FACTS ABOUT MEXICO -
The TRUTH ABOUT THE U.S. TRAVEL

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WARNING AGAINST MEXICO

The TRUTH about the U.S. Travel Warning against Mexico

FIRST…MEXICO IS SAFE FOR AMERICAN TOURISTS!
Yes, there is violence in Mexico if you travel to the wrong areas, JUST AS THERE IS VIOLENCE IN THE U.S. if you travel to the wrong areas. Are you afraid to go to New Orleans or Washington DC? Did you know that these cities are more dangerous then Mexico? Do not travel to Mexico, or anywhere else, having left your common sense at home.

FACT…the violence in Mexico is specifically related to drug cartels and is NOT targeting U.S. citizens!


FACT…Mexico is a friendly ally to the U.S. Mexico is one of the SAFEST country’s an American can visit! In fact, Mexico is safer than many U.S. cities and the major tourist areas within Mexico are safer than most major U.S. cities.

CAUTION: US-Mexico Tourism Alliance cautions Americans to beware of U.S. media stories when they sensationalize and “spin” crime stories regarding Mexico. Most mature, well-traveled Americans will be the first to point out that the U.S. media is perhaps the least accurate and most bias in the world. We all remember when the U.S. media wrongly blamed Mexico for the Swine Flu (H1N1), as just one example.

CAUTION: Travelers should use common sense whenever traveling regardless of WHERE they travel. For example, when traveling within the U.S., you should exercise caution when traveling off the main tourist paths. Would you travel to Los Angeles then wander into the gang violence areas? When traveling to Mexico, travel to the major tourist areas such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, Acapulco, Mazatlan, Cozumel, Manzanilla, Puerto Penasco, Isla Mujeres, Mexico City, etc. and travel to these beautiful, safe destinations by air. Again, do not travel to Mexico, or anywhere else, having left your common sense at home. Unless you are looking for trouble or engaging in illegal activity, you should be as safe in Mexico as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Washington DC, etc.

The following information is taken from an August 2011 76-page brief prepared by the US-Mexico Tourism Alliance President (Craig Morganson) and presented to the U.S. Government. It contains accurate research and articulates compelling arguments against the U.S. Travel Warning for Mexico.


Government-Issued Travel Warnings against Mexico
How they are biased, unnecessary, inaccurate and contradict policy.
How these unnecessary warnings negatively impact Nevada businesses, national businesses and the U.S. Economy.
(A brief by US-Mexico Tourism Alliance, August 2011)

  1. Introduction

    Travel and Tourism is one of the largest industries within the U.S. It generates nearly $1.3 trillion in economic output for the U.S. economy each year. U.S. travel and tourism industries support more than 8.2 million American jobs. Travel and tourism exports account for 24% of U.S. service exports and 8% of all U.S. exports. In the U.S., tourism is either the first, second or third largest employer in 29 states. The U.S. enjoys a $21.1 billion travel/tourism balance of trade surplus. Mexico is the number ONE vacation destination for U.S. citizens, generating hundreds of millions in revenues for travel and tourism business throughout the U.S. The Travel Warnings against Mexico have caused U.S. businesses to experience significant reductions in revenues. This revenue is often the deciding factor in keeping the doors open for many Nevada and U.S. businesses.

    The United States issued a series of Travel Warnings against Mexico, including on March 15, 2010, September 10, 2010, and on April 22, 2011. According to the April 22, 2011 Travel Warning, the reason for the Warning is to “inform U.S. Citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico”. The Travel Warning goes on to claim “While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.” Unfortunately, and at great expense to the U.S. economy, these statements are inflammatory.

    The purpose of this document, and its references, are to demonstrate the biased nature of this Travel Warning, to expose the inaccurate and inflammatory statements incorporated within the Warning language and to demonstrate the Travel Warning does not comply with the State Department’s guidelines regarding the issuance of Travel Warnings.

    Furthermore, this document will demonstrate the serious negative impact this Travel Warning has on U.S. Tourism, U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy, as well as a possible negative impact to the Travel Promotion Act.


  2. Mexico
    Mexico is populated by mostly kind, warm, generous and passive people. This is one of the big attractions for travel to Mexico. The Mexican people are very family orientated and religious. They are a passive people, which perhaps make them an easy target. In fact, attacking Mexico seems to be a favorite pastime for U.S. media, despite much worse dangers throughout the world. However, good relations with Mexico are critical to the U.S. economy. Below are just some of the many important facts regarding Mexico.

    Mexico is the number ONE vacation destination for U.S. citizens with approximately 20 million visitors annually. Reasons for travel to Mexico include the warm, friendly people of Mexico, the beauty, culture and history, not to mention the strength of the U.S. dollar. In fact, it is more economical to vacation in Mexico than many domestic options, making it the only feasible vacation option for many Americans during a bad U.S. economy.

    U.S. relations with Mexico have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans--whether the issue is trade and economic reform, homeland security, drug control, migration, or the environment. The U.S. and Mexico are partners in NAFTA, and enjoy a broad and expanding trade relationship. Since the first North American Leaders’ Summit in 2005, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have been cooperating more closely on a trilateral basis to improve North American competitiveness, ensure the safety of our citizens, and promote clean energy and a healthy environment.

    The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations goes far beyond diplomatic and official contacts; it entails extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, as demonstrated by the annual figure of about a million legal border crossings a day. In addition, a million American citizens live in Mexico. More than 18,000 companies with U.S. investment have operations there, and the U.S. accounts for more than 40% of all foreign direct investment in Mexico.

    Mexico is an active and constructive member of the World Trade Organization, the G-20, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Mexican Government and many businesses support a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

    Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner. Top U.S. exports to Mexico include electronic equipment, motor vehicle parts, and chemicals. These exports generate revenue that is critical to U.S. companies and the U.S. economy.

    Fruit and vegetable exports from Mexico have increased dramatically in recent years, exceeding $4.7 billion to the United States alone in 2009. If not for this import, U.S. citizens would pay higher prices for its fruits and vegetables.

    In 2009, Mexico was the world's seventh-largest producer of crude oil, and the second-largest supplier of oil to the U.S.

    Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Mexico for 2009 was $14.4 billion, down 51% from the previous year. The U.S. was once again the largest foreign investor in Mexico, accounting for 45% ($6.4 billion FDI from the U.S.) of reported FDI. The economic slowdown in the U.S. in 2008 and 2009 caused a significant decline in this figure. The Mexican Government estimate of FDI for 2010 is $15 billion to $20 billion.

    (Source: US Dept of Commerce, US Dept of State)
  3. What Warrants a Travel Warning?
    1. The public-facing document “Current Travel Warnings” (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html), which lists EVERY area with a U.S. issued Travel Warning, reads:
      “Travel Warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff. The countries listed below meet those criteria.”
      1. The criteria of “long-term, protracted conditions” cannot be justified against Mexico’s sporadic increases in violence.
      2. The statement “…that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country” does not apply to Mexico. The entire “country” of Mexico is NOT impacted. Violence is limited to specific areas, and not major tourist destinations.
      3. The criteria of “…due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff” does not apply to Mexico. No embassy or consulate has closed Mexico due to these reasons.
      4. The “Current Travel Warnings” document includes a list of EVERY area where the U.S. has issued a Travel Warning. These areas are noted below:

        Haiti, Pakistan, Syria, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Republic of South Sudan, Israel (the West Bank and Gaza), Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Philippines, Burundi, Yemen, Syria, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Mali, Eritrea, Nepal, Kenya, Somalia, Chad, Guinea, Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
        NOTE: In reviewing these areas, there is a large disparity between our friendly neighbor (Mexico) and these other areas. In fact, this discrepancy is so extreme the blatancy of it needs no explanation.
        NOTE: Additionally, when viewing the listing for Israel, the warning clarifies (within the listing) its limitation to “(the West Bank and Gaza)”, however, the listing for Mexico is not clarified, despite the fact that the violence is limited to specific areas. This leaves the reader to unfairly assume the entire country of Mexico is dangerous. In many cases, this “Current Travel Warnings” document will be the only document a reader will read when making a decision not to travel to Mexico.
    2. Travel Warnings are issued pursuant to the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 - Consular Affairs (referred to as “7 FAM”)
      1. 7 FAM outlines a variety of methods utilized to disseminate information. These methods include, among others, Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts (more severe than Country Specific Information), Travel Warnings (more severe than Country Specific Information and Travel Alerts), and Worldwide Cautions (more severe than Country Specific, Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings)
      2. 7 FAM provides that “The Consular Information Program” informs U.S. Citizens/Nationals of potential threats to their health or safety abroad. The Consular Information Program also outlines how Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, Worldwide Cautions, and Fact Sheets are disseminated within the United States and abroad
      3. Section 7 FAM 053 (“053”) partially outlines the procedures for issuance of Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts. 053 states that:
        1. The Bureau of Consular Affairs is responsible for the issuance of Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Worldwide Cautions on behalf of the Department of State. The Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs is responsible for supervising and managing the travel information program. The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Overseas Citizens Services has primary day-to-day supervisory responsibility for the program. The Department requires all posts, regional bureaus, and appropriate functional bureaus to cooperate fully in this activity.
        2. Within the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the Directorate of Overseas Citizens Services (CA/OCS) is responsible for the day-to-day management and issuance of travel information, including coordinating the preparation of all Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, Worldwide Cautions, and Fact Sheets before their release. (1 FAM 255 c.)
        3. CA/OCS reviews the need for a Travel Warning when information comes to its attention indicating a situation that may warrant deferral of travel to a particular country or major parts of it. Requests for issuance of a Travel Warning may also originate from a post or from elsewhere within U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 - Consular Affairs 7 FAM 050 Page 5 of 16 the Department. In addition, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Office of Counter-Terrorism (S/CT), and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) inform the Director of CA/OCS of conditions warranting inclusion in a Country Specific Information or that may necessitate a Travel Warning or Travel Alert. Other U.S. Government agencies may also contribute to this process. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency have contributed greatly to Consular Information Program documents related to certain health hazards
        4. Clearances:
          1. a. All Country Specific Information are cleared by the affected regional bureau and the Bureau of Public Affairs (PA).
          2. b. Travel Warnings must be cleared with a Deputy Assistant Secretary or higher in the affected regional bureaus.
          3. c. All Travel Warnings are cleared by PA and the office of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (P).
          4. d. Travel Warnings related to security threats are also cleared by DS, S/CT, and INL.

          NOTE: Without specific knowledge as to what agencies are pushing the Travel Warnings against Mexico, we can only eliminate the obvious unlikely possibilities. For example, S/CT, INR, as well as the Centers for Disease Control/Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency. This leaves us with the obvious… “Bureau of Diplomatic Security” and “Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)”. There are also other agencies that may have input.

          NOTE: Regardless, the CA/OCS, in cooperation with whatever agencies it may consult with, has decided to issue and maintain a Travel Warning against Mexico, the justification of which escapes virtually everyone in the travel and tourism industry.
      4. 7 FAM 053.2-1 reads: “If a threat evaluated as credible, specific, and non-counterable is aimed at a broad group (e.g., U.S. citizens or interests, generally), the Department may issue a Travel Alert or Travel Warning and may authorize the relevant posts to issue an Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens.”
        NOTE: With regard to the Mexico threat being “credible, specific, and non-counterable aimed at a broad group (e.g., U.S. citizens or interests, generally)”, it is NOT. In fact, there’s no evidence that U.S. citizens are being targeted, or U.S. interests. In fact, the language within the Mexico Travel Warning itself includes several statements to the contrary, including “There is no evidence that U.S. tourists have been targeted by criminal elements due to their citizenship”. “Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year.” “Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.” These statements, among other inconsistencies suggest that Mexico should not have a Travel Warning, but instead have information regarding TCO activity within its “Country Specific Information”. The fact is the TCO violence is an internal problem within Mexico, similar to gang violence within many U.S. cities. Just as gang violence should not cause a Travel Warning against the entire U.S. state in which that small section resides, nor should the entire country of Mexico be issued a Travel Warning for violence within a specific area.
      5. 7 FAM 056 TRAVEL WARNINGS reads:
        “Travel Warnings recommend that U.S. citizens defer or reconsider travel to a country due to a protracted situation that is dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 - Consular Affairs 7 FAM 050 Page 10 of 16 assist U.S. citizens is constrained due to a drawdown or closure at an embassy or consulate, even if the underlying condition is thought to be of limited duration. A Travel Warning must be issued whenever a post goes to authorized or ordered departure status.”
        NOTE: The TCO violence within Mexico cannot be defined as “a protracted situation that is dangerous or unstable”. The TCO violence is sporadic and not protracted, or long-drawn-out, or prolonged. Additionally, the U.S. Government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens is NOT constrained due to a drawdown or closure at an embassy or consulate. Furthermore, no post within Mexico has gone to an authorized or ordered departure status.
    3. After careful review, it appears as though the situation in Mexico does not rise to the level of a Travel Warning, but instead is more appropriately addressed within the “COUNTRY SPECIFIC INFORMATION” document (7 FAM 054). Particularly when considering how the U.S. has already secured the attention of the entire world with respect to Mexico. The Country Specific Information document allows specific information to be disclosed pertaining to the risks when traveling to the respective area. 7 FAM 054 reads as follows:
      “Summary: The Department, through the Bureau of Consular Affairs, issues Country Specific Information for every country in the world. These provide basic information to enable a traveler to make an informed decision concerning travel to a particular country. For instance, Country Specific Information describes entry and exit requirements, road safety, crime information, areas of instability, aviation safety oversight and customs information, among other things, and it contains the address and telephone number of the U.S. embassy and consulate. CA works with posts to update Country Specific Information at least bi-annually. We use these as a vital resource that contains up-to-date information for those traveling or living abroad. Besides changes in circumstances unique to your consular district, there are periodic changes to information that pertains to all posts.”
  4. What Is The Motive Behind The Travel Warning Against Mexico?
    1. Security: This does not hold true when comparing the crime statistics within Mexico to other areas that do not have Travel Warnings (see sections 5 and 6). Also, when considering the actual violence against innocent U.S. citizens, not involved in illicit activities, it does not add up. Additionally, there is evidence that many of the weapons being used by the TCOs are actually acquired illegally from the U.S., therefore there appears to be other options available to the U.S. to more effectively assist Mexico. Leveraging a Travel Warning is not appropriate
    2. Economic: This cannot be true unless an epic misjudgment has been made. However, is it possible that somewhere in the Administration, there is a belief that less travel to Mexico (the number one destination for U.S. citizens) means more domestic travel and/or a boost to the U.S. economy? Perhaps the “Overseas Security and Advisory Council” (OSAC) has recommended the Travel Warning as a miscalculated “method to protect the competitiveness of American businesses operating worldwide”? The actual results of the Travel Warning continue to demonstrate the opposite affect.
    3. Drugs: This should not be the case, as it is not an accurate application of the concept of a Travel Warning. However, perhaps tourism to Mexico is being leveraged against Mexico to extort more efforts on Mexico’s part to control the U.S. drug problem. This would be misguided, as it is the U.S. demand for drugs that drives the supply, and our inability to stop the drugs from crossing the borders that finances the TCOs. Regardless of what opinion you hold, to leverage tourism against Mexico is an inappropriate use of the Travel Warning and is at great expense to the U.S. economy, our friends in Mexico and the global economy as well. The Travel Warning continues to deprive Mexico of income and tax revenue from tourism. The war against the cartels is expensive and with a diminished tax base Mexico is forced to fight the U.S. drug war with fewer resources.
    4. Regardless of its good intentions, if allowed to continue, the impact of the Travel Warning will have irreversible effects on U.S. businesses and Mexico. Whatever benefits the Travel Warning contemplated, its negative impact far outweighs its benefits, and will be difficult to reverse unless we act NOW. A more appropriate precautionary information use is dissemination through the “Country Specific Information”.
  5. The Truth About Mexico Crime Compared To Other Destinations
    1. Officially, 111 U.S. citizens were killed in Mexico in 2010. Research shows that almost all of the violence in Mexico is drug related and on the borders away from tourist destinations. Many of these deaths were the result of involvement in illicit activities. This is 111 out of close to 20 million visitors, with another one million being a part-time or full-time resident choosing Mexico over the U.S. “Of all the Americans killed in Mexico in 2010, over a third of them were limited to the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana”. (Source: US Dept of State; US-Mexico Tourism Alliance; Travel.booklocker.com)
    2. Top Vacation Destinations for Americans:
      (Source: US Dept of State; US Dept of Commerce; CHNpress.com)
      1. Mexico (19.3 million visitors annually)
      2. Canada (15 million)
      3. U.K. (3.69 million)
      4. France (2.41 million)
      5. Italy (1.92 million)
      6. China (1.81 million)
      7. Germany (1.75 million
      8. Jamaica (1.26 million)
      9. Japan (1.07 million)
      10. Bahamas (1.01 million)
      NOTE: Except for Mexico, the other nine countries do not have Travel Warnings despite some of them having higher homicide rates.(Source: US Dept of State)
    3. List of homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants for the Top Vacation Destinations for Americans:
      (Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)
    4. American citizens murdered outside the US in 2010:
      In 2010 there were 14 foreign countries where 3 or more U.S. citizens were murdered. Travel Warnings were not issued on 8 of the 14 countries.
      (Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, US Dept of State)

      14 foreign countries where 3 or more U.S. citizens were murdered:
      (Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; US Dept of State)

      List of homicide rate (from highest to lowest) per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010 in those 14 foreign countries:

      (Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; US Dept of State)

    5. NOTES:
      • Of the 8 countries with a higher murder rate than Mexico, 6 of them have no Travel Warning, despite the fact that U.S. citizens traveling to these countries is a fraction of the U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico.
      • Of the 14 countries, Costa Rica is much more dangerous than Mexico, yet has no Travel Warning. In fact, when considering the number of U.S. citizens traveling to Costa Rica against its U.S. citizen tourist murder rate, this area is more than twice as dangerous than Mexico (0.00148% of U.S. citizens traveling there were murdered versus Mexico’s lower rate of 0.00058%). This is only one of numerous examples. Additionally, many of the U.S. citizens murdered in Mexico were involved in illicit activities.
      • Of the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants in those 14 foreign countries, Mexico is only number 9.
      • Of the 14 countries, Mexico by far has more American citizens traveling to it.(Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; US Dept of State)
      • Of the 8 countries with higher murder rates than Mexico and no Travel Warning, 4 of them have more than triple the murder rate of Mexico and 2 of them have more double.
    6. When comparing Mexico to other countries in specific criminal activity, the results show Mexico is SAFER. The below statistics are per 100,000 inhabitants.(Sources: National Security Council 2009, International Source: Nation Master/ CIA, Population: CONAPO 2009, National Average = Media Nacional. Unreported Crime Percentage should be considered when comparing to Western Europe, USA, Canada and Japan)
      Kidnapping
      • Canada: 8.67
      • South Africa: 6.22
      • U.K: 5.55
      • Peru: 1.69
      • Mexico: 1.2
      • Chile: 0.44
      • Japan: 0.16
      Rape
      • South Africa: 120
      • Australia: 78
      • Canada: 73
      • USA: 30
      • Spain: 14
      • France: 14
      • Mexico: 14
      • Venezuela: 12
      • Chile: 8
      Assault
      • South Africa: 1,200
      • USA: 757
      • Canada: 712
      • Chile: 332
      • Spain: 224
      • Mexico: 170
      • Colombia: 59
      • Japan: 34
      • India: 22
      Car Theft
      • Australia: 692
      • USA: 387
      • Spain: 334
      • Japan: 243
      • Mexico: 185
      • Colombia: 77
    7. U.S. Crime Compared to Mexico:
      (Sources: FBI.gov, US Dept of State, USA Today, Mexican Government Statistics; Citizens’ Institute for Crime Studies; Mexico’s Public Safety Secretariat; tucsoncitizen.com, Mexican National Public Security System and Council 2009)
      1. New Orleans is the most deadly city in the U.S. with 52-64 murders per 100,000 populations (depending on the source). When considering the overreaching nature of the Travel Warning, the impact is similar to NOT visiting Miami because of the violence in New Orleans. Cabo San Lucas is about the same distance from the Mexican violence as Miami is from New Orleans. Cabo San Lucas is located within Baja California (an area listed in the Travel Warning).
      2. After New Orleans (a tourist destination), we can compare the remaining top 10, which include Detroit (40.00), St. Louis (40.35), Baltimore (36.99), Newark (29.02), Oakland (25.97), Washington D.C. (24, our Country’s Capital and a major tourist destination) , Buffalo (22), Kansas City (21) and Cleveland (20). These numbers are just a few of the many U.S. cities with much higher murder rates than most Mexico cities and are far more dangerous than the country of Mexico’s murder rate of 15 per 100,000 populations.
      3. Washington DC is our Nation’s Capital and a major tourist destination and the ninth worse neighborhood in the U.S. Washington DC is a more dangerous place as far as murder rates go than the entire country of Mexico. Washington’s murder rate is 24.0 per 100,000 people (Mexico is 15). Mexico’s City’s murder rate is only 8 per 100,000 people. Furthermore, when comparing the murder rate between Washington DC and Baja California (an area listed in the Travel Warning) we find that Baja California is rated at only 14 per 100,000 people. Based on these numbers, we can conclude that Baja California is safer than Washington DC, and many other cities within the U.S.
      4. Jalisco (another area listed in the Travel Warning) has a murder rate of only 12 per 100,000 people. This makes Jalisco another state safer than many U.S. cities.
      5. Mexican Tourists murdered in the United States (no stats available at time of research). According to the FBI, 360 murders of other races (non-Caucasian and non-African American), including Mexicans, were murdered in the United States in 2009. This is over 3-times the number of U.S. Tourists murdered in Mexico in 2010.
      6. We have single cities within the U.S. that have more murders each year than there are deaths of U.S. citizens from all causes within the entire country of Mexico.
  6. Additonal Statistics and Relevent Information

    1. 111 “reported” deaths are just a fraction of the estimated 15 to 20 million Americans who annually visit Mexico. (Source: US Dept of State; Mexidata.info)
    2. Homicide rates vary throughout Mexico. So does drug cartel violence. Mexico’s northern states have a lot of drug violence precisely because that’s where the drugs are moved into the United States. (Source: US Dept of State; Mexidata.info)
    3. “According to available indicators, Mexico as a country has a general level of 15 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, making it one of the safest countries in Latin America”. (Source: World Health Organization; TheCatalist.org)
    4. Levels in Brazil and Venezuela have crime rates as high as 31 and 44.9 deaths per 100,000 populations, respectively. Brazil and Venezuela are two and almost three times more violent than Mexico, respectively. There are no Travel Warnings to Brazil and Venezuela. (Source: World Health Organization; TheCatalist.org)
    5. The MSAs for Boston, Las Vegas and Orlando show over 111+ murders in one year recently. Are tourists afraid of going to those places? Should we warn them? (Source: FBI.gov,Travel.Booklocker.com)
    6. For 2010, MSNBC put the number of Americans killed in Mexico at 106. The Houston Chronicle says 111 deaths. Regardless, there are approximately 45 murders in the USA every single day.
    7. According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the number of people being stuck by lightning in the U.S. (both injured and killed) ranges from 280 (the number reported) and 400 (estimated since not all injuries are reported). It seems that more Americans are struck by lightning than are killed in Mexico. In fact, the chance of being involved in a violent act in Mexico is less than half that of being struck by lightning and more unlikely than winning Powerball.
    8. Warnings to Americans about travel to Mexico are "ludicrous and misinformed," according to Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, chief operating officer of Mexico's Board of Tourism. “Lopez Negrete said he also wants to work with the US Department of State on government warnings that he said are too general. 22 million tourists visit Mexico each year and it is the No. 1 destination for vacationing Americans outside the U.S.”.
      (Source: Mexican Tourism Board; Stuff.co.nz)
    9. The Mexican Tourism Board is spending millions on ads to promote tourism because nearly half of all available rooms in 70 major resort centers in Mexico have been vacant this year due to US issued Travel Warnings to Mexico. In Acapulco, the occupancy rate at major resorts slid 7 percentage points to 38.4 percent last year. Cancun's rate tumbled to 57.4 percent from 72.1 percent, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Maya have seen similar declines.
      (Source: US Dept of State; Mexican Tourism Board; Hotelier.typepad.com)
    10. “If enough Americans choose not to visit Mexico it could result in major losses of revenue for the Mexican tourism industry, which provides jobs for several million Mexicans. Even if Mexico suddenly became safer, it could take years to live down its image. The media is portraying the whole country of Mexico is an anarchic shooting gallery, 24 hours a day, seven days a week”.
      (Source: US Dept of State; Mexidata.info)
  7. Inappropriate Travel Warning Language (not a complete list):
    (Source: US Dept of State)

    When issuing a Travel Warning against Mexico, the number ONE vacation destination for U.S. citizens, we would expect this would happen ONLY after very careful consideration, and when absolutely necessary to issue such a warning, and that the language within the Travel Warning would be carefully worded as not to mislead the readers or otherwise impact areas the country not impacted by the alleged violence. In addition to our opinion that the Travel Warning against Mexico is not justified, when reading through the language within the Travel Warning, we find many statements to be ambiguous and overreaching. Below are several examples of this language.
    1. “The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. Citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico”.

      NOTE: The term “security situation” is used repeatedly throughout the Travel Warning, however, while this sounds very serious, there is no specific quantification of this term. The term “security situation” implies there is a serious situation related to the “security” of U.S. citizens throughout Mexico. In fact, there is not a U.S. citizen security throughout Mexico. There is a crime rate in Mexico, largely LOWER then U.S. crime rates, and there are crimes related to drug trafficking, as there are within the U.S., but nothing that rises to a “security” risk greater than, or even equal to many U.S. cities
    2. “While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.”

      NOTE: The term “serious risks for U.S. citizens” is inflammatory and not quantified. In fact, the crime rates within Mexico, including the U.S. citizen deaths cited within the Travel Warning do not rise to the level of posing “serious risks for U.S. citizens”. Particularly when compared to other countries without Travel Warnings, the crime statistics within the U.S., the fact that many of the U.S. citizens murdered within Mexico were involved in illicit activities, and the enormous volume of U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico and residing within Mexico.
    3. “TCOs, meanwhile, engage in a wide-range of criminal activities that can directly impact U.S. citizens, including kidnapping, armed car-jacking, and extortion that can directly impact U.S.citizens.”

      NOTE: The term “can directly impact U.S. citizens” is misleading. It implies that kidnapping, armed car jacking and extortion is running rampant within Mexico, and specifically against U.S. citizens. The fact is, unless you’re involved with drugs, it is highly unlikely that you will find yourself in one of these situations. However, within the U.S., you may have a greater likelihood of being a victim of crime as an innocent tourist. Additionally, while crimes such as “kidnapping” are very serious and alarming, the actual rate of kidnappings per 100,000 inhabitants within Mexico is only 1.2, which ranks it #5 after Canada (#1 at 8.67), South Africa (#2 at 6.22), U.K. (#3 at 5.55) and Peru (#4 at 1.69).
    4. “While security concerns are particularly acute in the northern border region, you should be aware of situations that could affect your safety in other parts of Mexico.”

      NOTE: While the Travel Warning accurately presents certain data (e.g. dangers within Tijuana, which has ALWAYS been a dangerous area), this is yet another example of how the warning INCORRECTLY and UNJUSTLY references the entire country of Mexico.
    5. Sinaloa and Southern Sonora
      1. “In the last year, the city of Mazatlan has experienced a level of violence, primarily confrontations between TCOs, not seen before. In 2010 there were over 300 narcotics-related murders within the city, compared to fewer than 100 in 2009. You are encouraged to visit Mazatlan during daylight hours and limit the time you spend outside tourist centers. Exercise caution during late night and early morning hours when most violent crimes occur.”

    6. NOTE: Absent within this statement is that none of the “300 narcotics-related murders” were U.S. citizens.
      1. “U.S. government employees are required to use armored vehicles and may only travel in daylight hours”.

      NOTE: While this may be a matter of policy, it is inflammatory and leads the reader to assume the worst. In the event this disclosure is intended to comply with the “No Double Standard” policy, prefacing this statement with clarifying language would be less prejudice, such as “Under the U.S. No Double Standard policy we are required to notify you when a change in security policy regarding U.S. government employees has been implemented. As such, please be advised that…”.
    7. Nayarit and Jalisco
      “Official U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to Colotlan, Jalisco, and Yahualica, Jalisco, both near the Zacatecas border, because of an increasingly volatile security situation”.

      NOTE: While this may be a matter of policy, it is inflammatory and leads the reader to assume the worst. Furthermore, the statement “volatile security situation” is not defined. In the event this disclosure is intended to comply with the “No Double Standard” policy, prefacing this statement with clarifying language would be less prejudice, such as “Under the U.S. No Double Standard policy we are required to notify you when a change in security policy regarding U.S. government employees has been implemented. As such, please be advised that…”.

      “Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival TCOs involving automatic weapons. You should defer non-essential travel to these cities. In addition, the border areas between Jalisco state and the states of Zacatecas and Michoacán, as well as in or near the cities of Tepic and Xalisco, Nayarit have been sites of violence and crime involving TCOs. You should exercise extreme caution when traveling in these areas.”

      NOTE: The state of “Jalisco” is large, which includes major tourist destinations such as Puerto Vallarta. When making broad statements regarding an entire State, this leaves the reader to believe that areas such as Puerto Vallarta are not safe. This is not true. This language is grossly negligent. Although there may have been violence within the state of “Jalisco”, this violence is far removed from the tourist locations within that state and there is no evidence of violence against an innocent U.S. citizen. Furthermore, the statement “volatile security situation” is not defined.
    8. Guerrero and Morelos
      “Downtown Acapulco and surrounding areas have seen a significant increase in narcotics-related violence in the last year. Incidents have included daylight gunfights and murders of law enforcement personnel and some have resulted in the deaths of innocent bystanders. Due to the unpredictable nature of this violence, you should exercise extreme caution when visiting downtown Acapulco. To reduce risks, tourists should not visit the downtown area at night and should remain in clearly identifiable tourist areas”.

      NOTE: There is no evidence of violence against innocent U.S. citizens. Also, the Travel Warning document does not define “significant increase” which is a loose term and not measurable. Furthermore, there are daily “gunfights”, among much worse crimes, including much higher crime rates in many U.S. tourist locations.

  8. Conclusion and Recap

    1. The situation within Mexico does not warrant a Travel Warning. In fact, when reviewing the State Department’s criteria for issuing Travel Warnings, it is clear that the risks within Mexico should be downgraded from a Travel Warning to information disclosed within the Country Specific Information document (7 FAM 054).
    2. The long-term economic damage caused by the U.S. Travel Warning against Mexico is greater than the benefits derived from the Warning. The State Department can accomplish both objectives by issuing details within its “Country Specific Information”, thereby properly cautioning U.S. citizens regarding specific areas and risks, while not injuring important economic balances, which is the result of the more serious nature of a “Travel Warning”. In fact, while the U.S. Travel Warning has been detrimental to the U.S. economy, the Mexico economy, and countless U.S. businesses, there is no evidence it has saved one U.S. citizen’s life.
    3. The U.S. has a responsibility to the safety of its citizens. Also, the U.S. has a responsibility to manage its messaging to U.S. citizens in a manner that will maximize their protection and safety while minimizing the impact on the U.S. travel, trade and development. Travel Warnings, particularly against countries such as Mexico where the economic backlash is severe, must be issued only when we can demonstrate that the desired precautionary message cannot be accomplished through a less economically damaging disclosure, such as a Country Specific Information document. Additionally, in the event a Travel Warning is issued, a measure of urgency must be placed on its removal/downgrade equivalent to its economic impact.
    4. Furthermore, and per policy, Travel Warnings should not be issued unless the cause of the volatile situation is non-counterable (in addition to other criteria). When considering Mexico, and considering how the U.S. is responsible for the drug demand, and to some extent responsible for permitting the trafficking into and throughout the United States, and to some extent for arming the TCOs with weapons obtained from the U.S., was the situation in Mexico “non-counterable”? Furthermore, when considering the loss in U.S. tax revenue from the economic impact of the Mexico Travel Warning, could those monies have been utilized to help “counter” these issues?
    5. Travel Warnings should never be issued as “leverage” against any country in an effort to extort specific cooperation and/or resource management.
    6. The Travel Warning continues to deprive Mexico of income and tax revenue from tourism. The war against the cartels is expensive and with a diminished tax base Mexico is forced to fight the U.S. drug war with fewer resources. In the end, the TCOs win; therefore, the Travel Warning is effectively assisting the TCOs and hindering Mexico’s ability to counter them.
    7. Thousands of U.S. businesses rely heavily on Mexico. The Travel Warning against Mexico is having a significant negative impact on Nevada businesses, businesses throughout the U.S. and the US economy as a whole.
    8. In July of 2011, of the 182 Nevada businesses identified as providing travel to Mexico, 111 had recently gone out of business as a result of the government Travel Warnings and 7 companies no longer provide travel to Mexico for the same reason. These remaining companies are distressed by the impact of these Warnings and are seeking to have these Warnings removed
    9. Travel to Mexico is critical to the U.S. economy covering many sectors of business, including exports, imports and travel/tourism. In fact, considering the devaluation of the U.S. dollar globally, Mexico is one of the few destinations many American families can afford to travel to today. In many cases, it is more affordable than domestic travel.
    10. Mexico is the number ONE vacation destination for Americans with nearly 20 Million Americans visiting Mexico safely annually.
    11. Violence in Mexico is mostly confined to specific border areas NOT tourist areas. Travel to Mexico is safer than travel to many cities within the U.S. Additionally, Mexico is safer than the U.S. in virtually every form of crime (as illustrated in section 5.c).
    12. Travel to Mexico is critical to the economic recovery of the U.S.
    13. There is no doubt that cautionary Travel Advisories have a major negative impact on aviation, travel and tourism flows, as well as on ancillary elements such as insurance. However, since the source of a Travel Warning is Government, it is perceived as being more accurate and severe than media reports. The very existence of a Travel Warning can blow problems out of proportion and often tip the balance towards consumer fear of travel rather than consumer protection (for example where a security threat is isolated in one part of a country but the perception is developed that travel to the whole country, or even to the neighboring region, is unsafe). In the case of the Mexico Travel Warning, it has created a media frenzy that “spins” every story. The Administration has an obligation to balance this back to the intended result…caution U.S. citizens with accurate, actionable and non-ambiguous information. Since the entire world has heard the U.S. message, this can now be further accomplished through the information disclosed within the Country Specific Information document (7 FAM 054).

  9. Desired Action
    1. Downgrade the disclosure of information regarding the violence within Mexico FROM a Travel Warning TO disclosures within the Country Specific Information document (7 FAM 054).
    2. Reword the language within the warnings against Mexico to be more specific as to the effected areas (e.g. whenever a state is referenced, indicate the distance from a major tourist area, etc.).
    3. While it is clear that Mexico has violent crime issues, and in some instances these crimes are more violent than some U.S. cities, there are mitigating circumstances that contribute to this, some of which can be arguably caused by the U.S. Therefore, strengthen the U.S. war on drugs to be more effective, including without limitation:
      1. - Reduction of demand.
      2. - Border Patrol.
      3. - Reduction of illegal weapons to TCOs.
      4. - Strengthened alliance with the Mexico government, as well as U.S. and Mexico business entities.
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