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US renews Mexico travel warning over fears of escalating violence

A month before release of final figures, 2016 set to be most violent year of Peña Nieto’s time in office

The United States government has issued an updated travel warning to its citizens who are planning to go to Mexico, noting that US nationals “have been the victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states.”

Soldiers training in Mexico.
Soldiers training in Mexico.

In one sense, the warning is little more than a formality. It is regularly updated for Mexico as it is for 20 other countries, and the US State Department notes “the extensive effort to counter criminal organizations that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico,” as well as efforts to ensure safety at major tourist destinations.

However, US authorities also warn of the dangers of a country caught up in a decade-long drug war, noting that “gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place on streets and in public places during broad daylight.”

There were 29,000 murders in Mexico from January to September 2016

As a result, US citizens have also been urged to defer non-essential travel to locations including parts of the states of Chihuahua and Colima, and a handful of cities in Mexico State as well as most of Michoacán, Guerrero, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.

The following states are not subject to any specific US travel warnings: Campeche, Chiapas, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Puebla, Queretaro, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, Veracruz and Yucatan.

The US travel warning comes against a backdrop of rising violence in Mexico, with 29,000 murders registered in the country in the year to the end of September. Of those murders, 16,749 were assassinations. If that trend continues for the rest of the year, 2016 will be the most violent 12 months since Mexico’s embattled President Enrique Peña Nieto came to office in 2016.

The US warning notes Mexico’s extensive effort to counter criminal organizations

A UCLA study published in January said the rise in the number of homicides in Mexico from 2000 to 2010 has reduced the average life expectancy of its citizens.

According to the study, life expectancy among men who live in the north, the most violent part of the country, had fallen by three years over the period.

Mexico continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Recently, police in Mexico’s Gulf Coast state of Veracruz said 14 criminal suspects had been killed in a gun battle with a patrol of Mexican marines.

English version by George Mills.

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