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US travel warning on Mexico is more precise on violent areas

By Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. State Department has issued an updated travel warning for tourists planning to visit Mexico, adding information on drug violence on a state-by-state and city-by-city basis.

The new, more detailed warning comes in response to concerns expressed by Mexico tourism officials, who worried that previous travel warnings scared off U.S. tourists by generalized about the threat of crime violence in Mexico.

“The Mexico Tourism Board has long advocated for travel advisories which abide by three key tenets: context, clarity and specificity,” said Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, chief operating officer for the Mexico Tourism Board. “The revised U.S. State Department travel advisory regarding Mexico adheres to these principles and should serve as model for the rest of the world.”

The latest warning notes that 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico between Dec. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2011. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico jumped from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011.

But the travel warning says tourist destinations are typically not the center of narco-traffic violence.

The previous U.S. travel warning on Mexico, issued last April, mentioned several states where violence could pose a threat to tourists and generally warned them to stay clear of the northern states bordering the U.S.

In contrast, the travel warning issued Wednesday describes the recent drug-related violence in several individual states and cities.

For example, for the state of Aguascalientes, the warning says: “You should defer non-essential travel to the areas of the state that border the state of Zacatecas. The security situation along the Zacatecas border continues to be unstable and gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur. Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival (transnational criminal organizations) involving automatic weapons.”

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