Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador argued that Mexico is a safer country than the United States. His statement comes weeks after the kidnapping of four Americans that garnered global attention.
“Mexico is safer than the United States. There is no issue with traveling safely through Mexico. That’s something the US citizens also know, just like our fellow Mexicans that live in the US,” he said during his daily morning press briefing.
The four Americans were attacked and abducted when they crossed Matamoros, a Mexican border city, earlier this month. Gunmen believed to be associated with the Gulf cartel were captured in a video kidnapping the four Americans. Two of the Americans and a Mexican bystander died. The two other Americans were found alive, ABC7 News reported.
On Friday, the Texas Department of Public Safety urged residents to avoid travel to Mexico amid the spring break season due to the heightened risk of cartel violence.
President López Obrador spoke about Mexico’s popularity among travelers, especially Americans who flock there for warmer weather and cheaper cost of living. US travelers bring in billions in revenue for the country every year by traveling to the more established tourist destinations that aren’t plagued by violence compared to other areas of the country.
“US government alerts say that it’s safe to only travel [in the states of] Campeche and Yucatan. If that were the case, so many Americans wouldn’t be coming in to live in Mexico City and the rest of the country. In the past few years is when more Americans have come to live in Mexico. So, what’s happening? Why the paranoia?”
López Obrador also claimed there was “a campaign against Mexico from conservative US politicians that don’t want this country to keep developing for the good of the Mexican people.”
Mexico’s homicide rate is among the highest in the world, and the country continues to grapple with political corruption and an epidemic of missing citizens and migrants, totaling over 100,000.
The US State Department has “do not travel” advisories for six of Mexico’s 32 states. It warns citizens to “reconsider travel” to seven Mexican states and “exercise increased caution” in 17 more.
Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, where the four American victims were traveling from, said he was planning to introduce a bill that would label the cartels as foreign terrorist organizations and authorize the US military to operate in Mexico to takedown drug labs.
López Obrador described the notion as an “offense to the people of Mexico” and a “lack of respect for our independence.”
“We are not a protectorate of the United States or a colony of the United States. Mexico is a free, independent, sovereign country. We don’t take orders from anyone,” López Obrador said at a news conference.