On Monday, March 13th, the president of Mexico asserted that his country is safer than the United States, countering criticism from U.S. critics regarding his security record after a fatal kidnapping earlier this month near the border resulted in the deaths of two Americans.
The attack and kidnapping of 4 Americans took place on March 3rd in the Mexican city of Matamoros. By the time the authorities of Mexico were able to come to the rescue of the kidnapped, two of the Americans were already dead. Also dead in the attack was a Mexican bystander. Five alleged Mexicans involved in drug trafficking have since been arrested.
The incident was reported meticulously by the American media and sparked criticism from U.S. politicians, in particular, the Republicans.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has dismissed U.S. official security warnings that portray Mexico as a risky place to visit. He has also threatened to encourage Mexican-Americans not to support Republican candidates if they persist with their criticism.
Lopez Obrador told journalists, “Mexico is safer than the United States. There’s no problem with traveling safely around Mexico.”
There has been no response from the U.S. embassy in Mexico in regards to the president’s statements, despite a request for comment.
According to Lopez Obrador, American tourists and Mexicans residing in the U.S. are well aware of Mexico’s safety and he cited the recent increase in the number of Americans choosing to live in Mexico as evidence. Additionally, there was a significant rise in the number of U.S. tourists visiting Mexico last year.
The President said, “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?”
He said that negative reports about security in Mexico were due to a campaign carried out by conservative U.S. politicians that was ‘anti-Mexico’ in nature.
Following the attack though, The Texas Department of Public Safety, on Friday, advised the residents not to travel to Mexico during spring break, citing the risk of cartel violence.
Although certain areas of Mexico are well-known tourist spots, there are issues of violent crime such as kidnapping and human trafficking that afflict other parts of the country, particularly in border regions. Mexico’s homicide rate is one of the highest globally, and the nation is grappling with a significant number of disappearances, with over 100,000 Mexicans and migrants currently unaccounted for.
According to the U.S. police, two women from Texas have been missing in Mexico since late February when they drove across the border to sell clothes at a flea market. Sisters Marina Perez Rios, 48, and Maritza Trinidad Perez Rios, 47, and their Mexican friend, Dora Alicia Cervantes Saenz, 53, have been missing since Feb. 27.