State dept expands Mexico travel warning
For the second time in less than a year, the U.S. State Department has responded to increasing violent crime in Mexico by expanding the list of places that Americans should avoid for their own safety.
An updated travel advisory released this week warned U.S. citizens to avoid non-essential travel to 14 states in northern and central Mexico, warning that U.S. citizens are subject to drug-cartel action “including homicide, gunbattles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery.”
The last warning, in April 2011, covered only 10 Mexican States. The new advisory includes parts of Aguascalientes, Guerrero and Nayarit in central Mexico, and says non-essential travel to Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Zacatecas, Tamaulipas and Michoacan is no longer a good idea. The April warning against non-essential travel to parts of Sonora and central Jalisco, where violence is widespread, still stands.
“Gunbattles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area,” the travel advisory said.
“The location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable. We recommend that you defer travel to the areas indicated in this travel warning and to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region,” it added.
Over 47,500 people have been killed in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon unleashed Mexican armed forces against well-armed drug cartels in December of 2006.
The State Department advisory reports that 130 Americans were murdered in Mexico last year, up from 111 in 2010 and 35 in 2007.
Recent attacks include a fire in a Monterrey casino that killed 52, mostly women. A U.S. missionary couple from Colorado was also killed at their home near Monterrey earlier this month. The advisory urged travelers to the city to use “extreme caution.”
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