Safety and Health

updated Sept 2013

The health and safety of Study Abroad participants is the highest priority for the Mexico-US Solidarity Network. We believe a safe and educationally valuable program is constructed on several foundations: experienced staff, solid and extensive local partners, comprehensive pre-planning for emergencies, a solid educational program that keeps students occupied in intellectual pursuits, and family-oriented contexts that occupy student's free time.  Staff work closely with local partners to assess current health concerns and safety issues, and we adapt quickly to changing political conditions and unfolding events.  With years of experience taking groups to Mexico, the Mexico Solidarity Network has the know-how, experience, local connections and commitment to maximize the safety and health of participants.

The US Department of State travel advisory report says the following regarding the three states in Mexico we visit:

Chiapas: No advisory is in effect.
Tlaxcala: No advisory is in effect.
Mexico City: No advisory is in effect. 

Click here to see the How Safe is Mexico website that compares Mexico to US and international violence statistics
Click here to read the rest of the Mexico Solidarity Network's statement on Safety, Health, and Crisis Management

Drug Violence in Context

Under President Felipe Calderon’s war on drugs, Mexico’s murder rate increased every year from 2007 to 2011, though it decreased during the first half of 2012.  In 2010 the rate was 14 per 100,000 residents, but the number increased to 22.7 in 2012, down slightly from 24 in 2011, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Criminals.  This is comparable to the murder rate in the late 80s, when the number hovered around 20, though the comparison does not reflect the complex reality on the ground.  Today the majority of murders are due to cartels battling for control of territory, or battles between cartels and security forces, both mainly in states along the US border.  In 2011, drug-related murders numbered 12,358, accounting for nearly half the 27,199 homicides in the country.  The second leading cause was domestic disputes.

Four northern border states, sites of intense inter-cartel violence, accounted for most of the homicides in 2011: Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas.  Guerrero, home to most of the opium production in Mexico, was also on the list of leading states.  The southern state of Chiapas recorded 4 murders per 100,000 residents in 2011, while Tlaxcala reported 7, and Mexico City reported 12.  (Mexico statistics are from the National Institute for Statistics and Geography, INEGI.)  Between 2007 and 2011, there were 85 US citizens murdered in Mexico, a minuscule fraction of the “millions of U.S. citizens who safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business” (information from the US State Department).

South and central Mexico compare favorably with many US urban areas.  The murder rate in Washington, DC, was 21.9 per 100,000 (2010 figures), Chicago (15.2), Philadelphia (19.6), Houston (11.8), Memphis (13.2), Baltimore (34.8), Kansas City (21.1), and Atlanta (19.7).  Most residents in these cities know what parts of town are dangerous and will most likely avoid those neighborhoods.  The same is true in Mexico. 

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