Mexico’s rampant drug violence has raised the safety issue for would-be vacationers and put Mexico’s publicity-sensitive tourism promoters on the defensive, reports the Chicago Tribune. Tens of thousands of foreign visitors will hit Mexican beaches for spring break, which lasts through April. The University of Arizona has warned students to take extra care if traveling to Mexico during break because of “a marked increase in violence recently.” More than 6,000 people were slain in drug-related violence last year, with daytime shootouts, bodies dumped in piles, and beheadings. The news has given pause even to veteran visitors, who have curbed travel to troubled spots on the U.S.-Mexico border, such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez.
Cancun and other beach resorts have escaped somber State Department warnings about Mexico–even though the city’s police chief was arrested last month in connection with the slaying of an army general in charge of an elite police unit. The latest U.S. travel alert, issued Feb. 20, describes fearsome conditions on the border and in northern Mexico, where shootouts have killed bystanders and left Americans “trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.” The alert says that “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, a city on the Texas border where more than 1,600 people were killed last year, is of “special concern.”