Tijuana Part 2

Historic Border Patrol  Badge Artifact

For over 100 years, the people of the United States have visited Tijuana for its charms. Door after door along Tijuana’s Avenida Revolucion is filled with laughter and odd smells that some say are even intoxicating.

Everywhere in Tijuana there are Tijuana policeman. The city is of course, absolutely safe. Guns are outlawed in Mexico so crime must be nonexistent. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reported that even 80 percent of police officers, prosecutors and judges in Tijuana and in the state of Baja California are on a drug cartel payroll.

“Crime” is a bad word in Mexico and only the mean spirited would utter such a word in the same sentence as “Tijuana.” There are, however, whispers about kidnappings of hundreds of people a year in the city and the quiet exchanges of huge bundles of cash.

Body guards look good but you can’t always be surrounded by six of them. Sanyo discovered this when their local manager, Mamoru Konno, was suddenly vacuumed from a Tijuana street. He was held for ten days by local taxi drivers until Sanyo paid the $2 million. His adventure reached the media only because the kidnapping had been orchestrated by rank amateurs.

Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez moved his entire family from Mexico to San Antonio, Texas, after paying off the kidnappers to get most of his son back in one piece. The other piece had been sent earlier to prove that the kidnappers actually had the child. “Artists” are not the only people escaping the violence. In Tijuana, it’s become a survival strategy to live in the USA.

Spain now warns its citizens about traveling to Mexico after eight of its citizens were kidnapped and six of them died.

Of course, then when is “kidnapping” really kidnapping? Here in Tijuana being trapped in a taxi for hours, beaten nearly to death, and your credit cards and ATM cards used while you are so claustrophobically ensconced isn’t kidnapping. They let you go.

Kidnapping is a quick cash generator for many in the city and so it is best to only travel on local toll roads and not the “romantic close-to-the-people dusty roads” with the temporary blockades and torches (torches only after sundown). The U.S. Embassy keeps lists of such incidents and they include robbery, kidnapping, and even the murder of an Egyptian diplomat.

The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens not to hitchhike or accept rides from or offer rides to strangers here because it vastly complicates their work day and the shipping of bodies back to the United States requires a lot of paperwork.

Sometimes all this action spatters northwards over the border. Thanks to the double barrrier along much of the local urban border area the cross-border spatterings are limited.