Mexico: Where Uncommon Valor is Common

Source: Q-Roo Paul

Something that still fascinates me about the Mexican people is their willingness to help others – even in dangerous situations.

I was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years and I spent the majority of my years on a busy night shift. I routinely responded to dangerous and/or violent calls in progress (e.g. domestic violence). By the end of my career, I had responded to thousands of these types of calls and I can tell you from experience that it is extremely rare for a person to place themselves in harm’s way to aid a non-family member.

I’m not saying that people won’t call the police when they hear screaming from a neighbor’s house or if they see someone breaking into a car in a parking lot – most people will at least do that. Nowadays, they may even tape the violence or crime with their cell phones from a safe distance – but the assistance generally stops right there.

This is not the case here in Mexico. In fact, it’s quite common to read newspaper articles where a group of people stepped in to stop a crime in progress and arrest the perpetrator.

One such article appeared in today’s newspaper and it involved an incident that occurred in a residential neighborhood in Cancun.

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, a young woman was attacked by her boyfriend with a knife inside their home. Neighbors heard her screaming for help and several of them immediately entered the residence to intervene.

Think about that for a moment – they entered a residence to confront an armed subject and rescue the victim without the assistance of law enforcement. In my 25 years of responding to domestic violence calls, that never happened once.

In the case in Cancun, neighbors disarmed and detained the suspect until police arrived. They also aided the victim in getting medical attention. The article said that by the end of the incident, around 100 neighbors were involved. That’s incredible.

Let’s Wrap This Up

As I mentioned before, incidents like this one are not rare in Mexico. Over the past 12 months, I have read countless articles about people intervening to stop crimes ranging from burglary to kidnapping. In each of these cases, it wasn’t just a single individual who decided to be a hero – it was a group of people.

Although there are good and bad people in any society, Mexico seems to have more than its fair share of people who are brave, caring and helpful. These core values run deep in the Mexican culture and they’re reflected in the daily actions of the people here.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

14 Comments on "Mexico: Where Uncommon Valor is Common"

  1. Shari Wilkens | January 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm |

    Part of what I love about Mexico and why it will be home in about 5 years. Thankfully, I’ve not been around a serious/dangerous assault but I do tend to intervene when others seem to think the best policy is stand by and do nothing. We should fit right in. 😉

  2. Dear Paul, thank you for your story. Indeed it is very common that people, strangers, will offer and provide help. I am 80 years (Young at heart) and live and walk around Merida, Centro and almost every time I am on the way, crossing an intersection where there is NO ramp and I stand checking the traffic, to find an opening, as I am slow people, young, old, women, men, even teenagers come and ask if they can help me. UNHEARD of in TORONTO, Canada were I live, sometimes in the summer, to visit with the rest of my family.

    • Thanks for sharing that. People have been so helpful and wonderful here in Mexico. I love that about the culture here.

  3. Lizzie Horvath | January 23, 2017 at 2:40 pm |

    Hi Paul,
    I’m new to Qroo, just moved to Playa del Carmen a few weeks ago. I’ve been following your posts pretty much from the beginning and have read quite a few of the old ones. By the way, they are great and helps people like myself a lot!
    I’m really glad that there are others who see how kind and caring Mexican people are. This is one of the reasons I fell in love with the country.
    Please, keep posting, your blog is awesome!

  4. Thank you for the positive writing of Mexico and its people.

  5. Paul, do you think people in the US are less likely to intervene because there is likely to be a gun involved?
    If I head screaming in a house at homevthst would prevent me from investigating.

    • From my experience, I don’t think that’s the case. Even if the suspect was clearly not armed, most people just watched the event and waited for the police to arrive. I the case of a burglary or robbery, they would give us a description of the person if they had already fled but in Mexico, they chase the people down. That’s why i find it so impressive.

      Although it is less common to encounter a gun here in Mexico, they are here. There is sill gun violence and Mexican citizens can lawfully own a firearm in their home if they comply with the requirements set forth by the government. That being said, most cops will tell you that they would rather be stabbed than shot. — I’ve seen some horrible wounds inflicted my knives and machetes.

  6. Joan Somerville | January 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm |

    Thanks for the article. What is the name of the town and the church in the photo? I visited there over a year ago as part of a larger tour and have forgotten their names. Many thanks!

  7. Thank you for your story. It put me in mind of serial murderer Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker. After killing 13 people in Southern California, he was apprehended in a Latino neighborhood by citizens who recognized him from photos. It sounds like these folks retained the spirit of valor you discuss in your post. 🙂

  8. Here in the USA, we were at the beach one day, stuck in the sand. Car after car of large crowds of young people, in huge pickups kept passing us by, even waving at my wife and I. It is always the Hispanic family, loaded with 3-4 generations of family that always stop and offer help. They don’t even take money we wanted to give them for their kindness and service. I always love and enjoy the company of the people in Mexico. They are exactly like you describe them.

  9. Amazing story! I, too, am 25+ years in law enforcement and can tell you that this would NEVER happen in the States.

    And I love Dean O.’s comment about the Hispanic family that helped him. They are so very, very nice. Not on par at all with Dean’s situation; but when my husband and I were in Cancun back in January, we stopped by one of those Cancun signs to take a picture. A Latino family of no fewer than a dozen stopped by and offered to take it for us. We, of course, reciprocated. They then asked a passerby to take a photo of ALL of us — they insisted that we be in their family photo. Talk about touching!

  10. Hélène Tellier | August 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm |

    On our way back from Chichen Itza, the borrowed car we were driving broke down shortly after leaving and left all four of us stranded on the road back to Akumal. No mechanics available on this Sunday night. A Mexican family stopped by, with their van quite loaded. Would you believe they reorganized all their load – secured some of it on top of the car ! – to make room for us. And drove us all the way home, right at the entrance of where we live !!! They accepted nothing in return, and said it was the natural thing to do 🙂

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