Travel warnings issued for Mexico as holidays begin

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramDecember 23, 2010 

Fernando Hernandez heard the travel warnings before he booked a bus trip to central Mexico, but he shrugged off reports of crime and kidnappings because he wants to spend the holidays among cherished friends and familiar traditions.

"We have to see the family," Hernandez said before boarding a bus Tuesday at a small station in south Fort Worth. He was traveling with his wife to the Mexican state of Queretaro some 18 hours south of the Metroplex.

U.S. and Texas officials have issued several warnings about travel to Mexico this year. The latest round -- sent last week by the Texas Department of Public Safety -- was aimed largely at the thousands of families that embark on yearly pilgrimages to cities and towns where they celebrate Christmas, New Year's Day and Dia de Reyes (Epiphany).

"We are certainly very concerned," said Tela Mange, a DPS spokeswoman. "Christmas is a time when a lot of people travel to Mexico." DPS cited several concerns, including drug-cartel-related violence along the northern Mexican border and in cities such as Monterrey and Acapulco.

Drug-related and other crimes have been documented in popular tourist spots such as Cancun and Mazatlan, officials said. Kidnappings of tourists, assaults along Mexican highways and rapes at resort areas have also been reported.

"If they choose to travel to Mexico, they need to be very, very careful," Mange said, adding: "We just wanted to make sure people understood that it's dangerous."

In Dallas, Mexican General Consul Juan Carlos Cué-Vega said it is still safe to travel in Mexico, but he also stressed caution. He said anyone traveling on Mexican roads needs to take precautions and use common sense.

For example, he said people should avoid driving at night and use the main thoroughfares. He advised travelers to caravan.

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