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The chief of the Mexico Tourism Board, Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, disputed today what he says are “exceptionally aggressive” travel warnings for Mexico. "To paint Mexico with such a massively broad brush stroke is simply outrageous." said Lopez-Negrete.

On Tuesday, the Texas State Department of Public Safety warned spring-breakers to avoid travel to Mexico. The warning includes Tijuana among several resort cities in the list of places that are “havens for drug dealers and petty criminals." The release includes info from the U.S. State Department warning that was issued last month on travel to Mexico.

Lopez-Negrete went on to state that crime is isolated for the most part to the Rio Grande areas in northern Mexico and the Ciudad Juarez area. "Those pockets where this violence is taking place are very well identified," Lopez-Negrete said during his visit to Texas last week. "This is totally unrelated to tourism. This is not about attacking tourists."

Last month, 22 tourists were robbed near Puerto Vallarta during a cruise-sponsored sightseeing trip. Reportedly a group of masked gunmen robbed the tourists at gunpoint on the bus they were traveling in. Recent developments indicate it may have been an isolated heist that was set up by the bus driver and a fellow conspirator.

Even though Tijuana was included in both travel warnings, the city has seen an uptick in local tourism. Restaurants, bars, and clubs that have had shuttered doors in recent years are steadily opening back up.

You can read the full Texas DPS and US State Department warnings below.

http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/public_information/pr030612.pdf?loc=interstitialskip

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5665.html

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Whether or not that stick-up of tourists from a cruise ship was a setup or not, it broke some rules that existed on the "Mexican Riviera" for years or decades. That was that, regardless of what went on in Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan or Cabo in regards to local crime, the cruise passengers were off-limits. The locals understood that, the state cops understood that, and the "federales" also understood. Now not even they can protect the shore excursioners, and this is only the most recent example of the breakdown in Mexico. It also explains why both Holland-America and Carnival are pulling their ships off those week long cruises at the end of this season. San Diego is losing its mainstays of cruise departures and arrivals, ironically just after it expanded the pier facilities with that glass box at the end of Broadway Pier, spending $28 million to do so.

This is not just a case of irrational alarmism; the US and its tourists have been most tolerant of the Mexican street crime problems, the kidnappings, and the banditry. But all the patience have not led to things getting better. It just gets worse by the month and year. When that country can get its own territory under control, it will get its tourists back. For the time being, staying away is the smartest thing to do.

March 7, 2012

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