State Department increases travel risk for states in Mexico

Tijuana Mexico. U.S.                      Justin Sullivan

Tijuana Mexico. U.S. Justin Sullivan

Five states in Mexico have gotten the sternest "do not travel" advisories under a revamped U.S. State Department system unveiled Wednesday.

This announcement includes places in the states of Colima, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Guerrero at the same warning level as war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the report said.

Though the government's cautions remain largely the same as they were under the previous system of travel warnings and alerts, the numerical approach is new.

In Mexico, all five of the states given the highest threat rating are hotspots for the country's violent and powerful drug trafficking organizations.

"Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero".

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The U.S. Embassy in Mexico's travel policy, a separate document for American government personnel in Mexico, had already banned non-official trips to Guerrero, including Acapulco.

While not addressing the latest warnings directly, the government's Mexico Tourism Board said in a statement that "Mexico's major worldwide tourism destinations have been explicitly listed as having no travel restrictions", apparently a reference to major resorts like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco.

Violent crimes including homicides, kidnappings, carjackings and robberies are widespread, officials said.

Mexican Secretary of Tourism Enrique de la Madrid Cordero told Newsweek that us tourists feel safe in Mexico, despite State Department report findings that 264 Americans died there in 2016, of which 75 were related to homicide.

Visitors to travel.state.gov will find the agency's assessments of countries around the world on a scale of 1 ("exercise normal precautions") to 4 ("do not travel").

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"In Mexico's main tourist areas for foreigners-Cancun-Riviera Maya and Los Cabos-we haven't heard of foreign tourists' casualties that stemmed from insecurity in the last two years, so I would like to see those [death] cases and provide an answer based on that", de la Madrid Cordero told Newsweek.

US travelers were also warned to avoid unnecessary trips to the Central American nation of Guatemala due to the high criminal violence, sexual assault, armed robbery and gang-related offenses.

An additional 11 states were slapped with Level 3 warnings, urging Americans to "reconsider travel" there because of crime and gang activity.

The border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Sonora as well as Durango, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi are the ones that have been placed under level-3 warnings, FOX 5 reported.

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