Tourists party, Locals suffer


FROM CANCUN TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico’s northern Yucatán coast is rapidly turning into one huge resort. Some of these expansive, decadent getaways for (mostly) Americans and Europeans are “all-inclusive,” meaning food and (bottom shelf) liquor are included in the price of your stay. You can drink and eat to your heart’s content. Hundreds of thousands of vacationers flood these resorts every year, ingesting, imbibing, soaking up the sun and exclusive private beaches.

Fair enough, right?

“Playa Del Carmen is dying. The all-inclusive resorts are killing it,” Diego tells me during an interview for JustaPack. Acutely intrigued by this statement, I met up with him a week or so later to learn more.

The “First World” has entered towns like Playa del Carmen, introducing hard capitalism, and turned what used to be a quiet fishing hamlet into a thrumming, throbbing beach town filled with boutique shops, pricey restaurants, and obnoxious booming nightclubs. The growth has been rapid and is nowhere near finished. The locals have adapted to this new way of life, and ply all sorts of services to the outsiders. You walk down the main tourist strip and are offered everything from clothes, massages, food, “buy junk you don’t need before you leave” (according to one witty salesperson), and drugs. Always ends with the drugs.

“I got the party, the real stuff. Marijuana, coke, X. I got it all.”

As you can imagine, this has led to a sharp increase in violence and theft in the area, as where drug dealers roam, roams strife and danger. One example Diego mentioned was the sharp increase in bicycle “muggings.” You slow down on your bike at an intersection and barely even perceive the danger before you’re knocked to the ground, perhaps beaten, and have your bike taken. This happens in local areas as the police are busy patrolling tourist areas.

Locals suffer; we relax and party. Familiar story.

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