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Sand and Soldiers Mix as Troops Move In to Protect Cancun Tourists

National Guard deployed after two deadly drug-gang shootouts threaten the recovery of the resort region’s tourism industry

“The National Guard is here to help us recover peace,” Cancun Mayor Mara Lezama said as they arrived. More than 90% of the state’s economy relies on tourism, making security a priority for federal, state and local governments.

“The National Guard is here to help us recover peace,” Cancun Mayor Mara Lezama said as they arrived. More than 90% of the state’s economy relies on tourism, making security a priority for federal, state and local governments.

Photographer: César Rodríguez/Bloomberg

Cancun and nearby beaches welcomed 1,500 National Guard troops on Dec. 1 after two deadly shootouts raised security concerns at Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations. Drug-related violence has escalated in the area just as flights and hotel occupancy begin to recover from the pandemic, so the government stepped in to protect the nascent tourism revival. Heavily-armed troops in bulletproof vests stuck out like a sore thumb among the turquoise waves and fine powder sand, but tourists expressed hope that the show of force would slow the crime wave.