20 January 2020 Newsletter

In this issue:

    • “Death in Yucatan” Consular Town Hall Meeting
    • Security Update as of Monday January 20, 11AM

“Death in Yucatan” Consular Town Hall Meeting

On January 14, 2020, the US and Canadian Consulates hosted a Town Hall Meeting to provide the foreign community the information we need in the case of a foreigner’s death while living or visiting Yucatan. About 150 Canadians and US Citizens squeezed into the back room of Flamingos Restaurant to hear from a panel of experts ranging from Consular staff, a Notary Public, Mexican immigration, a lawyer, the Yucatan State Civil Registry and a local funeral home.

The key takeaway from the meeting is that residents and visitors to Yucatan should plan ahead in the event that a death occurs here.  This means taking the time now to get your documents in order and share key decisions with friends and family both in Yucatan and in your home country. There are far too many details to include in a Newsletter, and this is the type of long-term information better suited to a page of its own on our Website.  So to read all of this information, visit our new Death Preparation and Procedures page.

Here is the contact information for the panelists who were present at the meeting, who are able to provide further information:

You can also read another summary of the meeting written by long-time Progreso snowbird resident Russ Hilderley at https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2020/01/flipflops-and-tank-tops-sockless-in-sandals-and-dying-in-mexico/

Security Update as of Monday January 21

The recent rash of break-ins and purse snatchings that have been taking place in the east side of Progreso appears to have died down over the weekend. There is definitely an increased police presence in the community and perhaps that is discouraging incidents.

We cannot emphasize enough that the best response to this type of situation is an increased focus on prevention — secure your home so that robbers can’t get in, and walk through the streets with as few valuables as possible.

Also be aware that the laws on self-defense are very different here in Mexico than in the US or Canada. Self-defense is only allowed in proportion to the actual threat that is taking place. Unless an individual is causing you bodily harm, the use of a weapon or deadly force against a thief in your home or on the street could result in legal problems for you. We will provide more information about both prevention and self-defense in the next issue of Beach Area News that will be released later this week.

16 January 2020 Newsletter

Progreso Security Update

This information is current at of 3 pm January 16.

Since our last Security Alert on January 9, we have become aware of at least 20 street assaults or home invasions in east Progreso. Today Beach Area News team volunteers Speranza Avram and Karen Cloutier, along with a victim of a street assault and a victim of a home break-in met with Comandante Emilio Caamal who serves as the Progreso Municipal Police Chief. The meeting was organized by Rashid Pedro Martinez, the director of the city’s new FAST program (Foreigners Assistance Services Team) who was also present at the meeting.

We had a very productive meeting and in response to the security concerns we raised, effective immediately, there are new procedures in place for reporting to the Fiscalia, and a WhatsApp number that will connect victims of crime directly to the Municipal Police Department in the event that more information is needed about the location of a crime. We will discuss each of these new procedures below.

1) REPORTING TO FISCALIA – Mexico law is different than the laws in the US and Canada. In order for investigations to proceed, and for suspects to remain behind bars, crime victims must file an official report with the Fiscalía. This is not the same as providing information to the police at the scene of the crime. If the crime victim does not speak Spanish, the law requires that a translator certified by Fiscalia take the report at the office of the Fiscalía.

One of the major barriers to this requirement has been that the translator who works for Fiscalía is not in Progreso, but Merida, so this has meant either a long wait or a return appointment. However, today, Comandante Caamal authorized the use of different reporting procedures for foreign residents and visitors at the beach.

Rather than go to Fiscalia directly, foreigners are directed to go to the Municipal Police station first and tell them you need assistance and translation in filing a report to Fiscalía (the Police station is right next door to Fiscalía). We were told today that the Municipal Police Department has a certified translator on-site 24/7 and this person will accompany you to the Fiscalía to make your report. Even if your Spanish is perfect, it is recommended that you first visit the Municipal Police station and have this translator go with you. This will ensure that the police are aware of your report.

Below is a map showing the location of the Municipal Police Station and a photo of the outside of the building. When you walk in, go up to the front desk, which is behind solid glass. Someone will see you, open the window, and then you say:

  • “I need a translator to help me file a report in Fiscalía.”
  • “Necesito un traductor que me ayude hacer una denuncia a Fiscalía.”

Be patient as the front office staff may not be aware of the new procedure for the next few days. Keep asking them for help in English – ayuda en ingles – and they will find the translator.

We have been told that there is someone on-site 24/7. If this person is not immediately available, it may be that they are assisting someone else. If you are not sure of your Spanish, it is always a good idea to have a bilingual friend or neighbor accompany you. But this person cannot translate for you at Fiscalia – that is why you need the certified translator from the police department.

Based on these new procedures, we request that anyone who has been a victim of a crime over the past few days who has not filed an official report, to please visit the Municipal Police Station as soon as possible. Only through reporting by victims can we ensure that bad guys get caught and stay in jail.

We ask that you please do your part to help keep our community safe. Be prepared for this process to take some time, as much as 2 to 4 hours. (Bring water and snacks!) At the end of this process, the report will be complete. You can and should request a copy of the Fiscalia report as soon as it is completed. There is no charge. The report will be in Spanish. The report will have a Folio Number which is the official record locator for the report.


If you are the victim of a crime, please call 911 first. As we have mentioned before, there should be a English-speaking operator available, but there is no guarantee of that. On the Beach Area News Website, there is a vocabulary you can use to help you report in Spanish if needed. The 911 Security Center in Merida will dispatch police, and from what we have heard, response time here at the beach has been pretty rapid.

However, there are times when the police cannot find an address as described by the victim. If response time feels delayed, foreigners are instructed to send their location via WhatsApp directly to the Municipal Police Department at: 999-359-0369. If you live in a location where there are no street signs, it’s a good idea to pinpoint your home on Google maps ahead of time, so it can be shared with the police in case they cannot find you. (See example at right.)

While this number is monitored by the Municipal Police 24/7, THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY NUMBER!  Reporting a crime should always be done by calling 911. Please only use this number to communicate with the Municipal Police in the event that police response is delayed by more than about 10-15 minutes.


We know that these past few days have been very stressful for residents and visitors who have always experienced Progreso as a safe and tranquil place. Just a few things to keep in mind as we give the authorities a chance to catch the bad guys.

First, the current “crime wave” is not just targeting foreigners–Mexican residents and businesses are also experiencing crime — if you want to stay informed about that, just read the daily online newspaper, Progreso Hoy (open in Google Chrome and it will translate automatically). There is usually a spike in criminal activity this time of year – but as those of us who have been here a long time can attest, this does feel more intense than previous years.

Second, prevention is always better than dealing with a crime after the fact. Read our security leaflet about ways to keep your home and your person safe. As an extra precaution, women should avoid carrying large purses; even better, just put some cash and a copy of your ID in a pants pocket. Don’t give the bad guys something to grab on to. If you have to walk at night, do so in groups.

Third, if you feel the need to have some self-protection, either for your home or for walking in the street, the best legal solution is a pepper spray or foam that can be sprayed at the bad guy. Be cautious when using spray outdoors, as the wind could blow the stuff back at you.  The self-defense laws in Mexico are not the same as in the US or Canada; we will post an update on these laws in a future edition.

Finally, if neighbors or businesses wish to hire private security guards or patrol neighborhoods at night, this is permitted. But especially residents should not try to engage with criminals if they see a crime in progress. Call 911 and let the police do their job.

We will continue to monitor this situation on Facebook and through emails we receive from our readers. In particular, if you have an experience with reporting to Fiscalia under these new procedures, please let us know how it went – either positive or negative.

We want to provide feedback to the police to let them know how this new process is working. (The report on this week’s meeting with the Consulates will be delayed until later this weekend.)

Thank you – The Beach Area News Team

Bob Rentz, Speranza Avram, Karen Cloutier, Dave Bloch, and David Nevers

Security Alert: 9 January 2020

The information in this newsletter is current as of 6 PM on Thursday, January 9.

Over the past two days, two separate incidents of assault and attempted robbery from expats by two men riding a full-size motorcycle have been reported. They both occurred in the east side of Progreso in locations frequented by foreigners. The purpose of this Email is to provide information to our Beach Area News readers to make you aware of these situations, provide some tips on how to prevent being a victim of these types of crimes, and suggest what to do if something like this happens to you.

The first incident occurred on Wednesday January 8 and was reported in the Facebook group Yucatan Beach Friends. An expat woman was walking down the street from Crocodiles Restaurant on Calle 27 in the afternoon when a motorcycle came up from behind her and ripped her purse from her shoulder. There were two men on the motorcycle, both wearing full helmets with face plates. They grabbed her bag and sped away. Our understanding is the victim has not yet reported this incident to the police, but we hope that will happen, especially since a second, similar incident occurred the next day.

On Thursday, January 9 at around 10 AM, an expat woman was walking in the street on Calle 60 between Calles 25 and 27. She was carrying a bag over her shoulder on the street side. A full-size motorcycle carrying two men in full helmets with face plates came up behind her and tried to grab her bag, but were thwarted because the woman had a hot cup of coffee in her hand which spilled on the men. They pushed her down on the street and sped away, without her bag. This woman reported the incident to the police.

Because these two crimes appear to have been done by the same two men, targeting women walking and carrying purses, we felt it was important that the community be made aware of the situation through this Email.  We also contacted our state and local government liaisons to make them aware of these two crimes and we requested increased police patrols in this area of Progreso.

Here are some suggestions to guard against this type of crime.  First, try to walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If you have to carry a purse, use a cross-body type of bag, as small as possible that doesn’t dangle on your shoulder. Don’t hold it street-side. Carry as few valuables as possible. Both of these incidents happened during the day, but as a general rule, if you walk at night, be with a buddy, not alone.

If you are the victim of robbery or an attempted robbery, call 9-1-1 right away. The police will come to get more information. But PLEASE take the time to also file a report at the Fiscalía Office in Yucalpetén. Information about how to do that is located on our website; download our Safety Leaflet here.. Only a report filed at the Fiscalía office will be considered as a valid report of a crime; unfortunately, the information gathered by the officers at the scene, as well as reports filed at any other police location, such as the tourism police office on the Malecón, do not count as an official crime report.

We all know that this is the safest area of Mexico, and we also know that crimes of opportunity happen every day, all over the world.  But it is always upsetting when incidents like this happen in our own neighborhood. We encourage everybody to be extra aware of their surroundings during this snowbird season.