How police harassment discourages tourism in Yucatan

When police pull over drivers to collect bribes, the effect is chilling

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Dear Editor:
I was very pleased to read your April 26 story about the public discipline, firing and disgrace of two corrupt highway police officers in the vicinity of Sisal and Hunucma.

This past December, during what was an otherwise wonderful visit of almost three months to Yucatan–where we lived in both a lovely home in Garcia Generis, Merida, and a beautiful “beach house” in Sisal, we were stopped by  a small group of uniformed police on the road from Sisal to Hunucma. The policeman demanded a payment on the spot of some $50 in pesos, and then asked for another equivalent payment for his “commandante.” We very politely declined to make the second payment and instead praised Yucatan and the police, and in response the policeman waived us on. (One of our group of Americans was fluent in Spanish, fortunately, and very tactful and patient under the circumstances.)
We had some short-visit holiday guests from the USA with us when this happened, and they were, of course, scared and appalled. They have told many folks in the USA about this, and that has NOT helped tourism or the chances of Americans visiting, I assure you.

While we love Yucatan, especially Sisal and Merida, from then on we felt fear each time we traveled the road between those two communities.

I do not know if the two dismissed and disgraced policemen were the same ones who extorted cash from us, but I am glad to hear that this sort of crime is being vigorously punished and discouraged. Had we known whom to report our extortion attack to, we would have.

With the exception of this one small group of police who extorted cash from us in the vicinity of Hunucma, we did find the police in Merida and throughout the State of Yucatan to be polite, helpful and professional.

We do hope to return to Merida, Hunucma and Sisal again, and we hope that the positive action by the police authorities and your good reporting of it will mean that we can now feel safe on the roads between those lovely communities when we do return.

Thank you for your fine reporting.

Bill Nevins
Albuquerque New Mexico, USA

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