Re-think Mexico spring break

By Alison Kim

With Spring Break coming up, a number of Universities across the U.S. including Winona State University, Penn State and Notre Dame have brought to their students’ attention the State Department’s travel alert issued for Mexico on Feb. 20.
Robberies, homicides, petty thefts and carjackings have all increased over the last year in a number of the border cities. The spike in violence is most notabicable in Ciudad Juarez, where Mexican authorities report that more than 1,800 people were killed in the city during 2008.
While much of the violence is concentrated near the U.S. border, on Feb. 10, Mexican troops swooped in on police headquarters in the resort town of Cancun. The police chief and 36 other officers have been detained for possible connections with the murder last week of an ex-army general.
Despite a general increase in violence in recent years, millions of American teens and young adults travel to Mexico each year to vacation.

The Mexican government continues to encourage tourism. Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said in an interview with the Associated Press, “There is no major risk for students coming into Mexico in general terms. It is always important to advise the youngsters to behave.”

Guillermo Medina Benitez ’11, who is from Mexico City said, “I personally wouldn’t cancel a trip to the region, I actually considered visiting Cancun for this spring break but for other reasons it didn’t happen.”
According to the U.S. State Department, common-sense precautions such as avoiding areas where prostitution and drug dealing might occur can help ensure your safety.
Not surprisingly, the majority of people with plans to go to Cancun do not feel deterred by the violent conflicts occurring throughout the country, even as they encroach on tourist spots.
“Cancun has always been one of our most popular destinations and that hasn’t changed this year,” said Patrick Evans of STA Travel, one of the biggest spring break agencies.