As many high school and college students around the country plan their annual spring break vacations, the U.S. State Department warns against travel to Mexico.
Popular resort destinations like Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Guadalajara, La Paz, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, and even Tijuana are among the locations the feds caution travel to because of violence attributed to the “activities of criminal organizations.”
As Breitbart Texas reported, the tourist hotspot of Acapulco, Guerrero, has become the scene of of a fierce turf war as rival drug cartels continue to fight for control of the region. In December, the State Department named Guerrero “the most violent state in Mexico in 2015 for a third year in a row, and self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas,” noting that armed members of these groups in Guerrero maintain roadblocks which “although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.”
Officials also urge spring break travelers to exercise caution in Baja California Sur getaways like Cabo San Lucas and La Paz because of homicides, many of which happened in La Paz “where there have been ongoing public acts of violence between rival criminal organizations.”
Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco are subject to travel restrictions related to “continued instability” in the bordering states of Michoacán and Zacatecas. Baja California, home to Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Tecate, and Mexicali, experienced increased homicide rates last year because of “targeted criminal organization assassinations” and “turf battles between criminal groups.”
This “spring break” alert stems from the State Department’s December 2016 Mexico Travel Warning. It classified Mexico as a country with a high potential for kidnapping, carjacking, homicide, robbery, and other crimes because of a lack of security measures in place for travelers. Fourteen of Mexico’s 31 states were flagged as dangerous after Americans became victims of these and other violent crimes.
The State Department says there is “no evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality” and the Mexican government devotes “substantial resources” to keep tourists safe. Still, the department underscores “gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place on streets and in public places during broad daylight” in areas where visiting Americans traverse.
Mexican resorts and tourist attractions “do not see the level of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes,” according to the advisory. Still, the State Department issued common-sense spring break safety tips online for students to traveling to Mexico and the Caribbean. They suggest remaining aware of one’s surroundings, leaving valuables at home, and not participating in political protests. They also advise students to hail licensed and regulated taxis only, warning “some illegitimate taxi drivers are, in fact, criminals in search of victims.” The pamphlet points out some travelers who rode in unlicensed taxis were robbed, kidnapped, and/or raped.
Tamaulipas, which sits just across from the U.S.-Texas Border, and the nearby Coahuila are areas where “violence and criminal activity, including homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, pose significant and continuing security concerns,” Breitbart Texas reported. Even though the State Department singled out this region among those with the highest kidnapping rate, Nuevo Progreso in Tamaulipas attracts another spring break demographic — retirees, according to KENS. They spoke to a group of Canadians who said they have been coming to the border town for 20 years. One of them said: “All of the negative reporting and fear reporting, and I guess these is something to some of it, but maybe too much.”
Breitbart Texas reported Playa Del Carmen and Cancun have largely avoided most of the violence that has taken hold in other Mexican tourist areas. Cozumel, Riviera Maya, and Tulum are other popular spots not under a travel warning.
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