Is it Safe to Travel to Mexico?
According to the U.S. Department of State, Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
It attracted 21.3 million international tourists in 2010, making it the tenth-most popular international destination in terms of arrivals.
Further, approximately 10 million Americans visit Mexico each year.
But is it safe to travel to Mexico?
On February 8, 2012, the U.S. Department of State issued a new statement regarding its travel advisory to Americans:
“Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. 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.”
The warning pulls no punches in describing some of the extreme dangers that befall Americans traveling in some parts of Mexico:
“According to the most recent homicide figures published by the Mexican government, 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico between December 1, 2006 and September 30, 2011, with 12,903 narcotics-related homicides in the first nine months of 2011 alone. While most of those killed in narcotics-related violence have been members of TCOs, innocent persons have also been killed. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico increased from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011.”
You’re more likely to die driving your car than visiting Mexico’s resort areas.
However, a quick scan of the report and a peek at a map of the United Mexican States, reveals that most of the trouble occurs primarily in states that border the U.S. Consider the Department’s statements regarding Baja California:
“Baja California (north): Tijuana is a major city/travel destination in the Northern portion of Baja California: You should exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night. Targeted TCO assassinations continue to take place in Baja California. 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 U.S. citizen was shot and seriously wounded. According to the Government of Mexico, as of August 2011, the city’s murder rate was approximately 20 per 100,000. During 2011, 34 U.S. citizens were the victims of homicide in the state. In the majority of these cases, the killings appeared to be related to narcotics trafficking.
Baja California (South): Cabo San Lucas is a major city/travel destination in the Southern portion of Baja California: No advisory is in effect.”
As you can see, travel to Tijuana come with a warning, where travel to Cabo San Lucas bears “no advisory”.
When you look at the facts, it would seem that you are more likely to die driving in your automobile than you are visiting one of the beautiful resort areas of Mexico.
I don’t know about you, but we’ve got our eyes on a visit to Cabo San Lucas.
What are your thoughts about travel safety in Mexico? Share your comments below.
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I’m curious to hear what people have to say about Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita. All indications suggest that these are safe areas to travel, but it’s hard to know for sure from afar! Any expats out there with the inside track?
Molly, here’s this from the report:
Jalisco Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta are the major cities/travel destinations in Jalisco: You should defer non-essential travel to areas of the state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas. You should also exercise caution when traveling at night outside of cities in the remaining portions of this state. The security situation along the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders 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 TCOs involving automatic weapons.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for coming by, and by all means, pull up a chair and stay a while. 🙂
Want Mexico ? Come to AZ or CA
We partly agree with your comment. We live in Scottsdale. However, there are no beautiful beaches here. My wife requires a frequent dose of beach time. 😀
There are a surprising number of beaches in the US of A
Is the city of Oaxaca, Mexico a relatively safe destination ?
Here’s this from the report:
Oaxaca: Oaxaca, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are the major cities/travel destinations in Oaxaca: No warning is in effect.
I just realized that I had left out the link to the newest State Department report on travel to Mexico. 😯
Here’s the link: https://1.usa.gov/zkZVGi.
This will answer your questions about where it’s safe, and where most of the trouble seems to be concentrated.
might be interesting to note that the US military does not allow their personnel to travel to Mexico.
About 2 in 100,000 Americans are killed in Mexico. Far less than the US national rate. I’m not sure how many of those are linked with the drug trade, but I suspect a good chunk. Most of Mexico’s states are not on the warning. New Orleans has three times the murder rate as Mexico as a whole (about 50 per 100K vs 18 per 100K), and far far far more than a place like Cabo, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta or Oaxaca, where Malia Obama just spent spring break.
DC is has more homicides than Mexico City per capita. And the most dangerous city Juarez, if you read up, is seeing less violence. If the rate of murders continues at the rate of the past four months, it will be safer than New Orleans, which sees 8.5 million visitors and hosts next year’s Super Bowl.
The military, on vacation in Mexico, are safer there on average!
I got most of these facts from the FBI site, as well as articles in CNN and BBC.
Mexico is the most misunderstood country in the world.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your two cents. It’s an honor! 🙂
We agree, Mexico is completely misunderstood.
Lots of changes to the safety of travel in Mexico since 2012! Maybe an update for 2020?