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Former News10 Reporter: Mexico Drug War Fears Different From Reality
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January 24, 2011

Mexican soldiers patrol a field in the war on drugs; the lack of tourists may leave a bigger footprint than the dealers. (Miguel Tovar/Associated Press)

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - A former News10 reporter now living in Mexico wants to help separate perception from reality regarding the horrible drug violence gripping parts of the country.

"People have asked me how I can stand living in Mexico," said Dan Adams, who retired to Puerto Vallarta three years ago after a nearly 30-year career at News10.

Adams said he is often asked whether he has seen blood in the streets or headless bodies in the coastal resort city.

"The whole country has been painted as this drug-torn dangerous place to be," Adams said.

The Mexican drug wars have largely been confined to cities near the U.S. border. Although Acapulco experienced a series of killings involving rival gangs, most of the coastal cities have not been directly affected.

On Friday, January 14, 2011, the news broke that three major cruise lines were cutting or curtailing cruises to the Mexican Riviera, which includes Puerto Vallarta. The decision was partly the result of a decline in tourism because of the drug wars.

Adams said he has never felt threatened in Puerto Vallarta, which is home to a significant number of Americans and Canadians.

"This is a beautiful, safe, friendly place to live," Adams insisted.

Puerto Vallarta merchants were stunned by the news that the number of cruise ships visiting their port would be declining.

"The violence problems in Mexico are just in a few cities and we are not close to those places," explained Benny Ibarra, who owns a crystal shop in a quaint shopping district.

Benny's brother Edwin, who owns an adjacent pewter shop, said nearly half of his business comes from the cruise ships.

"It's difficult for me and for my family too," Edwin said.

Both brothers worried the decline in tourism would not be limited to the cancelled cruise ship visits.

"Reservations at the hotels will follow," Benny predicted.

Adams said a similar scare hit Puerto Vallarta a year ago when cruise ships refused to dock because of the swine flu outbreak in other parts of Mexico. Downtown shops and restaurants were nearly empty as a result.

"I'm afraid this is going to be worse," Adams said.