New President of Mexico Vows to Tackle Violence

Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures to supporters as he gives his first victory speech at his campaign headquarters at the Hilton hotel in Mexico City. // Photo by AP Photo/Marco Ugarte via Newscred

Mexico elected a new president over the weekend, and he has promised to tackle violent crime that has posed challenges for the country’s tourism sector.

According to CNN, the left-wing Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won Sunday’s election with over 53 percent of the vote, more than double that of his closest rival, in what’s being described as a landslide victory. Lopez Obrador had campaigned on a platform that included tackling violence, which he tied to corruption and inequality in the country. He will formally take power on December 1.

Violent crime has been rising in Mexico since 2014, The Washington Post reports, increasing from just under 16,000 homicides that year to nearly 30,000 homicides last year. The country’s corruption perception index score, as ranked by Transparency International, has also declined over the same period, with Mexico currently ranked at 130th out of 180 nations in terms of corruption.

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The violence has included some high-profile incidents that have garnered headlines in the consumer media, such as a shooting last year on a popular tourist beach in Los Cabos, as well as another shooting this past April on a tourist beach in Cancun.

The State Department issued a travel warning for all of Mexico in August 2017, a move that many officials in the tourism industry criticized as unfairly lumping in the tourist areas with other regions of the country with more severe security issues. Earlier this year the State Department completely overhauled the way it issues travel warnings into a new, four-tier travel advisory system that applies to all countries worldwide. As a result, the whole country of Mexico was now rated at Level 2 – Reconsider Travel, although certain areas within the country, such as Acapulco, received a higher Level 4 – Do Not Travel rating. Both Cancun and Los Cabos are rated at Level 2.

Tourism officials Travel Agent has spoken with over the past few months have emphasized that tourist destinations within the country remain safe, and that they are making moves to further increase security. The destinations are taking steps such as adding security cameras and police officers, and Los Cabos is constructing a new marine base that will provide further assistance.

Despite the security concerns, Mexico has remained an extremely popular travel destination. Cancun remains the most popular summer travel destination this year, according to a recent survey by Allianz Global Assistance, and the country overall saw a record-breaking 10.6 million international tourist arrivals during the first quarter of this year. That includes 2.9 percent million visitors from the United States by air, a 4 percent increase over the same period last year.

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