Students Travel to Mexico Despite Safety Fears

By Emily Dalrymple

The drug war in Mexico had caused many students to cancel their spring break plans in order to ensure their safety. But what happened to those who still had to make the trip because financially, canceling the trip would have been devastating?

Phil Vallone, a Marist senior, made the trip to Acapulco with several of his friends and housemates.

“We stayed at the hotel during the day and did not leave until later at night when we would take cabs straight to the clubs and come right back from there,” said Vallone. “Other than going out to the clubs, we did not leave the hotel property much.”

According to the New York Times, the impetus for the drug war began during the 2006 campaign of President Felipe Calderon. He received threats from drug cartels which fueled President Calderon to send the army into the streets to fight the drug cartels. Fighting has been heavy around the Mexico border, especially in the city of Ciudad Juarez.

Map of cities with high drug violence. Courtesy of washingtonpost.com

Map of cities with high drug violence. Courtesy of washingtonpost.com

The Juarez cartel is battling with rivals from the northwestern state of Sinaloa for the control of smuggling routes into Texas. 5,000 troops were sent into Ciudad Juarez just last month, according to Reuters.

“I wasn’t too concerned because Acapulco isn’t a border city and that’s where most of the violence was,” said Vallone. “I felt pretty safe when traveling around the area.”

One of the top drug cartel leaders is shown here after his arrest. Courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

One of the top drug cartel leaders is shown here after his arrest. Courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

According to Reuters, Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said that the death toll has dropped by 25 percent in the first three months of this year from the last quarter of 2008. 1,600 people have been killed thus far from January to March.

Many who traveled to Mexico over spring break made themselves aware of the possible danger before embarking on their trip.

“I watched a few news stories on the situation and read the government warnings as well before leaving,” said Vallone. “It was nothing like it was portrayed on the news.”

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