Things That Matter

The US Has Issued New Security Warnings About Travel To Mexico And Here’s What You Should Know

Is Mexico safe? That’s the question many travelers are asking in light of the recent murders of nine Americans who were gunned down in a remote region about 100 miles from the U.S. border. The chilling incident comes on the heels of other highly publicized murders, including an American couple who was killed in front of their 12-year-old son this summer in Guerrero, and 27-year-old honeymooner Tatiana Mirutenko, who was caught in stray gunfire while emerging from a Mexico City bar last December.

Last year, Mexico had the highest number of homicides in the country’s history, with an average of 91 deaths a day — and 2019 is on track to break the record. Drug cartels and criminal organizations are running rampant throughout the country, with lethal results.

So what’s a visitor to do when faced with such grim stories? This is where the US government has stepped in.

The US has increased its warning level for US citizens traveling to Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security expanded its list of places it does not recommend its citizens visit because of widespread cartel violence. DHS has now expanded its ‘Do Not Travel’ list to six states (up from five) and suggests travelers reconsider visiting 11 others.

The Mexican states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas make up the black list that the U.S. government has asked US Citizens to avoid (including tourist, family, and business visits).

The Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State extended the security alert in force since last April, due to “increased criminal activity” in the state of Chihuahua, where nine members of the LeBarón family were massacred. Chihuahua capital already had a travel restriction for U.S. government officials, who could only use Highway 45 and were prohibited from crossing the neighborhoods of Morelos, Villa and Zapata.

Beginning April 9, the U.S. State Department alerted its citizens to the high crime rates and kidnapping risks in the states of Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas.

Now most all of Mexico is at a Level 3 or above warning level (on a scale of 1-4).

Even on its travel information page, more than half of Mexico’s territory is listed at level 3, which means a “high risk of violence,” prompting U.S. citizens to reconsider their trips. The rest of the states are at level 2 and the U.S. government advises them to take precautions during their travels because the risk of illegal activity has increased.

Much of these additional warnings come on the heel of several high-profile violent incidents.

There are places that are clearly dangerous, like the border towns. But even some of the bigger resort destinations have had issues. Formerly peaceful Los Cabos has been called the murder capital of the world. An attack in a bar in Cancún in February killed five people, and last year, eight dead bodies were discovered just outside of Cancún’s hotel zone. And on the beaches of Acapulco, people have been getting gunned down in broad daylight while tourists lounge on the beach nearby.

Ok, but despite these warnings you should still feel comfortable traveling to Mexico.

Mexico has long been a popular tourist destination for travelers from the United States. From Spring Break parties in Cancun and Puerto Vallara to hipsters and influencers taking over the beaches of Tulum or the colonial pueblo of San Miguel de Allende, Americans flock to Mexico in huge numbers.

And despite years of ongoing violence that has racked the country, Americans have continued to enjoy all the incredible natural beauty, food, and culture that Mexico has to offer. And none of this necessarily needs to change.

Mexico received # visitors every year from the US and the vast majority of them return home perfectly fine with wonderful stories and souvenirs from their trip. The warnings from the US State Department are simply saying to exercise increase caution and to avoid areas where known illegal activity has occurred.

In Latin America, only a handful of countries receive the State Department’s Level One warning.

Beginning in January 2018, the U.S. government established a new security alert system for travelers, which classifies countries around the world according to their level of danger. It is a tool aimed at tourists and business people who plan to travel abroad.

The ranking of Travel Recommendations of the State Department establishes level 4 as the most dangerous, in which they are labeled with the recommendation “Do not travel” destinations such as Syria, North Korea or Somalia.

At the time of 2018, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia were placed in category 2 and advised U.S. citizens to exercise caution and be aware of the risks of insecurity.

Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Ecuador are in category 1 of the ranking drawn up almost two years ago. For all of these countries, the U.S. recommends “exercising normal precautions: this is the lowest warning for insecurity. There are risks in all international travel.

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Mexico Wants To Be The Hub Of Latin America’s Space Industry And This Is Their Incredible Plan

Things That Matter

Mexico Wants To Be The Hub Of Latin America’s Space Industry And This Is Their Incredible Plan

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Getty

Although the world is still struggling with how best to contain the Coronavirus pandemic, many governments are forging ahead with long term goals and development programs.

One of the most important to new programs to launch in Mexico is central to its economic and scientific future – its future in space. Together with other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (some of which already have their own independent agencies), Mexico is looking to become the leader in the region when it comes to space research and exploration.

The country recently announced its intentions for just such an agency, that they hope would be based in Mexico with foreign capital providing the seed money to get the project off the ground.

Mexico announced its intention to head up a Latin American and Caribbean space agency.

Mexico has launched an ambitious new project – creating a Latin American Space and Caribbean Space Agency that would facilitate the sharing of satellite images and aims to observe the planet. The agency would be dedicated to earth observation, satellite image sharing and multi-sector dialogue.

The project was presented by Javier López Casarín, Honorary President of the Technical Council of Knowledge and Innovation of the Mexican Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID). López Casarín attended the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), where he presented the project for the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency, an entity that will be at the same level as other agencies (think NASA and the European Space Agency) of world space research with which it hopes to exchange information.

As part of the same meeting, the Latin American coordinators highlighted the role of Mexico in charge of the presidency of the community of Latin American states and appreciated the proposal to create a joint space agency.

Mexico has had a space agency of its own since 2010 but they’re looking to expand the operations.

Mexico has had its own space agency, the Agencia Espacial Mexicana, since 2010. Plus, several other countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have their own similar departments that over see satellites, information gathering, meteorological date, etc.

Mexico’s space agency has been tasked with carrying out study programs, research, and academic support, however, its duties have never included the aim of space exploration with its own infrastructure.

One of the agency’s key objectives is to help increase internet connectivity across the region.

In 2019, the Agencia Espacial Mexicana announced it was developing its space program around the needs of Mexican society – that it would be for the social benefit.

Among other techonoligcal solutions, the government has made it a core principle to help expand access to Internet across the country. By merging various space agencies into one, this increased Internet connectivity will likely spread to other countries in Latin America.

Internet connectivity rates vary from around 27% in El Salvador to close to 80% in Brazil – so bringing that wide gap is seen as critical for sustained development in the region.

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The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Culture

The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Tyrone Turner / Getty Images

Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country, yet our history is so frequently left out of classrooms. From Chicano communities in Texas and California to Latinos in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the Underground Railroad – which also had a route into Mexico – Latinos have helped shape and advance this country.

And as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism, Mexico’s route of the Underground Railroad is getting renewed attention – particularly because Mexico (for the very first time in history) has counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category in this year’s census.

The Underground Railroad also ran south into Mexico and it’s getting renewed attention.

Most of us are familiar with stories of the Underground Railroad. It was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses established in the U.S. during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada. It grew steadily until the Civil War began, and by one estimate it was used by more than 100,000 enslaved people to escape bondage.

In a story reported on by the Associated Press, there is renewed interest in another route on the Underground Railroad, one that went south into Mexico. Bacha-Garza, a historian, dug into oral family histories and heard an unexpected story: ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.

According to Maria Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin studying the passage of escapees who crossed the borderlands for sanctuary in Mexico, about 5,000 to 10,000 people broke free from bondage into the southern country. Currently, no reliable figures currently exist detailing how many left to Mexico, unlike the more prominent transit into Canada’s safe haven.

Mexico abolished slavery a generation before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in 1829, Mexican President Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed background, including African heritage, abolished slavery in the country. The measure freed an estimated 200,000 enslaved Africans Spain forcefully brought over into what was then called New Spain and would later open a pathway for Blacks seeking freedom in the Southern U.S.

And he did so while Texas was still part of the country, in part prompting white, slave-holding immigrants to fight for independence in the Texas Revolution. Once they formed the Republic of Texas in 1836, they made slavery legal again, and it continued to be legal when Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845.

With the north’s popular underground railroad out of reach for many on the southern margins, Mexico was a more plausible route to freedom for these men and women.

Just like with the northern route, helping people along the route was dangerous and could land you in serious trouble.

Credit: Library of Congress / Public Domain

Much like on the railway’s northern route into Canada, anyone caught helping African-Americans fleeing slavery faced serious and severe consequences.

Slaveholders were aware that people were escaping south, and attempted to get Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty that would, like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that demanded free states to return escapees, require Mexico to deliver those who had left. Mexico, however, refused to sign, contending that all enslaved people were free once they reached Mexican soil. Despite this, Hammock said that some Texans hired what was called “slave catchers” or “slave hunters” to illegally cross into the country, where they had no jurisdiction, to kidnap escapees.

“The organization that we know today as the Texas Rangers was born out of an organization of men that were slave hunters,” Hammack, who is currently researching how often these actions took place, told the AP. “They were bounty hunters trying to retrieve enslaved property that crossed the Rio Grande for slave owners and would get paid according to how far into Mexico the slaves were found.”

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