Mexico – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday that Mexico is a safer country than the United States, weeks after the kidnapping of four high-ranking Americans drew global attention to the country’s security crisis.
“Mexico is safer than the United States,” he said during his daily morning press conference. “There is no problem to travel safely through Mexico. This is something American citizens know as well, just like our fellow Mexicans who live in the United States.”
The American hijackers were traveling in the Mexican border city of Matamoros in early March when they were attacked by gunmen believed to be linked to the Gulf Cartel. Two Americans and a Mexican bystander were killed in the accident.
The Texas Department of Public Safety on Friday advised residents to avoid traveling to Mexico during spring break, citing the risks of gang violence.
Asked by a local reporter about security in Mexico, López Obrador noted his country’s popularity with tourists and American expats, who have flocked to popular coastal areas as well as Mexico City in recent years to take advantage of the warmer weather and cheaper cost of living. American travelers bring in billions of dollars in revenue for Mexico annually.
“The US government alert says it is only safe to travel [in the states of] Campeche and Yucatan. If that were the case, not many Americans would come to live in Mexico City and the rest of the country. In the past few years, more Americans have come to live in Mexico. So what happened? Why paranoia? “
The Mexican president also alleged that there is “a campaign against Mexico from conservative American politicians who do not want this country to continue developing for the benefit of the Mexican people.”
While parts of Mexico are regular tourist destinations, violent crime, including kidnapping and human trafficking, plagues parts of the country, particularly in the border regions. Mexico’s overall murder rate is among the highest in the world, and the country suffers from a disappearance epidemic with more than 100,000 Mexicans and immigrants still missing.
Accusations of inaction and corruption against Mexican officials also eroded public confidence; Last year, a Mexican government report blamed the army and police for the infamous disappearance of 43 students in 2014.
The US State Department has “no travel” warnings in place for six of Mexico’s 32 states, including the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, where Matamoros is located. It warns Americans to “reconsider travel” to seven Mexican states and to “exercise extra caution” in 17 states.
Canada and the United Kingdom also have detailed travel warnings for Mexico.
We don’t take orders from anyone.
Six people have been arrested in connection with the deadly Matamoros kidnapping, and Mexico has sent hundreds of security forces to the area in what the Defense Ministry described as a move to protect the “welfare of citizens.”
But the incident also sparked ongoing tension between the Mexican president and US officials.
Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, where the victims of the Matamoros attack are from, said he was planning to introduce legislation that would designate cartels as foreign terrorist organizations and authorize the US military to operate in Mexico. To dismantle the drug labs, which are usually run by such criminal organizations.
López Obrador called the idea “an insult to the people of Mexico” and “disrespectful to our independence”.
“We are not a protectorate of the United States or a colony of the United States. Mexico is a free, independent and sovereign country. We take no orders from anyone,” Lopez Obrador told a news conference.
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