Monterrey, Mexico, the capital of the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon, has been in the news a lot in the past several years, but often not for good. The area is rife with drug and cartel activity, and there have been political issues as well fueling the fire. In 2012, one instance of violence turned up 49 decapitated bodies between Monterrey and nearby Reynosa, the work of warring gangs. At the time, there was much concern for the civilian population, as well as for tourists and expatriates living in the area; but authorities were quick to point out that all of the deceased had some connection to illicit activity. If that doesn’t help you sleep better at night, phew… Well, that was 2012, this is 2014. In March, an American entrepreneur was kidnapped and held for ransom for 36 hours before he and another victim escaped from a moving truck to find their way to safety.
But it hasn’t always been like this. As recently as 2005, Monterrey was deemed the safest Latin America city to live in, and it has historically been a financial stronghold. However, in 2010, the city fell victim to the violence that affected much of the country in the border regions near the United States. Now the city hopes to return to its prowess as one of the industrial and technological hotspots of the country. Monterrey is home to an elite university, over 100 industrial parks and several multinational companies. With new efforts between private interests and local government, security has been significantly improved in the last two years, and some speculators claim that Monterrey is set for a technology boom. Coupled with that, the area has been deemed an attractive place for investment, and this is in no small part to the state being responsible for 8% of GDP while only having 4% of the country’s population.
The area surrounding Monterey is home to a bastion of natural beauty. The Saddle Mountains and the Monterrey National Park are filled with amazing sites such as waterfalls, various varieties of reptiles, birds and large mammals too. The oso negro (black bear) and puma are two of the larger critters you’ll find within the confines of the park. The city has been progressive in its desire to conserve its natural resources, and this can be seen in other ways outside of the establishment of local and national parks; for example, in water conservation projects and working partnerships with farmers to maximize the utility and efficiency of their agricultural programs.
And of course, the city has beautiful architecture and art as well. Some of the most prized art is done by the abstract structure designer Maestro Sebastian. He is considered by many to be one of the most prized living artists in Mexico. His sculpture entitled, Monterrey’s Door, appears as a sort of looking glass into the natural and industrial beauty of the region, and has a resemblance to St. Louis, Missouri’s Arch, or Gateway to the West. Monterrey is also home to Fundidora Park, a recreational area built over an old steel and iron plant opened in 1900, the first of its kind in Latin America. The park has five entrances, giving it sort of a pentagon feel from overhead, and is a fine arts and cultural center with 5-star hotels, auditoriums and several museums. Monterrey may have hit a rough patch recently due to the unrest in Mexico, but their storied history and bright future seem to be paving the way to success.