This video is a interview with Michelle Obama about how safe Mexico is.
There’s been a lot of news coverage about violence in Mexico, very little of it bothering to note that Mexico is a huge country with thirty-some states and that a) almost all of that violence is narco-related and b) you can count the number of tourists affected on one hand.
Meanwhile, according to the FBI, “An estimated 15,241 persons were murdered nationwide in 2009? in the United States of America.
Officially, 111 U.S. citizens were killed in Mexico last year, a third in just two cities. Almost all of them were involved in illicit vocations, usually the trafficking of guns, drugs, or people across the border. This is 111 out of close to 8 million visitors, with nearly 1 million of those being part- or full-time residents choosing Mexico over the U.S. or Canada.
You know who else had 111 murders in one year recently? Boston. And Las Vegas. And Orlando. Are any tourists scared of going to those places?
Meanwhile, almost 1,000 U.S. citizens died in Puerto Rico. Nobody running the news desks cares about Puerto Rico or has an incentive to make people scared of Puerto Ricans (by nature, they can’t be “illegal immigrants”), so this isn’t widely reported.
Then there’s the U.S. proper, which can’t get a State Department travel alert because it’s, well, not a foreign country. How’s your city doing in comparison to Mexico when it comes to the annual numbers?
Atlanta – city, 80 murders. Atlanta MSA (metropolitan statistical area), 325 murders
Baltimore – 238 city, 298 MSA
Boston – 50 city, 111 MSA
Dallas/Ft. Worth – 210 city, 310 MSA
Detroit – 365 city, 447 MSA
Houston – 287 city, 462 MSA
Indianapolis – 100 city, 111 MSA
Jacksonville, FL – 99 city, 120 MSA
Kansas City – 100 city, 163 MSA
Las Vegas – 111 city, 133 MSA
Los Angeles – 312 city, 768 MSA
Miami – 59 city, 377 Miami to Boca Raton corridor
New Orleans – 174 city, 252 MSA
New York City – 471 city, 778 MSA
Orlando – 28 city, 111 MSA
Philadelphia – 302 city, 436 MSA
Phoenix – 122 city, 302 MSA
San Francisco – 45 city, 292 MSA
St. Louis – 143 city, 210 MSA
Washington, DC – 143 city, 325 MSA
To put things in perspective, the murder rate in the Yucatan state of Mexico is 2 per 100,000. That’s about the same as Fond du Lac, Wisconsin or Evansville, Indiana. Mexico City’s is 8 per 100,000. Despite being one of the most populated cities on the planet, that’s on par with Albuquerque, NM. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt scared in Albuquerque…
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
April 22, 2011
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated September 10, 2010 to consolidate and update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government personnel.
Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes. Nevertheless, crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.
It is imperative that you understand the risks involved in travel to Mexico and how best to avoid dangerous situations. Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.
Since 2006, the Mexican government has engaged in an extensive effort to combat transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). The TCOs, meanwhile, have been engaged in a vicious struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. According to Government of Mexico figures, 34,612 people have been killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico since December 2006. More than 15,000 narcotics-related homicides occurred in 2010, an increase of almost two-thirds compared to 2009. Most of those killed in narcotics-related violence since 2006 have been members of TCOs. However, innocent persons have also been killed as have Mexican law enforcement and military personnel.
There is no evidence that U.S. tourists have been targeted by criminal elements due to their citizenship. Nonetheless, while in Mexico you should be aware of your surroundings at all times and exercise particular caution in unfamiliar areas. Bystanders, including U.S. citizens, have been injured or killed in violent incidents in various parts of the country, especially, but not exclusively in the northern border region, demonstrating the heightened risk of violence throughout Mexico. TCOs, meanwhile, engage in a wide-range of criminal activities that can directly impact U.S. citizens, including kidnapping, armed car-jacking, and extortion that can directly impact U.S. citizens. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico increased from 35 in 2007 to 111 in 2010.
The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat the TCOs. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways may encounter government checkpoints, which are often staffed by military personnel. You are advised to cooperate with personnel at government checkpoints and mobile military patrols. TCOs have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, and killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them.
Violence along Mexican roads and highways is a particular concern in the northern border region. As a result, effective July 15, 2010, the U.S. Mission in Mexico imposed restrictions on U.S. government employees’ travel. U.S. government employees and their families are not permitted to drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior of Mexico or Central America. Travel by vehicle is permitted between Hermosillo and Nogales.
While violent incidents have occurred at all hours of the day and night on both modern toll (“cuotas”) highways and on secondary roads, they have occurred most frequently at night and on isolated roads. To reduce risk, you are strongly urged to travel only during daylight hours throughout Mexico, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads whenever possible. For more information on road safety and crime along Mexico’s roadways, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Due to ongoing violence and persistent security concerns, you are urged to defer non-essential travel to the states of Tamaulipas and Michoacán, and to parts of the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and Jalisco. Details on these locations, and other areas in which travelers should exercise caution, are below.
Violence along the U.S. – Mexico Border
You should be especially aware of safety and security concerns when visiting the northern border states of Northern Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas. Much of the country’s narcotics-related violence has occurred in the border region. More than a third of all U.S. citizens killed in Mexico in 2010 whose deaths were reported to the U.S. government were killed in the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana. Narcotics-related homicide rates in the border states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas have increased dramatically in the past two years.
Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents. Most victims who complied with carjackers at these checkpoints have reported that they were not physically harmed. Incidents have occurred during the day and at night, and carjackers have used a variety of techniques, including bumping moving vehicles to force them to stop and running vehicles off the road at high speed. There are some indications that criminals have particularly targeted newer and larger vehicles with U.S. license plates, especially dark-colored SUVs. However, victims’ vehicles have included those with both Mexican and American registration and vary in type from late model SUVs and pick-up trucks to old sedans.
If you make frequent visits to border cities, you should vary your route and park in well-lighted, guarded and paid parking lots. Exercise caution when entering or exiting vehicles.
Large firefights between rival TCOs or TCOs and Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, especially in the border region. Firefights have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. The location and timing of future armed engagements cannot be predicted. You are urged to defer travel to those areas mentioned in this Travel Warning and to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region.
Northern Baja California: Targeted TCO assassinations continue to take place in Northern Baja California, including the city of Tijuana. You should exercise caution in this area, particularly at night. In late 2010, turf battles between criminal groups proliferated and resulted in numerous assassinations in areas of Tijuana frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours throughout the city. In one such incident, an American citizen was shot and seriously wounded.
Nogales and Northern Sonora: You are advised to exercise caution in the city of Nogales. Northern Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades, and can be extremely dangerous for travelers. The U.S. Consulate requires that armored vehicles are used for official travel in the consular district of Nogales, including certain areas within the city of Nogales. The region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and from Caborca north, including the towns of Saric, Tubutama and Altar, and the eastern edge of Sonora bordering Chihuahua, are known centers of illegal activity. You should defer non-essential travel to these areas.
You are advised to exercise caution when visiting the coastal town of Puerto Peñasco. In the past year there have been multiple incidents of TCO-related violence, including the shooting of the city’s police chief. U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco are urged to cross the border at Lukeville, AZ, to limit driving through Mexico and to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.
Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua: The situation in the state of Chihuahua, specifically Ciudad Juarez, is of special concern. Ciudad Juarez has the highest murder rate in Mexico. Mexican authorities report that more than 3,100 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez in 2010. Three persons associated with the Consulate General were murdered in March, 2010. You should defer non-essential travel to Ciudad Juarez and to the Guadalupe Bravo area southeast of Ciudad Juarez. U.S. citizens should also defer non-essential travel to the northwest quarter of the state of Chihuahua. From the United States, these areas are often reached through the Columbus, NM, and Fabens and Fort Hancock, TX, ports-of-entry. In both areas, U.S. citizens have been victims of narcotics-related violence. There have been incidents of narcotics-related violence in the vicinity of the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua.
Durango, Coahuila and Zacatecas: Between 2006 and 2010, the number of narcotics-related murders in the State of Durango increased dramatically. Several areas in the state have seen sharp increases in violence and remain volatile and unpredictable. U.S. government employees are restricted from traveling to the cities of Durango and Gomez Palacio. You should defer non-essential travel to these cities.
The State of Coahuila has also experienced an increase in violent crimes and narcotics-related murders. U.S. government employees are restricted from traveling to the area known as “La Laguna”, including the city of Torreon, and the city of Saltillo within the state. You should defer non-essential travel to this area, as well as to the cities of Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña due to frequent incidents of TCO-related violence.
The northwestern portion of the state of Zacatecas has become notably dangerous and insecure. Robberies and carjackings are occurring with increased frequency and both local authorities and residents have reported a surge in observed TCO activity. This area is remote, and local authorities are unable to regularly patrol it or quickly respond to incidents that occur there. The Consulate General in Monterrey restricts travel for U.S. government employees to the city of Fresnillo and the area extending northwest from Fresnillo along Highway 45 (Fresnillo-Sombrete) between Highways 44 and 49. In addition, highway 49 northwards from Fresnillo through Durango and in to Chihuahua is isolated and should be considered dangerous. You should defer non-essential travel to these areas.
Monterrey and Nuevo Leon: The level of violence and insecurity in Monterrey remains elevated. Local police and private patrols do not have the capacity to deter criminal elements or respond effectively to security incidents. As a result of a Department of State assessment of the overall security situation, on September 10, 2010, the Consulate General in Monterrey became a partially unaccompanied post with no minor dependents of U.S. government employees permitted.
TCOs continue to use stolen cars and trucks to create roadblocks or “blockades” on major thoroughfares, preventing the military or police from responding to criminal activity in Monterrey and the surrounding areas. Travelers on the highways between Monterrey and the United States (notably through Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros/Reynosa) have been targeted for robbery that has resulted in violence. They have also been caught in incidents of gunfire between criminals and Mexican law enforcement. In 2010, TCOs kidnapped guests out of reputable hotels in the downtown Monterrey area, blocking off adjoining streets to prevent law enforcement response. TCOs have also regularly attacked local government facilities, prisons and police stations, and engaged in public shootouts with the military and between themselves. Pedestrians and innocent bystanders have been killed in these incidents.
The number of kidnappings and disappearances in Monterrey, and increasingly throughout Monterrey’s consular district, is of particular concern. Both the local and expatriate communities have been victimized and local law enforcement has provided little to no response. In addition, police have been implicated in some of these incidents. Travelers and residents are strongly advised to lower their profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention.
Tamaulipas: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas. In an effort to prevent the military or police from responding to criminal activity, TCOs have set up roadblocks or “blockades” in various parts of Nuevo Laredo in which armed gunmen carjack and rob unsuspecting drivers. These blockades occur without warning and at all times, day and night. The Consulate General prohibits employees from entering the entertainment zone in Nuevo Laredo known as “Boys Town” because of concerns about violent crime in that area. U.S. government employees are currently restricted from travelling on the highway between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey, as well as on Mexican Highway 2 towards Reynosa or Ciudad Acuña due to security concerns.
Be aware of the risks posed by armed robbery and carjacking on state highways throughout Tamaulipas. In January 2011, a U.S. citizen was murdered in what appears to have been a failed carjacking attempt. While no highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe, many of the crimes reported to the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros took place along the Matamoros-Tampico highway, particularly around San Fernando and the area north of Tampico.
Crime and Violence in Other Parts of Mexico
While security concerns are particularly acute in the northern border region, you should be aware of situations that could affect your safety in other parts of Mexico.
Sinaloa and Southern Sonora: One of Mexico’s most powerful TCOs is based in the state of Sinaloa. Since 2006, more homicides have occurred in the state’s capital city of Culiacan than in any other city in Mexico, with the exception of Ciudad Juarez. You should defer non-essential travel to Culiacan and exercise extreme caution when visiting the rest of the state. Travel off the toll roads in remote areas of Sinaloa is especially dangerous and should be avoided.
In the last year, the city of Mazatlan has experienced a level of violence, primarily confrontations between TCOs, not seen before. In 2010 there were over 300 narcotics-related murders within the city, compared to fewer than 100 in 2009. You are encouraged to visit Mazatlan during daylight hours and limit the time you spend outside tourist centers. Exercise caution during late night and early morning hours when most violent crimes occur.
Highway robbery and carjacking are ongoing security concerns for travelers on the Mexican toll road Highway 15 in Sonora and on Maxipista Benito Juarez in Sinaloa. These highways are known to be particularly dangerous at night when roadside robberies occur. When traveling in Sinaloa, U.S. government employees are required to use armored vehicles and may only travel in daylight hours.
San Luis Potosi: In February 2011, one U.S. government employee was killed and another wounded when they were attacked in their U.S. government vehicle on Highway 57 near Santa Maria del Rio. The incident remains under investigation. Cartel violence and highway lawlessness have increased throughout the state and are a continuing security concern. All official U.S. government employees and their families have been advised to defer travel on the entire stretch of highway 57D in San Luis Potosi as well as travel in the state east of highway 57D towards Tamaulipas. You should defer non-essential travel in these areas.
Nayarit and Jalisco: Official U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to Colotlan, Jalisco, and Yahualica, Jalisco, both near the Zacatecas border, because of an increasingly volatile security situation. Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival TCOs involving automatic weapons. You should defer non-essential travel to these cities. In addition, the border areas between Jalisco state and the states of Zacatecas and Michoacán, as well as southern Nayarit state including the city of Tepic, have been sites of violence and crime involving TCOs. You should exercise extreme caution when traveling in these areas. Due to recent TCO-mounted road blockades between the Guadalajara airport and the Guadalajara metropolitan areas, U.S. government employees are only authorized to travel between Guadalajara and the Guadalajara Airport during daylight hours.
Michoacán: You should defer non-essential travel to the State of Michoacán, which is home to another of Mexico’s most dangerous TCOs, “La Familia”. Attacks on government officials and law enforcement and military personnel, and other incidents of TCO-related violence, have occurred throughout Michoacan, including in and around the capital of Morelia and in the vicinity of the world famous butterfly sanctuaries in the eastern part of the State.
Guerrero and Morelos: You should exercise extreme caution when traveling in the northwestern part of the state of Guerrero, which has a strong TCO presence. Do not take the dangerous, isolated road through Ciudad Altamirano to the beach resorts of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo and exercise caution traveling on the coastal road between Acapulco and Ixtapa due to the risk of roadblocks and carjackings. Numerous incidents of narcotics-related violence have occurred in the city of Cuernavaca, in the State of Morelos, a popular destination for American language students.
Downtown Acapulco and surrounding areas have seen a significant increase in narcotics-related violence in the last year. Incidents have included daylight gunfights and murders of law enforcement personnel and some have resulted in the deaths of innocent bystanders. Due to the unpredictable nature of this violence, you should exercise extreme caution when visiting downtown Acapulco. To reduce risks, tourists should not visit the downtown area at night and should remain in clearly identifiable tourist areas. In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante just south of the city has not been affected by the increasing violence.
You are encouraged to review the U.S. Embassy’s Mexico Security Update. The update contains information about recent security incidents in Mexico that could affect the safety of the traveling public.
For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the State Department’s Country Specific Information for Mexico. Information on security and travel to popular tourist destinations is also provided in the publication: Spring Break in Mexico – Know Before You Go!
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department’s internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. You may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at ACSMexicoCity@state.gov.
Real estate coalition touts country as good place to live — and buy
By Marty Hope, Calgary Herald
January 29, 2011
More than 30 companies involved in Mexican real estate have banded together to try to counter what they call misleading news coverage about the country’s violent crime.
“Our greatest asset is the thousands of Canadians and Americans who currently live in Mexico and love it,” says Christopher Hill, CEO of Stewart Title Latin America. “In the end, the reality of Mexico as a great place to live — full-or part-time — will shine through.”
Increasing media reports of violent, drug-related crime have given the false impression of a countrywide epidemic, says the Mexico Real Estate Coalition.
But it is only occurring in a few areas — with most of them close to the U.S. border, says the group.
… is the US Government
March 8, 2011
I’m leaving Mexico.
No, it’s not because I’ve been robbed, beaten, or kidnapped by the drug cartels. And it’s not because some corrupt policias tried to shake me down, because I contracted swine flu, or that beheaded bodies were left in the street outside of my hotel.
Honestly, I’m really enjoying it down here and would like to stay, but I have some important meetings in New York later this week, so I will unfortunately be headed north to brave the cold weather and even colder reception at US immigration.
Before I leave Mexico, though, I want to address the elephant in the room: Mexico’s infamous drug war, probably the most sensationalized, misunderstood issue played out in North American media, right between Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.
The bottom line is that two governments decided long ago that drugs are a problem and that they need to do something about it. On one hand, the Mexican government expects the US to reduce demand, and on the other hand, the US government expects Mexico to curtail supply.
There are three major problems with this logic.
First is that the governments think they can force the reduction of something that quasi-literally grows on trees. Marijuana and cocaine are more easily grown than Ben Bernanke’s balance sheet– they’d have better luck reducing the supply of stupidity and hypocrisy in Washington.
What most people don’t realize is that they’ve carpet-bombed half of Colombia with herbicides so nasty (thank you, Monsanto) that they make Agent Orange look like a stick of deodorant. And yet, the cartels still find plenty of land to increase their productive capacity.
Fighting a multi-decades war against plants is just a dumb idea, ranking up there with other such gems as spending our way out of recession, borrowing our way out of debt, and invading other countries to reduce hatred against America.
The second problem is that these governments actually expect to be able to suppress demand. This is nonsense.
There will always be certain personalities who will seek out the high of recreational drugs despite the consequences. Similarly, there are certain personalities who will gamble despite the losses, seek adrenaline rushes despite the risks, or eat Big Macs despite what the bathroom scale says.
To those personalities, their desires are as natural as the instinct to breathe.
There’s no great mystery in the world about the effects of recreational drugs. As dealers say, ‘drugs sell themselves’. Drug users accept the risks because they think the benefits are greater, or they’re psychologically and/or chemically addicted to the product.
This is no different than people who’ve become addicted to aspartame (Diet Coke), prescription pills, sex, booze, exercise, cigarettes, work, shopping, anger, pain, video games, junk food, etc. The chemical and psychological dependencies don’t vanish just because the government decrees it.
The third problem is that the governments even began with the false premise that recreational drugs are a problem and should be prohibited. This is intellectually dishonest: governments sanction all sorts of drug use.
The US government says, for example, that nicotine, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, alcohol, Viagra, aspartame, Prozac, and Yellow #5 are OK, but raw milk, Cuban cigars, marijuana, human growth hormone, and chocolate Kinder eggs are not OK.
Look, I’m not trying to be anti-alcohol or pro-Kinder egg, but the notion that government agencies should be able to choose which substances we grown adults are and are not allowed to buy and ingest is rather anachronistic. And they do a horrible job at it, anyhow.
The FDA is constantly having to recall products that it once approved, frequently reversing its own GRAS (generally regarded as safe) decisions. Remember Vioxx? Stevia? Avastin? Ephedra?
The agency is filled with pencil-pushing bureaucrats who endlessly circulate position papers, dragging on the approval process for potentially life-saving drugs so that someone who’s already dying of cancer won’t have an adverse reaction.
It’s a fundamental injustice when a corrupt bureaucracy swayed by powerful lobby groups is able to decide what we can put in our own bodies, and then fails miserably at enforcing its own vacuous regulations.
The end result of this fallacy has been playing out in Mexico. Yes, there is violence and crime in Mexico related to the business of transporting and distributing recreational drugs. The violence is often portrayed in the media as ‘turf wars’ between competing cartels.
This sounds good, but it’s not really true. There are far more customers out there than the cartels can possibly supply. Fighting for demand is not the issue… it’s getting supply to the customers.
As such, cartels are either duking it out with each other over key supply routes (which is why most of the violence is in the border towns), or they’re battling the government forces trying to interdict them.
Funny thing, Pfizer and Lily don’t shoot it out in the streets over shelf space for Viagra vs. Cialis. War is bad for business; it’s prohibition that induces the armed defense of logistics hubs and production facilities.
The real scourge on Mexican society isn’t ‘turf war’ shoot outs, but the de facto police state that now exists.
In daily life, the chances of the average Mexican coming into contact with drug-related crime or violence is very low. The chances of being harassed or disrupted by government paramilitaries brandishing automatic weapons in full combat gear is extremely high.
To give you an example, I woke up at our beach home in Tulum last week to a squad of Mexican military patrolling the beach in formation, their weapons ‘at the ready.’ Later in the day, they set up check points on the road to harass anyone who wasn’t white.
Airports are even worse– multiple baggage searches, pat downs, drug dogs, roving infantry squads… all making it more difficult for tourists and legitimate travelers to get in and out of the country.
This is the fundamental issue in Mexico– billions of dollars from the US are fueling a war on plants, and human nature fuels violence and creates a police state.
The violence (mostly localized in border towns) will continue until these countries finally go broke, capitulate, and begin the embarrassing process of reexamining their policies.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Fewer drug killings in Sonora than other Mexican states
The Trans-Border Institute Released a Report on Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis through 2010. The report is based on data from the Mexican government.
The study shows that 84 percent of the killings in 2010 occurred in four states: Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Guerrero and Baja California.
The report concludes that “In a country of more than 100 million people, the odds of being killed in a drug-related homicide in 2010 were one in 6,667, about the same as the odds of being killed in an automobile accident in the United States (about one in 6,500). The odds of being killed in Mexico’s drug violence decrease dramatically if a person is not a drug trafficker, mayor, or police officer in a disputed trafficking region. With this perspective, it is important not to exaggerate the magnitude of recent violence in Mexico.”
December 16, 2010
STRATFOR’s annual report on Mexico’s drug cartels.
By Scott Stewart
In our 2010 annual report on Mexico’s drug cartels, we assess the most significant developments of the past year and provide an updated description of the dynamics among the country’s powerful drug-trafficking organizations, along with an account of the government’s effort to combat the cartels and a forecast of the battle in 2011. The annual cartel report is a product of the coverage STRATFOR maintains on a weekly basis through our Mexico Security Memo as well as other analyses we produce throughout the year. In response to customer requests for more and deeper coverage of Mexico, STRATFOR will also introduce a new product in 2011 designed to provide an enhanced level of reporting and analysis.
In 2010, the cartel wars in Mexico have produced unprecedented levels of violence throughout the country. No longer concentrated in just a few states, the violence has spread all across the northern tier of border states and along much of both the east and west coasts of Mexico. This year’s drug-related homicides have surpassed 11,000, an increase of more than 4,400 deaths from 2009 and more than double the death toll in 2008.
Baja California, Mexico: Impact of U.S. Media, an Analysis
Prepared by Scott Hanning and Jeffrey Werner, Emerson Strategic Communication Group
Monday, July 6, 2009
Executive Summary: Through selective reporting, presenting information without context and insufficient analysis, U.S. media outlets have helped perpetuate the mistaken perception that Mexico, including all of Baja California, is a “drug war crisis zone” unsafe for visitors. The net result is the conflation of President Felipe Calderón’s campaign against the drug cartels with tourism in the minds of millions of ordinary Americans, who have chosen to travel elsewhere or stay home. Media coverage of the drug war crisis has thus spawned a second, equally urgent one: Rosarito Beach’s economy, like those of other areas almost entirely dependent on American tourism, has suffered a devastating revenue decline of more than 75%.
Rosarito Beach and Baja California’s other coastal towns have for decades been a popular destination for U.S. tourists. Their economies are largely dependent on American tourism, especially road-trip vacationers from southern California and the Southwest U.S. The region also has a high number of permanent American residents: an estimated 14,000 Americans (nearly 10% of the population) make Rosarito their home today. These communities’ fortunes are therefore directly linked to how Americans view them.
Tourism to Baja California started to decline in mid-2008, as southern California media such as the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and local TV news devoted more space and time to rising levels of cartel-related violence in some areas of Mexico. The story gained some national coverage during the year but it remained largely limited to outlets like the wire services and The New York Times. Consequently, it remained underreported to the vast majority of the American public. It should be less of a surprise, then, that Mexican tourism as a whole actually increased slightly in 2008 and the beginning of 2009 as Americans sought out high-value, low-cost destinations near home in the midst of the ongoing worldwide recession. ARE YOU SURE ON THIS? However, Rosarito, given its proximity to Tijuana, an area perceived by Americans to be under constant siege, did not share in this increase.
The situation abruptly worsened in late 2008 and early 2009, when media outlets across the U.S. began releasing stories en masse related to President Calderón’s now-two-year old campaign against the drug cartels. A “perfect storm” of factors caused the increase. First, a US military report released in November, the “Joint Operating Environment 2008” (JOE 2008), outlined 25 years worth of speculative strategic scenarios including Mexico’s “sudden rapid collapse” as one among many other more serious and likely possibilities. Second, as Calderón’s campaign succeeded in capturing or killing cartel leaders, those that took their place displayed a level of brutality unknown to their predecessors. Third, a wave of kidnappings centered in the Phoenix, AZ area almost exclusively among people involved with drug and/or human smuggling fueled unsubstantiated fears that violence could “spill over” the border. All of this occurred as violence levels skyrocketed in border communities like Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez, and to a somewhat lesser extent, Tijuana.
As the story evolved from a pattern, to a trend, to ultimately a crisis, it gained ominous-sounding series names that did little to clarify its true complexity: “Mexico Under Siege” (LA Times), “Mexico at War” (Washington Post), “The War Next Door” (CNN), etc. The lack of context in most of these reports, especially prior to Secretary of State Clinton’s visit in mid-March, only compounded the problem. In the case of the 56-page JOE 2008 report, for example, the contingency of Mexico becoming a failed state is mentioned in only two paragraphs. By contrast, the same possibility in Pakistan takes up a page and general issues concerning Russia and China, 3 pages each. Moreover, the report specifically disclaims, “this document is speculative in nature and does not suppose to predict what will happen.” This was mostly ignored in ensuing news coverage, and instead the hypothetical case was reported and re-reported as a likely near-term event.
A U.S. State Department travel “alert” posted on February 20, 2009 – right before the crucial Spring Break season – for certain areas of Mexico was similarly misreported. One of two types of State Department notices, an “alert” suggests that travelers exercise caution in specific portions of a country due to a short-term condition, while a much stronger “warning” recommends avoiding an entire country because of endemic instability. This alert, essentially a renewal of one first issued almost three years prior, was regularly and inaccurately characterized as the latter. A State Department spokesman’s March 6 clarification that the alert was not intended to direct tourists to completely avoid Mexico was often overlooked. Additionally, the limited geographic nature of the alert was often ignored: although Tijuana was mentioned by name (with qualifications), Rosarito was not, and the alert focused mainly on the hazards of travel to Juarez, a city over 600 miles away and never an American tourist destination to begin with. This would be akin to warning tourists away from the Jersey Shore in the 1920′s because of mob clashes with the FBI in Chicago.
Another type of problematic reporting involves the recycling of high-drama crimes, usually involving Americans, without regard for when they actually occurred. While these stories are typically tied into ongoing coverage of the drug war, links to the cartels are made tenuously if at all. A December 28, 2008 “ABC World News” report told of a San Diego-area couple brutally robbed by armed men who broke into their RV, and also sexually assaulted the woman. Crucial background was omitted, however: the incident occurred 13 months prior and they were alone, away from tourist zones in an isolated area south of Ensenada, over 40 miles away from Rosarito. Further, they were extensively profiled by both local and national media in early 2008. Similarly, Anderson Cooper interviewed the crusading family of a kidnapped and murdered Mexico City businessman as part of an early 2009 “60 Minutes” piece. He, too, failed to mention that the incident occurred in 2006, before Calderón took office, and was already well publicized.
Because most news media tend to focus on conflict, but not places where conflict is absent, towns like Rosarito are rarely depicted. American audiences don’t read, hear, or see that fighting between and against cartels is generally concentrated in far-away places and has not affected daily life on the ground there, especially for tourists. People uninvolved with drugs have not been targeted or victimized, nor have tourist areas been the site of violence. Even the recent assault in Acapulco was in the run-down former tourist corridor, which is several miles away from its current core. It is extremely unlikely that a foreign visitor would inadvertently end up in such an area. Similarly, the current front line of the campaign, Ciudad Juarez, is hundreds of miles away from Rosarito. Little or none of this below-the-surface detail makes its way into most media reports. Consequently, readers, listeners, and viewers are left with the impression that all of Mexico is a violent, lawless place ready to collapse, which is simply not supported by evidence.
Media rhetoric has evolved notably over the course of the crisis. Initially, it amounted to little more than occasional mention of a “Mexican” problem, then gradual recognition of its worsening even as it remained “theirs”. This changed amid a climate of fear at the first signs the problem could potentially become an “American” one also. The narrative shifted dramatically after President Obama’s inauguration, however, when he unprecedentedly acknowledged that American demand, rather than Mexican supply, fueled drug smuggling into the U.S. as well as its side effects in both countries. Secretary Clinton then explicitly proclaimed, “We stand with you!” during her March visit, a sentiment repeatedly bolstered by the President during his trip in April. Afterward, coverage of cartel-related violence began to include more nuance and careful reporting, but stories quickly faded in the early panic over the H1N1 (originally “Mexican”) flu, which incidentally is now theorized to have originated in Asia.
U.S. media have largely focused on other topics since then, but the damage to Mexico is done: the entire country has been painted as a war zone, a depiction detached from reality in places like Rosarito. With the flu-related furor now abated, drug war stories are trickling out once again. Given the decline in extreme episodes of violence relative to earlier this year, coverage now centers on corruption and weapons trafficking. To be sure, the drug cartels remain a serious threat. As Secretary Clinton pointed out during her visit, these highly organized criminals use vast sums of money from American drug consumers to buy high-powered weaponry and ammunition in the U.S. and to smuggle them back over the border to circumvent Mexico’s strict gun laws. Drug money is also used to buy off government and law enforcement officials, although Calderón’s anti-corruption thrust now shows some signs of success.
One critical fact remains clear, however: there is no evidence or history of tourists being harmed by cartel-related violence. Further, the threat of so-called “spillover” violence into the border states that spawned a great deal of coverage in the pre-April period has failed to materialize. Nor has Mexico become the failed state so vigorously predicted earlier in the year. None of these facts are actively reported to the American public.
Rosarito has in fact taken an approach to press coverage that is uncharacteristically proactive for Mexican communities in a crisis. Specifically, Mayor Hugo Torres has aggressively attempted to meet and dialogue with journalists about problematic stories and factual inaccuracies. This important relationship, an essential component of effective crisis communication, has been mutually beneficial: journalists and interest groups have official input from the municipality and the Mayor, along with his staff, have developed a better understanding of the dynamics of today’s media environment.
While violent confrontation between cartels and the military continues in parts of Mexico, the conflict has a minimal effect on life in Rosarito. The current plunge in tourism revenue is the unfortunate side effect of inaccurate reporting, speculative scenarios described as near-term probabilities, and the failure to put facts in their proper context. There are fewer camera crews and reporters in Mexico now, and in most cases, they never visited places like Rosarito in the first place. Unfortunately, the people of Rosarito are unfairly suffering the loss of their livelihood because Americans have been given the false impression that their lives are at risk if they visit. It is hoped that a calmer, more critical analysis of the facts can emerge, one that does not hide the truth, but accurately depicts life in Rosarito as welcoming, safe, and affordable.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
September 10, 2010
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico. The status of authorized departure of family members of U.S. government personnel from U.S. Consulates in the northern Mexico border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros ended on September 10 following the expiration of the maximum 180 day period. Based upon a security review in Monterrey following the shooting on August 20, 2010, in front of the American Foundation School in Monterrey and the high incidence of kidnappings in the Monterrey area, U.S. government personnel from the Consulate General have been advised that the immediate, practical and reliable way to reduce the security risks for all children is to remove them from Monterrey. As of September 10, 2010, the Consulate General in Monterrey is a partially unaccompanied post, meaning no minor dependents of U.S. government employees are permitted to remain in the city. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated August 27, 2010 to note the lifting of Authorized Departure status for U.S. Consulates along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year. This includes tens of thousands who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major drug trafficking routes. Nevertheless, crime and violence are serious problems. While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.
It is imperative that U.S. citizens understand the risks involved in travel to Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and who to contact if one becomes a victim of crime or violence. Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable. 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.
Since 2006, the Mexican government has engaged in an extensive effort to combat drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs). Mexican DTOs, meanwhile, have been engaged in a vicious struggle with each other for control of trafficking routes. In order to prevent and combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed military troops and federal police throughout the country. U.S. citizens should expect to encounter military and other law enforcement checkpoints when traveling in Mexico and are urged to cooperate fully. DTOs have erected unauthorized checkpoints, and killed motorists who have not stopped at them. In confrontations with the Mexican army and police, DTOs have employed automatic weapons and grenades. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. According to published reports, 22,700 people have been killed in narcotics-related violence since 2006. The great majority of those killed have been members of DTOs. However, innocent bystanders have been killed in shootouts between DTOs and Mexican law enforcement or between rival DTOs.
Recent violent attacks and persistent security concerns have prompted the U.S. Embassy to urge U.S. citizens to defer unnecessary travel to Michoacán and Tamaulipas, to parts of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, and Coahuila, (see details below) and to advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling in those areas to exercise extreme caution.
Violence Along the U.S.-Mexico Border
Much of the country’s narcotics-related violence has occurred in the northern border region. For example, since 2006, three times as many people have been murdered in Ciudad Juarez, in the state of Chihuahua, across from El Paso, Texas, than in any other city in Mexico. More than half of all Americans killed in Mexico in FY 2009 whose deaths were reported to the U.S. Embassy were killed in the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.
Since 2006, large firefights have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, often in broad daylight on streets and other public venues. Such firefights have occurred mostly in northern Mexico, including Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Chihuahua City, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Piedras Negras, Reynosa, Matamoros and Monterrey. Firefights have also occurred in Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.
The situation in northern Mexico remains fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements cannot be predicted. U.S. citizens are urged to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the region, particularly in those areas specifically mentioned in this Travel Warning.
The level of violence in Monterrey is increasing and has spread to areas near a school which many U.S. citizen children attend. Local police and private patrols do not have the capacity to deter criminal elements from areas around the schools. Given the increasing level of violence that is occurring all over Monterrey, school children are at significantly increased risk. Based on this, and combined with the high incidence of kidnappings in the Monterrey area, U.S. government personnel from the Consulate General have been advised that the immediate, practical and reliable way to reduce the security risks for all children is to remove them from Monterrey. On September 10, 2010, the Consulate General in Monterrey became a partially unaccompanied post with no minor dependents of U.S. government employees.
In recent months, DTOs have used stolen trucks to block major highways and thus prevent the military from responding to criminal activity, most notably in the area around Monterrey. Also in Monterrey, DTOs have kidnapped guests out of reputable hotels in the downtown area, blocking off adjoining streets to prevent law enforcement response. DTOs have also attacked Mexican government facilities such as military barracks and a customs and immigration post.
The situation in the state of Chihuahua, specifically Ciudad Juarez, is of special concern. Mexican authorities report that more than 2,600 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez in 2009. Three persons associated with the Consulate General were murdered in March, 2010. U.S. citizens should defer unnecessary travel to Ciudad Juarez and to the Guadalupe Bravo area southeast of Ciudad Juarez. U.S. citizens should also defer travel to the northwest quarter of the state of Chihuahua. From the United States, these areas are often reached through the Columbus, NM and Fabens and Fort Hancock, TX ports-of-entry. In both areas, American citizens have been victims of drug related violence. There have been recent incidents of serious narcotics-related violence in the vicinity of the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua.
The Consular agency in Reynosa, Tamaulipas was closed temporarily in February 2010 in response to firefights between police and DTOs and between DTOs. In April 2010, a grenade thrown into the Consulate compound at 11:00 PM caused damage to the U.S. Consulate General in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. The Consulate General in Nuevo Laredo and the Consular Agency in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, were closed for one day as a result. The Consulate General in Nuevo Laredo prohibits employees from entering the entertainment zone in Nuevo Laredo known as “Boys Town” because of concerns about violent crime in that area.
Between 2006 and 2009, the number of narcotics-related murders in the state of Durango increased ten-fold. The cities of Durango and Gomez Palacio, and the area known as “La Laguna” in the state of Coahuila, which includes the city of Torreon, have experienced sharp increases in violence. In late 2009 and early 2010, four visiting U.S. citizens were murdered in Gomez Palacio, Durango. These are among several murders in the state of Durango that have been cause for particular concern and that remain under investigation.
Travelers on the highways between Monterrey and the United States (notably through Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros) have been targeted for robbery that has resulted in violence and have also been caught in incidents of gunfire between criminals and Mexican law enforcement. Travelers should defer unnecessary travel on Mexican Highway 2 between Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo due to the ongoing violent competition between DTOs in that area. Criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Tijuana. U.S. citizens traveling by road to and from the U.S. border through Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Durango, and Sinaloa should be especially vigilant. Criminals appear to especially target SUVs and full-size pick-up trucks for theft and car-jacking along these routes.
Continued concerns regarding road safety along the Mexican border have prompted the U.S. Mission in Mexico to impose certain restrictions on U.S. government employees transiting the area. Effective July 15, 2010, Mission employees and their families may not travel by vehicle across the U.S.-Mexico border to or from any post in the interior of Mexico. This policy also applies to employees and their families transiting Mexico to and from Central American posts. This policy does not apply to employees and their family members assigned to border posts (Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and Matamoros), although they may not drive to interior posts as outlined above. Travel is permitted between Hermosillo and Nogales, but not permitted from Hermosillo to any other interior posts.
Crime and Violence Throughout Mexico
Although narcotics-related crime is a particular concern along Mexico’s northern border, violence has occurred throughout the country, including in areas frequented by American tourists. U.S. citizens traveling in Mexico should exercise caution in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. 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 living in Mexico have been kidnapped and most of their cases remain unsolved.
One of Mexico’s most powerful DTOs is based in the state of Sinaloa. Since 2006, more homicides have occurred in the state’s capital city of Culiacan than in any other city in Mexico, with the exception of Ciudad Juarez. Furthermore, the city of Mazatlan has experienced a recent increase in violent crime, with more murders in the first quarter of 2010 than in all of 2009. U.S. citizens should defer unnecessary travel to Culiacan and exercise extreme caution when visiting the rest of the state.
The state of Michoacán is home to another of Mexico’s most dangerous DTOs, “La Familia”. In June 2010, 14 federal police were killed in an ambush near Zitacuaro in the southeastern corner of the state. In April 2010, the Secretary for Public Security for Michoacán was shot in a DTO ambush. Security incidents have also occurred in and around the State’s world famous butterfly sanctuaries. In 2008, a grenade attack on a public gathering in Morelia, the state capital, killed eight people. U.S. citizens should defer unnecessary travel to the area. If travel in Michoacán is unavoidable, U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution, especially outside major tourist areas.
U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution when traveling in the northwestern part of the state of Guerrero, which likewise has a strong DTO presence. U.S. citizens should not take the dangerous, isolated road through Ciudad Altamirano to the beach resorts of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. The popular beach resort of Acapulco has been affected by narcotics-related violence. In April 2010, three innocent bystanders were killed in a shootout between Mexican police and DTO members in broad daylight in one of the city’s main tourist areas. In the same month, numerous incidents of narcotics-related violence occurred in the city of Cuernavaca, in the State of Morelos, a popular destination for American language students.
U.S. citizens should also exercise extreme caution when traveling in southern Nayarit in and near the city of Tepic which has recently experienced unpredictable incidents of DTO violence. The number of violent incidents involving DTOs has increased in recent months throughout Jalisco, Nayarit and Colima.
U.S. citizens traveling to towns and villages with large indigenous communities located predominantly but not exclusively in southern Mexico, should be aware that land disputes between residents and between residents and local authorities have led to violence. In April 2010, two members of a non-governmental aid organization, one of whom was a foreign citizen, were murdered near the village of San Juan Capola in Oaxaca.
U.S. citizens who believe they are being targeted for kidnapping or other crimes should notify Mexican law enforcement officials and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City or the nearest U.S. consulate as soon as possible. Any U.S. visitors who suspect they are a target should consider returning to the United States immediately. U.S. citizens should be aware that many cases of violent crime are never resolved by Mexican law enforcement, and the U.S. government has no authority to investigate crimes committed in Mexico.
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. When warranted, 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 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. Travelers should leave their itinerary with a friend or family member not traveling with them, avoid traveling alone, and check with their cellular provider prior to departure to confirm that their cell phone is capable of roaming on GSM or 3G international networks. Cell phone coverage in isolated parts of Mexico, for example, the Copper Canyon, is spotty or non-existent.
Do not display expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items. Travelers to remote or isolated venues should be aware that they may be distant from appropriate medical, law enforcement, and consular services in an emergency situation.
U.S. citizens applying for passports or requesting other fee-based services from consulates or the Embassy are encouraged to make arrangements to pay for those services using a non-cash method. U.S. citizens should be alert for credit card fraud, especially outside major commercial establishments.
American employees of the U.S. Embassy are prohibited from hailing taxis on the street in Mexico City because of frequent robberies. American citizens are urged to only use taxis associated with the organized taxi stands (“sitios”) that are common throughout Mexico.
U.S. citizens should be alert to pickpockets and general street crime throughout Mexico, but especially in large cities. Between FY 2006 and FY 2009 the number of U.S. passports reported stolen in Mexico rose from 184 to 288.
Demonstrations and Large Public Gatherings
Demonstrations occur frequently throughout Mexico and are usually 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. 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.
Demonstrators in Mexico may block traffic on roads, including major arteries, or take control of toll-booths on highways. U.S. citizens should avoid confrontations in such situations.
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.
U.S. citizens are urged to monitor local media for information about fast-breaking situations that could affect their security.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to review the U.S. Embassy’s Mexico Security Update. The update contains information about recent security incidents in Mexico that could affect the safety of the traveling public.
For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the State Department’s Country Specific Information for Mexico. Information on security and travel to popular tourist destinations is also provided in the publication: “Spring Break in Mexico- Know Before You Go!!”
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department’s internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. 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.
For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate. The numbers provided below for the Embassy and Consulates are available around the clock. 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.
U.S. Consulate General Hermosillo and U.S. Consulate Nogales
Warden Message – Demonstration
May 13, 2010
The U.S. Consulates in Nogales and Hermosillo wish to advise American citizens of demonstrations scheduled to occur at the Nogales (Morley and Deconcini) as well as the Douglas/Agua Prieta ports of entry on Friday, May 14 and Saturday May 15, 2010. As of this message, no demonstration permit has been filed for the Mariposa port of entry. Law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border currently believe that the chances for disruption of traffic or violence are minimal. U.S. government employees have been asked to delay travel through these ports of entry.
We remind American citizens that demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to follow local media reports about planned or spontaneous demonstrations connected with the recently passed Arizona immigration law.
In the event you find yourself in an area where a demonstration is occurring, you should take the following security measures:
1. Be prepared to follow all directions from police officers. This includes not entering closed areas, changing your direction of travel, or clearing streets.
2. Avoid potentially hazardous situations. Do not attempt to walk through a crowd because your destination is in the middle or just on the other side of the group.
3. If threatened, do not engage. Move to the closest secure location (store, lobby, etc). Call the Police (066) and immediately report your situation. Also, be sure to notify the U.S. Consulate in Nogales +52 631-313-8150, or +52 1 (631) 318-0723 or the U.S. Consulate General in Hermosillo +52 (662) 289-3500.
U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/ so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” found at http://travel.state.gov.
U.S. citizens in Nogales’ consular district may contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Consulate, located on Calle San Jose (S/N), Col. Los Alamos, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico; telephone 011 +52 (631) 311-8150; after hours emergency telephone 011 +52 1 (631) 318-0723; web page: http://nogales.usconsulate.gov/; ACS Unit fax 011 +52 (631) 313-4652; email: NogalesACS@state.gov.
U.S. citizens in Hermosillo’s consular district may contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Consulate General, located at Monterrey 141 Poniente, Col. Esqueda, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico; telephone 011 +52 (662) 289-3500; after hours emergency telephone 011 +52 1 (662) 256-0741; web page: http://hermosillo.usconsulate.gov; ACS Unit fax 662 217 2571; email: Hermoacs@state.gov.