Mexico Risk Report
Security travel advice for Mexico
Threat level: Medium
The current travel safety advice for Mexico is to remain cautious and follow the travel advisories and warnings put into place by your local foreign office, especially when travelling to destinations which are not main tourist districts. There is a low threat of extremist terrorism unlike much of the western world, however there is a very high risk of other violent crimes.
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Recent Security Risk Events
It was reported that on Wednesday 23rd of February 2018, that there was a small explosion on board a ferry operated by Barcos Caribe, as it unloaded in Caribbean beach city of Playa del Carmen. A number of people were injured in this explosion including a number of Americans. No-one has claimed responsibility for this incident. A further development is that, undetonated explosives have since been found on (another?) ferry operated by Barcos Caribe that operated between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, both locations very popular vacation destinations for US tourists. Extreme caution is advised.
On the 16th of January 2017, five people were killed in a shooting at the BPM music festival which takes place in Playa Del Carmen. It is still uncertain who is behind these attacks, however 4 people have now been arrested by the Mexican authorities.
Two days later on January the 18th Three gunmen and a police officer died during a gun battle at a state prosecutor's office in Cancun. It is still uncertain as to whether or not these two attacks are linked or not but the attacks have spread panic in the Caribbean coastal city.
There are current travel advisories and it is advised extra caution and to defer all non-essential travel to the areas of: Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada and Mexicali, Cabo San Lucas and La Paz,Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua City, and Copper Canyon, Toluca and Teotihuacan, Guerrero (includes Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco, and Zihuatanejo).
Do not travel at night in these areas as there have been an increase in the homicide rates within these cities, with La Paz having most of these incidences. There have been numerous security related events in and around the surrounding areas of Acapulco.
In December 2016 there was a large explosion at Mexicos notorius San Pablito Market in Tultepec. The blast was caused by fireworks igniting in the market place causing a chain reaction of explosions. 29 people were killed.
International visitors have been the victims of violent crime within Mexico. This ranges from petty theft through to more serious murders, kidnappings, and car jackings by organised crime syndicates.
It is strongly advised you remain within the popular tourist destinations where the strict police presence is high and incidences are lower. Areas such as Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cozumel, and Los Cabos are popular destinations.
Females need to remain extra vigilant as the rate of sexual assaults are steadily increasing. It is advised females do not travel alone on public transport without taking extra security measures. There has also been an increase in organised crime led kidnappings for ransom.
A majority of business and some domestic visitors invest in their safety by contracting Close Protection Services for their stay. It is advised you lower your personal profile whilst staying in the country and do not display jewellery, cameras or wealth in public.
Areas of concern for robbery and extortion are adult entertainment establishments and gambling establishments; previous incidents have occurred in: Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit
There can be sporadic and unpredictable gun battles between rival groups or Mexican Authorities during both daytime and night time hours in public places, these have included vehicles being stolen and the creation of roadblocks set up by the criminal factions to prevent assistance from the public services.
There are demonstrations which can turn violent in Mexico, alongside this they can also heavily disrupt transportation links including airports and toll booths on the highways. It is advised that avoidance of such public protests are undertaken however do not leave the public highways as risk of further danger is present. It is illegal for international visitors to take part in political activities which can result in imprisonment or deportation.
Mexico has a low geopolitical risk, interacting well with its neighbours. There are some concerns over human rights, corruption and bribery within the country as well as scandals involving the political cabinet.
The country has a reasonably strong presence in major economic groups including the G7+5 which integrates the seven major advanced economies and the five leading emerging economies which includes Mexico and Brazil. The aim was to have a stronger group representing a wider array of countries to address items such as trade talks and issues of climate change.
Be extra vigilant on public transport and around travel hubs such as bus stations as theft is common place and there have been incidences of rape and full buses of travellers have been known to be hijacked. It is advised to use first class bus travel wherever possible as these journeys will stick to the main highways and safer routes. Robberies have occurred by unlicensed taxi drivers so please make sure you make your checks before entering any vehicle.
It is advised that you co-operate at all check points, including those that have been set up by criminal factions, as those who have failed to stop have been killed or abducted.
Religion: Roman Catholic
Time now in Mexico:
If your stay is under 180 days, you do not require a visa to enter Mexico if you are part of the 65 countries it admits freely.
You will need to carry your passport and additionally your birth certificate. You will need to apply for a tourist card upon entry to the country and subject to departure tax.
It is advised that visitors to Mexico are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
There have been confirmed cases of the Zika virus, Chikungunya fever and Dengue fever in Mexico and suitable precautions are advised. All three diseases are transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and although there is no vaccine at present, taking precautions against bites can prevent contraction in the first place.
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold. Ice should be avoided within refreshments purchased as it is not guaranteed to come from a clean water source.
U.S. Embassy Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma 305
06500 Mexico, D.F.
Telephone: +55 5080 2000
British Embassy Mexico City
Río Lerma, No. 71,
Col. Cuauhtémoc, CP. 06500
Telephone: +52 55 1670 3200
Other useful info
Information about emergencies: 060