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Colombia Travel Warning

Issued by U.S. Department of State

Feb 05, 2008

This Travel Warning updates and reminds American citizens of ongoing security concerns in Colombia.  The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Colombia.  While security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, violence by narco-terrorist groups continues to affect some rural areas and cities.  The potential for violence by terrorists and other criminal elements exists in all parts of the country.  For additional details about the general criminal threat, please see the Department of States Country Specific Information for Colombia.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Colombia issued June 4, 2007. 

Violence has decreased markedly in many urban destinations, including Bogotá, Medellín, Barranquilla, and Cartagena.  Cali continues to experience more violence than most other large cities, and the level of violence in Buenaventura remains high.  Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can still be extremely dangerous due to the presence of narco-terrorists.  Common crime remains a significant problem in many urban and rural areas.

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.  The FARC continue to hold three U.S. government contractors, having captured them when their plane crashed in a remote region of the country in February 2003.  In January 2008, the FARC kidnapped six Colombian tourists from a beach on the Pacific coast in Chocó Department.  Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped Americans, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to or strike deals with kidnappers.  Consequently, the U.S. governments 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 cannot use inter- or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside of urban areas at night.  All Americans in Colombia are urged to follow these precautions.

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/wwwsc093.shtml, as well as the Department of States Country Specific Information Sheet for Colombia and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at http://travel.state.gov.  U.S. travelers can also get up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. or Canada or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

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