The U.S. State Department has just issued its most recent advisory for U.S. citizens contemplating travel to Baja California, prompting an angry response from Tijuana mayor Carlos Bustamante.
The advisory, issued on Friday, July 12, paints a relatively alarming picture of travel in Mexico, and has this specifically to say about Baja California:
“Baja California (north): Tijuana, Ensenada and Mexicali are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Baja California…. You should exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night. There were 278 homicides in Tijuana from January to June 2013. Mexicali’s murder rate has climbed from 14.3 per 100,000 in 2011 to 15.8 per 100,000 in 2012.
“In the majority of these cases, the killings appeared to be targeted TCO (Transnational Criminal Organizations) assassinations. Turf battles between criminal groups resulted in some assassinations in areas of Tijuana and Mexicali frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours."
In an interview published in El Sol de Tijuana on July 16, Mayor Bustamante, without saying who, said he had been advised before the alert was issued to not let it bother him.
"How can this not bother me, because it is not Tijuana's fault, it is the fault of the deportacións of you who are cleaning out your prisons," the mayor said.
According to data provided by the Tijuana’s secretary of public safety, between January and June, 7000 people have been deported to Tijuana from U.S. prisons, El Sol reported. Many of the deportees end up being re-arrested in Tijuana for murder and drug-trafficking, while others are held for U.S. authorities on still-outstanding warrants in the U.S.
It's easy, said the mayor, for U.S. authorities to blame Tijuana for a problem the U.S. let loose on the city.