Mexico's president said on Monday his country is safer than the United States, pushing back against U.S. critics of his security record following a deadly kidnapping this month near the border that claimed the lives of two Americans.
The March 3 attack on four Americans in the Mexican city of Matamoros and their subsequent abduction was covered closely by U.S. media and sparked recriminations from politicians in the U.S., particularly Republicans.
By the time Mexican authorities found the Americans, two of them were dead. Five purported Mexican drug cartel members have since been arrested over the kidnapping.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has threatened to urge Mexican-Americans not to vote for Republican candidates if they continue their criticism, rejected U.S. official security warnings that depict much of Mexico as a risky place to visit.
"Mexico is safer than the United States," he told reporters when questioned about the warnings at a news conference. "There's no problem with traveling safely around Mexico."
Lopez Obrador said American tourists and Mexicans living in the U.S. were aware of how safe the country is, and pointed to a recent rise in Americans residing in Mexico. Last year saw a sharp jump in U.S. tourists coming to Mexico.
He blamed an "anti-Mexico" campaign by conservative U.S politicians for negative reports about security.
The U.S. embassy in Mexico did not respond to a request for comment about the president's comments.
(Cover: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds his first press conference of 2023 before reporters at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, January 2, 2023. /CFP)