for warring cartels who dispute not only drug smuggling territory, but also the tapping of gasoline pipelines and robbing trains traversing the state.
The uptick in crime in San Miguel has been attributed by the state leader of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) to the arrival of several organized crime cells.
The mayor of San Miguel, for his part, believes that up to 95% of all criminal acts in the municipality can be attributed to drug retail sale activities.
In response, the Government Secretary of Guanajuato has announced that the state and 46 municipal police forces will receive the support and backup of their federal counterpart, paying special attention to the state’s industrial corridor and the municipalities of San Miguel de Allende and Dolores Hidalgo.