State Dept. Issues Travel Advisory For 5 Mexican States

The State Department has a new travel advisory system for ranking countries’ safety levels

United States Department warns US travelers to avoid five Mexican states which, like nations such as Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, are considered "very dangerous" for Americans.

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.

"Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime. violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread", it said.

The border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Sonora as well as Durango, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi are the ones that have been placed under level-3 warnings, FOX 5 reported.

The State Department has created a color-coded map of Mexico that breaks down each state with warnings specific to those areas.

While not addressing the latest warnings directly, the government's Mexico Tourism Board said in a statement that "Mexico's major worldwide tourism destinations have been explicitly listed as having no travel restrictions", apparently a reference to major resorts like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco.

USA travelers were also warned to avoid unnecessary trips to the Central American nation of Guatemala due to the high criminal violence, sexual assault, armed robbery and gang-related offenses.

US personnel had previously been allowed to fly to Ixtapa, the last place in Guerrero where they had been allowed to go. At least two resorts - Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Acapulco - were in Gurrero.

The no-travel states had mostly already lost much foreign tourism. Michoacan was so dominated by a drug cartel that vigilantes took up arms in 2013 to drive them out.

Clashes between rival drug gangs contributed to a record number of murders in Mexico previous 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.

The U.S. government did note its employees are allowed to go to the seaside city of Manzanillo, Colima. The highest homicide rate in Mexico is in Colima due to the growth of a new cartel, where there are 83.3 killings per 100,000 people. "This exception to tourism destinations highlights the fact that the vast majority of crimes in Mexico do not occur in areas frequented by worldwide tourists", the board added.

"We are encouraged, and this underscores our belief that Los Cabos is safe and secure", said Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.

"I'm guessing they are breathing a sigh of relief", he said.

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