Travel companies in France, England, and Belgium are suspending trips to Chiapas in response to cartel violence

Soldiers patrol the municipality of Comalapa, Mexico, in September 2023. CARLOS LÓPEZ (EFE)

Armed conflict in Chiapas spills over the Guatemalan border, damages Mexico’s tourism industry

Travel companies in France, England and Belgium are suspending trips to the Lacandon Jungle in response to increased cartel violence, while in Guatemala, authorities have arrested two members of a Mexican cartel following a shootout with the military.

The armed conflict in Chiapas is spreading beyond the state’s borders. While federal and local governments continue to talk about peace, evidence that large sections of Mexico’s poorest state are under the control of drug traffickers is mounting daily, contradicting this official narrative.

The Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG, in its Spanish acronym), the two most powerful criminal groups in Mexico, are fighting a turf war for control over this southern regionin a conflict that has taken an especially heavy toll on the civilian, peasant and indigenous population.

The consequences of the violence are also beginning to spread to the international sphere: tourist agencies in France, the United Kingdom and Belgium have decided to stop taking clients to the Lacandon Jungle, while across the border in neighboring Guatemala, authorities have reported incursions and gun battles between members of the CJNG and government forces.

This week, ATC Touroperadores, which describes itself as “the first tourist agency operating in Chiapas since 1984,” announced that the “French, British and Belgian agencies that we represent have decided to stop taking tourists anywhere in the Lacandon area,” one of the state’s main attractions.

In justifying its decision, the company said that “for more than three months, the tourism environment has been drastically disrupted in certain regions of Chiapas” as a result of “situations that took place in the past two weeks involving three groups of French tourists,” though the agency did not providing any further details about these “situations.”

The specifically affected area, where ATC says it will no longer operate, is home to the Mayan archaeological sites Yaxchilan and Bonampak, among other attractions. The US State Department advises citizens to “exercise increased caution to due to crime” if traveling to the State of Chiapas.

Source: El Paìs

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