‘Mexico Is Safer Than The United States’: Mexican President Defends Country After Spate Of American Kidnappings

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador responded Monday after the U.S. State Department warned Americans against visiting the country.

The U.S. State Department upgraded the travel warnings in place for many parts of the country to level 4, citing reports of crime and kidnapping in those areas. The level upgrade places parts of Mexico on the “do not travel” list, right alongside North Korea. The department has placed six Mexican states on the level 4 travel advisory at the time of writing while warning travelers to “reconsider” traveling to seven other Mexican states.

“Mexico is safer than the United States. There is no issue with traveling safely through Mexico. That’s something the U.S. citizens also know, just like our fellow Mexicans that live in the U.S.,” President López Obrador said at a Monday press conference, according to CNN.

The president also alleged right-wing American politicians are conspiring against the country’s development, claiming there exists “a campaign against Mexico from conservative U.S. politicians that don’t want this country to keep developing for the good of the Mexican people.”

Four Americans were kidnapped in the Mexican city of Matamoros on March 3 by gunmen likely connected to the Gulf cartel, resulting in two victims being killed and two returning to the U.S. days later. Matamoros is located in the state of Tamaulipas, which is currently under a “do not travel” warning from the U.S. Three American women went missing in February, and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) issued a statement Friday advising travelers to exercise caution when visiting the country.

“Drug cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat to anyone who crosses into Mexico right now,” Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw said. “We have a duty to inform the public about safety, travel risks and threats. Based on the volatile nature of cartel activity and the violence we are seeing there, we are urging individuals to avoid travel to Mexico at this time.”