Drug violence in Mexico prompts spring break warning to U.S. college students

An ad to be published in the  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student newspaper the Daily Illini in March alerts students to an advisory issued by the State Department. Universities around the country are warning of a surge in drug-related murder and mayhem south of the border.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

An ad to be published in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student newspaper the Daily Illini in March alerts students to an advisory issued by the State Department. Universities around the country are warning of a surge in drug-related murder and mayhem south of the border.

PHOENIX — The U.S. State Department and universities around the country are warning college students headed for Mexico for some spring-break partying of a surge in drug-related murder and mayhem south of the border.

"We're not necessarily telling students not to go, but we're going to certainly alert them," said Tom Dougan, vice president for student affairs at the University of Rhode Island. "There have been Americans kidnapped, and if you go you need to be very aware and very alert to this fact."

More than 100,000 high school- and college-age Americans travel to Mexican resort areas during spring break each year. Much of the drug violence is happening in border towns, and tourists have generally not been targeted, though there have been killings in the big spring break resorts of Acapulco and Cancun, well away from the border.

The University of Arizona in Tucson is urging its approximately 37,000 students not to go to Mexico. Other universities — in the Southwest and far beyond, including Penn State, Notre Dame, the University of Colorado and the University at Buffalo — said they would call students' attention to the travel warning issued Feb. 20 by the State Department.

The State Department stopped short of warning spring break tourists not to go to Mexico, but advised them to avoid areas of prostitution and drug-dealing and take commonsense precautions.

Some students dismissed the warnings. "If anything is going to deter people," said Danielle Jones, a North Carolina State student who is staying close to home because of a family emergency, "it's the recession."

'Failed state' label is rejected

President Felipe Calderon on Thursday rejected U.S. concerns that Mexico is losing control of its territory to drug cartels, and called "absolutely false" the idea that Mexico risks becoming a failed state. A Pentagon report in November singled out Mexico and Pakistan as countries where state control is at risk. Earlier Thursday, Mexico's Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said more than 1,000 people have been killed in drug violence so far this year. The total last year was 6,290.

Drug violence in Mexico prompts spring break warning to U.S. college students 02/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 26, 2009 11:16pm]

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...