The new travel alert for Mexico issued by the U.S. Department of State Wednesday has been met with a mixed response from federal, state and local politicians.
The new warning coincided with the introduction of a four-tier system with advisories ranging from Level 1: Exercise normal precautions to Level 4: Do not travel.
Five Mexican states were placed at the latter level on a par with war-torn countries such as Syria and Yemen, while 11 received the designation Level 3: Reconsider travel. That means half of Mexico’s states are now under the two most serious warning levels.
The remaining states and the country as a whole were placed in the Level 2: Exercise increased caution category.
The governor of Baja California Sur, Carlos Mendoza Davis, celebrated the state’s Level 2 advisory by saying in a press release that it represented an achievement for his administration even though the designation states criminal activity and violence remain an issue throughout the state.
“The steps that we have taken as a state government made it possible to specify the situation that our destinations are going through, which contributed to the Department of State excluding the Baja California Sur destinations from its travel alert,” the statement said.
The new alert specifies that there are no U.S. government restrictions for travel in the state including the popular tourist destinations of Los Cabos and La Paz.
Tourist destinations in Quintana Roo, including Cancún and Playa del Carmen, are also no longer subject to any restrictions in the updated advisory.
Acapulco wasn’t so lucky.
The mayor of the city, which along with the state of Guerrero received a Level 4 advisory, described the U.S. advisory as “unfair” because the Pacific coast city wasn’t afforded the same designation as its resort city rivals.
“I think that there is a lack of criteria because it’s not possible that they lift the alert that Los Cabos and Cancún had [and not here]. Similar things have happened in Los Cabos and the ruling for the United States diplomats in Mexico seems completely unfair to me. There should be a level playing field for everyone,” Evodio Velázquez said.
The new advisory states that “armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero . . . and may use violence towards travelers” and that “U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco.”
But Velázquez said that Acapulco should not be compared to the rest of the state and highlighted the city’s recent record on tourist safety.
“. . . In the past two years, no incident has occurred against domestic or foreign travelers. Although we’ve already had the alert for several months, the international flights from the U.S. and Canada keep arriving. Volaris recently started a Los Angeles–Acapulco route and it’s going well,” he said.
The governor of Durango also believes that the updated U.S. advisory, as well as one issued by Canada last week, represent an exaggeration that doesn’t match the reality on the ground.
The northern state was placed at Level 3 while the Canadian alert urged travelers to avoid all non-essential travel to Durango.
“It’s illogical that there are these kinds of designations from the United States and Canadian governments, when Durango is one of the states where not just high-impact crimes, but also ordinary crimes, went down in 2017,” José Rosas Aispuro said.
The state’s inclusion with Sinaloa and Chihuahua in the drug-growing region dubbed the Golden Triangle makes U.S. and Canadian authorities think the state is unsafe when it is not, he added.
Federal Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid also responded to the updated alert.
In an interview with broadcaster Televisa, de la Madrid said that “there is no country that has zero risks” and that the U.S. Department of State has a legal obligation to issue the alerts.
However, the secretary told Ana Paula Ordorica of Foro TV that he felt “satisfied” that there are no restrictions in the new system for Cancún, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Mexico City.