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Country Reports

Mexico Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) started his six-year term as president on 1 December. AMLO has enough seats in both houses of Congress to approve legislation without requiring negotiations with the opposition. This will allow his National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party to pass or modify legislation. Constitutional reforms, however, will require the support of smaller parties. AMLO is highly likely to revise contracts awarded by the previous administration on corruption or ideological grounds. He is also likely to support the staging of informal referendums against mining, hydropower, or other projects facing local community opposition. An informal referendum held in October has already been used by AMLO to cancel, as president-elect, the USD13-billion Mexico City airport project. AMLO is also making efforts to increase state control over electricity while undermining independent regulatory agencies. The new United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA), which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), faces ratification delays in the US Congress where Democrats are demanding tougher environmental and labour assurances. IHS Markit expects Mexico’s GDP to grow by 1.8% in 2019, down from 2.1% in 2018. However, the outlook is constrained both by uncertainty over AMLO’s policy direction and tight fiscal and monetary policies. The government needs to reduce a fiscal deficit of 2.3% of GDP and the central bank is fighting relatively high inflation. AMLO is likely to struggle to contain existent drug-related turf wars. The fragmentation of drug-cartels is increasing homicide risks beyond traditional hotspots such as Guerrero, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas to states such as Guanajuato, Puebla, and Veracruz. Cargo theft and extortion risks will likely increase in 2019.
Last update: March 26, 2019

Operational Outlook

Companies that operate in Mexico are likely to face operational challenges when dealing with state and municipal governments. These range from barriers in obtaining environmental and land-related permits to corruption. Firms also face non-payment risks when dealing with financially troubled states. Authorities estimate there are a total of 2,873 rules, procedures, and regulations that private companies need to follow to operate in Mexico, with local business groups openly calling for a reduction in the regulatory burden.

Last update: March 26, 2019

Terrorism

High

Drug cartels are likely to target public and security force installations, local politicians, or members of the security forces with firearms in violent hotspots such as Guerrero, Michoacán and Tamaulipas state. The intensity of conflict between security forces and the cartels, as well as turf wars between different organised crime groups, varies by region and often shifts geographically. The strengthening of the New Generation Cartel in Jalisco increases the risk of drug-related violence rising there, as well as in Colima, Guanajuato, and Veracruz states. Extortion risks are also rising as cartels seek to diversify their revenue streams.

Last update: January 22, 2019

Crime

The presence of drug cartels and related gangs brings risk of crime throughout the country, though the threat is particularly pronounced in states such as Colima, Guerrero, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, and Veracruz. Extortion and kidnapping risks have increased as drug cartels have fractured, encouraging small criminal groups to look for new sources of illicit income. The primary risks in the capital, Mexico City, are petty crime and express kidnappings. Robbery risks also persist, with several recent reports of thieves targeting upmarket restaurants in the Condesa district in order to steal all their customers’ valuables.

Last update: March 26, 2019

War Risks

Mexico enjoys a positive relationship with neighbouring Belize, Guatemala, and the United States, and advocates international co-operation, trade, and the promotion of foreign investment. Military conflict is therefore highly unlikely. The Mexican government has deployed security forces throughout its territory to battle criminal and drug-trafficking organisations since 2007. The use of the military to combat drug cartels is highly likely to continue over the coming years. The government is also making efforts to increase the participation of Mexican soldiers in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Last update: March 26, 2019

Social Stability

High

Protests are increasingly likely to affect private companies and supply chains. The profile of groups driving demonstrations varies by location, but includes trade unions, local communities, teachers, and public-sector workers. They generally demonstrate by blocking highways, disrupting cargo, and blockading commercial sites and airports. Looting incidences, particularly targeting department stores, are rising nationwide, particularly following natural disasters or major anti-government protests. Mining and onshore hydrocarbon projects face community unrest and social investment demands, as well as surface rights’ negotiations with rural landowners. Local communities at times disrupt projects when environmental disputes arise.

Last update: March 26, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccines required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Mexico's hurricane season on the Pacific (west) coast extends from May 15 to November 30 and on the Atlantic/Caribbean (east) coast from June 1 to November 30; the largest concentration of storms typically occurs between August and October. Hurricanes have the potential to cause major damage and loss of life, as well as travel disruptions, particularly in Mexico's coastal states. In August 2016, Tropical Storm Earl and its remnants resulted in flooding and landslides in central and southeastern Mexico, leaving more than 50 people dead. Several storms struck the country in 2017, although none resulted in catastrophic material damages or a significant number of casualties. Regularly updated information regarding all tropical storms is available at the website of the US-based National Hurricane Center. If a storm is forecast, follow all instructions issued by local authorities, in particular evacuation orders. Distance yourself from natural bodies of water and mountainous areas as much as possible as a precaution against floods and landslides.

More generally, flooding and landslides are common following heavy rains, including within Mexico City. Be aware that the risk of contracting water- and mosquito-borne diseases tends to rise after periods of heavy rains (see HEALTH section).

Additionally, the south and west of Mexico is located in an active seismic zone. Two powerful earthquakes struck the country in September 2017. An 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the southwestern coast in September 2017, causing deaths and major destruction in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. This was followed less than two weeks later by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico City and nearby states (epicenter in Puebla). In total, the earthquakes destroyed some 60,000 buildings, damaged more than 100,000 others, and left nearly 500 dead. These were the most devastating to hit the country since 1985 when an 8.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the capital region, leaving some 10,000 people dead and billions of dollars in damages.

Tsunamis are possible along the Pacific coast in the event of an offshore earthquake.

Mexico is also home to 16 active volcanoes, notably Colima/Volcán de Fuego (485 km [300 mi] west of Mexico City) and Popocatépetl (60 km [40 mi] southeast of Mexico City). Volcanic activity at Popocatépetl sometimes disrupts flights at nearby Puebla International Airport (PBC) and ash can reach as far as Mexico City.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

High

Travelers should be aware that Mexico suffers from a high rate of traffic accidents; the country experiences over 16,000 traffic fatalities per year.

For security reasons, individuals should not hail taxis on the street but should instead order them in advance from a reputable (licensed) company or use a taxi stand. Public transit should be avoided in some areas due to high rates of crime (e.g. pickpocketing and armed robberies) reported on municipal and intercity buses; in Mexico City, the metro and metrobus services are generally considered safe, especially during the day.

Security conditions on highways can vary considerably from place to place. Highway banditry is not uncommon in areas lacking adequate national police or army presence. In general, national highways - particularly highways with tolls (cuotas) - are the safest choice for travelers. If attacked, obey all orders and never attempt to drive around a roadblock, which are frequently manned by highway bandits.

The following recommendations are applicable to all automobile journies in the country:

Before getting in or out of a vehicle, take note of your surroundings. Always drive with doors locked, windows rolled up, and a sufficiently full gas tank. Leave room to maneuver between your car and the car ahead (particularly in traffic) to avoid becoming inadvertently or intentionally trapped (and thus vulnerable to criminals). Park in well-lit, secured areas whenever possible. Avoid making your car particularly recognizable (e.g. bumper stickers, etc.). Vary your hours, commute, etc., to avoid becoming a predictable target. If you believe you are being followed or threatened in some way, drive to a busy and/or secured area (not home).

Government and police checkpoints are common. As such, you should always carry your passport, visa/residency card (if applicable), the original copy of your Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM) - issued to foreign visitors upon entry into Mexico - and car registration/insurance documentation. If you approach a checkpoint, remain calm and follow all instructions. If you are detained, immediately ask to contact your embassy.

Keep in mind that police corruption is a major issue in Mexico. Never attempt to bribe an officer but be prepared to be propositioned. It is therefore advisable to travel with 1000 pesos (50 euros) in cash separated from the rest of your money for this reason. Similarly, traffic cops (tránsitos) are notorious in some areas for demanding excessive "fines" (mordidas), a type of extortion, from foreign drivers. Generally speaking, corruption is a more significant issue within municipal and state police forces, and less so within the army or the federal police.

Protests are common in Mexico and demonstrators commonly erect makeshift roadblocks to disrupt. As violence is relatively common, never attempt to cross a roadblock or drive around one without permission. A "toll" may be demanded. (see SOCIAL UNREST section)

Due to high rates of air pollution, permanent driving restrictions are in place in the capital region. Cars that are nine to 15 years old are banned from the streets between 05:00 and 22:00 (local time) one day per week as well as two Saturdays per month. Cars older than 15 years are banned one day per week and all Saturdays. All cars with foreign license plates, no matter what their model year, are also banned from the roads between 05:00 and 11:00 one day per week and all Saturdays. There are no driving restrictions on Sundays and there are no restrictions for driving hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as domestically registered cars that are eight years old or newer. The "Hoy No Circula" schedule regarding driving restrictions for older and foreign cars, based on license plate numbers, is available online. Additional driving restrictions are regularly implemented during periods of high air pollution.

It should also be noted that Mexico City is notorious for road congestion. Traffic conditions have gotten progressively worse over the past decade and traffic can prove dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists; take care when crossing streets.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

The coastal and low-lying regions of Chiapas and Yucatan states have a hot and humid climate with a rainy season from June until September. The climate is more temperate along the Central Mexican Plateau. The north is dry, even arid (very hot summers, cold winters, little rain). It is cool all year long at high elevations (2,000 meters).

Useful Numbers

Country Code : +52
Police: 911
Fire Dept.: 911
Ambulance: 911

Electricity

Voltage: 127 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019