Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claims that Cancun is full of American tourists, despite an advisory from the United States Department of State warning Americans to exercise increased caution in the area.
“The State Department has forbidden 30 of the 32 [Mexican] states, but the country is full of Americans,” said President López Obrador. “Quintana Roo is full. Cancun is full of Americans.”
While the United States has issued travel advisories for 30 Mexican states, no State Department advisories prohibit travel. Only 6 Mexican states are listed under “do not travel” advisories.
Most states, including Quintana Roo, are listed under an “exercise increased caution” advisory, and the State Department does not suggest that tourists reconsider their travel plans.
The Mexican president addressed the situation during the “mañaneras,” a press conference he holds every morning to brief the country and speak with reporters.
At the conference, he said that Americans are ignoring the warning about crime because “the reality [in Mexico] is something else” than the picture painted by the United States government.
According to the President, federal crime has decreased by 30%, kidnapping has decreased by 64%, and intentional homicide has decreased by 11%.
López Obrador admitted that homicide has cost the country dearly, adding that 70% of homicide is connected to organized crime.
Nevertheless, the President’s message was clear. “We do not accept when foreign legislators say that you cannot visit Mexico.”
The Travel Warning
President López Obrador’s comments come as tourists from the United States enjoy vacations in the Maya Riviera despite the travel advisory sent out by the U.S. Department of State in early March.
The advisory warned potential spring break travelers to Mexico to exercise caution in the country due to crime and other concerns.
The Department of State issues travel advisories regularly. They use a four-point scale to determine the risk of travel:
- 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions
- 2 – Exercise Increased Caution
- 3 – Reconsider Travel
- 4 – Do Not Travel
This advisory was noteworthy because, for the first time, the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, was included by name. Quintana Roo is registered at level 2.
The advisory states that “U.S. citizens should exercise increased caution in the downtown areas of popular spring break locations, including Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum, especially after dark.”
President López Obrador’s Response
This is not the first time that President López Obrador has spoken out against the travel advisories issued about Mexican states.
There are current travel advisories for 30 of the 32 Mexican states, including 6 states registered at level 4 – Do Not Travel. Tamaulipas, where 4 Americans were recently kidnapped and 2 murdered, is one of the states registered at level 4.
In response to travel warnings and narratives about crime in Mexico, President López Obrador has repeatedly pointed to high levels of tourism as evidence of the country’s stable security.
Following the high-profile kidnapping in Tamaulipas, López Obrador claimed that the security situation in Mexico is better than that in the United 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 US,” he said in a morning press conference.
He claimed that the “U.S. government alerts say that it’s safe to only travel [in the states of] Campeche and Yucatan. If that were the case, so many Americans wouldn’t be coming in to live in Mexico City and the rest of the country.”
Despite President López Obrador’s claims, travel to any part of Mexico has not been forbidden by the United States.
Additionally, the advisory on Quintana Roo does not imply that the United States government wishes to discourage travelers from vacationing in the Maya Riviera.
The Department of State’s travel advisory database shows that Quintana Roo shares the same level of advisory with countries such as France and the United Kingdom, both of which are rated at level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution.
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