With spring breaking, and wanderlust mounting, an invitation to Cuernavaca, Mexico, seemed the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums to which your sulky Fort Worth Friday correspondent has lately succumbed. As old as Mexico itself, Cuernavaca contains the oldest preserved colonial building in the Americas, the nearly 500-year-old Palacio de Cortés, built atop an earlier, demolished, Aztec structure. Fifty years ago, Cuernavaca was a sleepy little resort town of 35,000. Now at 350,000 souls, Cuernavaca is a big little place, with great shopping, frequent cultural events and even fewer reasons to return to the capital which, on a good day, is a short 45 minutes to the north.
Remember when the Wall Street Journal told us crime was so bad in Mexico that even the Mayor of Monterrey, Fernando Larrazabal had fled and re-located his family to the Dallas area? (I found out it was to Las Colinas, and y’all got mad at me. I also found out on a visit to La Paz, Mexico, in November that Sr. Larrazabal wanted to be closer to her family here in North Texas.)¬† Crime there is way out of control; the city is caught in a war between two drug cartels, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas. A U.S. Federal ICE agent was recently murdered, and the violence could be spreading to the U.S.
I talked with my landscaper, who used to drive through Monterrey on the way home to see his parents in Mexico:¬† he told me he no longer drives through Mexico.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs terrible,‚Äù he says. ‚ÄúMy wife, she is afraid. They are killing people in Monterrey every day. EVERY day!‚Äù
It‚Äôs the drug cartels, he told me, and he blames the Mexican government for not wanting to accept any assistance from the U.S. There have been 350 killings in Monterrey this year, which is the third most populous city in Mexico with 3.7 million people. August 18 the body of the mayor of nearby Santiago,¬† Edelmiro Cavazos, was found on the outskirts of Monterrey, an industrial center with close U.S. business ties. Two doctoral students have been killed, guests at a Holiday Inn kidnapped, and the cartels killed two bodyguards right in front of a school. Many Americans and even some wealthier Mexican are out of there and ending up in Texas ‚Äî so in a perverse way, this could be good for our property values.
I still recall the story of a rancher who was kidnapped and held hostage for over a year in a box, beaten, shot, barely fed, all to extort ransom money from his American-born wife. Guess where this happened: San Miguel D‚ÄôAllende. On the show, the couple, who were both in real estate, said initially they were asked to keep quiet about the kidnapping for fear of the damage it would do the to real estate community.