On Campus

Texas to spring breakers: avoid Mexico

Even resort towns may be unsafe

Photo by shinya on Flickr

The State of Texas has released a warning for “Spring Breakers” telling them to avoid traveling to Mexico as a result of nationwide violence.

The report is significant, because it references resort towns like Cancun, Acapulco, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. “Rape and sexual assault continue to be serious problems in resort areas,” as does petty crime, wrote Department of Safety Director Steven C. McCraw in a statement.

“The Mexican government has made great strides battling the cartels,” McCraw noted. “However, drug cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat, even in some resort areas.”

The release says that 13,000 narcotics-related homicides were reported the first nine months of 2011 and the number of U.S. citizens murdered in Mexico rose from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011.

The question of whether Mexico is safe for travelers has been hotly debated in Canada recently too. Last March, Maclean’s asked Why do Canadians still vacation in Mexico? Here’s an excerpt:

Canadians visit Mexico more than one million times every year. Most are untouched. But at least 17 Canadians have died in Mexico since 2006, and more than 120 have reported being assaulted to Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs (last year saw six murders and 35 assaults). These figures are higher than those for other top winter vacation spots, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Compared to other destinations, tourist facilities in Mexico are often more closely integrated with local communities. And Canadians assaulted and murdered in Mexico include those targeted in and around such supposedly safe enclaves, with the attacks frequently bringing responses from authorities that victims and their families consider to be incompetent, or worse.

But how’s the situation one year later? Well, the number of murders in Mexico in 2011 is expected to set a record, when full figures are released. On top of that, a handful of Canadians were reported beaten or killed in Mexico this winter, including Ximena Osegueda, a graduate student from the University of British Columbia who was found dead on a beach near Huatulco in December.

Still, Canadian, U.S. and British authorities generally agree that most resort towns are safe.Foreign Affairs Canada advises “exercis[ing] a high degree of caution due to a deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country,” and avoiding non-essential travel to two northern border states, Chihuahua and Coahuila. They also suggest avoiding crowds and demonstrations in the run-up to the presidential elections on July 1st, which could bring even more violence than usual.

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