April 27, 2009. I have added Swine flu warnings here or scroll down past the violence warnings.
Now the kidnap capital of the world, Mexico has become a dangerous place to travel. Although authorities are doing the right thing and trying to get drug traffic under control, it is creating a horrific war zone in many parts of the country. And this means you could be caught in the crossfire. Dozens of U.S. citizens, for example, have just disappeared there recently. And most governments have bigger problems these days so you can't expect anyone to rush in and save you. It is up to you to save yourself before anything happens. More than 1,000 people have been killed in the first 8 weeks of this year. We hear various non-Mexico news stories from the USA and other countries about a few people killed here and there, they become big stories when 10 people die somewhere, but over a thousand in a few weeks? That's a war. And most of this is in Mexico border states because it's related to drug trafficking. Mexico relies on tourism from the United States and Canada so this is not a story they want plastered all over. At this point you seem to be fairly safe at crossings around Yuma, Arizona and the highway going down to Rocky Point. The highest death totals are in Mexico near borders across from San Diego, CA and El Paso, TX.
In a counter to this, we have seen a few big name travel companies say troubles are “highly exaggerated” but you have to remember something: All those companies are selling you a trip there. I'm not selling you a trip or a cruise to Mexico. I only provide information at AllStays.com and want you to make your own judgment call. Be informed and don't go just by someone selling you something.
From the U.S. Government on Feb. 20, 2009 for travel in Mexico .
This Travel Alert updates security information for U.S. citizens traveling and living in Mexico. It supersedes the Travel Alert for Mexico dated October 15, 2008, and expires on August 20, 2009.
While millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year (including thousands who cross the land border every day for study, tourism or business), violence in the country has increased recently. It is imperative that travelers understand the risks of travel to Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and whom to contact if one becomes a crime victim. Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where prostitution and drug dealing might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.
Crime and Violence Throughout Mexico
The greatest increase in violence has occurred near the U.S. border. However, U.S. citizens traveling throughout Mexico should exercise caution in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Mexican and foreign bystanders have been injured or killed in violent attacks in cities across the country, demonstrating the heightened risk of violence in public places. In recent years, dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped across Mexico. Many of these cases remain unresolved. U.S. citizens who believe they are being targeted for kidnapping or other crimes should notify Mexican officials and the nearest American consulate or the Embassy as soon as possible, and should consider returning to the United States.
U.S. citizens should make every attempt to travel on main roads during daylight hours, particularly the toll (”cuota”) roads, which generally are more secure. Occasionally, the U.S. Embassy and consulates advise their employees as well as private U.S. citizens to avoid certain areas, abstain from driving on certain roads because of dangerous conditions or criminal activity, or recommend driving during daylight hours only. When warranted, U.S. government employees are restricted from traveling to or within parts of Mexico without prior approval from their supervisors. When this happens, the Embassy or the affected consulate will alert the local U.S. citizen Warden network and post the information on their respective websites, indicating the nature of the concern and the expected time period for which the restriction will remain in place. U.S. citizen visitors are encouraged to stay in the well-known tourist areas of the cities. Travelers should leave their itinerary with a friend or family member not traveling with them, avoid traveling alone, and should check with their cellular provider prior to departure to confirm that their cell phone is capable of roaming on GSM or 3G international networks. Do not display expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items.
Violence Along the U.S. – Mexico Border
Mexican drug cartels are engaged in an increasingly violent conflict – both among themselves and with Mexican security services – for control of narcotics trafficking routes along the U.S.-Mexico border. In order to combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed troops in various parts of the country. U.S. citizens should cooperate fully with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways.
Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades. Large firefights have taken place in many towns and cities across Mexico but most recently in northern Mexico, including Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. The U.S. Mission in Mexico currently restricts non-essential travel to the state of Durango and all parts of the state of Coahuila south of Mexican Highways 25 and 22 and the Alamos River for U.S. government employees assigned to Mexico. This restriction was implemented in light of the recent increase in assaults, murders, and kidnappings in those two states. The situation in northern Mexico remains fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements cannot be predicted.
A number of areas along the border are experiencing rapid growth in the rates of many types of crime. Robberies, homicides, petty thefts, and carjackings have all increased over the last year across Mexico generally, with notable spikes in Tijuana and northern Baja California. Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana and Nogales are among the cities which have recently experienced public shootouts during daylight hours in shopping centers and other public venues. Criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Tijuana.
The situation in Ciudad Juarez is of special concern. Mexican authorities report that more than 1,800 people have been killed in the city since January 2008. Additionally, this city of 1.6 million people experienced more than 17,000 car thefts and 1,650 carjackings in 2008. 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. A recent series of muggings near the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez targeted applicants for U.S. visas. Visa and other service seekers visiting the Consulate are encouraged to make arrangements to pay for those services using a non-cash method.
U.S. citizens are urged to be alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. While most crime victims are Mexican citizens, the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well. U.S. citizen victims of crime in Mexico are urged to contact the consular section of the nearest U.S. consulate or Embassy for advice and assistance. Contact information is provided at the end of this message.
Demonstrations and Large Public Gatherings
Demonstrations occur frequently throughout Mexico and usually are peaceful. However, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate to violence unexpectedly. Violent demonstrations have resulted in deaths, including that of an American citizen in Oaxaca in 2006. In 2008, a Mexican Independence Day celebration was the target of a violent attack. During demonstrations or law enforcement operations, U.S. citizens are advised to remain in their homes or hotels, avoid large crowds, and avoid the downtown and surrounding areas. Since the timing and routes of scheduled marches and demonstrations are always subject to change, U.S. citizens should monitor local media sources for new developments and exercise extreme caution while within the vicinity of protests. The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation. U.S. citizens are therefore advised to avoid participating in demonstrations or other activities that might be deemed political by Mexican authorities. As is always the case in any large gathering, U.S. citizens should remain alert to their surroundings.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers from Mexico, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). American citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to register with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the State Department's travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ .
For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. You may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at: email@example.com . The Embassy's internet address is http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov/ .
Ciudad Juarez: Paseo de la Victoria 3650, tel. (52)(656) 227-3000. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/ciudad-juarez/.
Guadalajara: Progreso 175, telephone (52)(333) 268-2100. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/guadalajara/.
Hermosillo: Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (52)(662) 289-3500. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/hermosillo/ .
Matamoros: Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (52)(868) 812-4402. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/matamoros/ .
Merida: Calle 60 no. 338 k, telephone (52)(999) 942-5700. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/merida/ .
Monterrey: Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente, telephone (52)(818) 047-3100. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/monterrey/ .
Nogales: Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (52)(631) 311-8150. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/nogales/.
Nuevo Laredo: Calle Allende 3330, col. Jardin, telephone (52)(867) 714-0512. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/nuevo-laredo/.
Tijuana: Tapachula 96, telephone (52)(664) 622-7400. http://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/tijuana/.
Acapulco: Hotel Continental Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 – local 14, telephone (52)(744) 484-0300 or (52)(744) 469-0556.
Cabo San Lucas: Blvd. Marina local c-4, Plaza Nautica, col. Centro, telephone (52)(624) 143-3566.
CancÃºn: Plaza Caracol two, second level, no. 320-323, Boulevard Kukulcan, km. 8.5, Zona Hotelera, telephone (52)(998) 883-0272.
Ciudad Acuna: Ocampo # 305, col. Centro, telephone (52)(877) 772-8661
Cozumel: Plaza Villa Mar en el Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque JuÃ¡rez between Melgar and 5th ave.) 2nd floor, locales #8 and 9, telephone (52)(987) 872-4574.
Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo: Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, telephone (52)(755) 553-2100.
MazatlÃ¡n: Hotel Playa MazatlÃ¡n, Playa Gaviotas #202, Zona Dorada, telephone (52)(669) 916-5889.
Oaxaca: Macedonio AlcalÃ¡ no. 407, interior 20, telephone (52)(951) 514-3054 (52)(951) 516-2853.
Piedras Negras: Abasolo #211, Zona Centro, Piedras Negras, Coah., Tel. (878) 782-5586.
Playa del Carmen: “The Palapa,” Calle 1 Sur, between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20, telephone (52)(984) 873-0303.
Puerto Vallarta: Paradise Plaza, Paseo de los Cocoteros #1, Local #4, Interior #17, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, telephone (52)(322) 222-0069.
Reynosa: Calle Monterrey #390, Esq. Sinaloa, Colonia RodrÃguez, telephone: (52)(899) 923 – 9331
San Luis PotosÃ: Edificio “Las Terrazas”, Avenida Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco, telephone: (52)(444) 811-7802/7803.
San Miguel de Allende: Dr. Hernandez Macias #72, telephone (52)(415) 152-2357 or (52)(415) 152-0068.
March 25th Update: I will keep this updated as it is finally becoming a bigger story and actually being talked about on CNN. The fact that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Mexico is probably helping the coverage for now. My website here is getting attacked from someone in Mexico since I wrote this while large corporate travel websites are emailing out deals on travel to Mexico. I'm not a corporation and I'm not a politician so I say don't go. At this current high point of escalation, I'd have to say just don't go to Mexico. If things keep escalating soon in words and increased military support as President Obama is suggesting, American tourists will become a much bigger kidnapping target and in a large number. The drug cartels are killing thousands of Mexico police as they try to crack down so they would likely switch to tourists as the US gets involved. The Mexico drug cartel is a $10 billion business and ironically that is mostly with the US. They won't retreat.
March 30 Update: The actual murder numbers are declining where there is a new strong presence of military and police. This is not sustainable of course because the drug battle will just move to another location. I posted some interesting numbers and statistics on Mexico violence here.
As if Mexico didn't have enough problems already hurting their tourism industry. Here is another. The regular average flu kills about 36,000 people a year and we hear little about it in comparison to these swine flu numbers right now. Normally it's the elderly and children. The swine flu has infected younger healthy people. And all hype aside, this could be deadly to the world. Early US cases of the swine flu in New York, South Carolina and Kansas all have confirmed connections with travelers to Mexico, specifically popular resort area of Cancun. So right now, it is pretty obvious that it started in Mexico but now is spreading. Major airlines are allowing you to change your travel plans without penalty but exact dates and policies do vary.
From the U.S. Government on April 27, 2009
As of April 27, 2009, the Government of Mexico has reported 18 laboratory confirmed human cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection. Investigation is continuing to clarify the spread and severity of the disease in Mexico. Suspect clinical cases have been reported in 19 of the country's 32 states. The World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alert and Response Network (GOARN), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have sent experts to Mexico to work with health authorities. CDC has confirmed that seven of 14 respiratory specimens sent to CDC by the Mexican National Influenza Center are positive for swine influenza virus and are similar to the swine influenza viruses recently identified in the United States.
On April 25, the WHO Director-General declared this event a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the rules of the International Health Regulations. CDC and state public and animal health authorities are currently investigating 20 cases of swine flu in humans in California, Texas, Kansas, Ohio, and New York City. Some of the U.S. cases have been linked to travel to Mexico. At this time, only two of the 20 cases in the U.S. have been hospitalized and all have recovered, but deaths are reported to have occurred in Mexico. CDC is concerned that continued travel by U.S. travelers to Mexico presents a serious risk for further outbreaks of swine flu in the United States.
At this time, CDC recommends that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. Changes to this recommendation will be posted at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/.
Antiviral Medications: Travelers from the United States going to Mexico who are at high risk of severe illness from influenza (for example persons with chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, and the elderly, see www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/index.htm ) are recommended to take antiviral medications for prevention of swine influenza during travel. The recommended antiviral drugs for swine influenza are oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (brand name Relenza®). Both are prescription drugs that fight against swine flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in the body. These drugs can prevent infection if taken as a preventative. Talk to your doctor about correct indications for using influenza antiviral medications. Always seek medical care if you are severely ill.
Antiviral chemoprophylaxis, or taking medicine to prevent flu viruses from reproducing in the body, (pre-exposure or post-exposure) is recommended for the following people:
Antiviral chemoprophylaxis can be considered for the following:
Further information about CDC's recommendations for antiviral use during the swine flu outbreak can be found at the following websites:
For all travelers, CDC recommends the following steps to help you stay healthy:
Swine flu screening has been instituted at airports and land borders for travelers departing Mexico, according to Mexican health authorities. Passengers showing symptoms of swine influenza will be asked to submit voluntarily to physical examination and further evaluation, if needed.
At this time, the United States is not conducting enhanced entry screening of passengers arriving from Mexico, nor is the United States conducting exit screening of passengers departing for Mexico.
The Department of Homeland Security will provide Travel Health Alert Notices to US travelers going to and coming from Mexico at all airports, seaports, and land border crossings. These notices provide advice to travelers on how to reduce their risk of getting sick, the symptoms of swine flu, and what to do if the traveler becomes sick.
CDC will provide all ill passengers and their contacts arriving from Mexico with Travel Health Alert Notices . These notices provide advice information regarding seeking health advice from a physician and how to prevent illness in persons who have been exposed but who are not ill.
If you have specific questions about the swine influenza cases see http://www.cdc.gov/contact/ or call 1-800-232-4636, which is 1-800-CDC-INFO.
To learn more about travel health, visit www.cdc.gov/travel .
For the swine Influenza situation in Mexico, visit:
For the swine Influenza situation in the United States, visit:
Swine flu travel health updates will be posted on http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ as information becomes available.