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U.S. closes consulate in Playa del Carmen, citing ‘security threat’

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A ferry explosion has rattled Playa del Carmen. Photo: Twitter@pedrokanche

Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo. — Citing a “security threat,” the U.S Consular Agency closed its office here Wednesday and the U.S. State Department is forbidding government workers from traveling there.

Playa del Carmen is facing its worst crisis since rapid tourist development began there 25 years ago, said Diario de Yucatán.

The announcement is made at the beginning of the Spring Break, when 40,000 students from the United States and Canada are expected to arrive in Cancun.

The State Department put out an alert in recent weeks following the explosion of a bomb on a tourist ferry docked in Playa del Carmen last month that injured several Americans, and other undetonated bombs found on ferries in the area last week.

The United Kingdom, Canada and Germany advised its citizens to be vigilant if traveling to Playa.

Playa del Carmen and other tourist regions have seen a sharp uptick in violence in recent months, and more than 150 travelers have become sick, or died, after drinking small and moderate amounts of alcohol at all-inclusive resorts.

Travelers reported, some as recently as last week, being sexually assaulted, beaten, robbed, taken to jail and mistreated at local hospitals. An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel exposed how travelers encounter indifferent, or even hostile resort workers, police and hospital staff.

The notice on the website does not offer tourists any other details about the threat in Playa del Carmen but suggests the following “Actions to take:”

  • Be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution.
  • Purchase travel insurance that specifically covers you in Mexico and includes medical evacuation insurance.
  • Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you need assistance: ACSMexicoCity@state.gov; or visit https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/; phone 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444.

In last week’s alert, the State Department had barred employees from taking ferries between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.

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