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U.S. Government Bans Employees From Parts of Mexico’s Caribbean Coast

The U.S. State Department has banned American government employees from a handful of neighborhoods in Mexico’s Caribbean tourist destination of Playa del Carmen, citing an ongoing security threat.

The State Department, in its notice, did not specify the nature of the security threat. In late February, an explosion on a ferry docked in Playa del Carmen injured 25, including several U.S. citizens. Playa del Carmen is about 45 miles south of Cancun, Mexico’s top beach destination.

The restrictions issued March 9 applied to five neighborhoods in and around a downtown hotel and restaurant area of Playa del Carmen. Government workers were prohibited from taking ferries from the city to the island of Cozumel, also a popular tourist destination. American citizens were advised to not use the ferries.

American authorities are cooperating with Mexican authorities to investigate the ferry explosion, Heather Nauert, a State Department spokesperson, told reporters at a press conference in Washington.

"The takeaway for American citizens should be that you consider that information before you making your own decision to travel to that area," Nauert said.

Mexico's tourist destinations have been relatively insulated but not spared from the growing drug-related violence ravaging parts of the country. Still, hotel groups in Cancun on the Caribbean and in Los Cabos on the bottom tip of the Baja California peninsula have reported growing occupancies.

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.