U.S. and Oregon AAA Issue Spring Travel Alerts for Mexico
(Ciudad Juarez, Mexico) – The U.S. Department of State last week issued travel warnings about Mexico, especially for spring breakers who make that a faithful trek each year. Oregon's AAA has issued its own warnings and advice for spring break travel as well.
The problem has been heavy violence by Mexican drug cartels, which have killed thousands in the last year throughout the country, but especially in the northern border towns.
“U.S. citizens should pay close attention to their surroundings while traveling in Ciudad Juarez, avoid isolated locations during late night and early morning hours, and remain alert to news reports,” the Department of State said in its release.
The U.S. warning largely involves the cities of Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Chihuahua City, Nogales, Matamoros, Reynosa and Monterrey, but Acapulco has also been mentioned by other authorities, and revelers there are urged to stay in a one-block area.
Other popular destinations like Cancun or Cabo have not been mentioned in the warnings.
Portland International Airport was full of travelers this week, and many were headed to Mexico anyway, despite warnings from the U.S. government.
The airport is expecting 5,000 more passengers than usual each day during spring break.
“The recent violence in cities along the U.S. and Mexico border has raised concerns about the safety of travel,” said Doreen Loofburrow, Director of Travel for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “With spring break this month and summer travel around the corner, AAA advises all travelers to stay informed about travel warnings issued by the U.S. government, and to take a few sensible steps to be safe while traveling.”
Loofburrow advises all travelers to stay on top of the latest news on your destination. Travel with a companion. Make sure you have the proper documentation for leaving and entering the U.S.
She also strongly suggested to buy Mexican auto insurance if you plan to drive as U.S. auto insurance is not valid in Mexico.
“And remember that in Mexico, you are assumed guilty until proven innocent so you can be jailed if you are arrested for any reason,” Loofburrow said.
The U.S., however, is actually urging its citizens to not even head to some cities.
“The situation in the state of Chihuahua, specifically Ciudad Juarez, is of special concern,” the U.S. warning said. “The U.S. Consulate General recommends that American citizens defer non-essential travel to the Guadalupe Bravo area southeast of Ciudad Juarez and to the northwest quarter of the state of Chihuahua including the city of Nuevo Casas Grandes and surrounding communities.”
According to the El Imparcial newspaper in Sonora, Mexico, there were 136 homicides in 2009. From January 1 to March 10, there were already 65 deaths related to the drug wars.
The full alert is here.