Breaking out the Big Guns

Posted by Cila Warncke

I have spent the last couple of nights in the very pleasant Mexico City Hostel in the Zocalo district. Somehow this has tipped me into some traveller’s twilight zone and hearing a constant mix of Spanish and European languages has convinced me I’m in Spain.

The only thing that significantly dispels this impression is the sheer quantity of police around the city — all casually armed to the teeth. There are a load of jewellers near by and private security is scattered around, rifles slung across their arms. The Policia Federal have the most impressive kit. They are lined up along the steps of the Palacio Nacional behind riot shields, wearing full body armour that makes them look like Dr Who’s Cybermen. It’s about 20 degrees now, christ only knows how they cope in summer.

These are just two of the perhaps dozen or more different types of police and security walking around with death dealing weapons. It is terribly un-American of me to say, but this always has the opposite of the (presumed) intended effect on me. Gun-toting enforcers of law and order set my nerves right on edge. These dudes make the Guardia Civil look like the Salvation Army…

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