Reconsider travel to two Caribbean nations.
Colombia has climbed the charts for U.S. travelers. It’s a gorgeous escape with beautiful landscapes and vibrant culture. The city of Medellin, which was once ravaged by violence, has seen homicide rates drop in the years since Pablo Escobar’s death, and it has become popular with tourists.
However, the South American country still makes news for all the wrong reasons—organized crime, drug cartels, robbery, kidnappings, and homicides. In March, a British tourist was killed by muggers while he was hiking in Medellin. In March 2020, two U.S. soldiers were drugged and robbed in Bogota. The same year, a Swiss and a Brazilian were kidnapped and then rescued in the country. Colombian cities are among the riskiest in the world, and travelers should take notice, according to the recent advisory by the U.S. Department of State.
Related: Multiple Travel Warnings Have Just Been Issued Against This State
On May 11, 2023, the State Department updated its Colombia travel advisory to Level 3: Reconsider Travel. “Violent crime, such as homicide, assault, and armed robbery, is widespread. Organized criminal activities, such as extortion, robbery, and kidnapping, are common in some areas.”
Terrorism is a major concern, according to the department, and high-profile events, hotels, shopping centers, and public transportation systems can be attacked. Travelers have also been drugged with the incapacitating drug scopolamine and assaulted; victims have been targeted in bars or through dating apps. Muggings, pickpocketing, ATM frauds, and robberies in taxis are also possible threats.
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Some areas have received a Level 4: Do Not Travel warning, including the Colombia-Venezuela border. “The Colombia-Venezuela border is not clearly marked, and U.S. citizens should not go near the border due to the risk of crossing into Venezuela accidentally and being detained for illegal entry.” The U.S. government has limited resources in Venezuela and might not be able to offer emergency services.
Related: Forget Cartagena, Explore This Untouched Colombian City
Other Countries Chime In
It’s not just the U.S. State Department that’s encouraging people to be extremely careful in Colombia. The U.K. specifies areas to avoid in Colombia and warns travelers about crime, terrorist attacks, and protests. Canada recommends a high degree of caution and asks its citizens to avoid all travel to border areas. The Australian government also advises travelers to exercise a high level of caution in Colombia due to crime and terrorism.
Governments are highlighting the frequency of violent crimes, kidnappings, petty crimes, demonstrations, terrorism, fraud, and drugging. If you are traveling to Colombia, pre-book your transportation, stay in hotels with security, don’t resist robbery attempts, don’t walk alone or hail cabs from the streets, and don’t leave your things unattended.
Advisory for Jamaica
Another country that received a Level 3: Reconsider Travel warning is Jamaica. The Caribbean island nation has a high murder rate, and the State Department says that sexual assaults, robberies, home invasions, and homicides can occur, even at all-inclusive resorts. The advisory claims that authorities don’t effectively investigate crimes, and emergency services aren’t up to U.S. standards.
“The homicide rate reported by the Government of Jamaica has for several years been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere,” the advisory states. In fact, last year Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a state of emergency in nine out of 14 parishes to curb violence.
If you decide to travel to Jamaica, make sure you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Programme (STEP) and stay vigilant. Check the list of parishes that are on the Do Not Travel radar and avoid these high-risk areas completely.
Related: How to Take a Road Trip to Jamaica’s Lesser Known Gems