Calderon: Only Shots For Spring Breakers Were Tequila Shots

Mexican President Felipe Calderon spoke to a group during a recent visit to Las Vegas.
By Jude Joffe-Block
May 20, 2011

In front of an audience at the Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Las Vegas, Mexican President Felipe Calderon did not deny the presence of violence in certain parts of Mexico.

"Yes we have problems, we are being transparent about that," Calderon said in Las Vegas Thursday. "We are dealing with that. We are fixing that."

The Mexican president insisted that of the more than 22 million foreign tourists that visited Mexico last year, almost none were impacted by drug violence.

Yet the U.S. State Department has ramped up travel advisories to Mexico and earlier this spring, the Texas Department of Public Safety discouraged college students from vacationing there.

To that, Calderon responded with a joke.

"I saw thousands, thousands of spring breakers in Mexico having fun," Calderon said. "My understanding was the only shots they received were tequila shots--a lot of them."

Calderon suggested trips to Mexico could provide American visitors not only with beach vacations, but with a solution to rising health care costs for U.S. seniors.

"I know this country has serious problems, financial problems, related with Medicare," Calderon said. "It is possible to reduce the expenditure of medical care if the government allows the American people to receive medical services in Mexico."

He added: "It is a win win situation. Very good service, quality service, and it would be cheaper for the people and cheaper for the government."

The number of international tourists who visited Mexico actually grew in 2010-- by more than 4 percent according to Mexican tourism officials. Calderon has declared 2011 the year of tourism.

But many parts along the U.S.-Mexico border have reported sharp declines in visitors. The state of Baja California, which includes Tijuana, has seen as much as a 70 percent drop in visitors in recent years.

Besides the country's ongoing drug war, Mexican officials also blame the drop in visitors on long waits to enter the United States and the great recession.