Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Is It Safe to Travel to Mexico? Travel Advisory Explained

As many Americans prepare to travel for spring break, the US State Department has issued a series of travel advisories for states in Mexico, noting “widespread” violent crime.

“The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by US government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted,” the advisory says. “In many states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities.”

The advisories come as four Americans were kidnapped in Tamaulipas on Friday. According to the FBI, the four people from Brownsville, Texas, drove into Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on Friday in a white minivan with North Carolina plates. Shortly after they crossed the border, unidentified gunmen fired on the vehicle. All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men, the FBI said.

American are advised not to travel to six Mexican states—Colima, Guerro, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas—because of crime and kidnapping.

US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said Monday that an innocent Mexican citizen died in the Friday attack.

“We have no greater priority than the safety of our citizens – this is the US government’s most fundamental role,” Salazar said in a statement. “US law enforcement officials from numerous agencies are working with Mexican authorities at all levels of government to secure the safe return of our compatriots.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed the attack during a news conference Monday.

“The information we have is that they crossed the border to buy medicines in Mexico, there was a confrontation between groups and they were detained,” he said, according to CNN. “The whole government is working on it.”

The FBI is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying those responsible for the assault and kidnapping and is offering a $50,000 reward for the return of the victims and the arrest of the suspects.

Matamoros is home to warring factions of the Gulf drug cartel, according to the Associated Press. The State Department also asked Americans to “reconsider travel” to seven Mexican states and “exercise increased caution” when traveling to 17 others because of crime and kidnapping.

Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said she was outraged that the US government seemed more concerned about the war in Ukraine than the situation in Mexico.

“Mexican Cartels kidnapped 4 Americans this weekend and Mexico is so DANGEROUS that if you go to Mexico ‘you are on your own!,'” she tweeted. “But but but..Ukraine!”

The advisories come as American are making travel plans for spring break to escape winter weather to more tropical places. According to AAA, Cancun, Riviera Maya and Mexico City are some of the top destinations for Americans this spring. Cancun and Riviera Maya are in the Quintana Roo state, where travelers are advised to “exercise increased caution.”

“There are no restrictions on travel for US government employees in Quintana Roo state, which include tourist areas in: Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya,” the State Department advisory says. “However, personnel are advised to exercise increased situational awareness after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and to remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones.”

A report from NewsNation Now found that more than 30 million US citizens traveled to Mexico in the first 11 months of 2022. AAA booking data shows international travel this season is up 30 percent from last year.

Former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer told NewsNation that the area is “volatile” because of drug cartels fighting over territory. She said the situation is not unusual, citing FBI data that 625 US citizens and citizens with green cards were kidnapped in 2021.

These are the travel advisories for each state:

Newsweek reached out to the US Embassy in Mexico City via phone and email for comment.

As many Americans prepare to travel for spring break, the US State Department has issued a series of travel advisories for states in Mexico, noting “widespread” violent crime.

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