Mexico is a tourist bonanza, with so much to offer foreign tourists, including beach resorts, pre-Hispanic ruins, colonial downtowns, and a wide variety of natural landscapes.
Tourism earns US$20 billion annually for Mexico, approximately 7% of the country’s gross domestic product.
That’s good for the Mexican economy, and it is also provides an incentive to preserve natural scenery and historical sites for future tourism.
It is therefore disturbing to read reports of worsening crime in Mexico, which is creeping into tourist areas.
Most American tourists in Mexico don’t have major problems. But continuing publicized violence could, in the future, damage Mexico’s reputation as a safe tourist destination.
To put it bluntly, if enough potential foreign tourists are afraid to visit Mexico it will hurt the tourism industry greatly.
Alfredo Corchado of The Dallas Morning Newsdeals with this issue in a recent article entitled, As Mexico’s drug cartels fracture, violence and travel warnings soar.
Corchado begins the article thusly: “The internal fracturing of Mexico’s drug cartels has led to soaring violence here (Nuevo Laredo) and across the country in the past year, prompting the U.S. State Department to issue travel warnings to 23 of 31 Mexican states, including four bordering Texas and two popular tourist destinations.”
Click here to see the State Department’s Mexico Travel Warning, updated August 22nd. This report goes through Mexico state by state. Here’s what it says about the state of Quintana Roo, which includes such popular tourist destinations as Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and the region known as the Riviera Maya (including Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum). “U.S. citizens should be aware that according to Government of Mexico statistics, the state of Quintana Roo experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to 2016. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured or killed, have occurred.”
Getting back to the Corchado article: “More than 12,500 people were killed in the first six months of this year, an increase of about 30 percent over the same period in 2016. That puts Mexico on pace for what could be the deadliest year in its post-revolution history.”
Corchado writes that, “States such as Chihuahua and Tamaulipas have consistently made the State Department’s list, but surprisingly, so have popular beach regions including Cabo San Lucas in Baja California Sur, and Cancun in Quintana Roo.”
Corchado reports that “Enrique de la Madrid, Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, called the warnings a ‘wake-up call´ for a country preparing for snowbirds heading south as the temperatures dip in the fall.”
Alfredo Corchado submitted his article from Nuevo Laredo, right across the border from Laredo, Texas. One of Nuevo Laredo’s problems is that it is the Mexican gateway to U.S. I-35, a major drug route and thus a coveted prize by competing narcos.
The article describes the situation thusly: “The violence is all too familiar in Nuevo Laredo, where fractures within the long-dominant Zetas cartel and the growing demand for heroin and other opiates in the United States have left residents feeling under siege. Widespread corruption within the Mexican government and security forces also contributes to the lawlessness and fear.”
Corchado write that it was hard to get information from many people in Nuevo Laredo: “Numerous residents approached for this report refused to talk or identify themselves. The mayor of the city, Enrique Rivas, is also a frequent target of threats by warring cartels. U.S. law enforcement officials believe the mayor lives much of the time in Laredo, on the Texas side of the border.”
So Corchado tried to contact the mayor himself: “In a text message, the mayor denied that Nuevo Laredo is dangerous. When asked if he lives on the U.S. side for safety reasons, the mayor did not respond to text messages and phone calls.”
Here are some Informative U.S. State Department documents concerning Mexico:
- Mexico Travel Warning Updated August 22, 2017, which includes a general overview and a state-by-state assessment.
- Mexico Country Information Page, which has general information.
- Safety and Security Messages, a page with frequently emitted warnings about specific parts of Mexico. For example, the last two messages (both dated September 15th) deal with violence in a particular city in Mexicoand Tropical Storm Norma.
By Allan Wall for TYT
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Yucatan Times.