What Is The U.S. State Department Thinking?

For starters, they’re not thinking they work for the local Chamber of Commerce
BY: MILES LONG

There has been a lot of chatter lately about the U.S. State Department issuing a so called “travel warning” about coming to Mexico. This has been very unpopular among people who are here who’s families now are giving them a ration, and among business owners who fear fewer travelers mean fewer clients.

Everyone down here seems to be angry at the State Department, maybe because they are here and know there is no danger. Or are pretty sure there’s no danger, anyway. They ask, how can the government bureaucrats screw things up this way? Well, their job isn’t to keep your family calm, nor to bring in customers for your business. Their job is to cover their ass, so they’re not accused of not warning people in the unlikely event of something bad actually happening. And their job is to do it from Washington D.C. They aren’t so familiar with a map of Mexico. They get their information from the stats coming out of Mexico. So, if a handful of Pedros kill off a handful of Joses in a certain city, they choose to call this a dangerous city.

Meanwhile, we here in Cabo, maybe somewhat selfishly, only pay attention to the stats if those deaths involve a Peter and a Joe. Otherwise, we consider it business as usual, with Mexican druggies killing off each other, and of no concern to us.

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We did get a little nervous a couple of Sundays ago when there was a shooting on Palmilla Beach, that was too close to the tourist zone for many of us. Here’s what that was all about: A 17 year old Einstein decided he would go into the cartel business. He made this announcement on his Facebook page, and even called for recruits as drug distributors for his new operation. One of the two real cartels decided to teach him and everyone like him a lesson and rub him out with his family, in such a public way that no one else would get such a hair brained idea. No foreigners were targeted nor hit, and while there was some potential for getting caught in some cross fire, it is certainly less chance than if you live in Chicago where nine people were killed and 30 wounded just last weekend alone.

So, the United States government is protecting its own ass with these cheery pronouncements from Washington, but how do the cruise ship lines view Mexico in these times? After all, they have a lot of derriere to protect too, and they have pulled out of Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta for short periods in the past. Here is how they see the security of foreigners now:

Although parts of 23 of Mexico's 31 states and 12 cruise ports are currently under a U.S. travel advisory, no cruise passengers have been targeted or directly affected by the violence in Mexico.

Carnival, Disney, Celebrity and more lines call on Ensenada, with no changes made at this time.

Los Cabos and La Paz (Baja California Sur)

Lindblad-National Geographic and Un-Cruise sail expedition cruises from La Paz, with no changes made to their itineraries. Princess, Regent and Azamara also call there.

Holland America, Regent, Oceania, Carnival and more lines call on Cabo San Lucas with no itinerary changes made.

Manzanillo (Colima)

Princess, Regent, Oceania, Azamara and Holland America all include this port on Mexican Riviera, South America, Central America, Panama and world cruises, with no changes at this time.

Acapulco and Itapúa (Guerrero)

Regent, Oceania and Norwegian include Acapulco on cruise itineraries, with no changes at this time. Earlier this year, Holland America replaced Acapulco over safety concerns.

Crystal Cruises and Azamara each have an itinerary featuring Ixtapa, with no changes announced.

Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco)

Plenty of cruise lines - including Carnival, Princess, Disney and Holland America - still call there.

Huatulco (Oaxaca)

The state department warning in Oaxaca mainly stresses that government personnel (and visitors) should stay in the tourist areas of the region and avoid using public transportation in Oaxaca City.

Princess and Holland America currently call in Huatalco.

Cozumel and Playa del Carmen/Calica (Quintana Roo)

Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean are just some of the lines that continue to call on Cozumel.

We could not find any cruises calling on Playa del Carmen (Calica) at this time.

Mazatlán and Topolobampo (Sinaloa)

Carnival, Disney, Holland America and Princess Cruises all offer itineraries that call on Mazatlán with no changes announced at this time.

Cruise lines like Princess, Azamara , Seabourn and Silversea offer cruises that call on the small cruise port of Topolobampo.

A few cruise lines have issued statements in response to the latest travel warning. A representative for Princess Cruises, which calls on half of the ports in question, had this to say:

"We are aware that on Tuesday, August 22, the U.S. Department of State updated their Travel Warning for Mexico, alerting U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel in certain areas of Mexico. The State Department advises that U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation, be aware of their immediate surroundings, and avoid large crowds or crowded places. These are the same common-sense measures we recommend to all our guests when visiting an unfamiliar city. As the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority, our Security department remains in close contact with public safety professionals and continues to monitor alerts worldwide. We will advise guests and travel consultants should this situation necessitate changing any of our planned itineraries."

Each cruise line had pretty much the same to say. Meanwhile, travel to Los Cabos was up 7% this past high season and hotel occupancy has been variously reported at 75% to 85%. Obviously, the United States government is not being taken too seriously by most people who are in the know.