Mexico's Acapulco endures despite drug war

Associated Press Modified: January 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm •  Published: January 29, 2011
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ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Acapulco long ago lost the international popularity contest to Cancun.

Yet one of Mexico's oldest resort cities endures, despite a ruinous swine-flu outbreak in 2009 and now drug-gang beheadings and massacres.

Acapulco, a drug-trafficking hot spot of endless turf battles between Mexico's ever-shifting cartels, has for years drawn mostly national tourists, especially from Mexico City, who only have a four-hour drive down a winding but well-kept high-speed toll road.

Those tourists are still drawn by the famous, glittering bay and death-defying cliff divers. It doesn't seem to matter that daylight shootouts have broken out along the main coastal highway, forcing souvenir vendors to dive for cover, or that bodies are hung from bridges and dumped on the road leading into the city.

Or that 20 working-class Mexican men, some of them related, were kidnapped while visiting Acapulco in September. The bodies of 18 of the men were found in a mass grave outside the city a month later. Investigators believe local drug traffickers mistook them for rivals.

Over Christmas, 94 percent of hotel rooms in the city were booked, as good as any other year, said Jose Cedano, president of the Acapulco Association of Tourism Professionals. And that's not counting those who stayed at the many high-rise apartment buildings and hillside weekend homes that are continually being constructed. Those provide an estimated 40,000 extra rooms in Acapulco, which has 28,000 hotel rooms, Cedano said.

Mexico City residents seem unwilling to allow drug-gang violence to ruin their plans.