Last week US citizens living in Rocky Point had an opportunity to meet with US Consul General from Nogales, Virginia Staab. The packed meeting room at CANACO showed the high level of interest from Peñasco’s resident community.
This meeting was a follow up to the one given at the end of last year. Ms. Staab and the Consulate District that she responds to encompasses communities from the State of Sonora, as well as Baja Norte. This area includes some 50,000 US citizens. Rocky Point is the largest community in the district.
Things got underway with the recognition of the work of Las Conchas resident Gary Spray. Mr. Spray has served as a local ‘warden’ for the consulate for a number of years. He has been responsible for keeping the flow of communication going between local residents, and the Nogales Consulate.
Ms. Staab then gave an update on what had been going on since the last meeting.
Travel Advisory
Most of us are aware of the Travel Advisories that are issued from time to time from the Nogales Consulate. Many have felt that the local area was being unfairly included in safety warnings that were more appropriate for other parts of Mexico. The most recent one was issued 2 months ago.
Ms. Staab mentioned that in general, violence was up throughout Mexico for the most recent period. She explained that part of that was seen whenever it is an election year.
The State Department had identified Sonora as being in the Red. Ms. Stabb told us that she had met with them to amend the status down to a more accurate level of Orange. She attributed high levels of violence to drug trade related incidents occurring in the south of the state, close to Sinaloa.
Since the last advisory, Sonora and Arizona have collaborated to create a Safety Corridor on the highway down to Rocky Point. Increased lighting, police patrols, bilingual signage, and accident scene management training are all part of the program. Ms. Staab suggests that as these parts of the project come online, it will be positively selected in any future Travel Advisories.
The local Police have also been the subject of attention recently. Tourists and residents have complained of incidents of poor treatment and bribery from specific officers. Ms Staab mentions that among the things being done to address this, the local Police Chief has been seen to pass a State Department back ground check, a public program has been put in place to educate everyone on how to respond to any issues of police corruption. There will always be an English speaking officer on duty daily to help with these issues.
Ms Staab followed up on questions about Master Trust renewal for residents of Las Conchas. Since the last Town Hall, she has met with various officials of Banamex, primarily to make them aware that the US is there looking out for the interest of it’s citizens in Mexico.
Carlton Benson, American Citizens Service Chief, was also on hand to answer questions. He handles Passport and other issues, and can be reached by email at The members of the Consulate have committed to return every 3 months for more public information sessions.