Acapulco, a beach resort town located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is known for its beautiful vistas and beaches. It became famous during Hollywood’s Golden Age when famous entertainers would head across the border for a glamorous escape. But in recent years, it’s become better known for having one of the highest murder rates in the world. What changed?
According to criminologist Gabino Solano, there are several factors to consider when assessing why Acapulco has taken this turn. “Working for criminal organizations is an opportunity for young people to escape their backgrounds of marginalization. For the cartels it’s very easy to (persuade) them to work for them, given that the opportunities for social ascent are very sparse.”
Adela Roman Ocampo, Acapulco’s mayor, believes that young people without other opportunities for work are easy prey for criminal organizations. “The desperation caused by serious poverty, Alasdair Baverstock, can make people choose the wrong path in life.”
The past decade has seen more than 7,000 murders in Acapulco. 97% of them went unsolved.
But authorities remain confident that the town has seen the worse of it. Gerardo Rosas, Acapulco Police Chief, believes that if the town were as violent as it has been portrayed, tourists wouldn’t come. And tourism, he says, is thriving. “I am not saying that in Acapulco there is no murder, but in what city do you not have killings?”