The U.S. State Department has issued a series of travel warnings to Americans looking to visit the Caribbean or South America this summer after countries across both regions experienced an uptick in crime.
The department issued five updated travel advisories in the past three weeks for Haiti, Colombia, Jamaica, Chile and Peru, with Haiti receiving the highest level advisory: Do Not Travel. The warning advises that Haiti has experienced "widespread" kidnapping, with victims "regularly" including U.S. citizens and ransom negotiations.
Americans have been harmed during these incidents, the department warned. The country has also had a rash of robberies and carjackings, as well as "mob killings" against presumed criminals.
Jamaica considered sending police and soldiers to Haiti to help the country deal with ongoing gang violence that has gripped the capital for months in response to an appeal for foreign troop assistance – a request that the U.S. and Canada had turned down.
However, Jamaica has its own crime problem. Colombia and Jamaica, both of which have seen violent crimes increase in recent months, have received level three advisories to "reconsider travel."
The State Department cautioned that Jamaica has for several years reported a homicide rate that ranks "among the highest in the Western Hemisphere." American government personnel have been prohibited from traveling to several areas in the country and from traveling on buses or driving outside certain areas of Kingston at night.
Colombia has struggled with crime and political turmoil, with representatives from the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the country’s largest guerilla group, meeting in Cuba this month for a third round of talks to discuss peace talks and a cease-fire.
The ELN, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People’s Army (FARC-EP), and Segunda Marquetalia terrorist organizations, as well as the Clan del Golfo and other criminal organizations "continue operating and carrying out attacks" in the country, according to the State Department.
The department warns that "demonstrations occur regularly," with large public demonstrations over a "variety of political or economic issues" that can "shutdown roads and highways."
Chile and Peru have level two advisories, which suggest "increased caution" as both countries continue to similarly experience some political turmoil, with large-scale demonstrations periodically in the cities.
In January, Peru had to evacuate hundreds of tourists from travel sites as protesters clashed with police over the transition of power in the country. Former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo resigned from office and handed power to his deputy, Dina Boluarte, but citizens did not believe she had the country’s best interests at heart.
Protests continue, as does an elevated baseline crime right that includes petty theft, carjackings, muggings and assaults during daylight hours, according to the State Department. Some of the concern surrounds the Colombia-Peruvian border due to crime that occurs in the region.
The State Department suggests adhering to department guidelines on travel to high-risk areas if Americans must visit these areas and suggests enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment program.