Is Baja California no Country for Old Men?

by : rome sanzio

Just a couple of years ago, around 2 or 4 years may be, whenever people think of Baja California especially the border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, what usually comes to mind are pristine white sand beaches and golden desserts. Scenes of colorful markets filled with vendors hawking ridiculously cheap items and numerous food stalls cooking-up tacos, burritos and churros by the hundreds may flash into your mind. Or you might imagine numerous bikini-clad college girls out in the sun on spring break and the occasional rowdy 18-year old gringos drinking at cantinas like there is no tomorrow.

But recently, these are not what people have in mind now when Baja California and Mexico border cities are mentioned. That idea of a nearby tropical paradise inhabited by beautiful women that can cook amazing food is replaced by a dismal thought of a country that is home to uncountable drug dealers, car thieves, kidnappers, vandals and other miscreants. Recently, especially during the later part of last year, the public has been bombarded with news and reports showing that Mexico border cities have skyrocketing crimes rates. Tourists and vacationers are constantly warned against the dangers in Mexico border cities and are actually dissuaded by their very own countries to avoid crossing the border and vacationing in border cities like Tijuana and Rosarito in the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico.

This may be attributed to the combination of increased crime rates mixed with exaggeration on the media's part. But for sure, investors and tourists have become weary of visiting border cities in Mexico and the industries of these cities are clearly suffering.

On this note, the well-acclaimed movie entitled "No Country For Old Men" which won a whopping number of Academy awards has come to my attention. This said movie was directed by the infamously ingenious Coen brothers and stars Hollywood A-list celebrities like Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones. I have to say that it was a truly well crafted film, and after 122 minutes in the hushed silence of the movie theater surrounded by nothing more than the pitch black darkness and the movie scenes projected on the 40 feet silver screen, Old Country For Old Men left me with a mixed feelings because I think it may, however indirectly, worsen the opinions that people have towards the security in border cities in Baja and the rest of Mexico.

As amazing and impressive the movie may be, it for me had a disturbing aftertaste. Reader, you need not be wary that this article would give away any significant plot points in the acclaimed movie "No Country for Old Men" because it won't. I would however, need to give you a brief, totally vague idea on what the movie is about just so you have something to grasp before you read on further. The main plot of "No Country For Old Men" revolves around a drug deal gone haywire in a Mexico-US border city, and this great thrilling movie would take turns making you cringe and think as the action and violence unfolds.

What my concern is that the larger-than-life quality of No Country For Old Men which many viewers and critics even said was "extremely and undeniably realistic" may further add to the general impression that Baja border cities and those other in Mexico are unsafe and are the haven of criminals. It is not unlikely that someone who has never been in Tijuana or Mexicali may think that these cities are brimming with drug dealers and extortionists since the occasional negative news about borer cities would greatly coincide with the ideas depicted in the movie.

No, I am not saying that the Coen brother, the producers of the film or anyone else for that matter has consciously set about the task of ruining the reputation of these Mexican border cities. The movie in all its aspects was a masterpiece, and I think that much is very clear. However, the story itself although it is fiction, because of its power and gripping details, can easily influence the viewing public's ideas of border cities and indirectly add to the tension and suffering industries that these cities are probably already experiencing.

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