Canada’s Ambassador to the United States is urging all Canadians in Mexico to reach out to the Canadian Embassy for assistance, amid unrest and violence in the country following the arrest of a son of notorious jailed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
“I really do urge all Canadians to reach out to the embassy… and they will get the information that they need,” said Canada’s U.S. Ambassador Kirsten Hillman in an interview with CTV News’ Chief Political Correspondent Vassy Kapelos.
“We do have an embassy in Mexico and two consulates, and in a situation like this, what is very important is for Canadians to contact… those Canadian consular representatives in-country and get the information that they need regarding how to… comport themselves and what they should be doing.”
This comes as the Canadian government is advising Canadians currently in Mexico to “limit your movements and shelter in place if possible,” amid “widespread violence and security operations” within Sinaloa state, on the heels of the arrest of high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel member Ovidio Guzman Lopez on Thursday.
“There are burning cars, exchanges of fire and threat to essential infrastructure, including airports,” reads the updated travel warning.
Canadians in Mexico are also being urged to avoid areas where large gatherings are taking place, monitor local media for information, and to follow the instructions of local authorities.
According to the Registration of Canadians Abroad database, as of Friday afternoon 13,349 Canadians are presently in Mexico, but that is not a complete picture.
Those in need of emergency consular assistance are being asked to contact Global Affairs Canada’s response centre by phone, text, or email.
Karina Dahl-Olsen is currently travelling in Mazatlan, a Pacific resort town in Mexico’s beleaguered Sinaloa state.
“We’re being told that all tourists especially should stay indoors,” Dahl-Olsen told CTV News Channel on Friday. “We’re being advised not to go outside and be too visible, because they could be afraid that tourists would be targeted as in terms of kidnappings and killings.”
Four months into a road trip, she now plans to stay put for a few days and see how things play out.
“So far we always felt real safe; yesterday was the first night we fell asleep to machine-gun fire,” Dahl-Olsen said. “We didn’t see any real action here, but we did hear the gunfire and the military helicopters in the air.”
TRUDEAU STILL GOING TO SUMMIT, DESPITE UNREST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is poised to be travelling to Mexico City next week to take part in a North American Leaders’ Summit alongside United States President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Asked about the status of the trip given the current situation, a source in Trudeau’s office has told CTV News that they are watching the situation in Mexico very closely. The Sinaloa region, where the safety concerns are, is more than 1,200 kilometres from where the high-level international meeting is to take place.
On Friday, it was announced that Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and International Trade Minister Mary Ng will be accompanying Trudeau to the summit on Jan. 10, with the goal of discussing “shared priorities” with their respective Mexican and American counterparts.
Hillman said as of now, the “Three Amigos” summit is going ahead.
“The plan is for us to go,” she said. “We will obviously take all the precautions required.”
With a file from Senior Political Correspondent for CTV News Channel’s Mike Le Couteur