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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Laws still apply in Mexico

    Vanessa Valenzuelacolumnist
    Vanessa Valenzuela
    columnist

    It’s about that time: March is in sight, and students are already making plans for spring break. Arizona’s proximity to Mexico has earned Rocky Point, the town of beaches, bars and hotels, a top spot on the list of spring break destinations. Over a three-week period in March, the town often sees its number of visitors match or even exceed its population of 30,000.

    Businesses both large and small look forward to the influx of tourists every year. Hotels are booked to the max, restaurants have a steady flow of customers and bars and clubs are packed almost every night. The income generated during spring break is vital to the economy of the fishing community turned tourist hot spot.

    While the increased cash flow has many in Rocky Point welcoming tourists with open arms, the chaos and crime that accompanies it is undeniable.

    The “”Whatever, it’s just Mexico”” attitude many spring breakers take with them to Mexico often causes mayhem for officials and emergency services in both Rocky Point and Sonoyta (the border town most cross through to get to Rocky Point). Police forces are strained, as heavier policing is needed to enforce laws – yes, Mexico has laws too. It’s no surprise that the majority of crime – misconduct, assault and DUIs – occurs when alcohol is involved.

    According to Comandante Quiroz of the Sonoyta volunteer fire services, the number of car accidents – many alcohol-related – that occur between Rocky Point and Sonoyta has forced officials to build and provide staff for an additional care station and Red Cross ambulance between the two cities. With government budgets as tight as they are, the need for extra law enforcement and emergency services is a burden and a large, negative consequence of spring break tourism.

    The atmosphere created by the swarm of unruly tourists can result in tension between officials and spring break visitors. Heavy drinking and poor decisions on the part of spring breakers often cause clashes between the two, and students who cross the line sometimes receive harsh reminders that laws do indeed exist in Mexico.

    Last year’s spring break in Rocky Point was cut short for physiology junior Steve Arnason and his friends after they got on the wrong side of local officials. After a late night, the group thought it would be a good idea to combine fireworks and gasoline on the beach by their rented house. The dangerous stunt drew angry officials and the group was threatened with time in jail if they didn’t leave Rocky Point immediately.

    Every year as students stagger back to the UA after the weeklong break, the stories of wet T-shirt contests and partying are almost always accompanied by at least a few horror stories much worse than this one. The University of Arizona Police Department is bombarded with calls from the parents of students in legal trouble in Mexico. While UAPD is unable to assist directly with problems in Mexico, the organization has taken responsibility for educating students on how to stay safe over spring break.

    On March 6, UAPD will have an event on the UA Mall with activities and information designed to help students help themselves over spring break. While the event includes education on health and safety applicable to any spring break trip, special information is available for those traveling to Mexico. Officer Frank Romero, the organizer and spokesman for the event, said students will be able to learn about Mexican laws and regulations from guest officials of the Nogales police, the Rocky Point police and the Mexican consulate.

    If for no other reason than to ensure that days on the beach and nights at Manny’s aren’t cut short by run-ins with police, students should learn a little about the laws that apply to them in Mexico.



    Vanessa Valenzuela is a sophomore majoring in economics and international studies. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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