State releases safety cautions for traveling inside Mexico

Allie Kolechta

Although English freshman Sasha Henry’s cousin is getting married in Monterrey during spring break, she is afraid of crossing the border into Mexico because of a recent upswing in violence and a warning from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The Texas DPS issued a warning earlier this month against traveling to Mexico for spring break — the fifth warning the department has issued since last spring break. According to the warning, there has been a general increase in drug-related violence since Christmas, as well as the assassinations of a missionary in Tamaulipas, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in Torreón and two El Paso teens in Juárez. As many as 65 Americans were killed in Mexico in 2010, the warning said.

Henry said she tried to convince her mother not to go and forwarded her the DPS warning to help her argument. Her family went to Monterrey last July and took many precautionary safety measures, she said.

“My family said we couldn’t go downtown alone unless one of our male family members came with us,” she said. “It’s dangerous. You couldn’t travel by night; the streets were dead by 6 p.m. I hear now that in Monterrey, crime isn’t just happening at night; it’s happening during the day.”

The family plans to go by a nonstop bus that will only travel during the day and will not sightsee. They will not take their cars because of the dangers of having a Texas license plate, Henry said.

“It’s not a safe thing to go to Mexico at this point,” she said. “It’s the saddest thing to have my cousins in Mexico say, ‘Please come.’ They know it’s dangerous and our safety is a concern, but it’s hard when you have family there.”

According to the warning, Falcon Lake is also an area to avoid because cartel activity remains high in the area. Mexico continues to face criminal offenses, including kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery and carjacking, according to the warning. The DPS issued the warning to call attention to dangers in Mexico many don’t know of, said DPS spokesperson Tela Mange.

“We want people to be aware of things going on that they might not be aware of,” she said. “This year with all the things going on recently, we wanted to warn people that it’s not safe.”

People should always check the DPS website before traveling to any country to get the most up-to-date safety and security information, Mange said.

Tourist towns such as Cabo San Lucas and Cozumel are not as threatening as cities close to and in Northern Mexico, said undeclared sophomore Jorge Gubera. Gubera plans to travel to Cabo with two friends from high school during the break. He also traveled to Cozumel for spring break in 2009. According to the warning, crime also exists in popular resort areas.

“I try not to think about [the warning]. It’s kind of scary,” he said. “I’m not too worried about it though because [Cabo San Lucas] is a tourist town.”