Mexico travel advisory urges USA citizens to avoid Mexican states

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The State Department Wednesday launched its new travel advisory system, which issued its highest-level warning for five Mexican states due to crime.

The advisories named five states on its level four warning, which is the most risky warning that can be issued.

A level three warning was issued to 11 other states in Mexico, asking travelers to reconsider travel plans.

Weeks after Mexico recorded its most murderous year on record, the United States urged its citizens not to visit five violence-plagued Mexican states, placing them in the same danger category as war-torn Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria.

Officials cite continued murder, kidnaping and carjacking related to gang activity as the primary reason for the warning.

Overall, the State Department gave Mexico a category 2 classification, meaning that USA citizens should "exercise increased caution", according to the Times.

"According to the updated travel advisory for Mexico and specific mentions for Mexican states and major cities, Mexico's major global tourist destinations have been explicitly listed as having no travel restrictions or they exist in states where there are no special travel advisories for tourists".

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State Department personnel are not allowed to travel west of Eje Vial Juan Gabriel, and south of Boulevard Zaragoza, where the Juarez airport is located, after dark. In the USA, it was five.

Clashes between rival drug gangs contributed to a record number of murders in Mexico past year, according to official data, dealing a fresh blow to President Enrique Pena Nieto's pledge to bring gang violence under control with presidential elections due in July 2018, the report said. Personal travel by land and to the resort city of Acapulco had already been prohibited.

Sinola, one of the states listed under the "do not travel" warning, saw increasing levels of crime and violence by gangs to claim control of the Sinola cartel, after the capture of its former boss Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and his extradition to the U.S. The state of Gurrero, according to the Guardian, became infamous after 434 students disappeared in 2014.

The state with second-highest homicide rate - 61.6 per 100,000 - was Baja California Sur, home to the twin resorts of Los Cabos. "This exception to tourism destinations highlights the fact that the vast majority of crimes in Mexico do not occur in areas frequented by global tourists", the board added.

"We are going to keep working very hard in 2018 to make sure that Los Cabos continues as a safe destination", said Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.

Earlier this week, Tourism Secretary Enrique De la Madrid said, "In my opinion, the most important challenge we have in the tourism sector are crime events occurring where they didn't before, for example in Cancun, la Paz and Los Cabos".

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