Update: US Embassy says travel advisory update was health-related

Update October 11, 7:43 am: 

The US Embassy said its travel advisory for Trinidad and Tobago, which includes warnings to stay out of the capital city, has not been changed, and any recent updates to the advisory were health-related.

The statement was issued in response to comments on the travel listing which remains at a Level 2 for Trinidad and Tobago (exercise extreme caution), with a Level 4 ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory for Port of Spain.

The US Embassy said in a statement dated October 9, 2022:

“The US Travel Advisory for Trinidad and Tobago was updated on October 5 due to a change in health restrictions for COVID-19.  The security and safety aspects of the advisory did not change. 

“Travel Advisories do no target specific countries.  Each country is assigned an overall Travel Advisory Level from 1-4.  The Department’s Travel Advisory levels are based on established risk indicators such as health, crime, terrorism, kidnapping or hostage taking, civil unrest, natural disasters, and other potential risks.  Each country’s level is based on an assessment of domestic conditions that might affect the welfare or safety of US citizens.

“Advisories are updated when a change in any part of the advisory occurs.  They are also updated when the advisory is lowered. 

“The Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of US citizens overseas.  We are committed to providing US citizens with the most up-to-date, fact-based, accurate, and transparent information to keep US citizens informed when they are abroad.”

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds reportedly said in a TV6 interview that he was taken aback by the travel advisory, which warns American visitors of the risk of violent crime, including possible terrorist attacks. 

A US Country Security Report for Trinidad and Tobago says the country’s homicide rate of approximately 35/100,000 places the country among the ten worst in the world.

Original story October 7, 2022, 7:46 am: 

The US has updated its travel advisory, with a warning to Americans to stay away from the capital city.

In an updated listing dated October 5, the US State Department, Bureau and Consular Affairs, maintained a Level 2 advisory for Trinidad and Tobago (exercise extreme caution), however, the city of Port of Spain has been issued a Level 4 advisory – do not travel. 

“Port of Spain – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Violence and shootings occur regularly in some areas of Port of Spain.

U.S. government personnel are prohibited from travelling to the following areas:  Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, Cocorite, and the interior of Queens’ Park Savannah. After dark, U.S. government personnel are prohibited from travelling to downtown Port of Spain, Fort George overlook, and all beaches.”

The advisory said of Trinidad and Tobago:

“Violent crime, such as murder, robbery, assault, sexual assault, home invasion, and kidnapping, is common.

Gang activity, such as narcotics trafficking, is common. A significant portion of violent crime is gang-related.

Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s Country Security Report states:

“Prior to the pandemic, murders had been increasing steadily, hitting a high of 539 nationwide in 2019. While pandemic movement restrictions and police action suppressed those numbers to less than 399 in 2020 and 448 in 2021, murders in 2022 are already on par with 2019 highs; 441 murders were reported January through September 2022, approximately 40% higher than the previous year-to-date.

“The homicide rate of approximately 35/100,000 places the country among the ten worst in the world. Similarly, shootings have gone up to prepandemic levels, although not quite reaching the record levels of 2017-18, when there were two shootings per day registered nationwide.”

Loop News has reached out to National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds for comment. 


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