The U.S. State Department now considers five Mexican states just as violent as Syria and Somalia. A new travel advisory system details “do not travel” warnings for parts of Mexico and urges Americans to “reconsider” trips to Central America's Northern Triangle states of El Salvador, Gautemala and Honduras.
“When we tell people not to travel to a certain area because of crime, we're talking about widespread violent or organized crime present in certain areas of a country which then can result in local law enforcement having limited ability to respond to those crimes,” says State Department spokeswoman Ashley Garrigus.
Garrigus insists the information is not new, but more detailed than previous advisories.
“For Colima State, it says violent crime and gang activitiy are widespread, but it also mentions that U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to certain places within that area as well,” she says.
She urges all Americans planning trips abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, citing its benefits during last year's hurricanes in the Caribbean.
“Even if phone lines were down we knew that a large number of U.S. citizens were staying in a certain area at a certain hotel, we can send someone there to check on their well being,” says Garrigus.
The new warnings came the same week temporary protected status was terminated for roughly 210,000 Salvadorans living in the southern U.S.