Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday that Americans still feel confident traveling to Mexico, which he said is “safer than the United States.”
His comments quickly made the rounds online, sparking debate and skepticism, following the kidnapping of four Americans in the Mexican city of Matamoros last week. Two of them were killed.
Asked at a press conference whether Mexican citizens living in the U.S. can safely visit Mexico after the cartel-linked kidnapping, López Obrador bluntly responded: “Mexico is safer than the United States.”
He said both Mexican and American citizens in the U.S. are well-informed that Mexico is a safe travel destination. If it were really that bad, he said, then so many Americans wouldn’t be moving to Mexico City and other places in the country.
“In these last years, more Americans have come to live in Mexico. Well what’s happening? It’s paranoia. It’s a double standard,” López Obrador said, claiming that there’s a “campaign against Mexico by conservative politicians in the U.S.”
“They don’t want the country to continue changing for the better of Mexicans,” he added.
Safety is often a subjective gauge, especially for two large nations with millions of people, and there are many ways to measure it.
Mexico has a higher homicide rate than the U.S, according to federal statistics. But government crime data can sometimes be unreliable, difficult to compare across international borders, and not the only metric that measures safety.
There are many areas in Mexico that are booming tourist destinations, including Mexico City and beaches on the Yucatán Peninsula like Cancún and Tulum.
The U.S. State Department urges Americans not to travel to a handful of Mexican states — a list that excludes the major tourist destinations — due to increased risks of crime and kidnapping.