Fear and Crime in Mexico City’s Airport

When protesters shut down Thailand’s main airport at the end of last year, the whole situation was pretty shocking. The southeast Asian nation is a popular destination spot, and tourists of countless nationalities were stranded for weeks on end as all flights became grounded.

Besides understandably frustrated vacationers, the inability of the Thai government to protect its greatest link to the rest of the world was disturbing (though that’s not a comment on the legitimacy of the protesters’ claims or their own right to demand attention through seizing the airport).

Though the airport was regained by the government, Thailand’s tourism sector — and, as a result, entire economy — will suffer for awhile.

So when I heard that Mexico City’s own sprawling Benito Juarez airport had been the scene of 18, often violent, robberies of airport visitors since March 2008, I began to get worried. Five of the victims were foreign, and at least one died. They say the airport, especially a busy, international one like Juarez, is an emblem of a city — and the last sign of deterioration before a city goes to hell.

Mexico has reportedly sent 100 more federal police officers to guard the hub, but will it be enough to abate fears abroad?

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