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Don’t be fooled: New U.S. travel guidance says Mexico is as safe as Spain or U.K.

By Andrés Oppenheimer

Contrary to what you may have read in Fox News and other U.S. media, the State Department, to some extent, has softened its travel advisory to Mexico, putting the country at the same level of dangerousness as Spain, France and the United Kingdom.

That’s not the impression you may get from reading the screaming headlines in the aftermath of the State Department’s Jan. 10 announcement of its newly revised travel advisory system.

“U.S. slaps highest level ‘do not travel’ warning on five Mexican states,” read the headline on the Fox News website. The story started out saying that, “The State Department unveiled a revamped travel warning system Wednesday, giving five Mexican states the sternest “do not travel” advisory alongside war-torn nations like Syria, Yemen and Somalia.”

But Fox News may have been carried away by its Mexico-bashing habit, and other media may have not taken the time to read the State Department document closely.

Under the new guidelines, the State Department divides countries in four categories, depending on the risks they present to foreign visitors. Level 1 is “Exercise normal precautions;” Level 2 is “Exercise increased caution;” Level 3 is “Reconsider travel” and Level 4 is “Do not travel.”

And — surprise — Mexico is placed in Level 2, in the same category as other big U.S. travel destinations such as France, Spain, the U.K, Germany, Belgium, and Denmark.

Among the lucky countries in Level 1, the safest category, are Argentina, Canada, Chile, Finland and Japan.

Granted, five Mexican states — Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero — are placed in the “Do not travel” category. These are the Mexican states with the most drug-related crime waves.

But what most of the stories in the U.S. media don’t tell you is that the fine print of the new State Department advisory exempts some of the biggest travel destinations within these five states — the cities of Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Chapala and Ajijic — from the “do not travel” recommendation.

What’s more important, the new State Department travel advisory does not discourage Americans from traveling to Cancun, Los Cabos and Mexico City, by far the biggest destinations for the 35 million foreign tourists visiting Mexico every year. Last year, the State Department’s travel advisory had warned Americans against going to Cancun and Los Cabos.

To my surprise, despite the alarming headlines in many U.S. media, Mexico’s Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid, was optimistic about the impact of the State Department’s new guidelines.

“I’m happy. It’s much better than the previous one,” De La Madrid told me, referring to the August 2017 State Department advisory. “Our main foreign tourism destinations, such as Cancun in the Quintana Roo state, Los Cabos in Baja California Sur and Mexico City, are now at the same level as Spain or France.”

State Department spokesman Virgil Carstens told me that “our overall advice is that Mexico is a Level 2 country.” He added that within Mexico, there are five states labeled as Level 4, which were already labeled under the previous system as “prohibited” or “defer non-essential travel” states.

To be sure, Mexico has a serious crime problem. Last year say a record number of murders in the country, surpassing the 27,000 homicides it had reported in 2011, according to official figures. Still, Mexico’s most crime-ridden places are not in tourism destinations. In fact, many major U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Detroit and Washington D.C., have much higher murder rates than Cancun or Los Cabos.

The only thing I would add to the new State Department advisory system is that it should include the United States on its list, and give it a Level 2 “exercise increase caution” label.

The chance of getting hurt in a crossfire among drug gangs in Mexico may be just as high as that of being hit by a gunman in the United States, like the lunatic with 47 guns who killed 58 people in Las Vegas or the man who shot 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016. Let’s be honest, the United States is a Level 2 country, just like Mexico.

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Canada issues new travel advisory for MX

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The government of Canada has issued an updated travel advisory for Mexico, warning citizens of potential dangers when travelling south, particularly in the northern border states.

Travelers are urged to “exercise a high degree of caution . . . due to high levels of criminal activity, as well as demonstrations, protests and occasional illegal roadblocks throughout the country.”

In all of the northern states but one, Baja California, citizens are advised to avoid all non-essential travel “due to high levels of violence, linked mainly to organized crime.”

The warning applies to Chihuahua, Coahuila (except Saltillo), Durango, Nuevo León (except Monterrey), Sinaloa (except Mazatlán), Sonora (except Hermosillo and Guaymas-San Carlos) and Tamaulipas.

The document suggests that a high degree of caution should be exercised in cities and towns that are not mentioned in its state-by-state warning.

In a section titled “safety and security,” Canadian citizens are urged to travel to Mexico by air and avoid landing in border cities, emphasizing the recommendation against doing so in the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Sonora and Tamaulipas.

“In northern Mexico, particularly along the border with the United States, organized crime and urban violence greatly affect security. Confrontations between organized criminal groups and Mexican authorities continue to pose a problem,” reads the advisory, explaining that “shootouts, attacks and illegal roadblocks may occur without warning.”

The document says all non-essential travel should also be avoided due to the high levels of violence and organized crime in the western states of Guerrero, including Acapulco but excluding Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Taxco, and Michoacán, excluding the city of Morelia.

Warnings are also given for Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit due to high levels of criminal activity.

The states of Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo were also mentioned: while organized crime “does not target tourists, violence related to organized crime has been on the rise throughout the country in 2017,” especially in those states.Concerns over the safety of drinks and food have led to the inclusion of the warning that travelers should “be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances or strangers . . as the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.”

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A law banning Mexican-American studies in Arizona public schools is dead

An Arizona law banning Mexican-American studies from schools has been quashed.

A federal court says the law, which took aim at classes that state school officials said promoted “revolution against the American government,” violates students’ constitutional rights.

One program affected by the law was Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American Studies (MAS) program Arizona, which state lawmakers said were “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.”

Richard Martinez, the attorney who represents a group of Mexican-American students who attended Tucson schools, said the students sued shortly after the law was passed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

“This was their curriculum that was intended to be responsive to them…culturally, linguistically, educationally,” Martinez said. “The program had a very strong effect on students’ achievement… in fact, most of the students finished high school and matriculated to college, which was unprecedented at Tucson Unified School District.”

Arizona education officials have not commented on the ruling but many have weighed in on the Mexican-American Studies programs in the past. Indeed, Tucson’s program drew negative attention from officials at the state’s Department of Education. Tom Horne, the former superintendent of public instruction, said the program was “‘extremely anti-American” because it promotes “essentially revolution against the American government.”

Closing the gap

According to court documents, the program was established in 1998 and included courses like art, government, literature, and history focusing on “historic and contemporary Mexican-American contributions.” It was meant to help Mexican-American students engage and relate to their studies and to “close the historic gap in academic achievement between Mexican-American and white students in Tucson.”

The MAS program was a success, U.S. District Court Judge Wallace Tashima noted, writing that “one would expect that officials responsible for public education in Arizona would continue, not terminate, an academically successful program.”

According to court documents, Horne never attended a class from the program to see what was being taught there and yet recommended the program be canceled. When the Tucson Unified School District didn’t accept his recommendation, Horne “began lobbying for statewide legislation that would ban the program.” His third draft of a bill prohibiting ethnic courses passed the House.

‘This is America, speak English’

That was when John Huppenthal, a Senator who was chairman of the Senate Education Accountability and Reform Committee, became a proponent of the bill. It passed the Legislature in 2010 and both officials used the bill “to make political gains,” Judge Tashima said, using the issue as “a political boon,” that the men referenced in their political campaigns.

The court also found that Huppenthal posted discriminatory comments on a blog a few months after the bill passed. Huppenthal, who wrote under two pseudonyms, said things like, “I don’t mind them selling Mexican food as long as the menus are mostly in English.” He also wrote that embracing Mexico’s values is “the rejection of success and embracement of failure,” and opposed Spanish-language media saying, “This is America, speak English.” He also wrote a blog comment comparing the Mexican-American Studies classes to the “KKK in a different color,” called the teachers skinheads and said they “use the exact same technique that Hitler used in his rise to power.”

These blog comments, the judge said, were “the most important and direct evidence that racial animus infected the decision to enact” the bill.

Tashima ultimately concluded that the bill “was enacted and enforced with a discriminatory purpose” since “students have a First Amendment right to receive information and ideas” and said current Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and Horne and Huppenthal “acted contrary to the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” “violated students’ constitutional rights,” and said the bill “was not enacted in a legitimate educational purpose.”

The defendants have 30 days to appeal and “the clock is ticking,” said Martinez.

“Everyone is very pleased to bring this eight-year challenge to closure in such a positive way. Now public school students in Arizona will be allowed to take classes that teach their history and literature, to hear their own stories and know that they, too, are part of the rich American fabric,” Martinez said.

CNN has requested comment from the Arizona Department of Education as well as the state’s attorney general. Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo did not have a comment, his spokeswoman said. The District and staff are on winter break.

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.What you need to know

The following is taken from

You need Mexico car insurance because it’s required and US /Canadian insurance coverage stops at the Mexican border. Every year Mexico implements stricter laws for uninsured motorists, meaning not having it can cost you money due to damage/loss to your vehicle, fines and more
When you drive your car to Mexico, travel with complete peace of mind, by being properly insured. Your U.S. or Canadian insurance policy, however comprehensive, won’t cover you in Mexico, but affordable insurance is available…

Mexican Auto insurance You Can Trust if you ever get into an accident in Mexico

Insuring Your Car in Mexico
Although your U.S./Canadian car insurance policy may be comprehensive, and might also extend some limited damage coverage in Mexico, you will still need to purchase policy that is legally valid in Mexico.
U.S. and Canadian auto insurance policies, however comprehensive, hold no legal jurisdiction in Mexico. This means that you must buy separate insurance cover for your car while you’re driving in Mexico if you want to travel with complete peace of mind.

If you are driving your car improperly insured in Mexico and you become involved in an accident it will, at best, cost you a lot of money and, at worst, leave you imprisoned in a Mexican jail house. Presenting a U.S. or Canadian auto insurance policy will be of no use because these documents have no legal or actual force in Mexico, and the companies backing them will not settle any claim arising when you or your car are situated south of the border.
Drivers who are involved in serious accidents in Mexico are usually arrested pending investigation. If you are not properly insured in Mexico and become involved in a serious accident—even if it’s not your fault—these procedures will likely place a great deal of stress and financial burden upon you.
This guide explains how insurance works in Mexico and how to go about buying the additional insurance protection you need to ensure that you, your passengers, and your vehicle are properly insured when driving on Mexican soil and that, in the event of a serious accident, you are properly covered by a legally-valid and adequate insurance policy.
Mexican Auto Insurance
Mexican Law stipulates that only insurance companies which are licensed in Mexico can provide the type of auto insurance coverage that is recognized and accepted by Mexico’s legal system.
A few U.S.-based insurance companies will extend physical damage coverage on cars and RVs while they are situated in Mexico, but they cannot and do not provide Mexican liability insurance. So, although these policies may cover your damage, they will not cover your liability to others in Mexico. This is why a special insurance policy is absolutely necessary to be properly insured in Mexico.
Mexican Insurance Companies
Mexican Law also stipulates that liability insurance must be purchased from a licensed Mexican company, so your auto insurance policy necessarily needs to be issued by one of Mexico’s insurance companies, or through a broker in the U.S./Canada working in conjuction with a Mexican insurance company.
Who’s Insuring You?
Buyers purchasing insurance for their car in Mexico are often times misled by believing that they can rely on the broker, rather than the Mexican Insurance Company, to properly handle any claim that may arise during their stay in Mexico.
The insurance company underwriting your policy is much more important than the Broker that sells you the policy.
As all insurance policies are sold through brokers, it’s important to know which insurance company (or companies) are underwriting the policies being sold to you by the broker. Click here to read more  Click here to get your free quotes


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