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by Michael Webster Investigative reporter
Friday, Oct. 17, 2008 at 8:30 PM
firstname.lastname@example.org 949 494-7121
The new travel alert up-date says “that while millions of U.S. Citizens safely visit Mexico each year, including thousands who cross the land border every day for study, tourism or business, increased levels of violence make it imperative that travelers understand the risks of travel to Mexico
U.S. issues new travel alert to Mexico but no recommendation to avoid Mexico
BY MICHAEL WEBSTER: INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER Oct 16, 2008 2:00 PM PDT
The new travel alert only updates security information for U.S. citizens traveling and living in Mexico. It replaces the Travel Alert for Mexico dated April 14, 2008, and expires on April 14, 2009. However it does not up-grade the travel alert to higher status as many believe it should. If the conditions that prevail in Mexico today was happening anywhere else in the world the highest travel alert would have already been issued. I reported last April by asking the questions “why the U.S. Government has not issued a new travel warning or even an up-grade on its existing alert? Now the U.S has up-graded again.
The question still is why not raise the alert to a warning status and protect Americans and warn them to not travel to Mexico. At least until some or all the violence stops and it is safe again to travel in Mexico. Many travelers believe if this same thing was happening in any other country there would be a warning not to travel issued. Why not Mexico?
That is the question why not? Mexico is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world. And it is our neighbor to the south with a population of over 100 million people.
Even the U.S. Military ban its personal from visiting Mexico because of the increasing violence there. U.S. Army posts along or near the U.S. Mexican border according to officials, say they've discontinued issuing passes to soldiers who want to travel across the border to Mexico. “If it’s not safe for U.S. Soldiers, than it is unsafe for other Americans. Said, John Lutes, who was born in El Paso and served in the military.
The new travel alert up-date says “that while millions of U.S. Citizens safely visit Mexico each year, including thousands who cross the land border every day for study, tourism or business, increased levels of violence make it imperative that travelers understand the risks of travel to Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and whom to contact if one is a victim of crime.
Common-sense precautions, such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas, avoiding areas where prostitution and drug dealing might occur, and exercising prudence in where one visits during the evening hours and at night, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.”
Violence along the U.S. - Mexico border is increasing Mexican drug cartels are engaged in an increasingly violent fight for control of narcotics trafficking routes along the U.S. - Mexico border in an apparent response to the Government of Mexico’s initiatives to crack down on narco-trafficking organizations.
In order to combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed over 45,000 military troops in various parts of the country. These Mexican troops are manning road blocks and check points all over the country. The U.S. tells citizens they should cooperate fully with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways. The problem with that is bandits and other criminals are also setting up road blocks and so called check points through out Mexico and are wearing full or partial police or military uniforms and are using vehicles that resemble police or military vehicles, so how is someone even a national much less an American tell which is which.
That is the problem you can’t. And that is one reason Americans should avoid Mexico.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs says “Violent criminal activity fueled by a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade continues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Attacks are aimed primarily at members of drug trafficking organizations, Mexican police forces, criminal justice officials, and journalists. However, foreign visitors and residents, including Americans, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in the border region.
Americans in Mexico are falling victim to armed robberies and carjackings. This new type of Mexican Violence has increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped, held hostage and killed by their captors in Mexico and many cases remain unsolved. Moreover, new cases of disappearances and kidnap-for-ransom continue to be reported.
From Brownsville Texas to San Diego California the State Department has alerted Americans of the dangers of crossing the border.
Google or click on: Why not a Warning for Mexico travel or at least an up-grade to the existing alert?
In other cases Mexican cartels through their enforcers of Mexican and American gangs order smaller American gangs to kidnap and in some cases murder Americans.
"U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk posed by the deteriorating security situation, along the border" said a statement issued in Mexico City and Washington. "Violent criminal activity, including murder and kidnapping, in Mexico's northern border region has increased."
New cases of disappearances and kidnap-for-ransom continue to be reported. No one can be considered immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors. Criminals have been known to follow and harass U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles including motors homes and travel trailers, particularly in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Reynosa, Juarez, Mexicali, Tijuana and most all border towns.
Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007. Google or click on: Americans Being Kidnapped, Held and killed in Mexico
The new as the old alert goes on to say “Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily-armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades.
Confrontations have taken place in numerous towns and cities in northern Mexico, including Tijuana in the Mexican state of Baja California, and Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua. The situation in northern Mexico remains very fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements there cannot be predicted”. Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas in many Mexican border towns. Over 5,000 people have been murdered in Mexico so far this year. That figure is more than has been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
The new alert goes on to report that a number of areas along the border are experiencing rapid growth in the rates of many types of crime. More than 1,600 cars were reportedly stolen in Ciudad Juarez in the month of July 2008, and bank robberies there are up dramatically. Rates for robberies, homicides, petty thefts, and carjackings have all increased over the last year across Mexico generally, with notable spikes in Tijuana and northern Baja California. Cuidad Juarez, Tijuana, Palomas and Nogales are among the cities which have recently 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, Tijuana, and along Route 15 between Nogales and Hermosillo.
A very dangerous situation is playing out in Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana and other Mexican border towns and has become a special concern for U.S. citizens. A recent series of muggings near the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez has targeted applicants for U.S. visas. Visa and other service seekers visiting the Consulate are encouraged to not carry cash and to make provisions to pay for those services with something other than cash.
Mexican authorities are reporting that more than 1,000 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez this year alone. U.S. citizens should pay close attention to their surroundings while traveling in Ciudad Juarez, avoid isolated locations during late night and early morning hours, and remain alert to news reports. U.S. citizens are urged to be alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles.
While the largest increase in violence has occurred near the U.S. border, U.S. citizens traveling elsewhere in Mexico should also exercise caution in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Mexican and foreign bystanders have been injured or killed in some violent attacks, demonstrating the heightened risk in public places.
In recent years, dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped across Mexico and many cases remain unresolved. U.S. citizens who believe they are being targeted for kidnapping or other crimes should notify Mexican officials and the nearest American consulate or the Embassy as soon as possible. U.S. citizens should make every attempt to travel on main roads during daylight hours, particularly the toll (“cuota”) roads, which are generally more secure. U.S. citizens are encouraged to stay in well-known tourist destinations and tourist areas of the cities with more adequate security, and provide an itinerary to a friend or family member not traveling with them.
U.S. citizens should avoid traveling alone, and should carry a GSM-enabled cell phone that functions internationally. Refrain from displaying expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items.
Criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles, particularly in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Juarez and Tijuana.
Though State Department officials updated the travel alert for Mexico, they did not upgrade it to a more serious "travel warning," which is reserved for long-term conditions, officials said.
Even though many Mexican cities on the U.S. Border and elsewhere in Mexico are under siege, the question is why not. Mexico is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world. And it is our neighbor to the south with a population nearing 100 million people.
Our government admits Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. How are American travelers expected to be able to distinguish between the real Mexican army at the road blocks and the criminals?
Americans are targeted by Mexican bandits and other Mexican criminals because they are American and are believed to have money with them”.
The State department says if you do become a victim of crime while your in Mexico and remember this is after the fact are urged to contact the consular section of the nearest U.S. consulate or Embassy for advice and assistance.
23 year old American from El Paso Kyle Mostello Belanger- Believed Missing in Juarez Mexico
Born in Tenn. 23 year old American from El Paso Kyle Mostello Belanger- believed missing in Juarez Mexico. Close friends and relatives believe he was a soldier for the El Paso Barrio Azteca gang. The real question here, was Kyle kidnapped taken to Juarez and murdered as some believe.
According to the U.S. State Department “Travel Warnings” are issued when the State Department decides, based on all relevant information, to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Countries such as some middle eastern where avoidance of travel is recommended will have Travel Warnings as well as Country Specific Information. No such travel warning is in place for the country of Mexico.
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