Earlier this year, the United States government cautioned college students who are headed to Mexico during their spring breaks about a spike in violent crime there. While the State Department did not advise against travel to Mexico, it did recommend that travelers use prudent judgment to minimize risk of becoming a victim.
While lawlessness in Mexico is not new, there has been a spike in criminal behavior south of the border that travelers need to consider. Tourists to Mexican cities near the border should be particularly vigilant about their personal safety and exercise prudent judgment. Our government also warns that the southern Mexican state of Chiapas may not be a prime tourist locale as there are armed rebels and gangs in many regions.
One thing common to many spring-breakers is they often choose excitement and entertainment over caution and common sense. This shows that a college education doesn’t guarantee the exercise of good judgment. When in Mexico, as in all foreign countries, be aware of your surroundings. Only enter legitimate businesses. Use main roads and drive during daylight hours. Carry a cellular phone at all times and make sure it will operate in your destinations. Keep important phone numbers with you including the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and the U.S. Consulates and Consular Agencies throughout the country. Leave jewelry and expensive clothing items at home which might tempt unsavory individuals to acquire them unlawfully.
Some folks accused the Americans of hyperventilating over this issue pointing out that the vast majority of tourists to Mexico travel safely. While this is true, the increase in violence and corruption in law enforcement has been well documented on both sides of the border.
The State Department has a website on travel warnings that is worth consulting before our overworked college scholars finalize their itineraries. For more comprehensive travel safety advice, visit the Travel Clinics of America website.
George Tenet, former director of the C.I.A. directed his son to cancel his trip to Mexico with his college buddies this year. By George, I think he’s got it right.