Pubdate: Sat, 19 Apr 2008
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 San Antonio Express-News
Bookmark: (Mexico)


Bloodshed is bad for the tourism industry.

Mexico is heading for its third straight year of more than 2,000 
drug-related deaths -- casualty figures usually associated with war.

Then again, both sides -- the drug cartels and the law enforcement 
officials -- would say this is war, and the proof is on the streets 
of border towns such as Ciudad Juarez, where federal troops have been 
deployed to battle the narco traffickers.

The violence has led the U.S. State Department to issue a travel 
alert for Mexico, with emphasis on Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros.

Although officials said the alert should not be interpreted as a 
suggestion to avoid traveling to Mexico, the threat of violence is 
genuine, and travelers must take it into consideration.

"The purpose of this travel alert is to give them information they 
should have about the situation so that they can make better 
decisions and take necessary precautions," Todd Huizinga, the public 
affairs officer for the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey, told the 

President Felipe Calderon is waging an aggressive campaign against 
the cartels, but the challenge is enormous. The drug lords are 
powerful enemies. Their activities are abetted by corrupt law 
enforcement officials. And every deployment of troops is met by a 
similar deployment of criminals, more amorphous, perhaps, but no less powerful.

In Cuidad Juarez alone, more than 250 people have died in 
narcotics-related incidents. Most of the victims have been cartel 
members, police officers or journalists. But the danger of spillover 
is always there; hence the travel alert.

"The situation in northern Mexico remains very fluid; the location 
and timing of future armed engagements there cannot be predicted," 
the alert stated.

Tourists should not be paralyzed by fear, but neither should they be 
guided by imprudence. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake