Despite the absence of active armed conflicts in Latin America, the region is one of the most dangerous in the world with high rates of murders and kidnappings, something that prevents the normal development of life for Latin Americans and generates distrust in many tourists.
To break with this trend, many countries in the region have developed specialized police forces, which are located in tourist spots such as beaches, old towns, museums or archaeological ruins, and those that do not have them mount special operations for visitors.
This is the case of Uruguay, which, as its tourism minister, Tabaré Viera, explained to EFE, during the Madrid International Tourism Fair (Fitur) which is being held this week in Madrid, have operations for the reception of cruise ships: “they arrive up to four boats per day, many thousands of tourists come down together, there are special operations where they disembark and spend”.
Remember that your country “in relative terms, offers public security” although “it does not mean that you do not have to be careful like everyone else.”
Dominican Republic, 1,800 agents with an “88% approval”
In 2022, the Dominican Republic received more than eight million tourists, which represents “15% of the gross domestic product (GDP)” for the island, and leaves “US$8.5 billion” annually in public coffers, according to EFE. Dominican minister, David Collado.
To protect this precious asset, they have a tourist police force with 1,800 agents and they are “reforming and strengthening it”, details the minister and explains that in 2023 his country will ally “with tourist police in more developed countries” so that the agents Dominicans “take training courses.”
In addition, they are renovating the beaches “putting internet and lighting” so that the tourist “feels confident and the Dominican can enjoy.” “We have taken being a safe destination very seriously,” he concludes.
Paraguay, 340 agents and Ecuador, 300
The Paraguayan Minister of Tourism, Sofía Montiel, told EFE that her country has a special security force for tourists, made up of 340 agents throughout the country.
Paraguay had in 2022 “a rebound in international visitor arrivals of more than one and a half million, as well as more than US$500 million in foreign currency for income,” according to the minister, and although security is fine, “we are working together with the Ministry of the Interior, the police and the tourist security division, which is the one that works providing facilitation and orientation to the visitor”, he explains.
For its part, Ecuador, the guest country for the next edition of Fitur, has 300 agents to protect visitors and, according to EFE, its tourism minister, Niels Olsen, tells EFE, although the country has “social problems like all Latin American countries , no incidents outside the usual numbers are reported.
“There have been cases of insecurity but outside the common tourist path”, and “so that it is not the Ecuadorian government talking about its own security” alludes to “travel alerts” that the US issues to inform its citizens about security. citizens traveling abroad, ranging from one (maximum security) to four (lowest degree), and Ecuador is now at two, “when many Latin American countries are at three and Spain is at two,” says Olsen .
Security in Mexico, different depending on the state
The case of Mexico is one of the most striking in the region due to the high levels of violence registered by the country, after decades in a fight against drug trafficking.
The Secretary of Tourism of the State of Yucatán, Michelle Fridman, is clear that “Yucatán is the safest destination in Mexico and one of the safest in the world” and explains that Mérida (the capital of the State) “is the second safest city of the American continent”, “we are safer than any city in the United States”, he concludes.
Mexico is so big as a country that each State could have the size of a European country”, he affirms.
The undersecretary of Tourist Services of Guerrero, Iván Ruiz, expresses himself along the same lines, who assures that in his State “there have been no problems in tourist areas.” He acknowledges that “some events have occurred” recently, but that these “happen in the north” of the country and Guerrero is in the south.
The Secretary of Tourism of Nayarit, Juan Enrique Suárez, emphasizes that his “is the first State in perception of security” and “the second safest in Mexico” behind Yucatán. “We have surveillance cameras with trained tourist police where we must go without anything happening”, he explains.