As students prepare to depart for spring break, I want to take this opportunity to call attention to a travel alert issued on February 20 by the U.S. State Department. The alert notes that over 100,000 young Americans are expected to travel to resort areas throughout Mexico over spring break, and while the vast majority enjoy their vacation without incident, drug-fueled violence in the country has increased recently.
Though much of the violence has occurred in border towns, and tourists have generally not been targeted, there have been killings in the spring break resorts of Acapulco and Cancun as well. The State Department urges students traveling throughout Mexico to exercise common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where drug dealing might occur.
Specific safety tips include:
- Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member not traveling with you, and check with your cellular provider prior to departure to confirm that your cell phone is capable of roaming on GSM or 3G international networks.
- Do not display expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items.
- Standards of security, safety, and supervision may not reach the levels expected in the United States. This has contributed to deaths in automobile accidents, after falls from balconies or into unmarked ditches, by drowning in the ocean as well as in hotel pools, and in water-sports mishaps, among others.
- Mexican law can impose harsh penalties for violations that would be considered minor in the United States, and U.S. citizenship in no way exempts one from full prosecution under the Mexican criminal justice system. Alcohol is involved in the vast majority of arrests, accidents, violent crimes, rapes, and deaths suffered by American students on spring break. Disturbing the peace, lewd or indecent behavior, littering, driving under the influence, drinking on the street or on public transportation, using public transportation without payment, or making obscene or insulting remarks are all considered criminal activities by Mexican authorities.
- In case of a serious emergency, travelers should immediately contact the closest U.S. Consulate or the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. To reach the embassy from the United States call 011-52-55-5080-2000; to telephone within Mexico call 01-55-5080-2000. You may also contact the embassy by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The embassy's website is http://mexico.usembassy.gov/eng/main.html.
For more information on spring break in Mexico, visit the State Department website:
Spring Break in Mexico: "Know Before You Go"
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life