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Is Spring Break in Mexico Safe?

US Guv's Mexico Travel Warning Frightens Some Students Away

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Mexico Cop With Gun

Mexico Cop With Gun

© Joshua Jones
Updated November 26, 2012
As spring break 2010 drew nigh, many U.S. students received campus-wide email warnings regarding the safety of travel to Mexico for spring break, and advising students against driving to Mexico for spring break partly because of a US government-issued Mexico travel warning highlighting safety concerns due to battling between Mexican drug cartels along the US/Mexico border. (We've reprinted a typical email, sent to students at one Colorado university, on page 3.) We've been to Mexico several times in 2009, 2010 and 2011; let's dissect those concerns about the Mexico travel warning and see whether Mexico is safe for spring break:

Indeed, the U.S. government has posted a Mexico travel warning; the Mexico travel warning, posted March 14, 2010, urges travelers to stay on cuotas, or toll roads, and notes that the greatest potential danger is along the Mexico/U.S. border, especially in Juarez (south of El Paso, Texas) where Mexican drug cartels have been warring with one another and with the US in recent years (deaths and violent crimes within this sector have, though, been limited to this sector with the exception of the apparently accidental killing of three American citizens in mid-March, 2010 -- (read a recent report for more info).

Those in-country in Mexico, however, are saying, essentially: use the same common sense as always when traveling, and don't worry about it. And it is important to note that until the recent killings in Juarez the state department had issued a milder travel alert, not a more serious warning regarding travel to Mexico and spring break safety in Mexico; that alert was upgraded to a warning on March 14. Excerpts from the US government's "Spring Break in Mexico: Know Before You Go!" are posted on page 2 of this article. For us, recent news all indicates that the possible danger in Mexico at spring break or any other time is not in the Mexico spring break paradises we want to visit." And the the current warning does not discourage us from traveling to Mexico for spring break because of safety concerns -- it notes that one should be careful along the US/Mexico border states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, plus the state of Durango... as always. If you're headed to resort towns (like Puerto Vallarta deeper within Mexico, you will, of course, be very far from the US/Mexico border.

The ATF bureau's Los Angeles field division is discouraging travel to Tijuana and Rosarito Beach, with officials saying that the area south of San Diego experiences much "drug-fueled violence," according to an AP report. Rosarito Beach, of course, is a main stop on the spring break trail, especially for Southern Californians.

What to Do About Spring Break in Mexico?

Ultimately, of course, you'll make your own decision regarding traveling to Mexico for spring break... if you go (and we are going ourselves in March, 2010 -- driving from the US to Mexico), do observe the usual safety travel protocol. We can tell you that we've been traveling in Mexico frequently when the US government issued travel alerts and warnings for that country, and we've always been perfectly safe -- however, though it is always important to follow basic travel safety rules when you're on the road, dangerous times abroad necessitate particular attention to safety. Since a travel warning has been issued for Mexico, consider registering with the US embassy in Mexico if it will ease your or your parents' mind(s). Learn more:

Please go on to the next page to read a typical communication from a campus last spring regarding safety in Mexico for spring break...

Mexico had a solution for the country's drug issues, or at least a start on a solution, but some politicians in the U.S. didn't like that solution and had a big hand in shooting it down:

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