U.S. State Dept. issues travel warning to 5 Mexican states (video)


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A strict “do not travel” advisory has just been issued by the U.S. State Department warning citizens to avoid traveling to five Mexican states because of violent crime and gang activity.

The State Department has long recommended travelers exercise “increased caution” in Mexico, due to widespread homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery, but the new warning elevates the five states to level 4, the highest level of potential danger. This puts the Pacific coast states of Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero on the same level as war-torn countries like Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

These five states have a long history of drug cartel activity, such as trafficking routes or the cultivation of drug-related crops.

Turf wars between rival drug cartels have torn apart Tamaulipas, which is located on the U.S. border, and Sinaloa, which is home to the cartel of the same name. Michoacan was so dominated by a drug cartel that vigilantes took up arms in 2013 to drive them out, according to the report.

In addition to the level 4 warnings, the State Department warns that 11 other Mexican states have been designated at a level 3 warning, which urges people to “reconsider travel.”

Nearly 22,500 people were murdered in Mexico in the first 11 months of 2017, the highest toll since crime statistics began being released in 1997.

Two popular tourist destinations — Los Cabos and Cancun —  are located in the states of Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo. Both are at a level 2 advisory, which calls on travelers to exercise caution but does not explicitly suggest they avoid the areas.

However, at least two Mexican resorts — Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Acapulco — are located in Guerrero, which was identified as one of the five.

The latest advisory threatens to further hurt Mexican tourism, a $20 billion industry accounting for about 7% of the country’s GDP.

The new advisory is the first for Mexico under the State Department’s revamped system, announced Wednesday, for issuing travel warnings, according to the report.

In an apparent reference to major resorts like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco, Mexico’s government-run Tourism Board put out a statement saying that “Mexico’s major international tourism destinations have been explicitly listed as having no travel restrictions.”

In November, Mexico’s Minister of Tourism, Enrique de la Madrid, barely acknowledged its crime problem while trying to promote tourism.

“I’m very respectful of what the State Department has to do … what I’m saying is those numbers aren’t necessarily to be considered for tourism purposes because they’re describing (a different) situation,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “We just want to send a signal, which is true, that our destinations are a safe place to visit.”

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