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CONSULATE GENERAL OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Tijuana B.C., Mexico
March 1, 2012
Gilda Villaplana, President / Josefina Pataky, Executive Director
Fundacion Esperanza de Mexico
Dear Gilda and Josefina:
I would like to express once again my appreciation for the fine humanitarian work that Fundacion Esperanza performs and the volunteer opportunities that it offers to American young people. Thank you for allowing my son Jeremy to participate in several of your programs last year and for making it possible for the U.S. Consulate staff to organize volunteer days on some of your construction projects.
I am sorry to hear that the Travel Warning issued by the U.S. Department of State continues to discourage the families of some of your prospective American volunteers to allow their participation. There are clearly misconceptions about this Travel Warning. In light of this, I am happy to furnish a fuller clarification of what the warning means.
The Department of State has a responsibility to inform the American public of conditions abroad that may affect their safety and security. When we are advising our citizens to defer travel to a specific area in a country, we must issue a Travel Warning for the entire country, and we do our best to broadly and accurately reflect conditions throughout that country. In a country as large as Mexico, this is obviously a difficult task considering that security and travel conditions can vary widely from one region to another.
In the current Travel Warning, the factual description of general conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the paragraph specifically covering the situation in Baja California are completely accurate, based on the facts on the ground. Much of the language throughout the document, however, is not directed specifically towards Baja California, but instead reflects security concerns in other parts of Mexico. As
we all know, violence among organized crime cartels — and between those cartels and Mexican authorities – has intensified in areas in and around border cities such as Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Reynoso over the past year, as well as in other places. The Travel Warning is constantly being modified in response to events in those areas. For this reason, it recommends that U.S. citizens “defer non-essential travel” to the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Tamaulipas, and to parts of other states such as Sonora, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Michoacán, and San Luis Potosi. It is important to note, however, that the Travel Warning makes no such recommendation regarding travel to Tijuana, Ensenada, Rosarito, Tecate, Mexicali, San Felipe, or any other areas of Baja California.
We all must acknowledge that there are real problems of crime and narco-violence, but we also recognize that authorities at the federal, state, and municipal levels have made significant progress in combating organized crime and have scored some important successes here.
I hope that you will find this clarification useful and that the Fundacion Esperanza will continue to benefit from the involvement of American volunteers.