“Like Mexico, there are not two,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said recently, praising the country’s rich landscape and culture. And as he is right, but not only for this reason: it is not easy to find such beautiful places in the world where violence makes them impassable. Heaven is not always recommended, no matter how holy the current week. To have a detailed map of those places, roads, tourist destinations, magical towns and world heritage cities where it is better not to set foot, the recommendations that the United States gives to its citizens and officials are undoubtedly useful. In five out of 32 states, they directly recommend against travel; in 11 cases, they ask them to reconsider visitation plans if they had made them; in 14 that extreme precautions are taken and only two, Campeche and Yucatán, seem to offer a serene journey, with the usual precautions for tourism or foreign visits.
Once-golden destinations for America’s most glamorous, like Acapulco, are now off limits for safety reasons. Mexicans in the capital still flock to the pearl of Guerrero when they have days off, but they know it’s not even safe to take a taxi, let alone at night. That the bullets left dead on the beaches once the fruit of the exotic desire of half the world. Zihuatanejo or Ixtapa, two destinations very popular with Mexicans and foreigners, are not spared in the American document: Pacific beaches that have only a few.
Also in Guerrero, the magical city of Taxco, one of the state’s jewels, is designated as difficult to access and certain roads are recommended to enter it, such as the federal road 95-D which passes through Cuernavaca and Morelos. Kidnappings for ransom are common on many highways in Mexico, so check the map. There are other magical towns, such as San Sebastián del Oeste, a rural beauty between green mountains, on the border of Nayarit, where it is common to see the SUVs of drug-related criminals speeding along the paved roads and dirt roads. Reason why it is not recommended to use route 544 between Mascota and San Sebastián.
Michoacán is one of the Mexican states that brings together the greatest tourist interest. It has lakes and beaches, history and monumentality, not to mention the countryside where the avocados and lemons Americans love grow. But it is also one of the most divisive destinations. The violence there does not stop. If you have to go there, which you shouldn’t, according to the US Embassy, travel is limited to certain areas: the capital, for example, and by marked routes, or by air. Even the monarch butterfly reserve, which nests in cones on trees in one of the world’s most awe-inspiring displays, isn’t free of restrictions. The most beautiful rural areas are sometimes the most dangerous because organized crime uses them for their merchandise or to clear them in search of plantations that are more profitable to them.
There are, however, other paradises which, despite the violence they have suffered lately, keep an entrance open, even with all the precautions. This is the case of the Caribbean or Baja California, places where you hear almost more spoken English than Spanish or Chinese. “Criminal activity and violence can happen anywhere, anytime, including in popular tourist destinations. Travelers should maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid areas where illicit activity occurs, and quickly move away from potentially dangerous situations.
“Without targeting tourists, shootings between rival gangs have killed or injured innocent bystanders. In addition, US citizens have been victims of violent and non-violent crimes in tourist and non-tourist areas. Although no travel restrictions are imposed, “U.S. government employees are advised to exercise extra caution after dark in downtown Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and stay on the streets well-lit pedestrian areas and tourist areas”.
Generally, the most touristy destinations are spared the conflict that devastates Mexico through and through, but there are times when crime rages unceremoniously with the large sums of money that tourism leaves behind in this country. In Quintana Roo, where beaches stretch to luxury hotels, there are fears that the sound of bullets could end up rotting one of the most popular areas for tourism.
Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo and La Paz in Baja California Sur are also free of restrictions on public servants, which must also be helpful to ordinary citizens.
Baja California has the Sea of Cortez on its inland side, which it shares with Sinaloa, also with beautiful beaches. It is recommended not to travel to this state due to crimes and kidnappings. Access to Mazatlán, one of the favorite destinations, is only recommended by air and sea and with limited enclaves such as the Golden Zone or the Historic Center. The same thing happens with Los Mochis and Topolobampo. Direct routes, nothing to lose on adventurous side roads.
Oaxaca, perhaps one of the entities that offers the traveler the most in any of its corners: beaches, mountains, traditions, shopping, history, monuments and gastronomy. It keeps much of the territory safe from bullets and other crime, but travelers are advised to avoid certain areas of the isthmus as well as the border with Chiapas to the east. But they can enjoy the capital, the archaeological area of Monte Albán, Puerto Escondido and Huatulco. Less violence, more money.
Mexico has in its capitals one of the greatest tourist attractions. Declared World Heritage are, for example, Zacatecas or Querétaro. To visit the second, extreme precautions are required. If it was planned to meet the first, the traveler should reconsider his preference. Zacatecas has been mired in gruesome violence lately. Its beautiful historic center has closed many businesses, which can be seen during a walk through the city. The night becomes worrying.
Guanajuato preserves for tranquility the colorful capital and the city of San Miguel Allende, one of the most beautiful in Mexico. And Puebla does not present any major problem to enjoy its immense heritage.
From the capital, US authorities stress that violent crime does not occur throughout the city, so they recommend avoiding areas less frequented by tourism and taking extreme precautions at night. “Crime occurs frequently in tourist and non-tourist areas. US citizens and LPR [residentes permanentes en el país] They were kidnapped.”
The recommendations are always more restrictive than what the traveler feels once in the chosen area. Mexico may not be a destination to enjoy the night in all its dimensions, but during the day, with the usual precautions, there are still thousands of square kilometers where you can take home a fond memories of Holy Week.
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