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Ajijic

Patzcuaro

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http://www.patzcuaromexico.com/

Would appreciate your thoughts on what in may be like to live there both pros and cons including number of expats, weather, cost of living. Via the Internet and talking to those who have visited the area it looks great. Thanks John

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Patzcuaro is (for us) a great place to visit. It is charming, relatively quiet and we saw few other gringos, other than fellow travellers at the B&B. Staying in Patzcuaro is a great base for driving around the Lake and shopping for local crafts and artwork at a myriad of small villages. We found many bargains and were able to buy directly from the artists themselves. They have at least two great markets there; one is daily and one weekly, I believe.

The restaurants we ate at were just fair; you may be disappointed compared to the breadth and width of choices that you have in San Miguel; we were certainly disappointed compared to the restaurant scene here in Ajijic. Many of the restaurants on or near the plaza offered almost identical menus and seemed a bit tourist-trappy; we were told Patzcuao and the Lake are tourist destinations for many Mexicans. Of course, we were only there 5 days and there may be more interesting eateries, but they weren't apparent. We went to a few restaurants that the gringo-owned B&B recommended and were mostly disappointed. None of the restaurants stood out as places we'd return to.

I have been told the winters are quite cold (it's at 7200 feet); we were there last June and it was delighful. Can't speak to the cost of living; we did not price houses there. The restaurants were not much (if any) cheaper than what we pay in Ajijic, as I recall.

We look forward to returning, for a visit.

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I live in Morelia and have been in Pátzcuaro conservatively a zillion times over the last 30 years. I hate to disagree with Bisbee Gal, but some of the information she posted about the town is either outdated or inaccurate.

First of all, Pátzcuaro, with a population of about 80,000 people, has more native English-speaking residents than Morelia, a city of about a million. I would say that there are upwards of 400-500 English-speaking residents there, mostly retired people from either the USA or Canada. Many seers predict that Pátzcuaro is the next San Miguel de Allende--whether that is a positive or not, who knows.

Secondly, if I lived in Pátzcuaro, I wouldn't eat in most of the restaurants frequented by tourists--and it's important to note that Pátzcuaro receives upwards of 1.5 million tourists per year, most from other parts of Mexico, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Living in Pátzcuaro means that the resident learns where to eat--places off the beaten track, homes of friends, etc. The restaurant scene around the Plaza Grande isn't where the really good food is.

Third, Pátzcuaro (at 7500 feet above sea level) is definitely higher and chillier than Ajijic, but it's only about 1000 feet higher than SMA. It does get cold in Pátzcuaro in the winter; low temps can go down to about 0°C (32°F) in the middle of the night. However, during late December and January days, it warms up to the mid-20s°C. End of April, May, and early June get hot, just like everywhere else in the Central Highlands. The rainy season cools things off again, with highs about 75-80°F during the day and lows about 55°F at night.

Fourth, Pátzcuaro is filled with marvelous colonial beauty--BUT. Once you have done the 'tourist' things, there usually isn't much going on in town. There are a couple of organized events for English-speakers (a men's breakfast group and a women's breakfast group), but no cohesive all-encompassing group that I know of. The occasional cultural event (theater, music, art) is usually directed to the Spanish-speaking community. For example, I recently attended a fantastic art event at the ex-Convento Jesuita; other than my partner and I, no other foreigners attended. Why? It was offered entirely in Spanish. The infrequency of much cultural activity in Pátzcuaro is why I live in Morelia, where there is so much to do all the time that it's impossible to fit it all in.

I love Pátzcuaro deeply and for many years wanted to live there. When I moved to Morelia from Guadalajara, I thought long and hard about whether it was time to live in Pátzcuaro instead. For all the reasons I mention, I have never regretted moving to Morelia. IMHO, Morelia is the best of all possible worlds: close enough to visit Pátzcuaro any time I choose to drive 45 minutes, a bit warmer than Pátzcuaro, filled with colonial beauty and cultural activity, and with enough big-city vibe to keep me happy.

I'd say come over and check out both Morelia and Pátzcuaro. Everyone's needs are different and you might find your ideal spot in one or the other.

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I live in Morelia and have been in Pátzcuaro conservatively a zillion times over the last 30 years. I hate to disagree with Bisbee Gal, but some of the information she posted about the town is either outdated or inaccurate.

First of all, Pátzcuaro, with a population of about 80,000 people, has more native English-speaking residents than Morelia, a city of about a million. I would say that there are upwards of 400-500 English-speaking residents there, mostly retired people from either the USA or Canada. Many seers predict that Pátzcuaro is the next San Miguel de Allende--whether that is a positive or not, who knows.

Secondly, if I lived in Pátzcuaro, I wouldn't eat in most of the restaurants frequented by tourists--and it's important to note that Pátzcuaro receives upwards of 1.5 million tourists per year, most from other parts of Mexico, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Living in Pátzcuaro means that the resident learns where to eat--places off the beaten track, homes of friends, etc. The restaurant scene around the Plaza Grande isn't where the really good food is.

Third, Pátzcuaro (at 7500 feet above sea level) is definitely higher and chillier than Ajijic, but it's only about 1000 feet higher than SMA. It does get cold in Pátzcuaro in the winter; low temps can go down to about 0°C (32°F) in the middle of the night. However, during late December and January days, it warms up to the mid-20s°C. End of April, May, and early June get hot, just like everywhere else in the Central Highlands. The rainy season cools things off again, with highs about 75-80°F during the day and lows about 55°F at night.

Fourth, Pátzcuaro is filled with marvelous colonial beauty--BUT. Once you have done the 'tourist' things, there usually isn't much going on in town. There are a couple of organized events for English-speakers (a men's breakfast group and a women's breakfast group), but no cohesive all-encompassing group that I know of. The occasional cultural event (theater, music, art) is usually directed to the Spanish-speaking community. For example, I recently attended a fantastic art event at the ex-Convento Jesuita; other than my partner and I, no other foreigners attended. Why? It was offered entirely in Spanish. The infrequency of much cultural activity in Pátzcuaro is why I live in Morelia, where there is so much to do all the time that it's impossible to fit it all in.

I love Pátzcuaro deeply and for many years wanted to live there. When I moved to Morelia from Guadalajara, I thought long and hard about whether it was time to live in Pátzcuaro instead. For all the reasons I mention, I have never regretted moving to Morelia. IMHO, Morelia is the best of all possible worlds: close enough to visit Pátzcuaro any time I choose to drive 45 minutes, a bit warmer than Pátzcuaro, filled with colonial beauty and cultural activity, and with enough big-city vibe to keep me happy.

I'd say come over and check out both Morelia and Pátzcuaro. Everyone's needs are different and you might find your ideal spot in one or the other.

Any good real estate deals

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Any good real estate deals

www.patzcuaro-centro-view.com

It's funny, but I chose to live in Patzcuaro for the reverse reasons that tobyjug chose to live in Morelia. All the benefits they mentioned are only 45 minutes away, but all of the drawbacks of living in the big city are too. I can visit Morelia any time I want, but retreat to the relative tranquility of Patzcuaro every night. There are some nice restaurants in Patzcuaro, but nothing that knock your socks off. But everything is so close, and easy to get to, and it never ceases to be charming. I'll promise you the most beautiful plaza in Mexico is here, and it's always a joy to sit around it and watch life happen. Our weather is cooler than Morelia, but I view that as a positive, not a negative. You never sweat here. And the views are always breathtaking. And, you are less than 3 hours from the nicest beach resort in Mexico, where I have another house. (though I hardly ever use it, because I much prefer Patzcuaro.) To each his own, but I happen to think Patzcuaro is a great place to live, and Morelia is very close. I too, hope you'll come visit.

CC

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If there are only 400 - 500 English speaking residents there, its quite interesting that homes are priced in U.S. dollars, isn't it? I looked through the photo show of your listing, and was surprised to see how expensive such a "rustico" home would be, compared to what you would get here in Ajijic for that price. Is that price typical of the real estate in Patzcuaro?

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www.patzcuaro-centro-view.com

It's funny, but I chose to live in Patzcuaro for the reverse reasons that tobyjug chose to live in Morelia. All the benefits they mentioned are only 45 minutes away, but all of the drawbacks of living in the big city are too. I can visit Morelia any time I want, but retreat to the relative tranquility of Patzcuaro every night. There are some nice restaurants in Patzcuaro, but nothing that knock your socks off. But everything is so close, and easy to get to, and it never ceases to be charming. I'll promise you the most beautiful plaza in Mexico is here, and it's always a joy to sit around it and watch life happen. Our weather is cooler than Morelia, but I view that as a positive, not a negative. You never sweat here. And the views are always breathtaking. And, you are less than 3 hours from the nicest beach resort in Mexico, where I have another house. (though I hardly ever use it, because I much prefer Patzcuaro.) To each his own, but I happen to think Patzcuaro is a great place to live, and Morelia is very close. I too, hope you'll come visit.

CC

I believe that it is I who live in Morelia, not tobyjug.

Re the distance between Pátzcuaro and Morelia: it is almost identical to the distance between Ajijic and Guadalajara. When I lived in Ajijic, I rarely was willing to take advantage of the many, many evening events in Guadalajara--for the same reason most foreigners in Pátzcuaro complain about traveling to Morelia for the symphony, for theater, or for other cultural events in the evening. Most of my foreign friends felt (and still feel) the same way. Very few of us older folks want to drive for an hour on a dark and relatively isolated highway. It's why I moved to Guadalajara after six years in Ajijic.

Few people want to drive the Morelia/Pátzcuaro highway after 11PM; the deadly nighttime accidents along that road are legend. Just today, Morelia's daily newspaper La Voz de Michoacán published yet another story about a woman killed and her passenger gravely injured when their car was hit at that lonely road's Lagunillas junction. A similar story appears about once a week.

No one wants to be a statistic.

If there are only 400 - 500 English speaking residents there, its quite interesting that homes are priced in U.S. dollars, isn't it? I looked through the photo show of your listing, and was surprised to see how expensive such a "rustico" home would be, compared to what you would get here in Ajijic for that price. Is that price typical of the real estate in Patzcuaro?

Gimpychimp, it is odd, isn't it! Up until just a few years ago, there was only one real estate company in Pátzcuaro. When people started talking about Pátzcuaro as the next San Miguel, there were suddenly several companies operating, and then a few more based either in Morelia or in Pátzcuaro.

The prices are in USD specifically to attract foreigners to the area; it's easier for people who are not familiar with Mexico to understand what is available for $250,000USD rather than be frightened off by a figure of $3,920,000 pesos, more or less the equivalent at today's exchange rate.

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I believe that it is I who live in Morelia, not tobyjug.

Re the distance between Pátzcuaro and Morelia: it is almost identical to the distance between Ajijic and Guadalajara. When I lived in Ajijic, I rarely was willing to take advantage of the many, many evening events in Guadalajara--for the same reason most foreigners in Pátzcuaro complain about traveling to Morelia for the symphony, for theater, or for other cultural events in the evening. Most of my foreign friends felt (and still feel) the same way. Very few of us older folks want to drive for an hour on a dark and relatively isolated highway. It's why I moved to Guadalajara after six years in Ajijic.

Few people want to drive the Morelia/Pátzcuaro highway after 11PM; the deadly nighttime accidents along that road are legend. Just today, Morelia's daily newspaper La Voz de Michoacán published yet another story about a woman killed and her passenger gravely injured when their car was hit at that lonely road's Lagunillas junction. A similar story appears about once a week.

No one wants to be a statistic.

Gimpychimp, it is odd, isn't it! Up until just a few years ago, there was only one real estate company in Pátzcuaro. When people started talking about Pátzcuaro as the next San Miguel, there were suddenly several companies operating, and then a few more based either in Morelia or in Pátzcuaro.

The prices are in USD specifically to attract foreigners to the area; it's easier for people who are not familiar with Mexico to understand what is available for $250,000USD rather than be frightened off by a figure of $3,920,000 pesos, more or less the equivalent at today's exchange rate.

whoa, that's quite an exchange rate you have there in Patzcuaro, at 13 to the dollar it would be $3,250,000 pesos. That house is definitely not a true colonial either and to put it mildly, an overpriced bastardization. Also, mexicans, particulary the more educated and wealthy ones, have been pricing their homes in dollars for a long time as they remember the peso devaluation and also feel the dollar is more stable.

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Thanks everyone for some great feedback. Did not want to debate exchange rates, pricing homes in US$ which is nuts, cost of homes but I did get valuable information and will definitely be taking a trip soon. For my life style Patzcuaro is of interest. Thanks again. John

PS recommendation for accommodations for 3 nights at a reasonable price .... max $80 per night would be appreciated along with restaurants and must "see" places would be appreciated. PM if preferred.

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mesondesanantonio.com will offer you a lovely room in what was the largest hacienda in Patz, with fireplace, for 780p. Communal kitchen available, and right across the street from the Basilica.

Just on the other side of the Basilica is Lupita's, very good Mexican cuisine.

I'm housesitting in Patz right now, so PM me for more details.

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My favorite part of Mexico is the Lake Patzcuaro area in the Colonial Highlands in central Mexico. My home is in Erongaricuaro, one of oldest settlements on the Lake. "Eronga" is about 12 miles around the Lake from Patzcuaro. Frida and Diego once cavorted in Eronga, arriving by boat, since the road was impassable. Andre Breton crafted an iron cross for the church. Eccentrics, gringos and Mexicans have always been welcome in this village. However, many of the villages around Lake Patzcuaro are totally Purepecha.

I am an artist and must travel to the states for awhile and need a convenient area. I think you should also consider Lake Patzcuaro, a safe, magical area of Mexico. The capital, Morelia, is about 30 miles from the Lake and has an International airport.

Patzcuaro can be used as a hub to tour Mexico. The coast is about 250 miles south, San Miguel is about 175 miles to the north, and east or west about 200 miles, is either Guadalajara or Mexico City. The Texas border is about 750 miles north and all have 4-lane cuotas most of the way. Driving is fun, bus transportation is easy and flying is fast.

Lake Patzcuaro, at 7,200 feet, has the ideal climate, with winter high temperatures in the 70’s and summer highs in the 80’s. Spring is delightful and the Holy Week Craft Festival in Uruapan is superb.

Summer brings short, afternoon rains, turning everything green. In the Fall, everything green, turns into vistas of colorful, blooming flowers. Enjoy celebrating one of the most awesome Days of the Dead ceremonies in Mexico.

Winter brings perfectly clear days, needing a hat and short sleeves. Evenings are crisp and nights require snuggling with a blanket or a heated mattress pad. Winter temps seldom drop below the forties. Weather is unpredictable in the mountains of Michoacan, but at that altitude, you can see the storms coming miles away. You might like it around Lake Patzcuaro. Buen viaje, David

The Michoacan Net

Supporting the Arts in Michoacan

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Michoacan_net/

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Michoacan is a safe, magical area of Mexico.

I'm not so sure about the above statement. The La Familia Michoacana cartel is very active and has wreaked havoc in Michoacan for many years. Here is a link to a recent news account that includes some history of the drug war in Michoacan:

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/07/operation-michoacan.html

The link below describes the recent shooting of a journalist in Michoacan:

http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/go/news/mexico-young-journalist-shot-dead-in-michoac-n

Link below is to a recent LA times article about the deadly ambush targeting the Michoacan state security chief, Minerva Bautista Gomez. The attack on Bautista's convoy was one of the most extreme ever recorded in the government's bloody 3-1/2-year conflict with trafficking groups that has seen plenty of extreme violence.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2010/07/michoacan-la-familia-arrest.html

There are many more examples of the ongoing drug violence in Michoacan, not a place I would describe as "safe."

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Michoacan is a safe, magical area of Mexico.

<falls on the floor laughing>

Sorry, David. Magical, absolutely. Safe--you must be living in a parallel universe. Do you read the Michoacán papers, or watch the news?

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Safety is in the eye of the beholder. Thanks for the links, showing that in Michoacan, the war is between the different cartel groups and the government. The cartels are not after me. You are safer in Michocan than in the United States. For example, the murder rate in Mexico is about 11 per 100,000 people a year. In New Orleans, it’s almost seven times worse, 71 per 100,000. Atlanta, Cleveland and St. Louis all have higher murder rates than Mexico.

I'm not so sure about the above statement. The La Familia Michoacana cartel is very active and has wreaked havoc in Michoacan for many years. Here is a link to a recent news account that includes some history of the drug war in Michoacan:

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/07/operation-michoacan.html

The link below describes the recent shooting of a journalist in Michoacan:

http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/go/news/mexico-young-journalist-shot-dead-in-michoac-n

Link below is to a recent LA times article about the deadly ambush targeting the Michoacan state security chief, Minerva Bautista Gomez. The attack on Bautista's convoy was one of the most extreme ever recorded in the government's bloody 3-1/2-year conflict with trafficking groups that has seen plenty of extreme violence.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2010/07/michoacan-la-familia-arrest.html

There are many more examples of the ongoing drug violence in Michoacan, not a place I would describe as "safe."

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Geesh there goes another person comparing national murder rate to a city. Did anyone set off a grenade in a public square in the US OR Canada killing many innocents? Why not compare say Nuevo Laredo, or Juarez or several other cities? And is it not about the fact every facet of Mexican life is affected by the criminal elements and the corruption? Sometimes, we need to look beyond ourselves to see the impact on those in whose country we are living.

And, how would you know you are safer here? 85% of crimes not reported and 95% never brought to justice. In summary, you have nothing to compare to.

I would encourage others to read the post regarding the prisoners being allowed out to kill people including innocent party goers and then return to prison after using guns supplied by the guards.

Now back to my original post on Patzcuaro ... many thanks for all the great RELATED comments. :-)

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Yes but............

We tend to also ignore stuff like this, reported today by CNN:

(CNN) -- Nine people were shot at a bus station in the south side of Chicago Monday, police said.

All but one of them suffered non-life threatening injuries. The ninth person was seriously hurt, police said.

The shooting took place in the 7900 block of South Western Avenue and appears to be gang-related, officials said.

Police were interviewing witnesses and put out a call for any videos that may have captured the shooting.

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RV lol they should be behind their 20 foot walls like you. I wonder if the following story is repeated in the US for I know it is not in Canada nor New mexico where I lived for years. lmao

http://www.msemanal.com/node/2714

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Excuse me for entering facts into this conversation. Like it or not, you are safer in Mexico than in the United States. You condemned me for "Geesh.....comparing the national murder rate to a city," but you insist upon comparing Michoacan with the cities of Nuevo Laredo, Juarez, Torreon or, in your last email, Acapulco. Last time I checked, none of those cities were in Michoacan. You can grumble and grouse about the violence in Mexico, but you asked about Patzcuaro. If you are not ready for the answer, maybe you shouldn't ask the question.

Geesh there goes another person comparing national murder rate to a city. Did anyone set off a grenade in a public square in the US OR Canada killing many innocents? Why not compare say Nuevo Laredo, or Juarez or several other cities? And is it not about the fact every facet of Mexican life is affected by the criminal elements and the corruption? Sometimes, we need to look beyond ourselves to see the impact on those in whose country we are living.

And, how would you know you are safer here? 85% of crimes not reported and 95% never brought to justice. In summary, you have nothing to compare to.

I would encourage others to read the post regarding the prisoners being allowed out to kill people including innocent party goers and then return to prison after using guns supplied by the guards.

Now back to my original post on Patzcuaro ... many thanks for all the great RELATED comments. :-)

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Excuse me for entering facts into this conversation. Like it or not, you are safer in Mexico than in the United States. You condemned me for "Geesh.....comparing the national murder rate to a city," but you insist upon comparing Michoacan with the cities of Nuevo Laredo, Juarez, Torreon or, in your last email, Acapulco. Last time I checked, none of those cities were in Michoacan. You can grumble and grouse about the violence in Mexico, but you asked about Patzcuaro. If you are not ready for the answer, maybe you shouldn't ask the question.

Are you unaware of the recurring violence in Pátzcuaro and environs? I'm sure you are not one of those people who blithely believes that if it hasn't happened to you personally or to someone well known to you, it hasn't happened. Nor, I am sure, are you one of those people who believes that "they" are not after foreigners, so it isn't important to know about "them" and "their" activities.

Obviously narcoviolencia in Pátzcuaro is far, far below the level of violence in Juárez, Torreón, or Nuevo Laredo. But you can bet that it's there, and you can bet that it affects every single person--regardless of whether that person believes it or not.

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Yes, you are correct. People are affected by things that are not really affecting them personally. Empathy is an important human trait. We share the agony of the friends and family who have lost loved ones in the narcoviolencia around the world.

I am new to this forum but often travel to Michoacan. However, I am not aware of the "recurring violence in Patzcuaro...." (Since the original question was about Patzcuaro, let's discuss the "environs" in another post.) Googling NARCOVIOLENCIA PATZCUARO, PATZCUARO DRUG VIOLENCE, PATZCUARO CARTEL VIOLENCE or PATZCUARO VIOLENCE pulls-up the awful killing of the two police officers in Patzcuaro back in 2008, but nothing newer. I must be using the wrong search words, but I have found no information about the recurring drug violence in Patzcuaro. Yes, drug violence in Mexico, USA and the world, but nothing new nor recurring about Patzcuaro. Would you please enlighten us. Thank you, Sally

Are you unaware of the recurring violence in Pátzcuaro and environs? I'm sure you are not one of those people who blithely believes that if it hasn't happened to you personally or to someone well known to you, it hasn't happened. Nor, I am sure, are you one of those people who believes that "they" are not after foreigners, so it isn't important to know about "them" and "their" activities.

Obviously narcoviolencia in Pátzcuaro is far, far below the level of violence in Juárez, Torreón, or Nuevo Laredo. But you can bet that it's there, and you can bet that it affects every single person--regardless of whether that person believes it or not.

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Yes, you are correct. People are affected by things that are not really affecting them personally. Empathy is an important human trait. We share the agony of the friends and family who have lost loved ones in the narcoviolencia around the world.

I am new to this forum but often travel to Michoacan. However, I am not aware of the "recurring violence in Patzcuaro...." (Since the original question was about Patzcuaro, let's discuss the "environs" in another post.) Googling NARCOVIOLENCIA PATZCUARO, PATZCUARO DRUG VIOLENCE, PATZCUARO CARTEL VIOLENCE or PATZCUARO VIOLENCE pulls-up the awful killing of the two police officers in Patzcuaro back in 2008, but nothing newer. I must be using the wrong search words, but I have found no information about the recurring drug violence in Patzcuaro. Yes, drug violence in Mexico, USA and the world, but nothing new nor recurring about Patzcuaro. Would you please enlighten us. Thank you, Sally

Sally, the incident posted by grm leaves out a good bit of information. The same day that these 12 people were assassinated, the Federal police station in Pátzcuaro, the one at the railroad crossing that leads to Muelle #1 Las Garzas, was riddled with AK-47 bullets--it looked like swiss cheese.

When I talk about 'environs', I don't mean places far away from Pátzcuaro. Rather, I mean places within the municipio (township) where decapitated or otherwise mutilated bodies--people killed in narco-related incidents--have been found. If you are not reading Spanish-language newspapers or watching Spanish-language local news, it's unlikely that you would hear of them. The sad truth is, many are not reported in either medium because of death threats to Michoacán's journalists. At least two journalists, both employees of La Voz de Michoacán, have been assassinated during 2010. Why? For writing the truth about the cárteles.

Things have been relatively quiet in Michoacán for the last few months, but just yesterday a number of threatening narcomantas (banners) were found hung from high pedestrian walkways that cross over roadways near Morelia. We are on the alert here.

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Sally B...you would do well to listen to More Liana. She's been in Mexico a very long time and has ALWAYS cast the best light possible on the country and people. It's just been recently that even she got a little nervous. She's a devout Mexico lover and not a Nervous Nellie and...she lives fairly close to Patzcuaro. Scoff if you like...but she's telling you the unadorned truth...not hearsay or second hand news.

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Sally B...you would do well to listen to More Liana. She's been in Mexico a very long time and has ALWAYS cast the best light possible on the country and people. It's just been recently that even she got a little nervous. She's a devout Mexico lover and not a Nervous Nellie and...she lives fairly close to Patzcuaro. Scoff if you like...but she's telling you the unadorned truth...not hearsay or second hand news.

Cookie, thanks for the props. I appreciate your confidence in what I post.

The truth is, I'm not nervous; I'm just very realistic about how things are, not only in Michoacán but in many parts of Mexico. I've lived in Mexico for 30 years, in several different states. About six years ago I became a Mexican citizen. My commitment to my adopted country is very deep, and I am far from a nay-sayer about Mexico. On the contrary, I love and support Mexico in every way possible.

Nevertheless, we have been living through some very hard times since the end of 2006. My neighbor says, "Entró Calderón y dio una patada al hormiguero, y por eso nos pusimos así." ('Calderón came into office and gave a big kick to the anthill, that's why things are the way they are.') What she means is that after Calderón took office in December 2006, he initiated the war on narcotráfico without understanding the full depth and import of what he was doing; the narcos subsequently have overrun the country. In some ways, that's an accurate assessment of Mexico's narcoviolencia problem--an oversimplification, sure, but nonetheless accurate. In the three and a half years that Calderón has been in office, more than 26,000 people have died in the so-called narco wars.

Recent events--especially the events in the prison at Gómez Palacio, Durango--should give all of us a clue as to how deeply the narcos have their tentacles in every phase of life in Mexico. Whether we notice or choose to pay no attention, the cárteles affect every possible part of each of our lives. Nothing we do is outside their influence. Every part of society is involved. What we are living with in today's Mexico is completely unlike any gang violence in the USA.

My opinion and that of many others is that Mexico is currently engaged in a civil war, a war for control of the country. That control includes business, agriculture, geography, politics, government, and much more. At this point--again, in my opinion and that of many others--the narcos are winning. No one--not politicians, not pundits, not the person on the street--has an answer for how to get out of this situation.

Right now, it appears to be a given that in July 2012 the PRI will win control of Los Pinos (Mexican presidential residence and offices, analogous to the White House in the USA), as well as control of the senate and congress. Most Mexicans are sick to death of empty promises from PAN (the party in power since Vicente Fox was elected president in 2000) and the death of hope for change. If the PRI is elected in 2012, what will change? No one knows, but everyone hopes for better days.

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