U.S. State Department Urges Caution for Travel to Jamaica and Colombia Amid Rising Crime Rates


Key Takeaways

  • U.S. State Department issues cautionary advisories for Jamaica and Colombia due to increased crime rates.
  • Jamaica sees a surge in violent crimes, including home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, with concerns about police response.
  • Colombia faces concerns regarding crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping, with specific regions discouraged from travel due to high risks.

The U.S. Department of State has recently issued a cautionary advisory, urging Americans to rethink their travel plans to Jamaica and Colombia, two popular destinations in the Caribbean and South America.

This comes in the wake of a noticeable surge in crime rates in these countries.

Last week, the State Department elevated the travel advisory levels for both countries to “Level 3,” advising Americans to “reconsider travel.” The Department regularly evaluates each country’s security and health conditions, adjusting the travel advisory levels on a scale from one (indicating normal precautions) to four (advising against all travel).

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Safety Concerns in Jamaica

The Department has highlighted an alarming frequency of violent crimes in Jamaica, including home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides. It was noted that “sexual assaults occur frequently, even at all-inclusive resorts.” The Department further expressed concerns about the local police’s often inadequate response to serious criminal incidents.

Travel to certain areas, such as downtown Kingston, has been strongly discouraged due to the heightened risk.

Diverse Risks in Colombia

In Colombia, the Department’s advisory was issued concerning concerns related to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping. The warning emphasized that terrorist organizations might target public areas such as transportation hubs, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, and airports.

The advisory specifically recommended against travel to the Arauca, Cauca (excluding Popayán), and Norte de Santander departments, as well as the Colombia-Venezuela border region, citing risks of crime, kidnapping, and potential detention when crossing into Venezuela from Colombia.

The Department’s updated advisory stated, “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.”

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For those who still choose to travel to Colombia, the Department advised maintaining a low profile and avoiding protests and large gatherings.

The State Department encourages travelers visiting these countries to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This program provides alerts and facilitates location tracking in case of an emergency.

What We Think

The heightened travel advisories from the U.S. State Department for Jamaica and Colombia signal significant safety concerns. The surge in violent crimes, including alarming frequencies of serious incidents like assaults and homicides, underscores the risks to travelers in these regions.

The cautionary notes regarding inadequate law enforcement response in Jamaica and the multifaceted risks in Colombia, including terrorism and civil unrest, emphasize the need for vigilance and reconsideration of travel plans.

Travelers are strongly advised to prioritize safety, remain informed, and consider enrolling in programs like the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for added support during emergencies.


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