The U.S. State Department has updated its travel advisory for Mexico, which among other things strongly councils caution when traveling to Jalisco and includes dire warnings to stay away from five states: Colima, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Guerrero and Tamaulipas.
It sounds clear cut – if perhaps somewhat alarmist, seeing as the warnings applied to those five states effectively conflate the danger posed to travelers there with that of Syria and Yemen – but the advisory’s subsequent series of caveats may muddy the waters for some readers.
First of all, the new advisory has been divided into four color-coded tiers:
Number 1, colored blue and the least severe, reads “Exercise normal precautions.”
Number 2, in yellow, advises travelers to “Exercise increased caution.”
Number 3, darkening to orange, declares with a prudish click of the tongue to “Reconsider travel.”
Number 4, in crimson, states with grim finality “Do not travel.”
It is to this last category that the five aforementioned states belong, while Jalisco is filed under number three. Furthermore, half of Mexico’s 31 states now belong to either category three or four.
A potential area of confusion for those perusing the State Department’s website may consist of disentangling advisories to the general public from ones issued solely to government employees.
For instance, the “do not travel” status applied to tiny Colima state comes with the following caveat: “There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees’ travel along Route 200 from the Jalisco border to Manzanillo … There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees for stays in Manzanillo from Marina Puerto Santiago to Playa las Brisas.”
So, if government employees have been given the green light in Manzanillo, why has the entire state been considered persona non grata?
Meanwhile, the same “do not travel” status applies to the state of Michoacan, but not to its cities of Morelia or Lazaro Cardenas, where government employees are permitted to tread.
However, the State Department’s advisory for Guerrero is much less ambiguous, stating that “U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco.”
Our own state of Jalisco, labeled “reconsider travel,” contains a whole codex of caveats and guidelines for U.S. government employees, including permitting free circulation around Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Chapala and Ajijic. However, they’re barred from traveling near Jalisco’ s borders with both Michoacán and Zacatecas and from using Highway 80 between Cocula and La Huerta.
Other “reconsider travel” states include Chihuahua (which contains detailed prohibitions against government employees’ traveling in various of its cities, such as Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City), Coahuila, Durango, Estado de Mexico, Morelos, Nayarit (in which U.S. employees are limited to the Riviera, Santa Maria del Oro and Xalisco), Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sonora and Zacatecas.
Not a single state falls under the “exercise normal precautions” category, while Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Guanajuato,Hidalgo, CDMX, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, Tabasco,Tlaxcala, Veracruz and Yucatan are all crammed together under the number two “exercise increased caution” category, one shared by Mexico as a whole.
It is telling that, while boasting the country’s second highest murder rate, Baja California Sur (which includes Los Cabos, extremely popular with U.S. tourists) has maintained its position at number two. According to The New York Times, despite recent increases in violence, tourism in Los Cabos rose by about 16 percent last year.