Latin America

US issues new alert to citizens about the dangers of traveling in Mexico

Officials report that 203 Americans were murdered in the country between 2014 and 2015

A foreign tourist at an outdoor market in Mexico City.
A foreign tourist at an outdoor market in Mexico City.PEP COMPANYS

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The United States has issued a new travel warning to its citizens about the growing risks of visiting certain parts of Mexico.

In a statement issued Tuesday by the US Embassy in Mexico City, officials reported that 203 US citizens were murdered in Mexico between 2014 and 2015.

“US citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states,” reads the statement, which is also posted on the US State Department website. It is an update to a prior travel alert issued on May 5, 2015.

The Mexican government responded quickly by asking that travel alerts should contain “precise information” that is “put into context,” but it didn’t deny any of the information in the US government’s warning.

Some of the hot spot states the authorities say US travelers should try to avoid are Aguascalientes, Michoacán, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Durango and Guerrero, with the exception of the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.

US diplomats and their families have been prohibited by Washington from traveling to certain Mexican states

US diplomats and officials, along with their families, are prohibited from traveling to these states, according to the embassy.

Still, the State Department said there is no clear evidence that organized criminal gangs have singled out US travelers or residents living in Mexico. At the same time it pointed out that millions of US citizens “safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.”

Destinations that are not covered by this new travel warning issued on Tuesday include: Campeche, Chiapas, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Tabasco, Tlaxcala and Veracruz.

Washington also advises its citizens not to visit Sinaloa, the home of “one of Mexico's most powerful criminal organizations,” run by drug lord Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, who was recently captured by Mexican authorities. Officials suggested they remain within the tourist areas in Los Mochis, Mazatlán and Topolobampo.

The US Embassy also offers a similar warning about Guerrero, one of most dangerous states in Mexico and where 43 teaching students disappeared in September 2014.

Non-essential travel to Tamaulipas should also be avoided because of the violent conflicts that erupt between rival criminal gangs, who sometimes target private and public buses and have taken passengers hostage, according to the statement. US government officials in Mexico are restricted from traveling to certain areas in the state that borders the United States, and are subject to a midnight-to-6am curfew in Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Victoria.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary has tried to assure US citizens about traveling, saying that one million people and 370,000 vehicles cross the US-Mexican border each day. Commercial trade between both countries has reached more than $530 million annually, the secretary said.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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