U.S. tourism is Acapulco has officially come to a halt as violent protests over 43 disappeared students continue to worsen. As a result, the American embassy in Mexico has advised U.S. citizens to avoid the once hotspot beach location.
“Embassy personnel have been instructed to defer non-essential travel to Acapulco, by air or land,” a statement issued by the embassy reads. “The Embassy cautions U.S. citizens to follow the same guidelines.”
A group of 43 college students disappeared on September 26th following a police attack in which six people died. Weeks later, on October 17th, thousands of protesters marched through Acapulco calling for answers from authorities, to which they received none.
Hotels recently saw a sweep of cancellations after demonstrators temporarily closed off the airport, blocked highways, and attacked government and political offices. More cancellations have also been filed for Christmas week, the busiest time of the year for Acapulco tourism.
The mass withdrawing of visitors has cost the livelihood of many working Mexicans: One company that operates 10 hotels has cut nearly 200 temporary jobs in recent weeks, Joaquin Badillo, president of the Employers’ Association for Guerrero state, reported.
“Seasonal employment in tourism is really being hurt,” Badillo said. “We’re talking about cleaning workers, security, bartenders, barkers, transportation.”
In an effort to assist, the Employers’ Association advocated for a six-month tax waiver to get local businesses through the economical crisis.
“With that, employees would not lack for salary and the businesses can maintain themselves in good shape,” Badillo said.
Investigators say the police gathered the students, delivered them to a drug gang where they were apparently killed – their corpses charred into ash and disposed of in a river.
Protestors have blocked the city’s airport for hours, armed with clubs, machetes, and gasoline bombs. They’ve also burned the local headquarters of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party in the state capital of Chilpancingo, and have set on fire the state legislature as well as an educational building.
Authorities have yet to confirm that any human remains found during the investigation so far belong to any of the students. Officially, they are still considered missing.