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Spring-breakers warned to avoid Mexico

By Anastasia Zamora
On March 26, 2009

There may be a drug war going on in Mexico, but that's not going to stop spring breakers from trying to party.

U.S. universities from California to Nebraska have warned students about the risks of traveling to Mexico and the State Department issued a travel alert last month warning of risks in border areas.

Despite warnings and news of kidnappings, shootings and heavily armed federal police, even the military, patrolling the streets young adults are still heading south of the border. Many vacationers don't even realize that there is even a war going on because vacation companies are sweeping the situation under the rug in order to attract more tourists.

Despite the incidents of beheadings, car robberies and homicide travel agencies deny that the countries hot spots are unsafe.

"It has to do with our poor grasp of geography,'' said Pauline Frommer, a budget travel expert. "Mexico is a huge country. It's like saying don't go to New York City because there are murders in Detroit."

Frommer suggests that students stay away from border towns and to finish their homework saying, "The biggest danger is getting drunk and doing stupid things you would never do at home,'' she said.

Efforts to stem the drug and weapons trade are failing and recent news articles say the blame lies not only with Mexico, but the U.S. as well. At a hearing of the Senate judiciary subcommittee on crime and drugs and the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, lawmakers from both sides said repeatedly that Washington's lack of concentration to decades of drug use by Americans has played a central role in the crisis.

Wherever the blame lies the confrontations in Mexico are causing travelers to think twice about going south of the border for spring break.

"It's partly due to the economic crisis, but also to the violent events that are getting so much publicity in the United States," said Oscar Rivero, president of the Puerto Vallarta Hotel Association. "(Tourism) has gone down even though the bulk of the violence is on the border, not in places like Puerto Vallarta."

Wherever students decide to spend their spring break its still suggested that they exercise caution and stay safe.

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