The United States has renewed a travel alert to Mexico, citing increased violence in the country.
The alert, issued Sunday by the State Department, is in effect until August 20 and supersedes an alert issued August 20, 2009.
“Recent violent attacks have caused the U.S. Embassy to urge U.S. citizens to delay unnecessary travel to parts of Michoacan, Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua … and to advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling in those areas to exercise extreme caution,” the alert says.
“Drug cartels and associated criminal elements have retaliated violently against individuals who speak out against them or whom they otherwise view as a threat to their organization. These attacks include the abduction and murder of two resident U.S. citizens in Chihuahua.”
More than 16,000 people have died in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels shortly after assuming office in December 2006. Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua state across the border from El Paso, Texas, is the most violent city in the nation.
“The situation in the state of Chihuahua, specifically Ciudad Juarez, is of special concern,” the alert says.
“Mexican authorities report that more than 2,600 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez in 2009,” the report states. “Additionally, this city of 1.3 million people experienced more than 16,000 car thefts and 1,900 carjackings in 2009. U.S. citizens should pay close attention to their surroundings while traveling in Ciudad Juarez, avoid isolated locations during late night and early morning hours, and remain alert to news reports.”