Is Oaxaca safe?

Safety in Oaxaca

Is Oaxaca safe? The answer to that question is YES. Oaxaca is the capital city of the state of Oaxaca with a population of approximately 300,000 people. This city maintains the quiet and quaint atmosphere of an old town in Mexico. In the evenings, families with children, young couples, and students stroll the zocalo (main square) until 11:00pm. Because houses are small with very little or no patio at all, Oaxacans, like in many other countries, conduct most of their social life outside, in plazas or squares: children playing, couples dating, neighbors visiting and catching up with the news, even Girls Scouts meetings and aerobic classes take place outdoors. This kind of public lifestyle does not allow for much crime.

US Travel Warning: It is true that the U.S. government ( has put Mexico in their list of countries with travel warnings. It explains that this classification is in response to a sustained level of violence over an indefinite period. If you read the warning on Mexico, you will see that much of the concern with the violence is drug related, and that they constantly mention the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, and others; mostly in the north of the country. There are references to political upheaval in Oaxaca, but mainly it refers to the 2006 events (see below).

SUNY Mexico: SUNY has an office in Mexico City. Robert Balkin is the director of this office and resides in Mexico City. Balkin regularly sends reports about conditions in Mexico, related to the areas where we have programs. His last report in November was that everything is quiet and safe. Mary Hills, Mary Sasso and Carmen Rivera visited Puebla, Mexico in November and also reported to be quite safe, even walking at night.

Oaxaca 2006: In the summer of 2006, the governor of Oaxaca did not meet the demands of the public teachers on strike. Confrontations between the strikers and the police followed until November, when the governor asked the president of the country for help. The Mexican army was sent to put an end to the strike. Some protesters died and others were arrested. Since then, there has been no violent conflict in Oaxaca. Every summer, there are demonstrations demanding the liberation of the prisoners but they are diminishing in numbers as the years go by. After our first program in 2008, students were surveyed as to whether change the program for another time in the year to avoid being there during these demonstrations. Students unanimously rejected the suggestions, stating that not only did they feel safe but that it was quite interesting to learn about the local politics.

Did you know that . . . ?

United States is fifth in the world in terms of murders per year (16,204) and that Mexico is sixth with 13,144?

In 2010, New York City saw 532 murders and 1,377 rapes?

Buffalo is only 6.5 hours or 378 miles from NYC?

Buffalo is a day and 8 hours or 1,962 miles away from Ciudad Juarez?

Oaxaca is a day and 4 hours or 1431 miles away from Ciudad Juarez?