The US government on Friday banned its employees from travel to the resort city of Acapulco, where an increase in the number of killings attributed to drug gangs in recent years has become the Pacific port one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
The new travel guidelines published online by the State Department extended a ban that already covered most of the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, and which has been a critical point in violence related to trade and drug production.
The US government employees were allowed to travel to Acapulco long as they did so by air, not land. Yet they are allowed to travel by plane to Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, on the coast of the same state.
Acapulco, famous for decades for being a favorite of Hollywood stars and other American tourists, and home to about 700,000 residents, recorded 902 homicides last year, according to government figures. Throughout the state of Guerrero 2,106 murders were recorded, representing an increase of 33% over the previous year.
Violence peaked in the summer of 2015 in Acapulco, but homicide rates remain high and have even become common in tourist areas near the beach.
Last month, Good Friday, were discovered the dismembered bodies of two men in plastic bags and a cooler in neighborhoods that are located along the main coastal avenue in the city.
In late February, a street vendor was shot dead in broad daylight on the beach Condesa. Earlier this month, another victim – a man, was killed in the same area.
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In January, another peddler was shot dead on the beach by a man who escaped on a personal watercraft.
139 homicides were recorded in Acapulco in the first two months of 2016. This is an increase from the 95 murders recorded in the same period of 2015, but less than the rate last summer, when 107 homicides were recorded only in August.
Guerrero is the only Mexican state to which the State Department has a ban on almost all travel for employees of US government but has warnings “caution” or “postpone non-essential travel” to other parts of the country that are beset by drug-related violence.