• Transform magazine
  • September 29, 2020

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Mexico: Emerging from a shadow

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The large nation just south of the U.S. border gets a lot of bad press. Mexico is often seen in the news featuring in tales of drug wars, murders and illegal immigration. Thousands of people have been killed in drug-related incidents over the last decade. Fortunately for Mexico, the tourists still come, although many of them stick close to the country’s seaside resorts.

In a 2012 interview with the BBC, Simon Anholt, a British country-branding expert, said that Mexico’s problems originated from an "Extremely low self-esteem." He argued that Mexico has been overshadowed by the United States for such a long time, it had "Simply never bothered" to present itself to the outside world.
Outside the tourist resorts, Mexican cities, such as Ciudad Juarez, have become synonymous with violence and extreme risk. Juarez is notorious for high murder rates, especially those directed at women. In 2008, the city was rated the murder capital of the world, with 100 murders per 130,000 inhabitants. However, the situation has since improved.
Nevertheless, images such as these tend to stick, unless dedicated work is done to shift them. Despite being one of the world’s top 10 tourist destinations, Mexico, a country of 122 million people, is in great need of an image overhaul.
As with any nation brand, PR efforts can only go so far. Dedicated PR campaigns may help to temporarily boost tourism, but the root of the image problem lies much deeper. Mexico’s drug cartels are at the heart of the matter.
However, Mexico can’t take all the blame for its unfortunate situation involving drugs. The rest of the world, in particular the U.S., continues to buy them. Mexico needs to improve levels of social equality, and find other effective solutions to tackle its drug problem. Only then will it be able to earn the positive image it deserves.