Why the U.S. considers parts of Mexico just as dangerous to visit as Syria and Yemen

By Alex Horton
(Coroners remove a body from Colonia Barranca de la Laja, an impoverished neighborhood in Acapulco, Mexico. The decapitated and dismembered corpse was buried beneath a floor. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post))

The State Department considers five states in Mexico as dangerous for U.S. travelers as war-torn nations such as Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Agency officials announced a new numbered classification system for world travel on Wednesday, replacing a confusing array of “travel alerts” and “travel warnings” found on its website. The information is officially for U.S. government employee travel guidance but also serves as a globetrotter’s crash course of ongoing risks around the world.

The new classifications range from Level 1 (“Exercise normal precautions”) for countries such as Canada and Argentina, to Level 4 (“Do not travel”), the highest restriction reserved for active war zones such as Syria and authoritarian countries such as North Korea.

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