By Laura Bly, USA TODAY
The U.S. State Department has updated and expanded its travel warning for Mexico, providing a more detailed, state-by-state security assessment and noting any restrictions on U.S. government workers traveling within the country.
The warning, dated Feb. 8, replaces one that had been in place since April 22, 2011. It notes that “millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business … there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.”
But it adds that “crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery.” According to the warning, the reported number of U.S. citizens murdered in Mexico increased from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011.
The updated warning cautions against nonessential travel to part or all of 14 Mexican states, including Chihuahua (which includes the Copper Canyon), Sonora (where U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco are urged to use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing to limit driving through Mexico, and to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours) and Michoacán.
However, no advisories are in effect for such popular tourist areas as the state of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum), southern Baja California (Cabo San Lucas), Guanajuato (San Miguel de Allende and Leon), Oaxaca (Oaxaca, Huatluco and Puerto Escondido) and Chiapas (San Cristobal de las Casas), as well as Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and nearby Riviera Nayarit.
The warning recommends that travelers stay within the tourist zones of Acapulco, Ixtapa, Monterrey, Zihuantanejo and Mazatlan – where, the State Department notes, “incidents of violence are occurring more frequently in tourist areas. (Government) personnel are permitted to travel between the Mazatlan airport and the tourist areas only during daylight hours. We recommend that any other travel in Mazatlan be limited to (Zona Dorada and the historic town center).”
Via: USA Today