Canadians are killed in Mexico and a journalist is faced with the task of translating culture without falling into stereotype
By David Taylor Original Print Publication: April, 2007
I wouldn’t describe myself as a crime reporter. But when you’re a freelancer, you have to wear many hats and lately one of them has been the crime beat. That has as much to do with where I am from, than with anything else. If you’re a Canadian journalist living in Mexico, the crime story here has been hard to avoid. All the interest back home has been sparked by an unfortunate series of crimes against Canadians.
It began a year ago with the brutal murder and Nancy and Dominic Ianiero in Playa del Carmen. Then in Janurary, Adam DePrisco, coincidentally from the same Toronto-area city as the Ianieros, was run over and killed by a taxi in Acapulco. Friends claim he was beaten senseless in a bar fight before he stumbled in front of the cab. Shortly after that, two more women from Southern Ontario were injured in a drive-by shooting in front of their Acapulco hotel.
The cluster of crimes generated a lot of attention, especially in Toronto, Canada’s media capital.
Add this to the parade of stories about drug violence, President Calderon’s offensive against the cartels and critical reports on Mexico’s justice system by groups like Amnesty International, and you get editors calling to ask if Mexico is spiraling out of control.
So how do you explain this place to people at home?
Part of the answer is just common sense. Canadians don’t arrive in Mexico with bullseyes on their backs. Every year millions of tourists come here, enjoy their vacation and go home with nothing more serious than a sunburn. The deaths of the Canadians are horrible anomalies, not the rule.
Still, it’s easy to add to the hysteria and say Mexico is heading the way of Colombia in the 1980s and early 1990s when you’re filing story after story about police being shot, the Public Security Secretary in Tabasco being ambushed, or a member of Congress taking a bullet in Nuevo Laredo.