Colombia Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Jun 17, 2003
This Travel Warning is being issued to alert American citizens to ongoing
security concerns in Colombia and continues to warn against travel to
Colombia, but notes a reduction in security incidents in Cartagena and on
San Andres Island. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on February
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Colombia.
Terrorist and criminal violence by narcotraffickers, guerrillas, illegal
self-defense (paramilitary) groups and other criminal elements continues to
affect all parts of the country, urban and rural. Citizens of the United
States and other countries continue to be the victims of threats,
kidnappings, domestic airline hijackings and murders. Threats targeting
official and long-term resident Americans are expected to continue and
possibly increase in response to U.S. support for Colombian drug eradication
programs. Colombian groups have been known to operate in the border areas of
neighboring countries, creating similar dangers for travelers in those
areas. Bombings have occurred throughout Colombia, including a steady recent
rise in attacks on civilian targets in urban areas. This trend shows no sign
of abating in the near future, and some foreign interests have been among
the targets. There have been significantly fewer security incidents in the
tourist area in the colonial, walled part of Cartagena and none, to our
knowledge, on San Andres Island (off the coast of Nicaragua).
About 3,000 kidnapping incidents were reported throughout Colombia in 2002.
There is a greater risk of being kidnapped in Colombia than in any other
country in the world. In the past three years, 26 Americans were reported
kidnapped in various parts of the country. American kidnap or murder victims
have included journalists, missionaries, scientists, human rights workers,
U.S. government employees and businesspeople, as well as persons on tourism
or family visits, and even small children. No one can be considered immune
on the basis of occupation, nationality or any other factor. Most
kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Colombia have been committed by guerrilla
groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the
National Liberation Army (ELN), which were both initially designated as
Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the Secretary of State in 1997 and
re-designated as such in October 2001. Since it is U.S. policy not to make
concessions to, nor to strike deals with, terrorists, the U.S. Government's
ability to assist kidnapped U.S. citizens is limited.
For further information on travel to Colombia, consult the Department's
Consular Information Sheet for Colombia and the Worldwide Caution Public
Announcement at http://travel.state.gov.