Even though Ivan Duque is traveling to the White House in Washington DC this week to meet President Joe Biden, perhaps as a “thank you” for his administration being a relatively consistent ally to the United States, the US State department has issued a “Do Not Travel” security advisory due to a worsening public security situation in the tourism dependent country.
President Duque’s administration will wind down this summer and if all goes according to law, hand over the government to a new president on August 7th. However, he is leaving a legacy of having not only failed to make progress implementing the historic peace accords negotiated by the previous administration of Juan Manuel Santos, his administration, unlike that of his political godfather Alvaro Uribe, has also failed to stop the ELN. In fact, the violent leftist rural mafia group has grown stronger, making a mockery of the president, and his responsibility to provide security. Even the government itself warns that the state has grown weaker. Just last year, organized criminals were so emboldened as to shoot up the presidential helicopter as Duque attempted to land in Cúcuta, the largest city on Colombia’s eastern border.
US government personnel can no longer travel freely throughout Colombia for security reasons. Instead of effectively fighting the ELN narco-gangsters, who is taking the fight to the police in Colombia’s largest cities, Duque’s police are condemned for attacking journalists, children, and pedestrians instead. Two weeks ago, a prominent foreign executive was gunned down in a lush suburb of Medellín, adding to the string of killings affecting foreigners and Colombians alike.
The US government issued a blunt warning saying “Do Not Travel to: Arauca, Cauca (except Popayán), and Norte de Santander departments due to crime and terrorism.
The entire advisory update is provided below, reprinted in its entirety:
Do not travel to Colombia due to COVID-19. Reconsider travel to Colombia due to crime. Exercise increased caution in Colombia due to civil unrest, terrorism, and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Colombia due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC’s specific recommendations for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Colombia.
Do Not Travel to:
- Arauca, Cauca (except Popayán), and Norte de Santander departments due to crime and terrorism.
Country Summary: Colombia is experiencing continuing demonstrations, unrest, and disruptions throughout the country. The nationwide events can cause the shutdown of local roads and major highways, often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines. Road closures may significantly reduce access to public transportation and airports and may disrupt travel both within and between cities. Several cities have seen vandalism, looting, and destruction. Demonstrations have resulted in fatalities and injuries across the country.
Violent crime, such as homicide, assault, and armed robbery, is common. Organized criminal activities, such as extortion, robbery, and kidnapping are widespread.
While the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist group, some dissident groups refuse to demobilize.
The National Liberation Army (ELN) terrorist organization continues plotting possible attacks in Colombia. They may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.
U.S. government personnel cannot travel freely throughout Colombia for security reasons.
Read the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Colombia:
- See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.
- Visit the CDC’s webpage on travel during COVID-19.
- Avoid protest areas and crowds.
- Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
- Keep a low profile.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Country Security Report for Colombia.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Arauca, Cauca, and Norte de Santander Departments – Do Not Travel
Violent crime, including armed robbery and homicide, is widespread.
Terrorist groups are active in some parts.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as U.S. government-personnel travel to these areas is severely restricted due to security concerns.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
U.S. Consular Agency, Barranquilla
U.S. Department of State – Consular Affairs
1-888-407-4747 or 1-202-501-4444
Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates.