MEXICO CITY -- Mexico’s president claimed Monday that his country is safer than the United States, a week after two U.S. citizens were killed and two kidnapped and later rescued in the border city of Matamoros.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said U.S. travel warnings and reports of violence in Mexico were the result of a conspiracy by conservative politicians and U.S. media outlets to smear his administration.
Despite López Obrador’s assurances that Mexico was safe for travel, the FBI confirmed last week that three other women from the small Texas town of Peñitas have been missing in Mexico since late February.
“Mexico is safer than the United States,” López Obrador said at his morning news briefing. “There is no problem in traveling safely in Mexico.”
Mexico's nationwide homicide rate is about 28 per 100,000 inhabitants. By comparison, the U.S. homicide rate is barely one-quarter as high, at around 7 per 100,000.
The president brushed off continued concern over violence. Currently, the U.S. State Department has “do not travel” advisories for six of Mexico's 32 states plagued by drug cartel violence, and “reconsider travel” warnings for another seven states.
“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,” López Obrador said.
The Mexican president included U.S. media outlets in the supposed conspiracy.
“These conservative politicians ... dominate the majority of the news media in the United States,” he said. “This violence is not a reality,” he added. “It is pure, vile manipulation.”
As if to undercut that statement, police in the industrial and farming state of Guanajuato reported that 8 people had been shot to death and another seven wounded in an attack on a nightclub over the weekend.
The attack late Saturday killed six men and two women at the club in the largely rural township of Apaseo El Grande, where rival cartels have been fighting for control for years.