DPS

Soldiers attend a flag-lowering ceremony organized by the National Regeneration Movement, MORENA, representing people allegedly killed by military members during Mexico’s drug war, at the Zocalo central square in Mexico City, Sunday March 4, 2012.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Whether students plan to stay in Austin or visit their hometowns, students should not consider planning a risky trip to Mexico, according to the Department of Public Safety.

This week, the DPS released an advisory that warns students not to venture into Mexico during spring break. Since 2006, Mexico has faced safety issues concerning its citizens and American visitors because of the escalated drug cartel violence, said Tom Vinger, DPS spokesman. The issue is still prevalent in Mexico and is the reason Americans should sincerely consider not crossing the border, he said.

“The problem with violence in Mexico is that it’s very unpredictable, and because of those factors and the fact that many crimes against Americans go unpunished, we believe the risks are simply too great to be ignored,” Vinger said.

Vinger said spring breakers planning on travelling to Mexico should view the advisory sent out by DPS and reconsider their plans.

“We’re worried about anyone traveling into Mexico, but when spring break rolls around, there is alcohol involved and people don’t make the best decisions,” Vinger said. “They might get into a situation that could escalate, especially in bars and nightclubs of resort cities that are havens for drug dealers and criminals.”

The UT Global Risk and Safety Office website offers an overview of risks students face when traveling to Mexico and a region-specific information map outlining the different levels of risk.

Erin Wolf, the international risk analyst for the Global Risk and Safety Office, said although there have not been particular cases involving UT-Austin travelers being harmed due to cartel or drug violence, pick-pocketing and petty crime are regular occurrences.

Despite the warnings, nutrition junior Jose Mendez said he has traveled to his grandparents’ ranch outside of Reynosa, Mexico, and will go during spring break.

“A lot of people won’t go to Mexico because they think that as soon as they cross the border, they will get shot, but in the past months nothing has happened over there,” Mendez said.

Mendez said the advisories to stay out of Mexico, such as the reports of constant shooting rampages, is an exaggeration of what is really happening.

Vinger said crime across the border is dangerous because people never know where it will surface.

“We understand people travel to Mexico all the time without incident, but we want people to make informed decisions and not just listen to people who have a financial interest in their travel there, “ Vinger said. “We understand tourism concerns, but we’re worried about the safety of our citizens.”

Printed on Friday, March 9, 2012 as: DPS warns against visiting Mexico for spring break