The security situation in Mexico has improved in major cities such as Monterrey and Ciudad Juarez, according to the latest travel advisory issued by the US State Department on January 9.
“Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day,” the State Department said.
The report warned of the threat posed by Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in certain parts of the country and noted that there has been a rise in the number of kidnappings in the last year, but it also observed that “The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that TCOs have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality.”
Safe for Tourists
“Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes,” the report added.
The State Department advised that US citizens defer all non-essential travel to the western state of Michoacan – which is currently caught in conflict between drug gangs, vigilantes and the armed forces – apart from the state capital of Morelia and the port of Lazaro Cardenas, with visitors recommended to fly into both cities.
Open for Business
The advisory noted a substantial improvement in conditions in Monterrey, a major business hub in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.
“The level of TCO violence and general insecurity in Monterrey has decreased within the last 12 months,” the State Department said, although visitors should still “exercise caution.”
There is no longer any warning, as in past advisories, of government facilities coming under attack; explosive devices being used against the military, law enforcement and businesses; and police and private patrols having a limited capacity to deter criminal elements or respond effectively to security incidents.
Juarez is on the Mend
The State Department also noted an improvement in the level of security in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.
While previous reports had advised that visitors “defer all non-essential travel” to Juarez, the latest advisory merely says “Exercise caution in traveling to the business and shopping districts in the northeast section of Ciudad Juarez and its major industrial parks.”
The report also acknowledged that “homicide rates in Ciudad Juarez have decreased markedly from a peak several years ago.”
Previous advisories noted 3,100 murders in Juarez in 2010 and 749 in 2012, but respected Mexican-American journalist Alfredo Corchado noted in the Dallas Morning News this week that “Juárez reported the lowest number of killings in years in 2013 — 487.”