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DPS Renews Warning Against Spring Break Trips to Mexico

UPDATED: The Texas Department of Public Safety today renewed a warning that cautions Texas students against traveling to Mexico. The break begins next week for most of the state’s schools.

National pride was in abundance at the Mexican independence day festival at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin, Texas. The holiday celebrates Mexico's war of independence from Spain in 1810.

Update, 4:20 p.m.: Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S. this afternoon issued a statement condemning the Texas Department of Public Safety’s travel alert.

“Mexico strongly disagrees with the assessment made by Texan officials regarding travel to Mexico in general,”  said Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan. “As their number one trading partner and largest export market, Mexico believes Texas should be able to more objectively evaluate facts, providing nuance and context, and in doing so, dispel the notion that their motivation is a clear-cut political agenda.”

Original story:

The Texas Department of Public Safety is again warning Texas students to avoid traveling to Mexico during spring break, which begins next week for most of the state’s schools.

In its advisory, similar to the one issued in 2011, the department warns that despite the Mexican government’s progress in its battles against organized crime there, violence has spread even to resort areas once thought safe.

“The situation in Mexico today is significantly different than it was just a decade ago,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a prepared statement. “Many crimes against Americans in Mexico go unpunished, and we have a responsibility to inform the public about safety and travel risks and threats. Based on the unpredictable nature of cartel violence and other criminal elements, we are urging individuals to avoid travel to Mexico at this time.”

The warning includes statistics on violence to further discourage travel: 12,903 narcotics-related homicides were reported in the first nine months of 2011, and 120 U.S. citizens were reported murdered in 2011, compared with 35 in 2007. The advisory also said that U.S. citizens have fallen victim to transnational criminal activity, including kidnapping and carjacking, and that rape and sexual assaults are ongoing problems in resort areas.

“Some bars and nightclubs, especially in resort cities such as Cancun, Acapulco, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, and Tijuana can be havens for drug dealers and petty criminals,” the warning says.

The DPS warning comes about a month after the U.S. State Department updated its travel warning for the country, naming 14 out of that country’s 31 states that should be avoided. They include all four states that border Texas: Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Nuevo León and Coahuila. The updated warning is so sweeping that The Washington Post reported last month that "a visitor who wants to drive from the United States to Mexico City has no viable route that would be in accord with the U.S. guidelines.”

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