Safety and Emergency Issues

Because many of us travel back and forth between Guanajuato and Michoacan, I thought that Michoacan Net readers might be interested in the new website of our Municipal Security Committee (MSC) in San Miguel de Allende.

The MSC was formed earlier this year and was recognized by our Mayor, Luz María Nuñez Flores, as a committee that contributes to the municipal government's efforts to combat crime by educating and informing the public about security realities in San Miguel. This being a cyber age, we made the creation of a website our top priority and the site, called San Miguel Security, was launched today, 17 December 2010. It is available on the Internet at 
<< >>.

The site is intended as a community resource on matters related to security and safe living in the municipality and will be updated on a continuing basis. At present, most, but not all, of the content is in English. A Spanish language edition is in work. A great deal of the site's content is uniquely pertinent to San Miguel, but there is a great deal of information of general interest.

When you visit the site, you will find emergency phone numbers, a section called, "Know Your Rights in Mexico," numerous articles explaining the structure, responsibilities and functions of San Miguel's different security organizations, including the PolÃcia Preventiva, Ministerio Publico and Transito. There is also a section on crime statistics and a resources section
with contact information and links to a wealth of security related entities from locksmiths to personal security services and domestic violence protection programs.

The site hosts forms that allow individuals to file compliments and complaints about their interactions with the police and Transito. In the near future, it will also link to a moderated blog where crime victims can post reports. You will find much much more as you explore the site. This is the MSC's first year of operation. We are all volunteers and full time residents of San Miguel. When you visit the site, you will find a link that allows readers to send comments and suggestions to the MSC.

Mary Heslin
MSC, Spokesperson
Area Code -- The telephone area code is 434.

Climate -- The climate is delightful most of the year, but occasional blustery days bring swirls of chilled air from across the                    lake, causing everyone to retreat indoors. October through April, it's cold enough for a heavy sweater, especially in the               morning and evening. Few hotels have fireplaces or any source of heat in the rooms.

Elevation -- Pátzcuaro sits at an altitude of 2,200m (7,216 ft.).

Emergency -- Dial tel. 434/349-0209 for emergency assistance or the national emergency number, tel. 060.

Hospital -- The Hospital Civil Dr. Gabriel García is at Calle Romero 18 tel. 434/342-0285 

Population -- Pátzcuaro has 70,000 residents.

Post Office -- The correo, located a half-block north of Plaza Chica, on the right side of the street, is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 2pm and 4 to 8pm.
TOURIST SERVICES -- Highway 14 links Patzcuaro to Morelia, which lies 50 km (31 mi) northeast, and to Uruapan, located               61 km (38 mi) southwest. The city has a bus terminal that offers service on the following lines: Flecha Amarilla,                             Galeana, Autobuses de Occidente, Autobuses de La Piedad, Destinos Parhikuni, Herradura de Plata, Tres Estrellas                 de Oro and Estrella de Occidente. The closest airport is in Morelia, which lies 27 km (17 mi) from Patzcuaro. 
Patzcuaro Bus Terminal -- Located on Antonio Arriaga Street, in the Colonia Centro. Tels. 434-342-1678 or   434-342-1675  

EMERGENCY NUMBERS AND INFORMATION -- Regional Tourist Office. Tel. (434) 342-1214
Green Angles -- Emergency Highway Road Service.-- Tel. 078
Area Code -- The telephone area code is 443.

Climate -- Morelia can be a bit chilly in the morning and evening, especially from November through February.

Elevation -- Morelia sits at 1,950m (6,396 ft.).

Emergencies -- The local number for emergencies is tel. 066.

Hospital -- The best in town is the Sanatorio de la Luz, Calle Bravo 50, Chapultepec Norte. PH# 443-314-4568 

Airport -- Francisco J. Mujica International Airport. Located at Km 27 on the Morelia-Zinapecuaro Highway 126.  
       Flights avaible on Aeromexico, Aerolineas Internacionales, Aeromar and Aviacsa.  Continental flies Morelia to Houston,          and Volaris flies to Tijuana, with promises of more flights soon.

Internet Access -- You can find Internet service without much effort in the Centro Histórico (Historic District).

Population -- Morelia has 600,000 residents.

Post Office -- Palacio Federal, on the corner of Madero and Serapio Rendón, 5 blocks east of the cathedral.

[The Michoacan Net] Re: Follow Up: Car Jacking en route to Zihua                                                   Wednesday, December 29, 2010 8:48 PM
Hey all!  I've been meaning to weigh in on this issue of the carjacking in Zihua and let me just say right off being mugged/robbed/held at gunpoint/carjacked is a horrible, angering situation to be put in by another human being and I am deeply sorry that these people had to experience something so vile. I first of all would like to remind everyone who is a US citizen that they can register on the State Department Website and this has proven to be an invaluable tool! Let me share with you what happened to my (non-Mexican, totally gringo brother) several weeks ago in Zihua. He and his wife had some clams with their neighbors and as it turns out my bother became deathly ill from a neuro-toxin in the clams(he couldn't see, he couldn't walk) and needless to say my sister in law (who speaks very little Spanish) was frantic when she called us from the Hospital General. I remembered this very helpful tool and called the Embassy in Mexico City (a number I had on hand) and asked for the on call consul to give me the phone number of the Ixtapa consul. I called the consulate (even though I KNEW no one would be there because of the hour)and got the machine that provided the consul's cellphone number. She answered me, I explained the situation, and she went to the hospital, talked to my sister in law, talked to my brother, talked to the doctors, she got all the information and translated; she was a life saver! This is the kind of information that one needs to have if 1-don't speak the language fluently and 2-aren't familiar with the legal system in the country where they are visiting.
I would strongly urge those individuals who were carjacked to call the consul in Ixtapa to see if there is anything she can do to help (or at the very least give them information) as to what to do: [+52] (755) 553-2100 
Information is power!
Alma Rinasz
(private email) New web site for local security warnings and info                                           Tuesday, December 28, 2010 6:46 PM

This web site will only be as good as the people who use it.  If you hear of a dangerous situation, please send info to David Haun ( so he can post it on the site.
 To stay informed, look at this site often.  Also, please call me if you learn of a dangerous situation, and I will call you.
 There was a car jacking (stealing of a car) on the cuota to Zihuatenejo within the state of Michoacan.  It happened the day of the burning vehicles (or the day after).  The norteamericano driving wondered why there was so little traffic and why he saw no police or army vehicles.  A car stopped in front of him, and because it had Washington plates, he stopped.  Two guys got out with rifles and ordered them out of the car.  He was not even allowed to take their pet parrots out of the car and were left with nothing.  The account by the victims was posted on michoacan_net (which you are all welcome to join).  Someone else said that the cuota has insurance for losses caused by theft or accident, and the information is found on the cuota fee receipt.
 Stay informed; stay safe; help each other. Jacki
December 29, 2010  (email from friend)
(A note from David:  This was sent to me from a good friend who received it from another friend. Not sure of dates or any info not listed. We are awaiting further information.)
"I picked my friends up at  12:30 at the Meson San Antonio. They followed me in their pickup to Tocuaro. We stopped at two places and then headed to Eronga to eat at the German restaurant. We arrived at 2:25.
I pulled my truck into park and they parked about 100 feet closer to the hwy. I could not see them except part of their truck.
I got out of my truck and as I was getting out three pickups passed me in the parking lots going really fast. One of the pickups was are pickup that veered into my lane as I was approaching the restaurant going really fast in the opposite direction.
 My friends met me at the door of the restaurant. Their car had been car jacked in the restaurant parking lot at gun point.
A blue pickup pulled in behind them as they parked the car. The person on passenger side jumped out and pulled a gun on the driver, my friend Emelio.
Emilio didn't connect with what was happening. The gun shocked him. His wife Monica immediately knew what was happening. Their twin boys were sitting with Monica in the back.
Monica told Emelio to give them the keys and get out. So they all disembarked from the car and the rateros took off.
It happened really fast, so fast that I had only time to get out of my car, which is when I saw them flying by.
They only took the car, nothing else. We called the police immediately. It would have been easy to catch them. There were three pickups flying down the road.
About 5 minutes later a car pulled into  the parking lot.They had seen the cars.
Monica was talking to the police and told the police they were on the road towards Patzcuaro... no help.
Monica and Emelio went to the police station to file a report.
While they were there another person walked in who had had his car stolen this morning. His experience was brutal.
He was on the road from the Librimiento headed towards the Basilica. A car blocked him in front and from behind  his pickup, two men jumped into his truck bed. From the car in front a guy jumped out with a gun and at gunpoint demanded his wallet and keys. The car jacker had a gun on his head and cocked the gun. The poor guy lost everything, including his cell, all his money, his passport and now has no way to return to the US."
[The Michoacan Net]  Follow Up: Car Jacking en route to Zihua                                                                    Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:59 pm
A week ago, a report of a car jacking, that originally appeared on the Civil List (a Yahoo Group mainly concerned with activities in San Miguel de Allende) was reposted on Michoacan Net. The original report was posted by friends of the victims. Today, the victims themselves provided the information below to the Civil List and, with their permission, I am posting it here because it contains new information about the incident.
Mary Heslin
* * * * * * *We are the people that were car jacked on the Quota en route to Zihuatanejo. The incident occurred in broad daylight around 3:30 pm.on December 16th. There had been very little traffic on the highway (I now know) due to the rioting and car burning etc.. that had occurred in the Michoacan area the previous week. There was also not a soldier, policeman, or Federale any where to be seen on the road.
The Bandits basically stopped their car in the middle of the road in front of us and started waving at us. The car had Washington Plates
(stolen) which put us off. If we hadn't hesitated because of the U.S. plates I believe we could have gone around them in the ditch and sped away. There were four surprisingly clean cut young men in the car and two of them came out holding very large pistols in the air and opened the doors of the car and asked my husband and I to get out. We did what they asked except my beloved Parrots (of 15 years) were strapped in the baby seat in the back of the car. I tried desperately to get them out and one of the bandits alerted the others that there
were animals in the car and for a moment they hesitated but then slammed the door and sped off. We were left on the side of the road with nothing and had to hitch hike to Zihuatanejo. We had a terrible time trying to get any police assistance anywhere and were told that had to go to the the town of Lazaro Cardenas to make the report.It took seven days to obtain sufficient reports and paperwork before we could return home. My advice, take the bus or at very least make sure the roads you travel on are busy roads with lots of police presence.
Claudia & James
RE: [The Michoacan Net] Follow Up: Car Jacking en route to Zihua                                       Tue Dec 28, 2010 8:31 am
I hope you kow that those road are insured for any accident or incident. Same as insured in the USA.  If you have an accident or incident as the one that happened while in the cuota road then you can claim.   I have never filed anything, but I know of people who has. You will need to get on-line and stop at the next toll booth and report it tothe office. There is a sign at the beginning of each cuota road where it says " Su seguro comienza aqui" which mean "you insurance begin here" . When you pay your cuota part goes to the insurance company.
Gracias,  LEO CHOW
Re: [The Michoacan Net] Follow Up: Car Jacking en route to Zihua                                            Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:44 pm
According to the disclaimer on the back of the toll receipt, you are insured for problems caused *only* by the condition of the roadway itself. I don't think a carjacking would be covered. In fact, MANY things are not covered, including windshield damage from rocks tossed up by other vehicles on the road.
Judy and I were traveling from Morelia to Guadalajara on the toll road about a year ago. Between Ecuandureo and Ocotlán, the road was in horrendous condition. Just prior to the Ocotlán toll booth, the jagged edge of a pothole ripped one of our tires open. We stopped at the toll booth and informed the attendant, who sent us to the office across the highway. They called their insurance adjustor, who came within a few minutes. He all but groaned and did not question how we ended up with a flat--he knew that the highway was in really bad shape. He called a flatbed tow truck, which took Judy, me, and our car to a state-of-the-art repair shop in Ocotlán. Once all the arrangements were made for getting a new tire, the shop transported Judy and me to the bus station, where we got on a bus back to Morelia.
One of the conditions of the cuota seguro is that you must immediately report any damage to the attendant at the nearest toll booth. Judy and I were grateful to have been near the Ocotlán exit when our tire was damaged.
Because of the unusual type tire (run-flat for a Mini Cooper) and the time of year (just a week before Christmas), our car was in the repair shop for two weeks. When the repair shop called to say the car was ready, we took a bus back to Ocotlán (that's another and terrific whole story!) and the repair shop people
picked us up. We inspected the car and signed on the dotted line that it was repaired correctly and boom, we were on our way.
We did not pay one centavo of the more than 5000 peso cost of the repair. But again, that damage was covered due to the condition of the road itself and it MUST be reported immediately, at the nearest toll booth.    Cristina
[The Michoacan Net]  Report on cartel activity, including La Familia Michoacana                                     Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:32 am 
Roads report     Yesterday morning we travelled from Colima (by the way, it's a beautiful lovely geogeous, blablabla state, loved it! worth everything pore of it!!!) to Michoacan on the normal roads. The scenery was absolutely astonning! we crossed huge bridges, amazing canyons, we passed El Nevado de Colima and travelled through Mazamitla, passed Sahuayo, Los Reyes, and other small towns unitl we reached Uruapan. It was late and just before, probably Zacan we stopped in a little stand with a lady selling the most delicious huchepos I've ever tried
(believe me, I love trying street food!) these huchepos were incredible! then later we crossed the road to Patzcuaro and everything was quiet, we only saw two of those trucks with a handfull of soldiers, nothing else. Pretty much quiet. So it's very likely that La maravillosa family Calderon and Michoacana have decided to give each other - of course us- a break!!!!
Frida           Happy New Year wherever you are!!!!
March 15, 2011
John wrote this on his opinion on Mexico safety.  
I lived in Guanajuato in 2004-2005.  Then moved to Santa Clara del Cobre 2005-2007.  December 2007 I returned to the US.   Then moved back October 8, 2010.   I live in Santa Clara del Cobre now, love it, love the people, love the sense of history, love the architecture, love the sense of pride people have of being Mexicans and have no plans to leave.  So, in my opinion.....

(1) The border towns should be avoided.  
(2) Don't associate with people who buy/sell drugs.
(3) Don't go to bars into the wee hours
(4) Don't go to "bad" neighborhoods
(5) Don't engage in "risky" behaviors (you know what they are, right? Don't do in Mexico what you wouldn't do in downtown central city Buffalo.)
(6) The conflict is typically between the police, Federales, military and "bad guys".  The fight is mostly between those groups.  They surely have had well publicized shootings.  None target expats.  None target visitors/tourists.  I suppose there's always a chance of a stray bullet or some other horror, but it's a pretty slim chance.
(7) There are always criminales....relatively small time.  If you have troubles at all it would more likely be from them than the really bad cartel guys.  Mostly property theft or damage.
(8) MSM (mainstream media) in the US has been nothing less than relentless on reporting all the gory bloody details.   Fortunately for our US friends the media doesn't report US crime nearly as colorfully and vividly.  Just because they don't report it in the same way does not mean it isn't happening.   It is.    
(9) Leave the expensive jewelry at home.  Don't flash wads of cash.   Don't make yourself a target, just as you wouldn't in the US.

Mexico's interior, IMO, is just fine thanks.  I'm not concerned whatever about going to concerts, movies, art openings/shows, restaurants or a walk in the zocalo most anywhere.  I confess I'm back home before 10 pm most of the time.   I do drive at night (against all advisories) but have never had troubles.