Tijuana Tragedy: Is It News to You?
In case you haven't heard, a new travel alert -- or, to be precise, an updated travel alert -- was issued yesterday for Americans traveling to Mexico. The bulletin, which you can read in full here, is primarily concerned with criminal activity in the border towns, and warns of an increase in narcotics-related violence, including carjackings and armed robbery. But it was this rather astonishing claim that caught my eye:
Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007.
I don't know about you, but my immediate reaction was, if that's the case, why hasn't a stern warning been issued sooner? It's not that media outlets haven't dutifully reported on the situation. A February article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, for instance, revealed that "Organized, well-financed and violent Mexican kidnapping cells are targeting a growing number of U.S. citizens visiting communities popular with San Diegans and other California residents." Indeed, according to the paper, at least 26 residents of the San Diego area were abducted and held for ransom last year.
Newsweek has also recently covered on the surge in kidnappings in Mexico, reporting that 18 Americans have been abducted since Thanksgiving of last year. Some of the victims were seriously injured, others were killed.
Media attention surrounding this latest travel alert may at last reach a preponderance of American travelers, who will hopefully take serious precautions when visiting border towns in the near future. (For information on how to avoid being a crime victim in Tijuana, visit this page on the consulate's Web site.)
But the news is coming too late for a man whom CNN identified as "Joe" in March. He was beaten with the butt of a rifle and his tongue sliced during a two-week ordeal.
When lead paint was discovered in Chinese toys last year, the FDA was able to get the message out with speed (albeit not quickly enough, I admit). When hamburger meat is periodically found to be tainted with E. coli, the recalls are immediate. Now it appears that Tijuana and several other Mexican towns should be "recalled" by travelers, but is the word getting out fast enough?
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