The biggest threat to Americans in Mexico? Themselves.

The biggest threat to Americans in Mexico? Themselves.


Last week, my colleague Greg and I prepared a photo essay, "Spring Break Gone Wrong?" about how a recent U.S. State Department travel alert about drug-related violence in Mexico might have some college students rethinking their spring break plans.

But, really, how worried should Americans and other tourists be? The violence is limited to specific areas of Mexico, and the victims have primarily been people involved in the drug trade (which, by the way, exists to feed Americans’ demand for drugs). In fact, it appears that in Mexico, the biggest danger young American college students face is themselves — and their poor judgment. The State Department’s travel information about Mexico states:

Alcohol is implicated in the majority of arrests, violent crimes, accidents and deaths suffered by U.S. citizen tourists.

(It also states that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death, but doesn’t say what fraction involve alcohol.)

The video above, Spring Break 2009: Have Fun/Stay Safe, made by the U.S. Consulate in Mérida, Mexico, has an employee saying, "Ninety-five percent of the injuries that we see involve impaired judgment, reduced ability to respond to a situation because of drugs or alcohol."

So really, people, behave yourself around alcohol, and follow these seven pointers from the video:

  1. If you’re not going to do it at home, think twice about doing it in Mexico.
  2. Watch what people put into your drinks.
  3. Remember that it’s not a theme park; it’s a sovereign country with laws.
  4. [Don’t] take a vacation from your common sense.
  5. Enjoy your vacation in moderation.
  6. Don’t be incited by others to do crazy things.
  7. Do what your parents told you.