The U.S. Department of State has updated its Travel Warning for Mexico and it's worth prominent mention that, while crime and violence remain serious problems in some parts of the country, there are no advisories in many of the top tourist destinations.
This includes Baja California Sur (Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, etc.); Quintana Roo (Cancun, Cozumel, etc.); Chiapas (San Cristobal de las Casas, etc.); Guanajuato, and cities such as Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City and Riviera Nayarit.
The expanded warning, which includes state-by-state assessments, contains its usual generalization:
"Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality.
"Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes."
But the warning adds that violence "can occur anywhere," which of course is also true in the U.S. and other countries that are presumed safe for travel.
The warning, however, contains these startling figures, via the Mexican government: 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence in the country between Dec. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2011. Most of the victims were "members of TCOs [but] innocent people have also been killed."
Border towns are the most notorious trouble spots because that's where the drug gangs compete for the best supply routes into the U.S.
On the state of Baja California (northern Baja), which includes Tijuana, the warning suggests that tourists exercise caution, particularly at night, and contains this passage:
"Targeted TCO assassinations continue to take place in Baja California. Turf battles between criminal groups proliferated and resulted in numerous assassinations in areas of Tijuana frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours throughout the city."
In 2011, 34 U.S. citizens were reported to have been killed in northern Baja.
U.S. citizens are advised to defer non-essential travel in parts of or all of the the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potsi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and Nayarit (with the exeption of Riviera Nayarit in the southern portion of the state or to principal highways in the southern portion of the state used to travel from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta).
The popular Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo resort area is in the state of Guerrero and U.S. citizens are advised to stay within tourist areas and travel only during daylight hours on highway 95D, between Mexico City and Acapulco.
Acapulco, which used to be popular among U.S. tourists, is another city in which tourists are urged to exercise caution and stay within known tourist areas.
Manzanillo is a popular tourist destination in the state of Colima. Visitors should exercise extreme caution in areas that border the state of Michoacán because the they are notorious for gun battles between drug gangs and authorities.
Prospective tourists should view the warning via the link above for a more detailed assessment of regions of interest.
The warning is detailed and helpful and, thankfully, does not portray all of Mexico as a danger zone.
-- Pete Thomas