LETTERS the Mexican government that they need to have an all-out war against the cartels that are overtaking their country. The terrible incidents down there just keep occurring. As with the Viet Nam war, large organizations such as the Ha-Ha can write letters to the honchos and say, "We aren't coming down and bringing our money to Mexico until you straighten this out." Or, you can look the other way and say, "It's only happening with the cartel guys and our cruisers will be O.K." That may be true, but it's kinda like saying cruising around Germany during the Holocaust would have been all right because the violence was taking place away from the cruising areas. The situation is ridiculous, as my wife and I really want to go to Mexico for the first time this season, and are torn about whether to go south or not. As you probably know, some of the cruise lines have cancelled sailings to Puerto Vallarta and other ports because of the violence. We've gotta wonder when the first Ha-Ha crew will be taken hostage by drug runners who are using ocean routes now that there have been crackdowns on land routes. Are you guys thinking about this? George Kosta Planet Earth
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George — We're mostly thinking that you don't have a very good handle on the situation. First of all, while Latitude and the Ha-Ha might be a relatively big fish in the very small world of sailing, and Mexican officials welcome our fleet and enjoy hearing our opinions, our influence in the wider world of Mexican tourism is almost infinitesimal. To give you an idea why, the Ha-Ha brings about 600 visitors a year to Cabo San Lucas, while the various airlines bring in about 8,000 a day. So if you're looking for political leverage, you're looking in the wrong place. Perhaps you're not aware, but the narco death toll in Mexico — and it truly is horrible — is widely attributed to the fact that Mexican President Felipe Calderon decided to declare an all-out war on the drug cartels, making it a mainstay of his six-year presidency. A lot of people think this was a huge mistake in the same way Prohibition in the United States turned out an unwinnable war. But it's hard to say for sure, as Colombia seems to have done a pretty good job of eliminating much of the power of the drug cartels. In any event, we're told that some of the major candidates for next year's presidential election in Mexico have plans to make a big change in policy with regard to the narcos. The policy can be summed up as follows — "If stupid Americans insist on continuing to demand mind-numbing amounts of drugs, we'll let our smugglers do it, as long as they don't kill innocent Mexicans in the process." Your Holocaust analogy is silly, for it would mean that we should also boycott Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco and just about every major city in the United States. On the contrary, we're proud to sail to Mexico and bring our spending money with us. So many of the people in that country are suffering financially because of the need of so many Americans to get high. It may not be a popular thing to say, but anybody who smokes Mexican weed, or weed grown by Mexicans in U.S. national parks, is supporting the violent Mexican cartels. Indeed, they have blood in their lungs. Torn about going to Mexico this season? Given all the misinformation that's been disseminated about Mexico in the last couple of years, we can't blame you. But as we've said before, so far narco violence hasn't touched cruisers on the Pacific Coast. We don't expect it to, either, but if it does, we'll be the first to let you know — and get our butts out of there.
The October 2011 eBook issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.