With spring break just around the corner, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert aimed at tourists considering visiting many areas in Mexico, including northern Baja California.
At issue, of course, is ongoing violence among drug gangs and between drug gangs and police. Tourists are advised to exercise extreme caution while traveling in such border-area trouble spots as Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez.
Meanwhile, Rosarito Beach, located just south of Tijuana and suffering from a lack of tourism, has announced it will host an international surfing contest during spring break, April 3-5.
The Assn. of Surfing Professionals’ one-star World Qualifying Series contest, it is hoped, will draw a large crowd and reveal that visitors are safe within the city’s tourist zone.
“We are very excited to have all the competitors here in our beautiful beaches and look forward to the event in April. Rosarito has always been recognized as a very attractive spot for surfers and this event will bring many positive things to our city,” Laura Wong, president of the Rosarito Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a release.
It’s a bold but positive step for an embattled city that has taken several measures recently to ensure visitor safety. They include replacing corrupt policemen with new officers and screening them regularly.
Tourists do not need to enter downtown Tijuana to reach Rosarito Beach, and that point should be stressed.
Why? Here’s more from the travel alert: “Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades.
“Large firefights have taken place in many towns and cities across Mexico but most recently in northern Mexico. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.”