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About fifteen years ago I had a very memorable Day of the Dead / Dia de los muertos in Patzcuaro, Mexico. I've been recommending it to people for years as a great place to go in Mexico to experience this particular event.

I've also become interested in visiting the nearby town of Paracho, which is famous for being the guitar-making capital of Mexico since the time of the conquistadors. The luthiers are indigenous Purépecha people

But recently I've heard from other travellers that Michoacan, the state in which these places are located, is now perhaps the most dangerous state in Mexico.

The Wikivoyage articles seem to contradict each other though:

Michoacan / Stay safe:

Michoacan is the most dangerous state in Mexico due to drug-fueled violence. Crime is not restricted to major cities but can also be found in rural areas. As of January 2014, there have been reports of highly-armed vigilante groups forcibly disarming police, likely as part of an ongoing dispute between rival drug gangs.

Travelers should exercise caution at all times.

Patzcuaro:

Increasing numbers of Europeans and Gringos are moving to the Lake Patzcuaro area as prices in other gringo havens have gone up considerably.

So could it be that these places are pretty safe areas within a generally unsafe state?

Or could it be that gringos were moving to parts of the state before the gang violence got so bad but the articles don't consistently reflect the current situation?

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    Yes michoacan is dangerous, but if you don't mess with nobody and stay on low profile, everything will be OK – Ethaan Jan 13 '15 at 6:07
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Right. I have two flatmates at present - a Mexican guy and a German girl. Both have been to these places, so I asked for their knowledge of the area.

Mexican - it's totally fine. It's like tourists to Sydney being told 'watch out for sharks in the water' - yes, crime exists, but it's not likely to happen to anyone passing through. It's more likely to happen to people who live there - he knew a lawyer who had 'dealings' there, and he disappeared. But they're not going to direct attacks towards tourists. He also showed me a Facebook from a friend who is currently there - it looks beautiful and now I want to go too :/

German - went there, it was fine, felt very safe.

Conclusion: If you're not a part of the community, you're probably going to be ok. Of course, bad luck can happen.

Also, Mexican suggests looking at Lake Camecouro nearby. Pictures online look amazing.

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