In response to the highly-publicized kidnapping and murder of American tourists earlier this year, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Mexico is safer than the United States, despite the U.S. recommending travelers avoid many Mexican states entirely.
“Mexico is safer than the United States. There is no issue with traveling safely through Mexico,” he said Monday during a press briefing, according to CNN.
“U.S. government says it’s only safe to travel to Campeche and Yucatan,” López Obrador said. “If that were the case, so many Americans wouldn’t be coming 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?”
The U.S. State Department has issued “do not travel” alerts for six Mexican states and advised against travel, or at least urged extreme caution, for another 24 Mexican states.
According to Bloomberg, it’s accurate that many Americans are choosing to travel and relocate to Mexico, lured by the lower cost of living and ability to continue remotely working for U.S.-based companies. Between 2019 and 2022, the number of Americans moving to Mexico increased by 48 percent, with 5,418 becoming permanent Mexican residents in 2022.
However, violence against Americans in Mexico isn’t unheard of. According to the State Department, 75 Americans died by homicide in Mexico in 2021, an increase from 55 in 2020.
While the rates of violence against Americans remain low, considering approximately 29 million Americans visited Mexico in 2021, the increase in cartel-related violence in Mexico has created concern that there may be an increase in risk to Americans.
The kidnapping earlier this month of four Americans, two of whom died, is the most recent of multiple cases that have led to officials advising the use of increased caution to Americans in Mexico.
On March 13, according to CNN, authorities announced that Martiza Rios, 47; Marina Rios, 48; and Dora Saenz, 53; have been missing since they traveled to Mexico from Texas to sell clothes in a flea market in February.
López Obrador, however, insists that Americans are safe in Mexico. According to the Associated Press, he stated during the press conference that he felt that American conservatives were targeting Mexico.
“This is a campaign against Mexico by these conservative politicians in the United States who do not want the transformation of our country to continue,” Obrador said, adding, “These conservative politicians dominate the majority of the news in the United States. This violence is not reality. It is pure, vile manipulation.”