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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