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Travel Warning: Colombia

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Consular Affairs issued a Travel Warning for Colombia yesterday.  It reads as follows:

Colombia

July 22, 2011

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Colombia. Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations like Cartagena and Bogota, but violence by narco-terrorist groups continues to affect some rural areas and large cities. This updates and replaces the Travel Warning for Colombia issued November 10, 2010 to update information on recent security incidents and terrorist activity.

Terrorist activity remains a threat throughout the country. On August 12, 2010, a car bomb exploded outside the Caracol radio station in Bogota, injuring seven people. On October 21, 2010, Colombian authorities foiled another car bomb attack directed at the National Administrative Center in Bogota. On June 16, 2011, a satchel bomb exploded at a local monument in uptown Bogota, resulting in some damage to adjoining buildings, but no fatalities or injuries. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can still be extremely dangerous due to the presence of narco-terrorists. While the Embassy possesses no information concerning specific and credible threats against U.S. citizens in Colombia, we strongly encourage you to exercise caution and remain vigilant.

The incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished significantly from its peak at the beginning of this decade. Nevertheless, terrorist groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians for ransom or as political bargaining chips. No one is immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors. Kidnapping remains a serious threat, with two kidnapping cases of U.S. citizens reported since August 2010. One kidnapped citizen was rescued within 4 days and the other case resulted in the murder of the victim. Kidnapping in rural areas is of particular concern. On July 2, 2008, the Government of Colombia rescued 15 hostages, including three U.S. citizens, who had been held for more than five years. Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to or strike deals with kidnappers. Consequently, the U.S. government’s ability to assist kidnapping victims is limited.

U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia are permitted to travel to major cities in the country, but normally only by air. They may not use inter- or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night. All U.S. citizens in Colombia are urged to follow these precautions.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Colombia are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website (https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/) to obtain updated information on travel and security within Colombia.

The U.S. Embassy is located at Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50 Bogota, D.C. Colombia. Mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27 Bogota, D.C., Colombia. In case of a serious emergency that jeopardizes the health or safety of an American citizen in Colombia, please call the Embassy at (571) 315-0811; Embassy fax: (571) 315-2197; Consular Section phone: (571) 315-1566. The Embassy’s American Citizens Services office provides routine information at http://bogota.usembassy.gov. For questions not answered there, inquiries may be sent by email to ACSBogota@state.gov.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Barranquilla, which accepts passport applications and performs notarial services, is located at Calle 77B, No. 57-141, Piso 5, Centro Empresarial Las Americas, Barranquilla, Atlantico, Colombia; telephone (575) 353-2001; fax (011-57-5) 353-5216. In case of an emergency in the Barranquilla/north coast area, please contact the Embassy in Bogota at (571) 315-0811 which will forward the call to our Consular Agent.

As the Department develops information on potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threats through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens should consult warden messages for Colombia at http://bogota.usembassy.gov/acs_wardenmessage.html, as well as the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Colombia and the Worldwide Caution at http://travel.state.gov.

U.S. travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for overseas callers, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

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Written by OSB

23/07/2011 at 08:54

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