Friday, February 23, 2024

Increased criminal activity puts Zacatecas on US list of ‘Do Not Travel’ states

The U.S. Department of State has released the annual update of its travel advisory for Mexico, adding Zacatecas to five holdover states from last year that have received the most severe, Level 4 warning: “Do Not Travel.”

“I congratulate Nayarit, the state of México and Coahuila and for improved security levels and therefore an upgraded level in the 2022 Travel Alert,” Ken Salazar, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, said in a statement after the advisory was issued on Wednesday.

Indeed, Nayarit, México state and Coahuila have improved from level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”) to level 2 (“Exercise Increased Caution”). In total, 16 of Mexico’s 31 states and the federal entity of Mexico City are at level 2, while two other states — Yucatán and Campeche —  are at level 1 (“Exercise Normal Precautions”).

But most of the media coverage in Mexico on Wednesday was focused on Zacatecas joining Guerrero, Michoacán, Colima, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas at level 4. Guerrero is listed as “Do Not Travel” due to crime, while the other five are cited for both crime and kidnappings.

Zacatecas was at level 3 last year, but was moved to the more severe rating this year “based on increased criminal activity,” Salazar wrote on Twitter.

“The states where security issues arise underscore the importance of the Bicentennial Framework between the United States and Mexico,” Salazar said in his statement. “In that framework, the United States and Mexico committed to improving security and better protecting our people. Without security, there is no prosperity. It is important to reaffirm our commitment to citizen safety by providing training and resources to Mexican justice and security institutions and deepening our cooperation.”

In its summary paragraph in the advisory, the U.S. State Department wrote, “Violent crime such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery is widespread and common in Mexico. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted. In many states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities.”

In addition, the advisory includes added restrictions to which U.S. government employees must adhere.

In 2021, five states were at level 1 (six this year), 11 states were at level 3 (seven this year), 14 states were at level 2 (17 this year) and two states were at level 1 (the same two as this year, Campeche and Yucatán, which were both at level 2 in 2020).

Here’s the  complete list of states and the federal entity from the 2022 update. An asterisk indicates a state that was at level 3 last year:

  • “Do Not Travel To” Level 4: Michoacán, Colima, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and *Zacatecas due to crime and kidnapping; Guerrero due to crime.
  • “Reconsider Travel To” Level 3: Baja California, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Jalisco and Sonora due to crime and kidnapping; Durango and Morelos due to crime.
  • “Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To” Level 2: Nuevo León, Puebla, Quintana Roo and San Luis Potosí due to crime and kidnapping; Aguascalientes, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, *Coahuila, Hidalgo, Mexico City, *México state, *Nayarit, Oaxaca, Querétaro, Tabasco, Tlaxcala and Veracruz due to crime.
  • “Exercise Normal Precautions When Traveling To” Level 1: Campeche, Yucatán.

With reports from Reforma and Milenio

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