Friday, July 26, 2013

Mexico complains about "generic" U.S. State Department travel warnings

"Be more precise," urges Secretary of Tourism

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Secretary of Tourism, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, urged today that future U.S. warnings about the dangers of travel in Mexico "reflect specific locations and exact problems, rather than addressing security generically, in such a manner that it's possible to put into accurate perspective what's actually happening today in Mexico."

The American State Dept. issues periodic Mexico travel advisories for U.S. citizens, typically two or three times a year. The last one, on July 12, warned about travel in a large number of diverse areas, and with considerable detail. U.S. State Dept. issues new travel advisories for Mexico. The lengthy advisory apparently annoyed Mexico City nonetheless. The government contends such warnings are unnecessary overstatements which have little relevance or applicability to the average tourist.

Ruiz' comments came at the close of a national tourism forum, attended by public officer holders and industry representatives alike. She pleaded for more focus "on the good things going on in Mexico."

A tourist trade group spokesperson from Guerrero state asked Ruiz, a cabinet member of the Peña Nieto administration, for a greater presence of federal troops in and about Acapulco, which has had a very difficult year. Huge cancellations in Acapulco, as spring breakers go elsewhere and Spain issues new warning for Mexico. The resort mecca has experienced drug war insecurity for several years, but received a further black eye when six young Spanish tourists were raped in a beach house on Feb. 4. Last spring the city's mayor said it was broke. A bankrupt Acapulco can't meet its payroll.

This week, conditions in Guerrero made it clear that nothing has changed there. Civilian militias stop Mexican army near Acapulco. In its most recent warning, the U.S. State Dept. noted the following:

"Guerrero has seen an increase in violence among rival criminal organizations. Acapulco's murder rates increased dramatically since 2009; in response, in 2011 the Government of Mexico sent additional military and federal police to the state to assist State security forces in implementing ongoing operation “Guerrero Seguro” (Secure Guerrero) that focuses on combating organized crime and returning security to the environs of popular tourist areas. Self-defense groups operate independently of the government in the Costa Chica region of eastern Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks, and although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable."

Yesterday's candid admission by president Peña Nieto that sections of Michoacán - a state wedged between Jalisco and Guerrero along Mexico's Pacific coast - are under the control of drug cartels and their allies probably won't instill confidence in foreign or domestic travelers who had that area in mind, either. Federals will remain in Michoacán, promises Peña Nieto.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu didn't like State's July 12 advisory . . . probably because her boss didn't either

Today was not the first time Mexican officials have complained about U.S. travel advisories. In March 2012 Quintana Roo governor Roberto Borge Angulo was so angry over a warning by Texas officials urging spring breakers to stay away from Cancún and the Riviera Maya coast that he broke off a trip to Europe and flew to Austin to plead his case. That didn't change anyone's mind. Mexican governor will travel to Texas to challenge travel alert for spring breakers.

This year security along the Riviera Maya has deteriorated even further, especially in its gateway city. Cancún under first "Red Alert" in history, while authorities focus on local Los Zetas-Gulf Cartel links.

July 15 - Cancún and Quintana Roo not under U.S. advisory, but maybe they should be
July 26 - Common crime, Guadalajara style

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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