Updated Report - Safety in the Tijuana and Rosarito Areas
From August-December of 2008 there were several reports in the news related to safety in Mexico and the Tijuana and Rosarito areas. These have been reported as isolated incidents within narcotics-related areas and people. The local government has responded to the violence in significant ways. Please note that Mexicali and Ensenada, our primary ministry locations, are not mentioned in the news reports as of Jan.15, 2009. In fact, the number of reports have decreased in the beginning of this year.
Mexico Outreach Response We have found that the information about the situation in Mexico tends to be dramatized via rumor and exaggerated media. We have been in regular communication with Rodolfo our lawyer in Mexico who lives in the area, and with several different levels of the Mexican government (Department of Public Safety, Mexican National Immigration Institute, Social Services, the Mayor's office and others). We are also actively reviewing U.S. Departments such as DEA, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of State's travel website for updates on the conditions across the border, which shows the most recent update on October 18th, 2008. The State Departments purpose in these updates is for travelers to understand the risks, know best how to avoid them, and who to contact if an incident occurs. It does not warn people to avoid entering Mexico and actually states that “common sense precautions can ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable”. As a precaution, we advise you to stay away from narcotics-related areas (which we will not be near anyways). At this time of year, our staff travels regularly on the highway through Tijuana and Rosarito, and have been in Ensenada and Mexicali, and we have not observed or experienced any signs of increased risk while on the coast highway (toll-road).
Be aware that as the Easter break approaches, the media will begin to highlight last year’s stories and statistics. They will target College Spring Breakers who go to party, club and drink who will travel in small numbers and could be potential theft targets (being intoxicated). Recognize that what we are doing and where we are in the cities is considerably different. Make sure to evaluate whether these stories are current and understand that we are monitoring all reports regarding safety and security.
Your Response We suggest you continue to exercise the same caution you have used in the past. If you stay on the main coast highway (toll-road) through Tijuana and Rosarito, you should be well away from the narcotics-related areas mentioned in the news. Use common sense on the road and avoid driving into areas with are unfamiliar to you. In addition, remember that the immigration documents that we submit to the Mexican government on your behalf are not just for identification purposes. They provide the Mexican government with knowledge of your presence in Mexico. Make sure you put our bumper sticker on your vehicle. Mexican authorities are aware that we give our teams a bumper sticker for the back of their vehicles, and if they should find one of your vehicles on the side of the road with, let's say a flat tire, they would stop and provide assistance. Please understand that we seriously, and cautiously, consider each trip into Mexico. We care deeply about the safety and security of all traveling into Mexico for our events. Our staff continually monitors the issues in Mexico, paying special attention to their accuracy and proximity to the areas we do ministry in. We keep our fingers on the pulse to ensure the safety of our participants, and ourselves. As a department within Azusa Pacific university, our travel into Mexico is closely monitored as well; should the Board ever consider a trip to be dangerous or unsecure, the University would not allow us to travel into Mexico. Please be assured that we would be the first to recommend staying home if we believed it was unsafe to go.
We are encouraged by a great perspective from John Piper in his book “Don’t Waste your Life”. From page 81: “Risk is woven into the fabric of our finite lives. We cannot avoid risk even if we want to. Ignorance and uncertainty about tomorrow is our native air. All of our plans for tomorrow’s activities can be shattered by a thousand unknowns whether we stay at home under the covers or ride the freeways. One of my aims is to explode the myth of safety and to somehow deliver you from the enchantment of security. Because it’s a mirage. It doesn’t exist. Every direction you turn there are unknowns and things beyond your control. The tragic hypocrisy is that the enchantment of security lets us take risks every day for ourselves but paralyzes us from taking risks for others on the Calvary road of love. We are deluded and think that it may jeopardize a security that in fact does not even exist.” You can read more of this in Chapter 5, pages 79-98 online at http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_dwyl/dwyl_full.pdf
We also encourage you to check out this clip of Francis Chan talking about simply living an easy life of safety http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA_uwWPE6lQ
You can’t be any safer than where the Lord wants you to be. We firmly believe that.
We are always depending on God to maintain the safety He has graciously given to the hundreds of thousands of youth and adults that have gone into Mexico on our trips for nearly 40 years. We hope this helps explain and give some assurance to you of our ministry to Mexico. We pray that the Lord would use these Cross-cultural relationships to not only further his kingdom in Mexico, but also transform the lives of students one by one. If you would like further material, statistics, reports or have questions, please feel free to contact Matthew Bach, Senior Coordinator of Church Relations at Mexico Outreach at (626) 812-3027 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org