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Emergency Preparedness

Civil Unrest and Other Incidents

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What types of civil unrest or other incidents might occur?

Civil or political unrest, industrial accidents, and terrorist attacks are a few of the unexpected and unpredictable events that can occur anywhere at any time. As these incidents are often hard to anticipate, it is important that you be prepared for a wide variety of events. The suggestions below may be of use in helping prepare you and your family for one of these events, should they occur.

What is civil unrest?

One of the most common incidents that Americans in Mexico encounter is an episode of political or civil unrest. Civil or political unrest usually takes the form of mass protests by groups seeking changes in government policy or solutions to adverse social situations. In many instances, civil unrest can occur with little or no warning. However, episodes of civil unrest can also erupt from organized protests that had every intention of being peaceful. In May of 2006, a teacher’s union held an annual protest in Oaxaca’s main plaza. The protests normally lasted a few weeks before dissolving. However, after confrontations with police forces, the normally peaceful protest turned into an occupation of the city center. This resulted in the disruption of travel, access to public areas, and many services to both residents and tourists alike.   

Where might civil unrest or an incident that threatens my safety and security occur?

Protests, marches, or other events that threaten your safety and security could occur in cities and towns across Mexico. While most protests are nothing more than peaceful demonstrations, the possibility always exists that episodes of civil unrest could result from them. While no locale in the country is immune from the possibility of civil unrest, some areas have experienced more episodes than others. These areas include the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca, where sporadic outbursts of politically motivated violence have occurred in recent years. If you reside near factories or other industrial sites, your location may be more susceptible to experiencing an industrial accident. In addition, those living near high profile establishments such as government buildings and large commercial centers should be more aware of the possibility of terrorist attacks or criminal activity. 


What can I do to prepare for the possibility of civil unrest or other incident?

  • Create an emergency plan. This includes establishing meeting points, should any family members become separated, evacuation routes, and collecting a disaster kit. For more information on creating an emergency plan and a disaster kit, please visit
  • Register your trip with the nearest Embassy or Consulate. In the event of an emergency, American consular officers can assist you by warning you of possible crises, keeping you updated on events in the area, helping you contact friends and family in the US, and even making evacuation plans when necessary.  To register, visit


What can I do to protect myself during or following a period of civil unrest or other incident?

  • Stay informed. Pay close attention to local television and radio broadcasts and articles in local newspapers. In addition, listen for warnings and alerts issued by local governments, police, or civil protection agencies.
  • If you know that a protest or demonstration is going to occur at a certain place or time, or you are aware that an incident affecting health and safety has occurred, make every effort to avoid the affected area.
  • Plan alternate routes to work, school, or any other destination that you might frequent.
  • Should an episode of unrest or any incident cause a disruption to electrical, water, or sanitation services, you should have enough food and water to sustain you and your family for at least three days. (For more information on preparing a disaster kit, please visit
  • It is in your best interest to not participate in any protest. Mexican law prohibits foreigners from participating in any political activity, including protests.

Where can I find out more about civil unrest or other incidents?