U.S. issues travel warning to Mexico
Monday, March 15, 2010
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- All Americans are being told to stay stateside and out of six border cities after at least 50 people were killed in drug violence over the weekend.The travel warning comes not only as Spring Break gets underway, but a lot of people are planning to go to Mexico to be with their families for Holy Week. By car or by bus, even by plane, most of those we've talked to Monday planning to travel to Mexico have some reservations about going. It's tough they say to escape the images of all the bloodshed they've seen in recent days. Inside the Mexican Consulate Monday, the lines are long and the concerns great. "It does concern me. I don't want to go you know. I worry about it," said Geovanni Lugo. He works nearby as a parking attendant and says much of his mother's family is still in Nuevo Leon. He says they live in fear. "If you don't give them the ten percent of what you have, they'll kill your family," said Lugo. A travel warning has been issued for tourists along border cities. Nearly 50 people were killed this weekend in apparent gang violence. In Ciudad Juarez, suspected drug gang hit men ambushed cars carrying a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband. Their infant daughter in the backseat was the sole survivor. Dependants of U.S. government employees living near the border have now been ordered to return to the states. "I don't think it will get better anytime soon," said Ligia Canto. She says she ran away from Mexico eight years ago, leaving behind her entire family. The violence even then she says was too much. Too many of her loved ones have already been victims. "They have been kidnapped, mugged, cans in their homes, taken their cars. Oh yes, I'm worried," said Canto. Consular officials Monday would not comment on the violence. But businesses that depend upon safe travel to Mexico say it's already taking a toll right here. Mario Torres manages a business that helps folks get the papers necessary to drive legally across the border into Mexico. He says they actually are advising people not to drive into Mexico unless they have to. Violent weekend leads to travel warning Three people with ties to the U.S. Consulate were murdered just across the Texas-Mexico border. A mother and her husband were shot and killed in Ciudad Juarez with their baby in the car. Attacks against American government employees in Mexico are rare, and the latest one has outraged President Barack Obama. It has been a particularly violent weekend in Mexico. While some of the dead are involved in Mexico's drug trade, two of victims are a married couple just trying to go back home to Texas. The latest victims in Mexico's violence are a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband. Lesley Enriquez and Arthur Redelfs were shot to death as they drove from Ciudad Juarez to their El Paso Texas home. Their six -month-old baby daughter was in the back seat, but survived the attack. "I think it sends a signal for everybody that life on the border can be very dangerous," said Professor Mark Jones, Chair of Rice University Department of Political Science. It is unclear if the couple was targeted or became caught in some kind of cartel cross-fire, but Mexico's drug war appears to be targeting some political officials. The mayor of the border city of Ciudad Juarez received a note attached to a pig's head. "It's certainly a turning point that the mayor of a major city in Mexico is now being threatened in a very intimidating way with the kind of symbolism a pig's head represents," said Professor Mario Payan, UTEP Department of Political Science. Following the recent killings, the State Department has authorized the departure of all dependents from its diplomatic posts along the U.S. border. A travel warning has also been issued for tourists during one of Mexico's biggest travel seasons, especially for the border cities. Professor Jones explained where the warning may have the greatest impact. "For Texans and Houstonians, the biggest area of concern this is raising is going across the border to Matamoras if you are going to South Padre Island, Jones said. It has been a particularly bloody weekend in Mexico where 50 have been killed in apparent drug-gang violence, nine of them in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco. President Obama expressed outrage over the killings, while Mexican President Felipe Calderon promised a swift investigation. Despite Mexico's efforts to diffuse the violence by deploying military troops throughout the country, innocent victims are still being killed. "In the short term, the efforts of the Mexican government to crack down on the drug cartels are weakening the drug cartels, but at the same time increasing the level of violence in the country," said Jones. U.S. citizens are urged to be alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. In some cases, criminals have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and used vehicles that resemble police vehicles.
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