The Tourist Test- Which Laws Matter?

I just got back from Mexico. It was a wonderful week in beautiful Quintana Roo. I spent two days wandering Playa Del Carmen, a small port city near Cozumel. Commerce is a contact sport is most Mexican markets, Playa is no different. Most shopkeepers sit in front of their store inviting you in with various pitches. For some reason I felt obligated to acknowledge each offer to visit a certain store.

Inevitably, visitors to the market are offered contraband for sale. This wasn’t my first trip to a market in Mexico and I wasn’t surprised at the advertisement. This behavior is not limited to Mexico. I experienced similar salesman working in New Orleans on Bourbon Street.

If you had to decide what laws in a society were important and which were foolish political fabrications one must only look at which laws are enforced against tourists. Shopkeepers were not offering murder or arson for sale. Laws that mattered were still enforced. Tourist dollars are a powerful force, capable of repealing malum prohibitum laws.

In Mexico and New Orleans I have no doubt that the local dealers operated with the approval of the local police. These were hardly clandestine operations and could have easily been shut down with a few undercover busts. Instead of fighting these markets, it seems that law enforcement often choose to merely take their cut.

On a side note- I intended to post the Mexican drug laws, however I can’t find a good English translation, does anyone have one available?

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