Mexican official challenges Texas travel warnings

Thu Jun 9, 2011 12:16pm EDT
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By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas state government warnings to Americans about travel to Mexico are "ludicrous," "misinformed," and may damage the country's safest tourist destinations, Mexico's tourism chief told Reuters on Wednesday.

Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, chief operating officer of Mexico's Board of Tourism, visited the Texas capital of Austin to drive home that point to Texas officials. It is the second time he has met with Texas officials this year on the topic.

At issue are warnings in January and March against Texans traveling to Mexico during holidays and the heavy college student travel period of Spring Break. A statement issued by state public safety chief Steve McCraw on March 1 said resorts such as Acapulco and Cancun were havens of violence, and warned that students could be caught in the crossfire of indiscriminate drug violence.

"Our safety message is simple: avoid traveling to Mexico during Spring Break and stay alive," the Texas warning read.

The goal of the meeting on Wednesday was to convince Texas to limit such warnings only to the dangerous parts of Mexico and come up with a system for keeping state officials more up-to-date on the situation in Mexico, Lopez Negrete said.

"We recognize that there are certain destinations in Mexico, particularly at the border, that we would not recommend Americans go on vacations, or Mexicans for that matter," Lopez Negrete told Reuters. "This violence that has been in Ciudad Juarez - Cancun is almost 1,300 miles away."

"Obviously, you're not going to stop going to Dallas because there's a problem in New York," he added.

Ciudad Juarez is the most dangerous city in Mexico and sits just across the border from El Paso, Texas.   Continued...

<p>Bullet casings lie next to a crime scene where four people were found dead in Acapulco October 27, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer</p>