Weeks after Mexico logged its deadliest year on record, the United States urged its citizens not to visit five violence-ridden Mexican states
, placing them in the same danger category as war-torn Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria.
an advisory made public Wednesday, the State Department issued “do not
travel” warnings for the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas and the
Pacific coast states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan and Sinaloa.
the U.S. has discouraged travel to all or some of those states in the
past, its new evaluation is sterner, giving the states its highest-risk
Category 4 warning. Countries given that classification include Libya,
Yemen and other nations engulfed in conflict.
Mexico as a whole was given a Category 2 rating, with U.S. citizens implored to “exercise increased caution.”
“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread,” the advisory said.
advisory is the latest recognition of Mexico’s surging violence, which
claimed 22,409 lives in the first 11 months of last year — more killings
than in any year since the government began releasing crime data in
The bloodshed, fueled by increased U.S. demand for
heroin and a power struggle within one of Mexico’s most powerful drug
cartels, is on the rise in a majority of Mexican states.
The violence has even encroached on the long-safe tourist havens of Cancun and Los Cabos, where in December the bodies of four men
were found hanging from a highway overpass. Between January and
November, there were 62 homicides per 100,000 residents in Baja
California Sur, where Los Cabos is located. That's about 2 ½ times the
2017 rate in Chicago, a city that has received considerable attention
State Department warned citizens about traveling to Los Cabos and
Cancun last summer, sparking fears that it could affect Mexico’s
$20-billion-a-year tourism industry, which represents about 7% of the
country's gross domestic product. Wednesday’s travel advisory repeated
those warnings but issued the two states where they are located Category
2 designations, calling for Americans to exercise increased caution but
not stay away.
That’s good news for Mexican authorities
who lobbied the U.S. to keep the tourist hot spots off the Category 4
list, security expert Alejandro Hope said.
“I’m guessing they are breathing a sigh of relief,” he said.