TEXAS ALERT ANGERS EN­VOY

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY JAMES MOR­RI­SON

The Mex­i­can am­bas­sador this week ac­cused Texas of play­ing pol­i­tics by urg­ing col­lege stu­dents to avoid Mex­ico on spring break be­cause of a dra­matic rise in vi­o­lence.

“Mex­ico strongly dis­agrees with the as­sess­ment made by Texas of­fi­cials re­gard­ing travel to Mex­ico,” Am­bas­sador Ar­turo Sarukhan said in a state­ment posted on the Mex­i­can Em­bassy’s web­site.

He added that Texas au­thor­i­ties “should be able to more ob­jec­tively eval­u­ate facts, pro­vid­ing nu­ance and con­text, and, in do­ing so, dis­pel the no­tion that their mo­ti­va­tion is a clear-cut po­lit­i­cal agenda.”

The Texas Depart­ment of Public Safety this week is­sued a travel warn­ing to stu­dents be­cause of “con­tin­ued vi­o­lence through­out” Mex­ico.

Public Safety Di­rec­tor Steven C. Mccraw noted that his depart­ment has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to alert Texas res­i­dents to the dan­gers of vis­it­ing Mex­ico, where drug wars and other crimes claimed more than 13,000 lives last year.

The num­ber of Amer­i­cans killed in­creased to 120 last year from 35 in 2010, he said.

Mex­i­can criminals also are tar­get­ing tourists, even in re­sorts that were once con­sid­ered safe. Last month, thieves robbed 22 pas­sen­gers from a Car­ni­val cruise ship who were on a bus re­turn­ing from a na­ture hike out­side the port city of Puerto Val­larta.

Rape and other sex­ual as­sault against women “con­tinue to be se­ri­ous prob­lems” in re­sort ar­eas, Mr. Mccraw said. He noted that some night­clubs and bars in tourist cities such as Aca­pulco, Cabo San Lu­cas and Can­cun are now “havens for drug deal­ers and petty criminals.”

Amer­i­can tourists ac­count for about 60 per­cent of the for­eign­ers who visit Mex­ico each year. Tourism rep­re­sents the third-largest source of in­come for Mex­ico, be­hind oil and re­mit­tances from Mex­i­cans liv­ing out of the coun­try.

“Many crimes against Amer­i­cans in Mex­ico go un­pun­ished,” Mr. McCraw said. “Based on the un­pre­dictable na­ture of car­tel vi­o­lence and other crim­i­nal el­e­ments, we are urg­ing in­di­vid­u­als to avoid travel to Mex­ico at this time.”

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