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US State Department Updates Travel Alert On Mexico

The U.S. State Department continues to urge people who visit Mexico to exercise caution.

Traffic in the U.S. enters Mexico at the San Ysidro border crossing, the world's busiest, on June 27, 2008 in Tijuana, Mexico.
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Above: Traffic in the U.S. enters Mexico at the San Ysidro border crossing, the world's busiest, on June 27, 2008 in Tijuana, Mexico.

The State Department's updated travel alert for Mexico says even though tens of thousands of students, business people and tourists cross the land border safely every day, violence in the country has increased.

The alert repeats much of the information contained in an alert it replaces, issued six months ago. The revised version states that drug cartels are battling among themselves and with Mexican security forces to control drug smuggling routes along the U.S.-Mexico border. It advises that large drug cartel firefights occur mostly in northern Mexico, including Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez.

The updated alert omits Tijuana from a list of cities where there's been a notable spike in crimes including robberies, homicides and carjackings. However, the alert does still include northern Baja California on the list. That's where Tijuana is.

In addition, the revised update omits the clause, "Although the greatest increase of violence has occurred on the Mexican side of the U.S. border," at the beginning of a sentence warning U.S. citizens to exercise caution and be vigilant in unfamiliar areas in Mexico. Then the alert goes on to say, "Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana and Nogales are among the cities which have experienced public shootouts during daylight hours in shopping centers and other public venues. Criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Tijuana."

Baja California's Governor and Secretary of Tourism have strongly urged the U.S. State Department to ease up on Tijuana, saying the Department's alerts don't jibe with the realities of daily life in Baja Califorina and drain tourist dollars from the state. Tijuana's Mayor said last week he also plans to ask for changes to the document.

The State Department revises the travel alert twice a year. Travel alerts advise people of short term security conditions in a country. Travel warnings discuss long term conditions.

Mexico is one of five countries for which the State Department has issued travel alerts. The four others are India, Niger, Malaysia and the Philipines.

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