Mexico Travel Safety: Mixed Messages

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MexicoThe latest warning about travel to Mexico comes from the state of Texas, where officials are now warning against travel south of the border.

The warning was precipitated by the kidnapping and death of four South Carolina residents who crossed the U.S./Mexico border at Brownsville, Texas, to the city of Matamoros, Mexico. In response, the Texas Department of Public Safety urged state residents to avoid traveling to Mexico during spring break and beyond “due to the ongoing violence throughout that country.”

The U.S. State Department had re-issued a travel advisory on March 3 (it was first issued in October of 2022) to Americans against traveling to many regions of the country, including Tamaulipas state, where Matamoros is located, specifically citing the danger of crime and kidnapping.

Unlike other destinations around the world, Mexico doesn’t have a general travel advisory warning from the U.S. State Department; each of its states comes with its own travel advisory, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reminded reporters last week. Its most popular destinations for group travel are under a “warning” rather than a “do not travel” advisory: Travelers are advised to “exercise caution” due to crime when visiting Quintana Roo, the state that includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cozumel.

Mexican tourism officials argue that visitors to the country are far less likely to be victims of violent crime like the incident in Matamoros. The overall crime rate in Mexico is only slightly higher than that in the U.S.; however, the murder rate is more than four times higher than in the U.S.

Lopez Obrador referred to the current media frenzy as overblown. “There is no issue with traveling safely through Mexico,” he said during the press briefing. “If that were the case, so many Americans wouldn’t be coming in to live in Mexico City and the rest of the country? In the past few years is when more Americans have come to live in Mexico. So, what’s happening? Why the paranoia?”

This article first ran in our sister publication, Recommend.

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